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Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Starting Over~ From Barrett’s Garret

hands on keyboardA Year in this writer’s life~~  

As romantic a vision as it may be, I don’t really work from a freezing writer’s garret. My little old office does nicely. Today I have some writing news I wanted to share which will partly explain why I’ve been quiet these past few weeks.

I’m working on a brand new romance series called Sea View House, and I’m about halfway through the first book. The working title is The Perfect Wife, but that may change. So many things change from the conception stage to the final product that with titles, we always call it a working title until the final choice is on the book’s cover.

Funny how things come about. As the new year approached, I did NOT want to make any resolutions. Most resolutions fail. They fail after a week or two because most are tied into losing weight. As we all know by now, losing weight doesn’t happen by magic or by starving yourself for a week. Good stories don’t get magically written either. They need a lot of planning and a lot of time reserved only for thinking. Or dreaming. Thinking is not overrated. It’s a must.

By last November, I felt blah. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just didn’t have the energy for new projects. I’d lost my joy, my mojo, not only for writing, but for family fun. My golfer guy and I planned a cruise with friends, but honestly, I didn’t care one way or another if we actually went. With writing, normally, my hands start to itch for the keyboard. My mind drifts off, daydreaming about new characters and what they want and why they can’t have it. Now my mind was just blank. Burned out. So I looked back over the year to figure out the reason. I thought if I couldn’t, then maybe it was time to cover the keyboard and call it a day. Or a career.

Exactly one year ago, in January 2013, I officially started my journey as an author-publisher.  During the year, I released two full-length new works: a novel (Family Interrupted) and a memoir (Hopefully Ever After). I wrote over 60 short pieces for this blog (Starting Over), and participated in Facebook posts many times per week. I arranged for a blog tour, made personal appearances at several groups and was featured in a newspaper article here in Florida. I also gave as much support to other writer-friends as I could by sharing their FB posts or highlighting them in my blog.

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I kept up with industry news through writers’ magazines, blog posts by agents and authors as well as through group discussions with my own lifeboat of author friends and professional author loops. But by the time I boarded the cruise ship on December 30th, I had no idea where my writing was going next or if it was going anywhere at all. I was ready for a vodka tonic every night. And ordered them!

I enjoyed cruising with my friends. I learned how to snorkel and was thrilled to see the gorgeous fish swimming in front of my eyes, their bright colors flashing through the water. On the ship, if I was hungry, I ate. Without having to cook. If I was tired, I slept. Without having to make the bed. If I was in need of a shower, I took one. Without having to launder the towels. I played a Team Trivia game every day. I window shopped jewelry and other pretties. I arrived home relaxed, still undecided about the next step on my career path, but not worrying about it so much. Yes, I was born a worrier.

About three days after arriving home, after food shopping, laundry and cleaning the house, I sat down at the computer and continued working on The Perfect Wife. Time flew. It took me a week to get back on Facebook.  So what? I waited a few days to reconnect with my author friends, but I didn’t worry about it. They’d understand.

I found the joy again. As always, it lurks in the writing waiting to be rediscovered. Truly a gift that keeps on giving in the best of ways. After publishing  fifteen full-length books, you’d think I’d know that by now. That I’d remember it when days are gray. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget when  a long list of “should’s” and “have to’s” obscure it.

So my resolution this year is to be mindful of the joy. The stressors of writing must remain in a corner to be addressed when I can. Hmm….? Maybe I am shedding weight after all–from my mind, not my body.

As always, thank you so much for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.

Linda

P.S.  My short story Man of the House will be available soon for 99 cents at all ebook stores.

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Starting Over ~ Riding the Wave or Not

hands on keyboardOBSERVATIONS FROM AN INDIE AUTHOR AFTER ONE YEAR

If your timing was right and you were lucky enough to ride the wave of independent publishing a year or two ago, you’re probably gung-ho about this new world of publishing. Riding the wave meant: 

1) you had a backlist to promote,

2) you were adept or quickly learned to be adept at social media,

3) you understood how to promote on book selling sites and blogs and had the shekels for paid ads you deemed necessary,

4) you had a nice handful of other authors at your side to support each others’ efforts by cross-promoting,

5) you believed in yourself enough to shell out some additional bucks for editing and cover design services,

6) you had enough money left over for technological services for uploading and distributing books to all the big electronic book stores,  OR

7) you had the innate ability to conquer whatever technology you needed to learn

8) you had the temperament to jump into the deep end of a new business with not much but your own chutzpah and a lot of discipline related to time and money management

9) you were ready to work 24/7 and lucky enough to have an understanding spouse

I am here to tell you that Items 2-9 on this list are the gravy items. Without Item 1 – the backlist – don’t count on your career sky rocketing. Not even if you are a multi-published author who’s won awards. Not when your books are still owned by a traditional house. Without appreciable on-line content for sale–content that’s in your control—significant income or any income is a long shot.  

Everything’s an experiment during the first year of going indie. Assuming you have a nice backlist but sales are slow, you can change covers, promote at different sites, ride the freeway or offer big “deals,” such as 99 cents permanently for a book. If one idea doesn’t work, just try another. Sooner or later, you’ll hit the right note.  Proof will be with your income.

