Thursday, July 20, 2017

Writing Without a Day Job -- Unemployed or Retired?

by Linda Thorne

Although I hope to be able to call myself a career author someday, right now I don’t make enough money or publish enough books to do so. This past May I published a post here about losing my 9-year job in human resources. I’d been especially busy at that job for the previous six months and was at my wits end because I could not get any time in for writing—zero, none, nada. I was lucky to do a minimum amount of promotion and I had literally stopped attending all author events and group meetings.

My writing life had come to a halt and a big part of me kept thinking maybe I could let the job go and see how I fared. Then I stretched my daydream of quitting into maybe in 6 months, which would turn into maybe in a year, and then I’d add another year and say to myself I could make it for at least two more. It became apparent I’d never let it go and I saw no end to the increasing workload with new owners and restructuring. I didn't get to make that choice and therefore the reason I titled my post, Be Careful What You Wish For.

That May post brought in a number of comments from others who had gone through similar situations trying to write while working a day job and/or having their jobs eliminated. Their experiences ran the gamut from saying their lay-offs were absolute blessings to admitting they didn’t get much more writing done while off work than they did when working full-time. Some people talked about the pluses of not working; i.e., less time constraints and fewer expenses on things like gas for the car and business clothes.

In one of my replies to comments made on that May MMM post, I said I’d get back to everyone on how this pans out for me as time goes by. It’s been three months since I lost my job and here are some things I learned. Yes, I’ve been able to do more writing, but I’m not as disciplined as I hoped to be. When the job was an eight to fiver with a true one-hour lunch break, I got almost as much done writing as I do now with no day job. It was only in the final six months that the work demands became so extreme to stop my writing life. So it was not having a job that held back the writing, it was the increased amount of time it took me to do the job.

I’ve decided I don't want to be retired, but temporarily unemployed instead. I'm looking forward to getting back to my profession in human resources where I have a regimen, deadlines, and a paycheck.

Our dogs would like to see me back at work too. They’re not happy when I feed them later in the mornings and they let me know it. Notice I’m not in the chair in the sitting room below?

That’s because our fur friends don’t want me to use it in the daytime hours. I used to sit in there in the evenings and read instead of watching TV. If I go in there before five o’clock they whine to my husband making the darndest fuss. Somehow over the years they’ve gotten the notion it’s their room during the day whether they're in it or not. I can still use it at night, but daytimeoff limits to everyone but them.   

So I’m past the decision stage and hoping to get back to a regular job. If I get one, I’ll continue to work at writing in my spare time and will likely get as much accomplished as I do now. I hope you'll all wish me luck. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Publicity and Privacy - How Much is Too Much?

by Janis Patterson

The hardest thing about blogging regularly is coming up with an idea for a post. After the basic premise is secure, writing the post is a breeze – and usually takes no more than half the time. But coming up with that idea…

I’ve blogged about technique until I feel I should hand the most faithful of my readers a degree of some sort and about my personal life until, being a very private person, I feel half naked. Besides, I really don’t think that people are or even should be interested in the cute things my animals do or the new curtains I’m putting in the guest room, what I’m cooking for supper that night or my political/religious beliefs. While such things affect my writing, they should not affect my books, and my books are the connection with readers – not my supper plans or curtain colors.

I truly do not understand the need some readers feel to know the minutiae of a writer’s personal life. While I admit to a vague curiosity about if my favorites are married, and in what part of the country they live, and the most general of information, none of it is necessary to my enjoyment of their books – or really any of my business. Their books are the connection between us – not the color of their drapes or dinner plans, to continue my rather tired example.

I find, though, that I am in the minority. Far too many readers today feel entitled to know the daily details of a writer’s life, as if they were next door neighbors or long time friends and the only reason they aren’t welcome to come over every morning for coffee is distance. As writers we are encouraged if not demanded to befriend our readers, interact with them, share with them and no one ever seems to realize that the more time we spend befriending and interacting and sharing with them is time we are not spending writing the next book. Ah, but, says the entitled reader, that’s for everyone else – not for them.

