Thursday, October 29, 2015

What Do You Do When You're Not Writing?

I think that's an important question to ask yourself.

I mean, are you spending hours in front of the television set or are you out there in the world gleaning new ideas for your next book?

Are you reading a good book and learning something? I find that reading within my genre as well as without it, helps my own writing improve.

Are you spending time with those you care about? Are you leaving the writing for awhile just to soak life in? I find that many of my experiences later turn into a book idea, a character idea, or even - a plot idea. So keep your eyes open and a pen and paper handy for notes.

Are you keeping an open mind? A positive attitude goes both ways. When you're positive you'll continue to be successful, and act upon those things that will bring you success, God will help you to be successful. If you're constantly focusing on what you consider your failures, instead of taking these moments to learn from and move on, you'll continually be stuck in your writing life - yes, even when you're not writing.

When it comes to life when you're not writing, you really are writing (so to speak) because you're researching and gathering whether you know it or not. What you gather says a lot about you and what you want in your life.

Writing or not.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Tell me about yourself.

My husband and I live in a western suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. We have three sons, two daughters-in-law, a golden retriever Mickey, and are excited to become first-time grandparents at the end of November 2015.

What got you started in writing?

I started writing because of one teacher, Pat Fatchett, who was my seventh grade English teacher. She made us write in a journal every day and toward the end of the school year, she challenged us to write about something we’d always wanted to write about. I chose to write a short story, the Thief, part Nancy Drew, part Dragnet. Whenever I questioned myself or doubted my abilities to write, I went back to the words and marks on my stories I’d saved, and they gave me courage to keep writing.

A MUST LISTEN!! Video of Julie giving a BlessBack® to her seventh grade teacher.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

In an ideal world – one in which I have complete control of the day, I write from 8 a.m. to noon. I am most comfortable writing in my local Dunn Bros. coffee shop where I do a bit of people-watching. Once I put on my headphone set, thought, that’s my cue to discipline myself and start writing.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?

I prefer to write on a laptop, at least I did until last month when, while holding onto it, I tripped going down the stairs and my laptop tripped along with me. There’s now a gaping hole beneath the mouse pad so now I write with my laptop screen in front of me, but I use a wireless keyboard and a mouse along with it.

What's your favorite part about writing?

In writing fiction, my favorite part of writing is when I’m passed the uncomfortable and uncertain beginning and am in “the flow,” where I’m taking chances with my sentence structures, where worry’s been tossed overboard, and I’m in complete writing reverie.

Your least favorite part about writing?

My least favorite part of writing tends to be starting a story. I think it must be similar to a musician’s struggle to find that first note. What key do you start the piece in, what’s the tempo? Is the piece going to be jazz, blues, country, pop or rock n’ roll?

The more I force myself to sit down and just write, the more I find that as letter upon letter influences the white rectangle of space, the more I start to hear the story that wants to be told. Like a composer, I keep working until I find the key, rearrange the notes until they are just right, and play with the tempo using dialogue or narrative. Before I know it, a story has spilled onto the page. All I’ve had to do was listen to the characters who showed up.

With my non-fiction book, “BlessBack®: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life,” my favorite part of writing was connecting with people who had taken the time to look back over their lives and thanked those who had significantly shaped or influenced them. Hearing their stories of connecting and how it had affected them, as well as how it had affected their receivers, was a powerful and life-changing experience. Over and over I was reminded that we really do hold the power to give someone a good day, just by saying, “I’m thankful to you for…”

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How did you come up with your book idea?

My book originally started out as a collaborative effort with another author. Unfortunately, she had to back out when her husband came down with a life-threatening disease.

But in the process of writing the book, what became clear to me was that I had given BlessBacks my whole life. Realizing that enabled me to write the book and embrace and love the stories given to me.

How long did it take you to write your book?

I spent five years collecting stories from people who had looked back at their lives and remembered those who had left an indelible impression on them and made the effort to find and thank them.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I write a blog, put out an e-newsletter several times a year, and am engaged in social media such as Facebook and Instagram, but I find the best kind of marketing I can do is to be face-to-face with people. Having tables where I sell my books and note cards at boutiques in November and December is what works best for me.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I’ve got a short story coming out next year in an anthology. And I’ve just released a book of my favorite quotes called “Kissing the Shoreline:  Quotes and Reflections to Live By.”

