Chapter 2

Sugar here, calling myself out for not posting this morning like I was supposed to. But I had 2 good reasons. I thought next Monday was my day.  AND today was my last day at work. I have worked in the same place for seven years. My very first job out of college. I love my coworkers and my building, but I don’t love the job anymore.  I was finding myself so exhausted, so stressed out that I couldn’t write.  My brain just couldn’t handle another thing and there were times when I was so overwhelmed by it all that I just didn’t want to get out of bed.  I know they call it work for a reason, but I knew I couldn’t go on like that. So I made the decision to leave.  I’m not going to be able to survive on writing alone. I’m going to work but at job that won’t suck the life out of me.

I need to write. Some people do it as a hobby. They can pick  it up and put it down when they want. But I need to write and when I can’t do it I feel bad, like I’m depriving myself of some sort of essential nutrient. And that job was making it hard for me to do what I love. So today was my last day and while I have very good memories of that place I don’t for one moment regret  saying goodbye.  I have two books coming out this fall. I’m under contract for three more. I am lucky. I know it’s a blessing to have these things when so many writers are dying to get where I am. So I am going to take this opportunity now, because I don’t I’ll always wish I had.

I feel like I started chapter one of my adult life there. Now it’s time for me to start working on chapter 2.

Sandra Orchard’s Latest Mystery in the Port Aster Series is Out

Hello Readers, Katy Lee here with a heads-up on Sandra Orchard’s Blind_Trustlatest mystery, Blind Trust.  And let me tell you she really stepped up the suspense with this second book in the series.  Back in November I brought you my thoughts on the first book Deadly Devotion. Click here to read A Great Whodunit, Sandra Orchard Style.  A great, well-developed beginning to the series that laid the foundation for the three books so well that I cracked open Blind Trust and jumped right into the excitement without a moment of delay.

Kate Adams, amateur sleuth is  caught in the middle of a case again that has nothing to do with her…or does it?   She’s about to find out.  Blind Trust ends with a great cliffhanger leading into the third and final book.  The back of the book gives the reader a taste of what’s to come, but it’s not enough, I say.  Looking forward to it, Sandra!

And here’s a bit about Blind Trust:

Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money, and she can’t believe that it came from her sweet neighbor. Or that it lands her in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker’s investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor’s innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue that is far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation–and strikes too close to home for comfort. As family secrets come to light, her world–and her budding romance with Tom–begin to crumble. To Kate, it’s clear that she won’t be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster’s secrets. But is it too late for her and Tom?

Award-winning author Sandra Orchard draws readers into a world of rogues, red herrings, and romance as she unfolds the continuing story of amateur sleuth Kate Adams.

Amazon Buy link: Amazon

Summer Vacation in 3 Weeks

Hello World!  Remember way back when you were an elementary student?  For me, those years were…cough…some 30 year ago, but I remember summer vacation being one LOOOOOOOOONG stretch of time spent entertaining myself outside until I was actually bored enough to be looking forward to school.  NOT so these days, at least not in my household. 

My kids’ summer vacation this year, real vacation with nothing planned, no place to be, etc, last exactly 3 weeks – two weeks at the beginning and one week at the end. 

That 3 weeks is really “veg-time”.  By that, I don’t mean sit around and watch TV all day, but rather, go-outside-and-entertain-yourself time.  Play soccer or baseball in the yard.  Climb a tree.  Play in the sandbox.  Ride your bike.  Swim.  Huddle next to the air conditioner and eat popsicles on 100 degree days.   Okay – that one’s inside, but hey, it get’s hot here in CT. 

Funny aside – I got an email from Romance Writers of America about he national conference I’m attending this summer in Texas.  It informed me that it get’s hot in Texas in July, like between 70 and 90 degrees.  Seriously?  70-90 degrees?  That’s amazingly pleasant compared to the 90-100 degrees with 90% humidity we usually enjoy here in Connecticut in July.   Maybe I’ll pack a jacket…

For the rest of the summer out-of-school time, my kids will be at various summer camps, having a blast for sure, but not likely getting bored enough to look forward to school.  Hmmm.  Maybe that’s something for me to think about for next year.

