The Difference Two Weeks Makes…

“When you woke up this morning were you still a big shot author with a new puppy?”

That was the text I got from my husband who was out of the country on business this week.

And it does feel like a ‘pinch-me’ kind of week. My memoir, Another Good Dog, sold to Pegasus Books for publication summer 2018, and after fostering 95 puppies and dogs, I’ve finally decided to ‘foster fail’ and adopt a puppy from our current litter.

Rewind two weeks. Continue reading “The Difference Two Weeks Makes…”

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How Amazon Gets My Panties in a Twist

This time around I was going to do it right.

I started planning for the launch of my new book, Practicing Normal, six months ago. I was going to do things differently this time. No more promote by the seat of your pants. No, this would be strategic.

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First, I researched the idea of street teams, trading emails with several highly successful writers about how they utilized their teams. I brainstormed ways to make my team fun and rewarding for team members. I named them Cara’s Cronies. Then I planned my appeal and carried it out through several rounds of newsletters, finally landing 12 fabulous women from all over the country who agreed to help me promote my book, but also to be my sounding board and support. I’m excited and humbled to have their help.

I began reading a gazillion different book blogging sites, looking for ones that had plenty of engagement and the type of subscribers who might like my book. I read posts, commented, got to know the bloggers. Then I made my list and waited for the advance ecopies to be ready on Net Galley. When they were, I began querying bloggers and asking nicely for their reviews. Twenty bloggers agreed to read and review my book and post their reviews near the launch date of June 6.

Then I got serious about my newsletter, promoting it with giveaways and special reveals and spending countless hours editing it and adding pictures and recipes and news of my works-in-progress. I invited people to subscribe online, at events, and through emails. I tried (and failed) to master Rafflecopter. I even marked up a special calendar to hold myself accountable in preparation and distribution. (If you’d like to subscribe CLICK HERE. You might win something!)

When the advance paperback copies arrived two weeks ago, I swooned over the gorgeous copies and then sent them to a few big bloggers and book stores who will probably never consider reviewing or promoting my book, including Modern Mrs. Darcy, one of my favorite blogs and Nora Roberts’ book store, Turn the Page, in Maryland. My publisher sent copies to my Cronies, and I instructed them to read the book and prepare a review but to wait to post it until I gave them the go-ahead so that they could be timed with the book’s launch in June.

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I spoke with the proprietor of my favorite York establishment to see if I could hold a public launch party there on the night before my book came out. He loved the idea and even offered the first beers on the house.

I came up with a clever marketing plan to get readers to post pictures of themselves ‘practicing normal’ and holding my book on twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I would introduce the plan in my last newsletter before the book came out and offer prizes! Clever, clever me! This was gonna be fun!

Everything was set and the ball began rolling earlier this week. My Cronies received their copies and started reading, and the first book blogger posted her review. Six weeks until the book comes out everything was right on schedule.

And then….. Continue reading “How Amazon Gets My Panties in a Twist”

Writing Doldrums

I’m in the doldrums.

I’ve polished my manuscript until parts seemed to be wearing through and it began to feel like I was rearranging furniture. Now it’s safely languishing in my agent’s TBR pile. Even as it’s tempting to go back in there and fiddle, I’m staying out of that world. Jem and Liz and Jake and Fish and Coach are safe from my meddling fingers.

My other novel-in-progress is marinating. Marinating is what I call the time between edits. It’s very hard to be objective and see your story clearly unless you leave it lie for at least a few weeks between edits. Otherwise, it’s like trying find anything on a map on your phone—you’re too close to see anything in perspective. Which means I have to leave Kat and Dylan and Pilgrim and Gwen alone to work their problems out, at least for a little while.

So, no fiction. Which isn’t easy for me.

Instead, I’m working on guest blog posts for my upcoming blog tour for Practicing Normal (which comes out June 6!!) and mostly coming up blank. Plus, I’m putting way too much time into blog posts for my dog blog. And still my writing energies are stopped up.

I’ve become so desperate I’m thinking of trying my hand at a short story (again). I’ve never written a decent short story.  Every short story I’ve ever attempted either turned into a novel or landed in my ‘crap I wrote’ folder to languish for all eternity. But you never know, maybe this time I’ll figure out the genre. Either that, or I’ll have a good start on my next novel.

Writing is not a job for the unmotivated. There is no boss telling me what to do, although, true confession, I kinda wish I had a boss telling me what to do. If I had a boss and a specific job description, then I’d know when I was finished a job (plus I might have benefits and overtime and paid vacation). Instead, writing work is endless, spiraling into the land of all-the-ways-to-waste-productive-time-productively. Blogging, for instance. Writing this post is not required of me. And yet, here I am, musing on nothing much. Wasting time, really, but productively because if nothing else I’m honing my craft.

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And that’s just it. If you’re gonna be a writer, ya gotta write.

Every day.

Even if it’s just a journal entry or an email to a friend. Slap those words down, one after the other. Do that long enough and eventually you hit on a few good combinations.