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

My back burner project has actually moved to the front burner. I’m working on my first novel. Learning curve? Huge! But, I’ve loving it and hopefully, someday soon, it will be out for readers.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Quote a few years ago, I met Jan Karon at a booksigning in Faribault, Minnesota. I asked her something similar. She looked me square in the eye and said, “I do have advice for you, but I don’t know that you’ll do it.”

I promised her I would take her advice.
She said, “Never, ever give up.”

I’ve kept my promise. I’ve kept at the keyboard, worked out the words, worked at my craft, and not given up.

My advice to others echoes Jan’s to me. Never give up. For if you do, doing so only ensures that you won’t be a writer.

Another bit of advice. Put words on the paper. You’re not a writer if you only think about a story you’re going to tell. If you’re stuck with how to begin, start like Maria von Trapp did in “The Sound of Music.” “Do-re-mi. the first three notes just happen to be, do-re-mi.”

In writing this is translated as “Once upon a time.” You won’t keep those four words of course, but putting them down will get your started in your story, article or even your blog.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015


What will you choose to read this Halloween?

After the trick-or-treating there will be lulls I'm sure, and if you haven't planned on watching a scary movie, why not try a mystery book?

Here's my latest book trailer. Enjoy!


Monday, October 26, 2015


Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I am 46 years old, married and the father of four kids; my oldest son is eleven, my only daughter is nine, and the two remaining boys are seven and six. I have been in the information technology field since 1996 and I have been a server engineer since 1999.

I’ve always enjoyed writing in one form or another, but I never seriously considered authoring a fictional story until 2014 when I decide to “get down on paper” a story that’s been roaming around my head for fifteen years.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I try to set time aside so that I can “complete a scene / thought” so to speak. If I’m in a groove I’ll keep going, but I don’t want to have writer fatigue, so I set a reasonable target and once I clip it I always feel comfortable (but not obligated) to stop. I try to make that target at least 1,000 words, but I don’t force it; if the scene wraps shorter, I stop. If it goes longer, that’s fine too. I am fairly confident that the overall average is 1,000 words.

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“When” sort of falls into the “whenever I have time” classification; with a full time job, 25 hour weekly commute, four kids, and civic duties in my hometown, there really isn’t a ton of free time. Over the summers my kids go with their mother to Poland, so I stay in New York City during the week and I write at night from the corner table in Bar 515 on Third Avenue. Each one of my books to date, in whole or in part, has been written from that spot. Beyond that table, I will do a segment of writing on my inbound train to work and a segment going home at the end of the day. Again, I try to make those sessions a “complete a scene / thought” at about 1,000 words.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?

While I am at Bar 515 or on the train I use my laptop. When I am at home I use my workstation in my “man-cave”.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My favorite part has to be when a scene / segment comes together. When that idea in my brain is completely fleshed out.

My least favorite part is trying to get my favorite part “there”. It seems sometimes as if I tweak, re-tweak, change and tweak, and then fix that scene, over and over, endlessly, when I am making my edits.

How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?

I honestly cannot remember any longer how I came up with the idea from my first book “Another Sunset” as it’s sort of just “been in my head” since I was thirty. Getting it out as a first draft took six weeks. Four weeks of editing later and it was off to the printer.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

It would be probably better for me to answer what I DON’T do; that list is shorter. I am trying everything; home grown stuff on my own (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.) and a mix of paid promotion and other advertising campaigns.

Having done what I have for the past year, (and spending the amount of cash I have spent since November 2014), next year, 2016, is “just” going to be the “year of writing” for me. I am going to spend time focused on getting all my remaining titles out in my two new series and then once that is done (and I have more cash) I will get back to active promotion of all my books. If I am able to execute completely through 2016, that will be eleven titles in total to push once I get back to active marketing in 2017.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I am currently wrapping up Book Two of my “As Life Goes” series – “The End of the Innocence” (Book One “Elementary” released July 31, 2015). I am expecting that will be available mid-November.


For National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) my plan is to write Book Three of my “I, Hero” series “Phases” to have it ready for December 15, 2015.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

There are back burners I can load? No, pretty much I have everything going at once.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Babe Ruth was at bat 8,399 times in his career in order to hit his 714 home runs; he struck out 1,330 times trying. I’ve never hit a home run, but I always swing for one. If I connect with the ball I know I gave it everything I had. If I strike out, I know I went down swinging.

Any chance at something that you choose to not take, will become the self-fulfilled failure you expect it to be.