What does your family do during the summer?

Looking Out For Number One

Hi, Scribelings. Suze here. Welcome!

We usually keep things light here at the Scribes but today’s topic is serious. I’m talking about transitioning from your day job to your full-time writing career. Let me explain.

MV5BNzA1MTYwNjUyOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDQ3MDQ2OQ@@._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_[1]Like virtually all writers and wannabe writers out there, I started out doing something else. For a couple of decades I worked for a medium-sized company as a staff person. When I sold my first series (debuting January 6, 2015 and available for preorder now!), I figured I’d work for a few more years until I was (hopefully) making enough to live on from my writing. Well, that was a nice plan. But it didn’t happen.

I’m here to tell you, unless you own the company you work for, no one is indispensable. (Depending on the type of company and the structure of management and boards of directors, even the owner might not be indispensable). I don’t care how much you think they like/love/respect/can’t function without you, you’re wrong. Everyone is replaceable or do-without-able. Everyone.

And once people at your day job find out that you’ve sold your novel, you might be replaceable sooner than you think.

thumb_money_bag_green[1]See, everyone thinks writers make scads of money. I went to a job interview recently and the interviewer said, after having seen that I had a book contract, “I thought you must be a millionaire.” Um, seriously? Do you think I would be interviewing for a part-time job with you if I were a millionaire? Don’t you think I’d be sitting on a tropical beach somewhere, wearing oversized designer sunglasses and wrapped in an expensive silk sarong while a buff, half-naked island man served me cocktails and gave me suggestive looks? But this is the kind of thing you are going to get handed to you. A lot.

And the other thing you will probably face at some point is that not everyone will be happy for you, maybe not even members of your own family (not the case with me, thank goodness, but it happens). Because when you take steps toward living your dreams, it causes other people to examine their own lives, and when those lives are less than dreamy, it can foster resentment. Even active, malicious sabotage, which actually happened to me.

Think about the people in your circle. How many of them are doing what they really want to? How many of them are moving toward fulfilling their dreams? I hope it’s lots of them, because there are so many opportunities now that make things possible (see below for more explanation on that). But the truth is, it’s probably almost nobody.

So this post is about Looking Out For Number One–You, Yourself, and You.

Despite being under contract for three books with a Big Five/Six publisher (the biggest one, LOL!), and having something else in the works that I’ll be able to tell you about soon when the ink is dry, I don’t make a living wage from my writing. I think I will, hope I will, in the next few years. But for right now, I would have liked to have kept that day job for a while longer. However, someone else made that decision for me.

So here’s my advice to every writer out there who still has a day job working for someone else:

Consider very carefully whether you will disclose to your employer and your coworkers that you are writing on the side. Consider even more carefully whether you will tell them when you sell. I opted to tell, figuring that for various reasons it was going to get out anyway and I’d rather they hear it from me. I also showed my supervisors my contract, so they could see exactly how much money I was–wasn’t–making. Didn’t seem to matter to them, they let me go anyway. But you might work in a company (perhaps you work at home, and never or almost never see your coworkers) where you can remain relatively anonymous. In that case, I’d keep it quiet. What they don’t know, they can’t use against you. Share your success with your writing peeps and your close family and friends. Otherwise, don’t. Your boss, the administrative assistant, or the accounts receivable person at your office probably won’t buy your book–may even perversely enjoy not buying your book–so why bother?

Start NOW developing a side business, not necessarily writing related.  A person would be foolish to invest all of her money in only one stock–smart investors diversify. Well, if you’re not at the point yet where you’re making enough at your writing to satisfy your needs and at least some of your wants, think about having something else in place in case your day job goes bye-bye for whatever reason.

