Celebrating 3 Years

October is my author anniversary month. It’s been three years since I started writing my first book, an interesting journey to say the least.

Although it really isn’t the first. I wrote my very first romance novel in the mid-90s. Back then writers were dependent on the big publishing houses to get their books on the shelves, and few new authors were successful. The self-publishing revolution changed all that.

But there’s a lot more to it than I expected. After I finished The Vitamin D Treatment, I had no idea what to do next. Fortunately, a local adult education center just happened to be offering a class about formatting your manuscript for online self-publishing. I jumped on it. Now I can easily format an eBook and navigate the various self-publishing sites like Kindle Direct Publishing, Nook Press and Kobo, and I don’t have to pay someone to do it for me.

Then came the really hard part–promoting my books. There are literally thousands of new titles self-published every day, which makes it difficult to stand out. I love to write stories, but I had no clue what was going on in the industry. In the beginning I hadn’t even heard of Goodreads until I googled my book one day and found out someone had reviewed it there!

Nor did I have a website or Facebook page. The necessity of using social media never sank in until I met a wonderful blogger who read and loved Vita D. She set me straight, and I’ll always be indebted to her. Verna at Verna Love Books, you know who you are!

So I forked out some dough for a GoDaddy website and taught myself to use it. Big mistake. I didn’t know at the time WordPress was free and it’s easier to use. Lesson learned and not the only one. It wasn’t until six months after I published Vita D that I finally set up a Facebook author page. Six months wasted!

Now I’m on Twitter, too, and if it wasn’t for social media sites and Verna telling me what to do, I would’ve never gotten this far, probably giving up long ago. And even though I haven’t hit the big league yet, no USA Today or New York Times Bestselling author glory for me right now, I’m selling some books and am encouraged by the positive feedback from the readers.

I’m still here!

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I Love Football/Fútbol

(It’s complicated)

Fall is my favorite time of year. The end of summer means the start of La Liga, which is Spanish soccer, and September means the American football season begins. My favorite sports!

I’ve loved American football since I was a kid. My dad taught me the game, and I was a football cheerleader in high school and then became a big Iowa Hawkeyes fan in college. Still am.

I was even lucky enough to go to the Rose Bowl, which is a trip I’ll never forget. With just a hundred dollars in my pocket, I made it halfway across the U.S. in a small, rented RV with a group of friends. It was crowded. I didn’t sleep for three days.

When we arrived in California, we headed straight to the Iowa fan party. It was the night before the game, and so many Iowans were there, they ran out of alcohol. (That little fact always cracks me up, because if you’ve ever been to an Iowa game at Kinnick Stadium, you know the tailgating is world class!)

After the party, it was finally time for bed. We’d reserved one hotel room to be shared by all of us, but I never made it to the room. Instead, I fell asleep in the lobby and slept there all night. No one bothered me, not even management. I couldn’t believe it.

Iowa lost to Washington, 28-0. Not exactly the outcome I’d hoped for, but it’s a wonderful memory nevertheless.

Rose Bowl

Since moving to Denver, I’ve become a Broncos fan. But for me, football isn’t only about a favorite team. I love the game. There’s nothing more beautiful or athletic than a wide receiver leaping into the air, stretching his entire body and making an impossible catch.

Except for that perfect header into the goal.

I was introduced to the other fútbol–soccer–in 1996. My husband and I were visiting friends in Germany and the European Championship was going on. Germany was in the finals, and like most Europeans, our friends were glued to the TV, watching the match.

Germany won, and the residents in the quiet little Stuttgart suburb went nuts. One big street party ensued, all night long, all over the country.

That was when I became interested in soccer, the globe’s most popular sport with an estimated 265 million active players worldwide. Seriously, 265 million…

So I started following the World Cups and the Euro Cups, but it took another nine years for me to attend a match. Not in the U.S., where no one gives a shit about the sport (although that’s beginning to change), but in Buenos Aires. Boca Juniors vs. Velez Sarsfield, November 20, 2005.

