For a limited time, you can get A Whisper of Smoke for Kindle for just $0.99 on Amazon! It's a great time to check out one of Amazon's Hot New Releases. :)
I’m a little confused about how to use my social networking platform to market my book. Lots of sources say it’s important to build a social networking platform, meaning make friends, get followers, all that good stuff. Usually they don’t tell you exactly how… I tend to think you rely first on your friends and then you just try to grow your list organically by telling people about your book, and by following/friending others. But that’s not really the part I’m confused about. I have a page on Facebook which I try to keep updated about all my book’s activities/developments. And when I post to it, I think it also shows up on the timelines of most of the people who have chosen to be friends of my page. And then I usually repost my book postings on my own timeline, which means a lot of my friends get it twice. Now that is a lot of book posting clogging up their timelines. And it’s not intentional! On the topic of excessive postings, some books/blogs/people suggest that you need to do lots of updating about your book, and others say it comes across as self-serving if you do too much. So I’m a little bit at a loss as to how to balance it! But I want my friends to know that I’m genuinely sorry if I’ve overposted and worn them out. That’s the last thing I would want to do. But to those that have continued to “like” my posts and been really supportive, I sure appreciate that. It means a lot.
Anyway, what’s my opinion on the subject? I do think too many posts can wear thin, but I also want to continue to capture what all is happening (I’m doing a marketing blitz in the month of February and it is generating a lot of extra activity). So I guess I’ll continue to post everything on my book page, and maybe I just won’t repost quite as much on my own timeline. And I’ll beg my friends’ tolerance during the times when my book happens to be having a lot of activity.
What are your thoughts on the subject? And where in the world Twitter fits in, I have no idea! Still trying to figure that one out.
It's all set! Due to popular demand, I will be doing a BOOK SIGNING in MURRAY, KY on Saturday, March 1, 2014, from 2:00-4:00 at Fidalgo Bay Coffee Shop! A limited number of signed copies will be available for sale on-site, so readers are encouraged to purchase the book on-line at Amazon or Books-A-Million and bring it in for a signature. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. And I hope to see you on the 1st!
Are you a fan of women's fiction with a great love story? If so, you'll fall in love with a Whisper of Smoke. For a limited time, get a free download of the book from Story Cartel, and automatically be entered for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. The catch? The author respectfully requests that you submit an honest review to Amazon.com (and Goodreads too, if you are a member) after you've read the book. That's it! Enjoy! See the link below.
I have always been a sporadic writer. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always had a full-time job, and a family, to manage in addition to my writing. But I will write in fits and starts, sometimes cranking out several pages, other times no more than a paragraph or two. And there have even been times, particularly during my time writing of A Whisper of Smoke, when I would take months off from writing, even as much as a year – when I would become so overwhelmed by my everyday life that I literally had nothing else to give, no resources left to expend. What I forgot, though, during those sabbaticals, was how much my brain likes it when I write. How it feels joy and contentment that are elusive when I’m not adequately engaging my right brain. See, my job as an accountant calls firmly on my left brain, with a little right brain creativity sprinkled in here and there (I tend to sprinkle more than most people, which is one of the reasons I’ve been successful in that career). And most of my left-brain co-workers are completely content with that arrangement. They thrive using their analytical skills, their business acumen. I enjoy that too, don’t get me wrong. But I need to be creative. Even when it seems hard. Even when I feel tired. And, btw, that’s my left-brain telling me that I can’t do it, that it’s too hard. Left-brain is a stingy fellow, not much inclined to share his time and energy with what some would consider foolish pursuits.