Need editing or proofreading? Stop by! www.crazydiamondediting.com
Need editing or proofreading? Stop by! http://www.crazydiamondediting.com

I’d be willing to bet that most all of us have a skill/talent that could make extra money. Me, I do editing for indie-pubbers at Crazy Diamond Editing (click here for more information).  Now that my unemployment has run out, I’ll be looking to expand that business. And I’m also thinking about resurrecting a handbag-making microbusiness I had a few years ago. Does all this take time and planning and organization? Yes. But you’re working for you, and I can’t tell you how satisfying that is.

But Suze, you say. I don’t have the kind of skills that people will pay money for. Are you sure about that? Can you read a label? Why don’t you go around to tag sales and look for consignable clothes? You could sell them on Ebay or ThredUp. Have you got stuff around your house you could list on Ebay or Craigslist? Can you knit or crochet or make beaded jewelry or other crafty items? These skills are not hard to learn and you could set up a table at a flea market or farmers’ market or sell online at Etsy. Can you garden? You could grow flowers or vegetables and put them out by the road to sell. Do you love animals? How about developing a pet-sitting, grooming, or dog-walking business? Have you got a skill you can teach someone else? Look into your town’s Adult Education department or local community college’s Continuing Education program and see if you can put together a class.

Think outside the box. I’ll bet you can come up with more ways of making money than you know.  (And for even more ideas and inspiration, check out Barbara Winters’ Joyfully Jobless website–there’s lots of practical and motivational stuff there) The more diverse your interests, and the more you put yourself out there creatively, the better your writing is going to be.

Have an exit plan. Somebody should do a workshop on this (in fact, maybe I will). What do I mean by this? Here are some suggestions:

  • Know what your company’s policy is regarding termination of employment. What benefits are available to you if you retire, quit, are fired for cause, or are laid off? Are you entitled to severance pay, unused vacation and sick time, unemployment (will depend on your state and the reason you and the job parted ways)? If the worst happens, how will you make the most of what you get?
  • If you did lose your job, just how much money do you actually need to live on? Most of us don’t know. Make a list now of the money you have coming in. Then track where your money goes for a month. For bills that come less frequently, like real estate tax bills and winter heating costs, look at your bank statements from last year and average them out to a monthly cost. Identify what’s a want and what’s a need. I’ll bet there are places you can cut back. The grocery bill and shoe-shopping (insert personal vices here) bills are great places to start. Look at your phone plans and cable bills and gym memberships and make sure you’re actually using the services you’re paying for. Eliminate what you can.
  • Save money NOW. Save as much as you can, even more than you think you can. So when your employer gives you a surprise one-month’s- pay severance “package” and a copy paper box to carry your stuff out in, you’ll be okay. Maybe not comfortable, but okay.
  •   If you’re a two-income household, can you live on what the other earner makes? It’s not a great idea to think you can fall back on somebody else, though. Because stuff that can happen to you (job loss, illness) can happen to the other person in your life too.  I hope it doesn’t. But let’s face it. None of us are getting any younger, and, well, stuff happens. Be prepared for it.

What about you? Do you think you’ll ever make a living wage from your writing? Do you have a plan (share it with us, if you’re comfortable doing so) for making it your full-time job? Ever been fired and want to vent here? Inquiring Scribes want to know.

 

 

 

 

 

Let It Go

Thea here in this season of graduations, retirements and tag sales, sitting in my house that looks like we’re perennially moving in.  This is the first time I’ve ever thought, everything’s got to go.  The big stuff, the stuff we’ve collected or inherited from our parents.  The stuff I’m not sure my sons will really want.  Things I want them to keep forever.

Because everything has story:  my husband grew up with this item; his parents collected that stuff on the Cape in the 1950′s;  they bought that painting from a local artist there; and brass bed at an auction in Maine.  Things that my husband is loath to let go.   On my side, there wasn’t quite as much of value, but  among the things I kept were the living room lamps from my parent’s first apartment. I remember that apartment vividly even though I was only four or five at the time.