MY QUESTION TO Kathryn (more marketing than writing but I see peer questions on it all the time) – Many of us that write for the sake of the hobby or simply because we have a passion for it, understand that any time you can take something you love to do, and minimize its own cost, that’s a wonderful thing. (At the same time, I doubt anyone would turn away six or seven figures if they could come into it). Knowing all of this, what are some cost effective ways to bring titles to the reading masses to introduce them to the public? What promotions for your work give you your greatest bang for the buck?

Wow. A great question. To be honest, I spend very little 'buck' when it comes to promotion, but one of my favorite 'cost' promotions is using postcards instead of book marks or business cards to spread the word. Very little can fit on a business card, and with a book mark, you really only have one use for it. Postcards, however, are open to your ingenuity. I use postcards as invitations to book signings, as a way of introducing myself at places such as the bank, the library, the grocery store; even as a free gift at book signing for those readers who are trying to decide if they want to purchase my book or not. Postcards are hard to lose; much harder than a business card. Plus, they give you a whole lot more room to write. 



Through the years I have gathered plenty of ideas that have worked for me. All of these ideas I've gathered into a marketing book called: Marketing Your Book on a Budget. The book comes out every January, completely updated.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

CHRISTMAS BOOK FAIR! Have you signed up?

If you read my blog post a couple of days ago, I shared some ideas with you on how I'm going to be promoting my books through the holidays.

Another great idea has just come to my attention: an online Christmas Book Fair!

My friend, Charles Derek Bray, has put together a fantastic way to get the word out about your book(s) for a very small fee!

You can attract thousands of Christmas readers by including one or more books in this 
A  £6 fee (approx $US 9) will secure an attractive illustrated display for your book throughout the whole of the CHRISTMAS BOOK FAIR, which won't end until NEW YEARS DAY
A discounted fee of £3 will apply to each additional book, which will also enjoy a full, illustrated display space



Indietribe's popular ANNUAL CHRISTMAS BOOK FAIR is going live in early November 
We're now getting a fabulous display of books together for the very lucrative Christmas market.
Books of all Genres
Books of all sizes
Books that hungry shoppers will grab for themselves and for presents

Coming Soon, I will be interviewing Charles about his proofreading service, his author review exchange program, his author spotlights and more!

Until then, you'll want to jump in on this great idea - an easy way to get your name out there!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gearing Up for Simple Treasures!

Believe it or not, the Simple Treasures Holiday Boutique is just around the corner.

I've had to order more books and just discovered I'm almost out of some book postcards!


The good news is that things get busy like this every year, and so nothing is really new in preparing for a craft show.

Still, I can feel the change coming. It's not only in the air, both literally and figuratively, it's also within me. I can feel it.

Can you?

If you didn't get a chance to read my post yesterday - I give some practical tips for selling your books during the holidays.

Happy Preparation!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ready for Christmas? What You Can Do to Sell More Books

Have a new book out for Christmas?

I do. And let me tell you, there's a thousand and one things I've been thinking about doing when it comes to getting my name out there for Christmas sales.

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Problem is, I  don't have the time or the money to do all of them, so allow me to share with with you what my body can actually handle.

1. I'm going to have an author signing for my new book in November. Why November? My book's a Christmas oriented book, and people are definitely thinking Christmas by then. The author signings I have for new books is always at my house, and this time around everything is going to be suited up for Christmas. What a great excuse to get those decorations put up early!

2. Book signings at craft boutiques. I'm doing two of them this year - one a two day, the other a four day stint. These are always successful.

3. Spreading the word through social media about my new book, and keeping it going until Christmas. You don't need to be a pest, but you do need to let your followers know that your book is out there. Sometimes I've even given away FREE eBooks on Black Friday. This increases my readership. What I hope happens here, is that someone gets my book for free, loves it, and then tells someone else about it who then buys it. Or the person who got the book for free decides to purchase some of my other books.

4. Make sure I'm keeping my blog up to date. I'm trying a new thing this year. For the entire month of December, all of my author and character interviews will be from authors who have published a Christmas oriented book. This can be for adults or children, but it must be a clean read. PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU'D LIKE TO PARTICIPATE.

5. As always, I have some postcards handy to give out when I meet people at the bank, at the grocery store, or wherever else I happen to be.

6. I am also looking for reviewers. Get a free e-copy of my book for reviewing it. It's my way of saying, thank you! PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU'D LIKE TO REVIEW MY BOOK.