It’s a day I’ll never forget, one of my most precious travel memories. The energy in the stadium was infectious. Fans chanting team songs, a whirlwind of confetti, the deafening roar of the crowd. I’d never been to a sports event like it. Not even the Rose Bowl could compare, and I got hooked.

Boca Juniors

What’s not to love? The rules are simple and there are no commercials during play. Speed and agility matter more than size, and during World Cups, the entire planet gets together, giving everyone a reason to party.

Plus, there are a lot of hot guys (and gals) who play the game. I love it so much, the hero in my novel, Tumbleweed, is a Spanish soccer player!

Since then, I’ve been to matches in Lisbon, Portugal and Guadalajara, Mexico. We subscribe to the beIN sports channel, which was a great find because it turns out the sport never ends. Besides our favorite Spanish La Liga, there are matches throughout the year. League cups, club championships and international competitions.

And what about those 0-0 matches Americans complain about? Obviously, they’ve never seen goalies Hope Solo or Tim Howard play. A blocked goal shot is a beautiful thing, too…

Congratulations to the USA Women’s World Cup Champions! Go Broncos! Go Barca! Go Ray Hudson, the fabulous beIN color commentator! And wish me luck with Fantasy Football. Last year I came in second and tied for most points, winning $300. I hope I win the whole shebang this year!

 

Welcome to the Jungle

Chapter Two

I’m ready to publish my book. Now what?

Format BadDon’t you hate it when you buy an ebook and paragraphs run into each other, indents are all over the place and chapter headings are askew?

So do a lot of customers. They hate paying good money for these books and feel they deserve a higher standard of quality. Of course they do! I’m one of them and there’s something we can do about it.

Did you know Amazon added a link for readers to report bad formatting issues? It’s located at the very bottom of the Kindle ebook edition page for each book.

Amazon book format button 800

How embarrassing. The last thing I want is to be reported for bad formatting or screw a reader. I also want to be taken seriously as a writer and self-publisher, so I made the effort to learn how to format an ebook myself.

It wasn’t easy. It took me a week. I cussed a lot during the process, but once I figured it out, the time was worth it.

I found the simplest way is to customize the STYLES MENU in Microsoft Word with my preferred headings and paragraph indents and spacing. Amazon also provides a free guide – Building Your Book for Kindle – which is an excellent step-by-step tutorial, and I use it to set up the table of contents. There are minor changes I make to the Kindle formatting for Nook and the other epub files, but once I learned the process, it’s piece of cake to publish now. And it doesn’t cost me a dime.

Next up?

I must be the worst marketer ever

Behind the Walls

If you know my bio, you know I’m a traveler. I love the sound of a new place. The lilting chorus of a different language echoing in the background, the mosaic of street noises and the chapel bells or calls to prayer pealing in the distance. So when the supposed lazy retreat of San Miguel de Allende beckoned, I booked a week at a hillside B&B located on a steep cobblestoned lane for a week.

Big mistake.

Nothing is as it seems in San Miguel de Allende (like in my newest book, Twisted Two-Step. LOL!)  Sure, the city is picturesque, at least what I saw of it. It’s also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and populated by a host of American and Canadian expats, so the place had to be good, right?

Wrong! SMA has a secret and I was shocked. Shell-shocked!

It turns out it’s customary to set off fireworks to celebrate special occasions. Birthdays, christenings, holidays, anniversaries, anything, and from the moment I arrived until fleeing 15 hours later, the cherry bombs and an array of loud fireworks boomed throughout the town.

Okay, to be fair, I happened to be there over Mother’s Day, which is one of the biggest celebrations in Mexico. If it was just for a day, I could handle it. But the onslaught lasted into the wee hours of the morning and started again in the wee hours of the morning. Plus, another couple staying at the B&B, who couldn’t sleep either, admitted the bombardment had been going on and off the whole week they were there.

Seriously?