So is it the books they like, or being ‘intimate’ with a writer? I’m afraid it’s what we in the talent industry (I used to work in an actors’ agency) the ‘stardust factor’ – the belief that by being close to someone even semi-famous some of their fame and glamour sprinkles down on them. (I can hear all you writers chortling at the concept of writing being glamorous!) Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone – I have made several dear friends who began as fans, but in every case it is an organic relationship that grew naturally and not something deliberately sought.

Maybe my insistence on a certain level of privacy and distaste of feigning a relationship that doesn’t really exist is why I’m not as popular as I think I should be. Or perhaps it’s just that I was raised with the belief that putting oneself forward constantly saying “look at me look at me” is vulgar. Either way, so be it. If my animals and curtain colors and dinner plans are more important to readers than my books I pity them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Many Ways of Getting News About Your Book Out by Marilyn Meredith

Though I've used a lot of different ways to let people know when I have a new book out, I'm certainly no expert.

Because I'm on Facebook a lot, those who follow me know I'll soon have a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree out, A Cold Death. It's been edited and now waiting for the final proof and the cover. Of course the final proof will have to be checked carefully. We're hoping for an August publication. Yes, I know, we're cutting it short.

I'm big on blog tours, not so sure they generate sales, but a lot of people will hear about whatever book I happen to be promoting. I haven't done a thing about a blog tour for this one--just no time. Will I organize one? Probably.

As I've reported, I've done many library presentations--though I only sell a few books at these, people do learn about my two series. Fortunately, I have more library presentations to come.

Though I seldom do bookstore signings, I have two planned. One with Barnes and Nobel that a fan arranged, and another in a particular area I have many friends and even a couple of relatives.

I'll no doubt promote in the various Facebook groups--I'm never sure if this helps or is just annoying to people who belong to more than one of these groups.

I have a big presentation coming in August to a large writers group on the coast. I've been to this group many years ago and I'm looking forward to being there again.

I'm on several listserves--a couple of Sisters in Crime, other mystery related groups, and I will certainly let them know about the new book when it arrives. And of course, I'll drop a line to DorothyL.

Speaking of Sisters in Crime, I will indeed be sure to tell the three groups I belong to about the new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Though I'm not a big user of Twitter, I will indeed Tweet about my book.

In October, I'm going to participate in the Great Valley Bookfest--a fun event, and a good place to promote a new book.

Last, but not least, I have a monthly newsletter where I always write about what's going on in both my private and writing life.

If you know of something I've missed, please say so in the comment section. Or if there's something you've done that has worked well for you, tell us about it.


In the Saroyan Gallery at the main branch of the Fresno Library--listening to a question asked by an audience member.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Make Mine Mystery
July 5, 2017
Linda Lee Kane


            When it comes to marketing my books, like most authors, I am completely out of my element and totally inexperienced.
            What I want to do is write, tell a great story, perfect my craft but if my books don’t sell because of my lack of knowledge of the marketing world than its almost impossible for me to keep writing for anybody but myself, which is okay but I usually write stories to convey a message.
            So it came to my attention that a book by an author called the 30-Day Book Marketing challenge by Rachel Thompson might be of help. It is jammed packed with loads of useful information and websites to get you where you want to go in the world of Social Media Marketing.
            Most authors have embraced blogging, Facebook, and Twitter, you congratulate yourself by thinking, “I have arrived”. Now what? Well, isn’t that the 50 million dollar question?
            One of the first things Rachel did is brand herself-experimenting with pre-release activities prior to her book launch. She actively markets her own books, 100%. So isn’t just talking the talk, she is actually doing it.
            Day 1 of her 30 day Challenge is all about Twitter-she believes Twitter is a great channel for networking and visibility.
            Rachel gives a lot of helpful information on how to use it to your best advantage and feels twitter is an important book marketing tool because it’s where your READERS are. Book marketing is about BOOK DISCOVERY.
Next month, if I get some interest, I’ll post some of her go to websites and helpful information on your bio and pinning a tweet.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Mystery of the Disappearing Blog Post and More

This is the second time it's happened to me, two different blogs.