That said, I’m gonna head out to the wilds and do some short story wrangling. (Can you tell my short story will involve horses? And maybe cowboys. Hmmm….) I’m toying with pasting the beginnings of that story right here on the blog, if for no other reason than to hold myself accountable. So watch for installment number one next week.

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What are you writing? Anything good? Well, I hope at least your writing is humming.

Have a great Thursday and thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my stories and blogs, please visit CaraWrites.com. If you’d like to catch up on all my adventures, subscribe to my (occasional) newsletter.

Getting Serious about Writing and YOU

Okay, it’s time to get serious about this writing gig. No more lolligogging about reading books about how to be a better writer. The excrement is about to hit the fan. I have a new book coming out June 6, 2017! We are now in the three-month countdown and I need YOU. (Yes, I’m serious. I’m tired of trying to do this all by myself.)

What? You don’t think there’s any way you can help? I beg to differ.

My first two novels, I’m Not Her and Girl’s Weekend have done well. There were plenty of lovely reviews from lovely people who took the time to read and then write about what they read. A bunch of other awesome people picked my book for their book club and then invited me to come to the meeting! That was super fun and luckily most everyone liked the book (there was this one grumpy lady….but even that was fun).

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Still other amazing people recommended my books or gave them as gifts. So all in all, both books did okay, even cracking the bestselling list on Barnes & Noble’s Nook and gracing the New & Notable section of Apple ibooks (right next to Hamilton!!).

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But this next book? I want it to do more than okay! Here’s what one famous writer (and you’ll have to either subscribe to my newsletter or buy the book to find out who!) said about Practicing Normal: Continue reading “Getting Serious about Writing and YOU”

Nature Vs Nurture: Am I a Story Genius?

I buckled down and got serious about my assigned reading this week, plowing through three chapters of Story Genius. The picking apart of the story writing process prickled my nerves a bit. I’ve never been good at following directions and details bore me to tears, but I pledged to read this book so I powered on.

I found myself, nodding, duh, duh, duh at some points and at other times I underlined sections like I did in American History class, thinking, “This is the part that will be on the test.”

And then I went for a run and thought about it. I don’t have time to read to be reading. My shelves are creaking with books I’m dying to read. So, what is the point here? Why am I forcing myself to read craft books? Can’t I just write? Continue reading “Nature Vs Nurture: Am I a Story Genius?”

The Education of a Writer

girl-1174539_960_720One of my biggest regrets in this life (and I say that like I have a lot of regrets in this life, which I don’t) is that I didn’t study writing in college. Both my degrees are from liberal arts institutions, so that means I did plenty of reading and writing in college, even took courses on it, but I didn’t major in it. I look back now and I’m not sure why.

As a child, I read constantly, carting home stacks of books from the bookmobile that set up shop in the bank parking lot on Tuesday nights. Each summer before we left for our two week vacation in an un-airconditioned, TV-less cottage at a beach with no boardwalk, movie theater, or mall, my mom would take us to a used book store and I’d fill a brown grocery bag with books and then spend my entire vacation reading in the sun or on the screened in porch once I’d burnt my body to a crisp after a few days.

When I was a teen, I suffered through the self-conscious, angsty, insecurity typical of most teens (although at the time I thought I was the ONLY miserable teenager who hated to look in a mirror). Reading was my escape. I lost myself in books that took me far, far away from my tiny little town where every embarrassing moment and bad hair decision followed you through school with the same kids year after year.

In high school my favorite class was the journalism elective I took repeatedly, writing for the school paper. I loved the students in that class and the obvious passion of our instructor who ran the class as if we were a world-class publication.

Freshman year in college, that first semester in English 100, my wickedly funny professor always picked my essays and stories to read to the class with her syrupy southern accent, cackling as she read. She loved my writing and told me so.

So why I didn’t turn to writing as a career, I don’t know. I suppose I didn’t believe that I could possibly write something anyone would want to pay money for. Becoming a published author was, and still is, exceedingly difficult. It takes vast swaths of confidence in yourself and your abilities, something I was decidedly missing in my youth.

Since embarking on a professional writing career about ten years ago, I’ve done everything I can to educate myself. I’ve taken online courses, attended conferences, signed up for workshops and classes locally, and accumulated a vast library of books on writing. And yet, I still feel uneducated when it comes to writing.

So this year’s resolution is to hit the books. Many of the books I’ve piled around me have barely been opened. My excuse is I’m too busy writing, to read about writing. Pretty good excuse, right?

Not this year. I’m at an impasse in my career. My third novel comes out this spring and what happens after that is anybody’s guess. I don’t have a contract or commitment for my future writing. So, I’m taking this time to avail myself of the knowledge and direction in the books I already have (and a few I bought with the cash my FIL sent for Christmas – thanks Jim!).

I’m hoping to post about what I’m learning here on this blog, offer insights on my Facebook writer page and tweet the real gems on twitter. Again, best laid plans, you know? Puppies and publishing opportunities could sidetrack me, but I’m writing it here in the hopes that you people will hold me accountable.

Here’s my reading list: Continue reading “The Education of a Writer”