I’ve been to towns all over Mexico and had never encountered the practice. You’d think the residents would be as pissed as me and maybe put some laws in place. But the owner of the B&B confirmed there was nothing to stop the barrage, so me and the hubs fled to Cuernavaca, a city south of Mexico City, and then to Coyoácan, a suburb of Mexico City, where we didn’t hear another firecracker.

It just goes to show you. You never know. Be ready for the unexpected, like what you find behind these walls.

Behind the walls 1

Behind the walls 2

Welcome to the Jungle

Chapter One

When I finally had the chance to spend my days writing books, I jumped at it. I left my job on a Friday, partied a little on the weekend, and then dove right in on Monday morning. And I haven’t stopped since.

I wrote my first romance novel, Jamaica Moon, in the mid-90’s. Back then, authors were dependent on the big publishing houses to get their books on the shelves. Harlequin, Silhouette, etc., and obviously for me, nothing happened. My query letters, which were the absolute rule and the first step into publishing then, resulted in… nada.

So I gave up, but being a voracious reader, I continued to enjoy the latest romance, historical fiction and Stephen King novels. Then I read Fifty Shades of Grey, which turned the publishing world on its axis, and nothing has been the same ever since. Nor have I.

I loved and still love FSOG. Granted, the early versions of the trilogy needed editing, but oh, oh, oh, the possibilities. I learned anyone can publish a book these days, which is at once a blessing and a curse (that blog for later). In October 2012, a self-publishing revolution was going on and I was determined to ride the waves and see what happened.

So I wrote The Vitamin D Treatment. It took me six months, writing a minimum of eight hours a day, the images of Jed and Olivia and sex constantly churning my brain and body. Yeah, I made myself hot. My husband, too, who is thankfully not a prude and who gave me the biggest compliment.

“My cock is sore just reading it.”

Next up?

Learning to format an eBook so I didn’t have to pay someone to do it for me.

Welcome to the Jungle…

Love is an irrestible desire…

My sister-in-law posted a quote from the poet Robert Frost on her Facebook page. She’s old…older…and granted, nobody gives a shit about poets anymore, but I love the sentiment.

Love is an irrestible desire to be irrestibly desired…

Can you imagine never loving anyone? I love my cat. She’s a constant reminder that love is unconditional. No matter what.

I love my house. It’s the perfect size. Modern and just the way I like it. And soon the yard will be blooming with flowers.

Of course I love my family, too, but what about romanitc love? The love that makes your stomach pitch and churn and flip-flop, and the mere thought of the person naked and lying beside you makes you wet with desire?

That lingering desire is in all of us. And to be irrestibly desired back is the best feeling in the world. Monuments are built because of it. Children are born. Histories are made…

taj

5 Things I Would Do If I Suddenly Had a Million Dollars

One of the countries I’ve been dying to visit is South Africa, particularly the city of Cape Town. But the flight from the U.S. is really long and there’s no way I can be cooped up for 15 hours in economy. So I’d buy a first-class ticket and fly there in style! The hubs would go, too, of course!

I’d donate a big chunk of the million to Alzheimer’s research. My dad died from complications of the disease and I watched his beautiful and witty mind slowly decay for several years. A year ago, my brother was diagnosed with early onset. It’s a long and torturous road for Alzheimer sufferers and their loved ones, and like with all diseases, I hope a cure is found someday.

I’d also spend some dough on ads for my books! Billboards even! Do you know 28 other erotic romance novels (that I know of) were released the same day as my newest, TwiSted TWo-SteP? Only Indie authors understand how difficult it is to break away from the herd. We’re a lot of little fish in a very big pond ocean.

I’d hire a spy/caregiver to look after my mom. She’s stubborn, feisty and proud, and I’d prefer she move to Colorado so I can take care of her in her old age. But she’s happy and comfortable in her small house in the small town in Iowa where everything is familiar. There are still some family and a couple of wonderful neighbors around, but when she’s sick with a cold or just depressed and talking with me doesn’t help, I want someone to be there to make her chicken soup and pamper her.

Number five. Hmm… I’d save some money for number five…