No doubt it's something I did, or didn't do. Not sure if I should blame it on old age (I'm certainly there) or just having too much going on at one time.

This is a mystery I haven't been able to solve.

I just went over the edits for the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, A Cold Death, and sent them back--so that's on the way. Of course I'll have to go over the galley proofs and approve the cover which isn't created yet.

In the meantime, I'm working on the first chapter of the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, trying very hard to get it finished (the chapter) so I have something to read to my writers' group on Wednesday night.

And of course, today is a holiday--Happy Fourth of July!

Over the years we've celebrated many different ways, usually involving food. When we had a houseful of kids, we would climb onto the roof (well everyone but me) to watch the fireworks at the harbor. We've had cookouts, gone camping, been invited to other people's homes to celebrate, and watched public fireworks from various parking spots. This year, though the young people who live with us are having a celebration here which will include food and swimming in the river, are only plans involve staying cool.

How are you celebrating this Independence Day?


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Thomas Wolfe and the Loss of Magic

by Janis Patterson

Sometimes finishing a book can be the saddest thing on the earth. I know that when the magic has been really working and the book is good and tight and alive, I often have difficulty in writing the last chapter or two.

I know what’s going to happen. I even have most of the wording in my head. I can see the action in my mind just like watching a movie screen. But I hesitate and procrastinate about putting the words to paper… or pixels, as the case may be.

Other times I race to the finish (as much as my picky craft-obsessed mind will allow) and typing The End is an incredible relief, one that could be called escape. I am shed of that world, which has grown tiresome, and the characters, whom I sometimes have come to actively dislike, while the wonderful, pristine world of a new project beckons seductively. I don’t know why one project becomes the mental equivalent of hard labor and another a delight which I am reluctant to complete. It has nothing to with genre, as this phenomenon has happened in every genre I write – except children’s, but as I have only done one of those and it was the result of a fit of bad temper, I don’t believe that is big enough a sample to count.

I do, however, flatter myself enough to believe that my readers cannot tell which book has been a delight to write and which has been labor.

I am currently in this situation. I am within 2-3 thousand words of typing THE END and have been having a terrible time doing it. I love this story, this world, these people. Instead of writing I find myself doing housework, which I normally regard as slightly less enjoyable than a visit to the dentist. No, I must find another analogy, for at the dentist’s I am given copious amounts of happy gas, which is a wise self-defense measure on the part of my dentist. You see, I bite. Quite involuntarily, I assure you, as I actually like him as a person and he is a very good dentist.

Perhaps this ‘place of magic’ is why the phenomena of series are so popular. Once ensconced in a world, book after book after book ensures that neither the reader nor the writer has to step outside their cozy little enclave. But while that is true up to a point I disagree. Yes, there is the safety of familiarity in subsequent iterations, but characters and places move on, and neither is ever the same as the first time.

Thomas Wolfe was right. You can never really go home again.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Library Visits

This year, thanks to attending a book fest in Fresno, I was asked to visit several Fresno area libraries and give a presentation. I love libraries and they are probably my favorite place to give talks.

The first one was on the 17th at the Gillis Library in Fresno. The following one is on July 8th at the big library, in downtown Fresno, followed by one in Fowler on the 22nd, and on th 29th in Selma. There are two more in August.

I'm on a roll with libraries, as on June 24th, I'll be over in Paso Robles at their library, doing a workshop with two other authors. This one was arranged by the Central Coast Sisters in Crime. I've belonged to this group for years even though it's a 3 plus hour drive for me, it gives me a chance to visit the coast, one of my favorite places.

And on Tuesday, June 27th, at 6:30 p.m. I'll be with another author friend at the Exeter Library. (This one is not quite an hour away.) A book club has read my first Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery and will be attending, so I can expect questions about it and the series.

I'll give a report on the other visits and how they turned out.

Tell me about either attending library author presentations and what you liked or didn't like, or if you're an author, do you like doing library presentations?