Monday, October 19, 2015


1.     Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I grew up as the daughter of a history buff. We spent every vacation and many weekends visiting museums and learning about history. My dad was also a closet writer who wrote historical fiction in his spare time. He is an amazing story teller and I always admired his ability to spin a tale. I guess I inherited at least a little bit of his talent. I ended up marrying another history buff.  My husband encouraged me to try my hand at writing when he heard the passion in my voice about some of the stories that could be told about the things we saw in a museum one Saturday afternoon. I did and I was hooked. Publishing as an Indie was an easy decision by the time I had written my first few stories.

 How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I try to make time to write every day. There are days where I only outline or do research, but for me all those things support my writing process. Mornings are when I normally feel most inspired, but I will always sit down to write if the mood strikes me.

3.     How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?

I have an office with a desk where my big monitor sits. That’s where I do most of my writing.  I like to see my words on a big screen. There are times when I take my laptop to my favorite Panera Bread for a bagel and some juice for a change of scenery. The library is also one of my favorite places to do research and get inspiration. I’ve tried to use dictation devices and that did not work out well at all.

4.     What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

I love writing historical fiction. It’s easy to lose myself in the research and create scenarios that must have happened at that time. Being able to put those daydreams into words on a page is true joy for me. Putting characters I create into action and giving them breath is an amazing process. My least favorite part of writing is that it can be lonely when I don’t come up for air. I have to be aware of my tendency to withdraw from society when I’m deep into a project. It’s usually during the editing and rewriting process that I need to force myself to take some time to unwind into reality.

5.     How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?

My ideas mainly come from my research. As I read about historical events, it’s easy for me to create events and characters to fit in. I don’t write about actual events, but I do use them as inspiration. My characters are often named after people who are important to me. I don’t always match personalities, but I do give them a small tribute by using their names. I’m writing short stories and novellas right now. The shortest time I’ve written a book is about ten days and the longest it’s taken me is seven weeks. (Wow! I have never personally done that). I always have several projects in process at one time so I rarely start one project and finish it in a straight line.

6.     What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

A big part of my marketing effort is continuing to write and publish. I find that my readers are always waiting for the next one to be published and they let me know they want me to hurry. I also use Facebook advertising and from time to time some of the promotion sites. I have a Facebook page and try to interact there as much as I can. Every book I publish contains links to my other works and this simple addition has made a big difference.

7.     What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

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I’m currently working on a Christmas Western Romance series of three books. The setting for all three is Wyoming with snow and good cheer.  This series has been a joy to write and it should share holiday cheer with happy endings.  All three should be published on Amazon by early November. I also recently published the eighth and final book in a series of short stories and novellas.  This book is called “A Leap of Faith” about a mail order bride who goes to California to escape being under the thumb of her wealthy and domineering parents.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I am also working on a series about three sisters who are trying to make their way and take care of their mother after the Civil War. Their father was a chaplain in the Southern army and he was killed in battle. Their small Georgia town is weak and failing. The girls know they must leave their home town if they are to survive. The oldest sister plans to go west to marry a man who needs a wife. I’m still trying to figure out how the girls and their mother are going to get to their new life and what difficulties they’ll face. Of course there will need to be some handsome men for these girls to meet!
8.     What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

I think practice is the key to gaining confidence. Write as much as you can, as often as you can. Find successful authors to network with. Learn from writing and learn from what you see successful authors do. Read as much as you can in the genre you want to write in. Take classes and read about writing methods. Learn to take criticism, but develop a filter to know which advice is valid and which is not.

My question for you is how do you learn about new marketing methods? How do you know what works without sinking a bunch of money into an idea only to find out it’s a bust?

What a great question, and one I get asked - a lot. You may not realize it, but most of the marketing you do doesn't have to cost you a penny. You may also not know that I've published a marketing book on that very subject: "Marketing Your Book on a Budget." This book comes out every January with updates, because there are always updates in the book marketing world.

A few ideas to get you going. You can make your own book trailers using This is a great way to get the word out about an upcoming book or a book sale or even to announce an event you'll be signing at. Post this trailer on your website and make sure it gets out on social media. Book trailers are free at Animoto as long as your trailer is 30 seconds or less. Yes, you can have a short trailer that works.

Do a book signing in a place other than a book store. I sell most of my books at craft boutiques believe it or not. And make sure your book is on I sell many books there as well.

 Thank you, Annie!
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