Thoughts of Malice…the Virtual Version

I just want to be grateful for a hot minute.

I’ve been writing a long time, and it’s an isolating affair, and often writers feel like they are writing into voids of rejection and futility.

Level Best Books, my current publisher, is not about to let that happen to their authors! Case in point: More than Malice, my publisher’s answer to the pandemic-exhausted populace. Instead of postponing the typical Malice Domestic Writers conference, which they’ve been involved with for twenty years; they pulled out all the stops and produced a virtual conference that defied the odds, and had a lot of fun doing it. (Well, in addition to the blood, sweat, and tears of the learning curve and all the technological nuances and stumbling blocks). Now up to 90-something authors, give or take, Level Best Books is growing! And they still try to make sure every author is given attention in some shape or form, on this wonderful but terrifying journey called publishing.

Little did I know.

How much…WORK. IS. INVOLVED.

Like now. I’m sitting here, trying to catch up, because I took time off to love on two of my granddaughters, ages five and eight. Two, whole, days without one single ounce of marketing, writing, or deliberating plot twists. Two whole days, stiff-arming the desire to troll local bookstores in search of an author-signing venue, or create a FB ad, or do an edit on the first draft of Book Two of the Olivia Callahan Suspense series. (Which actually, I should be doing right now, but noooooo…I felt that my blog needed some attention.)

At Dolphin Point with my granddaughters, on Hilton Head Island

I repeat: Work. Is. Involved.

What makes it much easier to swallow this harsh reality is Level Best Books. My fellow authors are so supportive, I am, admittedly, stunned…and one of them, a gregarious, Italian, dark-haired bundle of bubbling optimism and generosity named Tina, has started a monthly Zoom call. My gosh, there are upwards of fifty authors on this call every month, plus the publishers/editors! These are so much fun, and a way to connect and be (gasp! dare I say it…) ENCOURAGED.

Encouragement is often in short supply for up-and-coming novelists, of which I am one. Encouragement, the up-and-comer figures, is only for the multiple-published, award-winning, A-listers. For the up-and-comers, we sit in self-flogging misery, pecking away at our manuscripts, with scant-burning embers of enthusiasm. For us, a compliment tossed in our direction is a bright sun on a cloudy day…a long drink of water in a wasteland. And a five-star review? You’d think heaven had opened its arms and christened us with crowns. (Please give your favorite books reviews on Amazon, in case you missed the huge, huge dose of guilt I just heaped upon you, dear reader).

I want to shout out a heart-felt THANK YOU, to Level Best Books and its ever-growing stable of authors, for the generosity of spirit, the support, the great marketing assistance, and the willingness to share time, author events, and information to help fellow authors. It’s been…and still is…an excellent experience.

It’s Release Day! Finally!

Over the past four weeks I’ve discovered Book Brush and designed about twenty images like the one below. It’s an awesome tool, but I don’t want to oversaturate people, there’s only so much I can put on FB and my FB author page and Instagram without driving potential buyers crazy. There’s ‘please buy my book, here’s an opportunity and I’ve made it so easy, right? All you have to do is CLICK RIGHT HERE! (Seriously you can click on the image below and it takes you right to the Amazon page where you can order ebook or paperback). And then there’s this approach: BUY MY BOOK OR ELSE I WILL FURTHER SATURATE EVERY SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNEL I CAN FIND hahahaha (maniacal laughter).

Well, I’ve decided I do not want to be that person. But I really do like playing with Book Brush and I’m becoming a more competent user, anyway. I have three other authors that have joined me in promotional efforts, all our books release in February and we’ve lined up virtual events and have a ZOOM call every week or so just to stay in touch, rehearse, discuss ideas, etc. which is just fabulous and AWESOME because a book launch during a pandemic…isolated…depressed…and so over it…is no fun, but with a TEAM, it is fun. Because I have to remember that even though we get together virtually, it still (almost) has the same feel as getting together personally and is encouraging and uplifting. So a shout-out to my awesome team! And also a shout-out to my awesome publisher, Level Best Books, that offers cool promotional tools like podcasts and lists of awards to submit to and pastes our events everywhere in addition to what we are already doing. Authors primarily work in a vacuum, but with this publisher, they’re pretty careful to make sure all that isolation stuff does not happen.