So why am I saying all this? Because I think I’m going to start employing a technique to help encourage my writing that many, many successful writers use. It’s called a word count goal. It’s not rocket science, it’s not brain surgery, it’s not some novel new idea that will revolutionize anything. It’s just a mechanism for encouraging creative productivity. The thing is, as simple as the concept may be, it scares me just a little. I mean, to add another firm demand to my time? And just when I’m about to start a new accounting job that will have plenty of its own demands? Am I crazy to implement this new technique? Maybe… But like with anything extracurricular (for lack of a better term) that you build into your routine, whether it be exercise, or getting a massage, or yes even writing, you gotta schedule it in! You gotta set a measurable goal! You gotta do all those things that your left-brain knows is necessary to increase the likelihood of completion. So here I go, setting a new goal for myself, on top of all that comes with having a job and a family. And every time I feel a little anxious about that, I’m going to shoot up a prayer that God will take that fear away. Because fear is no reason not to follow your passion, not to live as your true, authentic self.
Is there anything that you want to do in your life that your left brain is telling you is too hard, or that you don’t have enough time? Are you wanting to explore a new path but fear or anxiety is keeping you from it? I’d love to hear about it. I’m rooting for you!
FREE Download of A Whisper of Smoke in exchange for honest reviews (limited time offer -- coming soon)
Coming very soon, a special offer in exchange for honest reviews: a FREE download of my book (for a very limited time). I'm looking for meaningful feedback, so if you don't like love stories and families with as much dysfunction as heart, my book is probably not for you. But if you do, I hope you'll take advantage of this opportunity and read a great book! And thanks in advance for the reviews!! More information to come.
So I've really enjoyed working on my YA Leprechaun book (mentioned in the Interview with Me from January 2014). But it does feel a bit like I'm being disloyal to my genre, up-market women's fiction. And it is a genre I love and where I spend most of my time reading. So I've resurrected a book that I began a few years ago that is firmly in my core wheelhouse, and one that I believe has the potential to meet the high standards of my readers because it is a complex novel that, if done right, will have tremendous heart and depth.
Currently untitled, my new novel is about Tony Ramirez, a Cuban immigrant whose family fled Cuba in 1962, soon after Castro's regime took over. After a tragedy rocks his family, he discovers that he actually fled his birth country, not with his family as he originally thought, but in the care of his oldest brother Pedro. They were evacuated as part of Operation Pedro Pan (in English, Peter Pan), a crusade by the Catholic Church to save Cuban children and orphans by helping them escape to the United States. As his journey takes him into the past and to beautiful, tortured Cuba, only the friendship of his best friend Beth can help him unlock the secrets that will change his world. But while he searches his soul, and his past, for answers, his heart becomes involved in ways he could never imagine. And maybe, in the midst of pain and complicated decisions, he just might find the love he's always hoped for.
Sound good? I think it has the potential to be wonderful! But it will take a ton of research and some good old blood, sweat and tears. Oh, if only I didn't have a day job!! :)
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in Kentucky, but I’ve lived in Nashville for the last twenty years. I’ve been writing since I was eight years old. I started with a newspaper that I wrote, illustrated and distributed with the help of my mom’s work copy machine. I had a successful run of two editions before publishing an exposé based on sketchy facts in my third paper – that one shut me down for good! Since then, I’ve become an accountant that writes, sings and paints in her spare time, and a mother, which is always inspiring.
What were you like at school?
I was a very good student – all A’s, or very nearly so. I had scholarships to college which was good, because I married young (at eighteen) and was living on my own with my new husband. We were broke and knew it (I always wonder how some people can say they were broke but didn’t know it – it was very apparent to us :)). I guess you could say I was semi-popular in school – I was never excluded from anything and I had plenty of friends, but only a few really close ones.
Were you good at English?
Yes – I took college English in high school and made the only A in my class both semesters. That continued on through other English and Humanities courses in college, where my papers and essays were often read to the class.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To write books that inspire or entertain, that make readers think and feel. If that means I write a book a year, great! But if it means I only ever have one or two really great books to my name, I will feel honored and blessed to have been given such a gift.
Which writers inspire you?
J.K. Rowling has been a huge inspiration to me. Even though we write different types of books, her ability to develop characters and create relationships is amazing to me. I also love Diana Gabaldon – her gift of dialogue and her ability to convey everyday life in eighteenth century Scotland are awe-inspiring.
So, what have you written?
I’ve written two previous novels and some poetry. A Whisper of Smoke is my first published novel.