The lamps sat on two tall side tables flanking a camelback sofa.  There was a large framed print over the sofa of a medieval farm scene, and the lamps, perhaps hand-painted, echo that theme.  They’re tall and urn-shaped, with a little curly-cue on each side.  Those curls reminded me of my mother’s very curly hair.  I remember playing with those curly-cues when I was very young.  And because of that I can’t bear to get rid of the lamps even though they don’t fit anywhere in our house.

Or maybe there’s a different reason for my reluctance, and that is in letting go of those objects we are in some respect erasing our story, our past and our present both.  Because what will our sons do with all we’ve assiduously collected?  The books and paintings we’ve loved.  The Eastlake dresser that was one of first things we bought after we got married.  The painted sleigh bed.  The antique dishes.

There’s a memory. a story behind each of those things.  And in them, the story of our lives together.  We’ll be married 48 years this month, and will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the night we met in September.  How do I let it go?

And how do I let go the memory of that little girl playing with the decorations on those lamps because they looked so much like her mother’s curly hair?

Are you clearing out and paring down?  How do you handle it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kait Ballenger’s Cover Reveal

Hi All,  Jennifer here,

Paranormal Romance author, the lovely Kait Ballenger, and I share the same agent.  When she posted on our agency’s loop that she needed help to promote her release Shadow Hunter at .99, I jumped right in.  I’ve read Kait’s work and its FAB!

ShadowHunter_FINAL

If you like awesome, well-written paranormals, then Kait is for you!

Here’s the blurb!!

Vampire hunter Damon Brock’s first assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York, a city crawling with the undead.  But he isn’t the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood. Tiffany Solow is fierce and ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family-and she works solo. But being alone is no longer so desirable when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf. As they work to massacre the local covens, the line between good and evil blurs when they are forced to decide between their lifelong beliefs… and their newfound hearts.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Hunter-The-Execution-Underground-ebook/dp/B00K4M3I26/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401256662&sr=8-2&keywords=Kait+Ballenger

BN: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadow-hunter-kait-ballenger/1119434584?ean=9781459256347

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadow-hunter-10

 

Author Bio: Kait Ballenger is a full-time paranormal romance author, wife, former professional bellydancer, and soon-to-be-professor. She has a BA in English from Stetson University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. She lives in Central Florida with her screenwriter husband and three sweet furry babies, all three of whom are named after fictional characters. Kait hopes that one day with hard work and dedication, she will be a bestselling author, and then, people will name their pets after her characters, too.

 

Website: http://www.kaitballenger.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kaitlynschulzromanceauthor

Twitter: @kait_ballenger or https://twitter.com/kait_ballenger

Google+: https://plus.google.com/108985176548347481138

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kaitballenger/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kaitballengerauthor

 

 

 

 

i-Movie & Book Trailers

As I’m counting down to the launch of my next book, PIECES of LOVE, due out in a few weeks, I figured I would do something a little different this time. I finished and posted my book trailer before the book’s release. You would think this would be a no brainer, but I’ve published five novels and haven’t managed to do this until now. With good reason, I assure you. I can’t tell you how long it takes me and my husband to produce a decent trailer. Don’t get me wrong. He is an amazing source of technical support, but he’s a super busy guy and can’t always work to my time schedule. I also get frustrated in trying to share my creative vision with him in a way that translates to exactly what I want. Yes…I’m afraid I’m a bit picky. So this time, I took it upon myself to learn how to use i-Movie, and created my own book trailer.