It’s with a happy heart that I announce release day, today, February 23, 2021; and also with a happy heart that I’ve had lots of well-wishers and support on social media that makes me smile. It’s a great feeling. Also, it was a great feeling to discover two of my kids wanted to throw me a launch party, and I hadn’t even thought of it during this virus-of-isolation life, but we are throwing one anyway, and I’m looking forward to it. In spite of the fact that the crazy winter weather has delayed my book delivery for the event, and I’ve already changed the event date twice. I do have ARCs left over, which I am grateful for, because at least for my launch event, I’ll have those that people can touch and hold and feel and buy if they want to! Even if the books don’t make it on time, it’s about celebrating the publishing of a book, and the author’s accomplishment, not just the actual book, right? We’ll take orders and get the delayed books to them later if they don’t show up. However, I still hold out hope since the launch is still a couple days away!

I marvel over the effort that goes into a book launch. The writing, editing, and cover design take time and hard work, of course, but promotion never stops! I’ve been forced to understand Goodreads, the power of Instagram stories, the futility of Twitter (gosh how I hate Twitter), and up my game on Facebook. I’ve had my kids give me tutorials on how to post events. I’ve watched as loyal FB friends share my videos/ads. I’ve learned how to run a BookBub campaign. All the while, I’m thinking, aren’t I too old for this?

Never!

Plus I still have a newsletter I need to get out, plus the next book I have to write that actually has a deadline hanging over my head. And I hope to make it to at least one writing conference this year, and I’ll make more writer friends, which is just THE. BEST.

I always envied “author life.” Now I get it. The cool part is how impressed everyone seems to be when they discover that I’m an author. The not-so-cool part is all the sweat-inducing, profanity-laden work that goes into it. It’s okay, though. Writing books for a living beats retirement any day of the week.

 

Boom! It’s 2021 and Crazy Town

HI there and welcome to Crazy Town. At least that’s where I am right now. So busy I don’t have much time to bemoan our political landscape or wring my hands about the COVID virus, and thank God because if that was all I thought about I’d be in bed most days.

I’m in the midst of releasing a book with an energetic and forward-thinking publisher and it’s a LOT! Since my background is advertising sales, copywriting, and marketing, I have to do it to the utmost, which takes a lot of time and patience. Neither of which I have, but we do what must be done, don’t we? Yes. Most of the time, anyway.

So while whittling away at a press release, preparing for yet another ZOOM call with my author launch team, biting my fingernails calling potential virtual event venues for our “Truth and Lies in Mysteries” tour, I had a moment of panic when I realized I hadn’t updated my website and a lot of folks (a lot) were going to check it out now and I’d better have something current. It’s even on my publisher’s information sheet, ‘how many times do you update your website a month?’ and I got a little red-faced at that question. So…welcome to my world for the next few weeks, and in the middle of that, my publisher offered me another contract! For Book Two and Book Three of the Olivia Callahan Suspense Series. Book One of which (The Deadening) releases next month, and is available for pre-order now.

My mind is spinning with how much there is to do after a mainly puttering-along writing life, and it is now full systems go and I have two more books to write starting, well, now. It is a happy time and a busy time and I am over-the-moon grateful for a blessing in the midst of a fiercely alienating landscape, a horrid disease, and the pervasive loneliness that hatched in 2020. Thanks to my writing addiction, I now have an instant group of encouragers and ZOOM meetings at every turn.

Into the vast Unknown…

Tip-toeing into 2021, I’m cautiously optimistic that we may see some light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s certainly nice to have a bunch of activity going on. It is WAY too easy to slide down the tunnel of regret and take the highway of discontent right now. (Dumb metaphors, I know, I know). So for now, I’m happily engaging in phone calls to potential virtual events or future signing events when the great unmasking occurs (being positive, here), I’m delighting in the lively wit of other authors and the sharing of promotional ideas. I’m excited about the fact that my editor believes in and supports my books and that I’m building a fan base (I love you guys).

Not watching news. Just no. For a while.

I’m stepping away from 24/7 news, which has had me glued to my phone. If 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s that we cannot believe the media. We must do research and find out for ourselves, and even that may not be exactly right, so…we just need to live our lives. Pursue that wonderful thing that God made us to do. Believe that better, more hopeful days are ahead. (Preachin’ to myself here, too.) Stay busy. Find something we love and do it. Persevere. Stay ahead of depression. Go visit someone with a three-year old, it will totally change your outlook for the better. Promise.

In the meantime, I think I’ll keep writing.

Happy New Year, everyone!