How would you describe your book?
The genre is up-market women’s fiction – think book club (in fact, A Whisper of Smoke includes book club discussion questions at the back). But men, don’t let that turn you off – I’ve had lots of men read it and love it! It’s a story about uncovering family secrets, and how one teenage girl’s life experiences shape how she deals with them. At the same time, it is a profound love story between the teenage girl, Susanna, and her best friend, demonstrating how star-crossed love and a war can teach important life lessons. In the end, it is a coming of age love story, involving both romantic and familial love.
What inspired you to write it?
Most of us have our share of family secrets. I was intrigued by what might happen to cause a new generation to deal with them differently from the older generation, and how cycles might be repeated or broken, depending sometimes on the smallest of decisions. I also was interested in the notions of redemption and condemnation, and how complicated both can be yet, at the same time, intrinsic to the human condition.
What makes the setting, 1960s Kentucky, important? And how does the Vietnam War play an important role in the story?
The story took place in Kentucky because, as my home state, it is familiar to me – this story could have taken place virtually anywhere across America. However, the 1960s setting was essential because it was a time when dysfunction was as common as it is today, but very often not discussed. It was also a time when a nation’s innocence was passing away in the shadow of civil rights unrest and a foreign war with ambiguous purpose. I liked the parallels between our nation’s loss of innocence and Susanna’s, and how both were underlined by the strong personal and cultural desire to develop new moral boundaries that were different from those of the previous generations. The Vietnam War was an important part of the book because it emphasized for my characters, as in real life, the idealization that’s inherent in innocence, and how, when that innocence is lost, you are faced with the realization that even the most honorable person can be changed by his or her experiences.
Where can we buy your book?
It’s available in trade paperback on-line at Amazon and Books-A-Million. It’s available electronically for Kindle on Amazon. Stay tuned (on my Facebook page and my blog) for news about local bookstores (in Nashville, TN) where you can find my book.
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m writing a young adult book about a teenage girl who goes on vacation to Ireland with her family and gets kidnapped by Leprechauns. Enough said :).
This is so different from your first book. Tell me more!
Here is a brief description: Upon hearing about the legends of Ireland during a family vacation, including the legends of Leprechauns and the Faerie Pool, Briley Dunn sneaks out in search of Leprechauns and fairies under a full moon. Accompanied by her reluctant sister, Briley’s moonlight dip turns to apparent tragedy when she disappears in the depths of the still waters. What her family doesn’t know is she’s been taken (by a Leprechaun Taker) to Coffers Glen, a world reminiscent of ancient Ireland. There she finds the stuff of legends is rooted in a terrible reality, and her adventure becomes a struggle between life and death – for herself as well as for the other stolen children in her care.
What genre are your books?
As I said, my first book is up-market women’s fiction, which is where my heart is. I know I will write more in this genre, but it is so emotional to me that I will only write another novel in that genre when I find great inspiration. But I also love and often read young adult books, so this second book is still firmly inside my sphere of influence and has been a lot of fun to write. That said, since it is so different, I may use a pen name to publish it.
How much research did you do for A Whisper of Smoke?
Quite a bit. I didn’t grow up in the 1960s (I was born in the 1970s and was Susanna’s age in the 1980s), so I did quite a bit of research , supplemented by interviews, in order to get a sense for that time period in history and the generation that grew up then. The majority of my research, though, was around the Vietnam War. I wanted the letters to have a realistic feel and for the reader to get a clear sense of what it might have been like for two people who cared about each other to be separated by that conflict. My research included reading lots of resource texts, watching documentaries and several interviews with a Vietnam veteran. In the end, though, the sentiments that were expressed between Susanna and Calvin, the farmboy-turned-soldier who was her best friend and secret love, were from my heart.
How long did it take you to write your book?
It took me ten years from start to completion, with many, many drafts in between. This was because I was also working full-time at my career as an accountant.
Is A Whisper of Smoke part of a series?
No, but my new book is. I plan to write three books about Briley Dunn and her adventures with the Leprechauns.