I thought I would share the process with you today.
First off, I recommend finding the right music. There are several stock music sites that offer “free” music, but it can take hours of listening to samples to find just the right piece, and the selection of free titles is limited. It’s likely you’ll pay a nominal fee for what you want. Be sure to read the fine print because you may also only have the music rights for a specifically contracted period of time. The most important thing is to find music that is released under a Creative Commons license, and to give the artist credit when due. Here are a few sites where you can find music suitable for book trailers.

http://www.incompetech.com

http://www.audionautix.com

http://www.danosongs.com

http://www.ccmixter.org

Since I’d gone this route before and found the process daunting, and I wasn’t willing to pay someone big bucks to do  a trailer for me, I almost wasn’t going to have one this time around. As the fates would have it, my main character in PIECES of LOVE, Lexi, plays guitar, sings, and writes music. In my efforts to help readers connect to the character on a deeper level, I was inspired to write lyrics into the book. Of course, then it dawned on me that I should also try to put music to the words. Not that I’ve ever written a song or know how to write music, but what can I say…my muse was feeling adventurous. With a step in faith and a little effort on a lunch break, the tune came to me, and I recorded it into my phone (love those apps). Then I took it to my pal, lifelong musician, Ozone Pete, who plays guitar and “knew a guy” who could help with a professional recording. Six months later, we spent a day with Jim Fogarty of Zing studios in Westfield, MA. All in all, it took a total of about fifteen hours over two days and I had a theme song—now available for download on i-Tunes.

It was the perfect choice for the book trailer.
Once I had the music, I was ready to start on the hard part. Being techno-challenged and averse to learning the Mac’s operating system, I was prepared to defer the actual trailer production to my husband, but as I said, that wasn’t to be if I wanted it done sooner rather than later.  I bit the bullet, so to speak, and dove in.

I used parts of the book’s blurb and boiled the synopsis down to a paragraph, creating a “story board” with 8-10 slides to “tell” the story. I figured each slide would require about 6-10 seconds—long enough for viewers to read. Adding the transitions and front/back matter, I was able to keep the whole production at about two minutes.
Using stock photos from Big Stock Photos, each costing about $5-10, I chose photos that reflected the blow by blow description of the story. Uploading the music and photos to my husband’s Mac and importing it all into i-Movie was a challenge for me (being Mac deficient) but a snap for hubby, so I let him do that part. Once I had all the pieces there to work with, it was a matter of choosing an appropriate segment of the song to match the story board. Two minutes is a bit long for a trailer these days, but I had a certain timing in mind for the slides and the music selection to work together.
Caution: Timing each slide and transition accordingly is an OCD sufferer’s nightmare…or dream come true, LOL. I tweaked and cajoled this thing to death, but the final product was worth it, IMO.

Yes, countless hours went into the project, and there were studio costs, but in the end, for a few hundred dollars, I have a product I’m proud of and it’s exactly what I envisioned. I can use it to promote my book as well as the song on i-Tunes, and at the same time, offer an entertaining connection for my readers who might find it interesting to hear the author singing the theme song.
As much as I’m not a big Mac fan, I-Movie is a powerful program! Once I figured out how to use all the neat features, the possibilities seemed endless. There are several backgrounds, title fonts, and styles to choose from for each slide, special affects you can apply to pictures and transitions, and many variables you can and can’t control. For instance, I wanted to blur a couple of the photos but couldn’t do it in i-Movie, so I exported them to Power Point, manipulated the shots there, and then saved them to the i-Movie event I was working on. It was simply a matter of playing with the program and figuring out what worked. Of course, when I ran into trouble, hubby was there as tech support.
Once I had fine-tuned my baby and edited the crap out of it, I published it to You-tube and shared it on all my social media sites. It had over a hundred hits the first day! I’m glad so many people have enjoyed the production and I truly appreciate all the positive feedback.
If the DIY version seems too daunting, save your pennies, because a decent trailer can run you anywhere from $300-$1200. I’ve seen them for more and I’ve seen them for less, but you definitely get what you pay for in this case. I once paid $50 to a supposedly reputable person and was less than satisfied, so lesson learned for me. Until I can afford to pay the big bucks, I’ll continue to go the DIY route.

What do you think of book trailers? Are they an effective promotional tool? Seen any you love? 
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