Most author friends have told me that during their first year as indie publishers, they worked exclusively with their backlists and didn’t write any new work. Getting those older books up and out is hard work that consumes your time. But it must be done. Think of it as the building block to your new work.

For the author without a backlist, like moi, that first year is a whirlwind of trying and learning. While you’re writing new books, you’re also trying to have an Internet presence: Facebook, Twitter, Blogging – Tribrr, Goodreads.  The goal is “getting your name out there.” I’ve heard that phrase so much, I say it in my sleep.  So I spent eight months writing two blogs a week with pictures, and posting them on my website. I loved writing them, and my readership grew from about 450 to 2000. Little did I realize, however, that maintaining that pace sapped my energy and creativity for writing new books. I didn’t expect to earn anything with my blog—I was “getting my name out!”

Lesson learned:  Take care of the muse!

I’d written thirteen books in the romance genre before my indie adventure. The rights are still held by my traditional publisher, so I started fresh. Different. I wanted to stretch my writing chops, so I wrote a women’s fiction novel called Family Interrupted. Put it on sale in April 2013. It received wonderful reviews from both professional reviewers and readers.  I promoted it, even gave it a blog tour.  The money I’ve earned so far could perhaps cover the cost of a steak dinner. One dinner. One time.

In October, I released a work of non-fiction.  A memoir of surviving two bouts of breast cancer called Hopefully Ever After. Again, the reviews were terrific, but sales so far…not so good. Maybe a chicken dinner.

Also in October I participated in an anthology with four other authors. Romance stories celebrating holidays around the year.  Price: 99 cents. I’m not counting on steak here either.

My current work-in-progress is a romance – the first book of a new series. I guess my writing chops were stretched enough. At least for this year.

Lesson learned:   Have the patience of Job, and give readers what they want.  

As always when writing a blog, essay, or opinion piece, I speak only for myself. These observations are my own. I based them on my true life experiences. I didn’t conduct any surveys – scientific or otherwise. I have a broad-based network of author friends who share stories. I read blogs written by others in the industry, and try to keep up with what I need to know. Will I ever know enough?  Will you?

This new wave of publishing is still an industry in flux. I don’t see it settling down yet. There are times I feel I’m running on empty. At other times, I can’t wait for a new day to begin. One thing I know for sure – I’m never bored.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I look forward to seeing you for the next edition of Starting Over.

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P.S.  Shh-h…here’s a little secret I’m sharing with you first. Hopefully Ever After will be only 99 cents next week, from Monday-Saturday at all ebook stores.  Regular price is $5.99.  Make a note and enjoy. Happy holidays!

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I’m very proud of the reviews and comments I’ve received about Family Interrupted. This novel is excellent for book clubs. In fact, the conversation lasted over an hour at my own book group. Hope you’ll pick up a copy.

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Starting Over ~ A True Thanksgiving Story

file0002043695191Where’s the drumstick??? 

When I was a child, Thanksgiving was considered sacrosanct. It was the only time of the year when my mom’s family got together. To me, it was a big party with lots of cousins, aunts and uncles. The visiting relatives contributed specialties for a buffet table of hefty hors d’ouvres. Aunt Madeline’s stuffed cabbage and Aunt Ethel’s mushroom & barley, not to mention a hot dog casserole Aunt Gladys made because she wanted to try a new recipe–these favorites can still make me salivate. After digging into those dishes, no one really needed turkey and sweet potato pie and cole slaw and a million other sides to the main meal which the hostess provided.

After many childhood years enjoying wonderful Thanksgivings, I got married and immediately was assigned the role of hostess. (I’m sure my mom and aunts loved having a year off!)  That first Thanksgiving dinner I prepared stands out clearly in my mind today… and not because I was a great cook!

There I was, not yet twenty-one years old, making my first turkey. I stuffed it, basted it, wrapped it in foil and set the oven for 350 degrees (I made everything at 350). When I took it out of the oven several hours later, the bird looked wonderful–nicely browned–and smelled delicious. I set it on top of the stove to cool and rejoined my relatives in the living room.

When I returned to the kitchen fifteen minutes later, the turkey was on the floor, the drumstick gone, while my Shepherd dog sat there with a shit-eating grin on his face.  My heart raced, my jaw dropped. I could feel myself panic, but kept silent. I didn’t want anyone else to know what happened. But what to do…what to do…? I had a beautifully set table in the dining room with twenty people gathering around it, a loving crowd expecting to see a lovely browned turkey. And entire, whole lovely browned turkey. Oy.

I changed the rules. When I called everyone to dinner, I served the bird already sliced up nice and neat. I didn’t say a word about the little mishap. And if we were one drumstick short…well, no one really noticed. Some secrets are meant to be kept 🙂

So whether your turkey has one drumstick or two, whether you’re roasting your hundredth bird or your first, whether you’re celebrating with a special someone or a crowd, I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings.

And a special happy Hanukkah for my friends who celebrate that awesome holiday! It will take another 70,000 years (no kidding) for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to collide like they do this year in 2013. Hanukkah is based on a lunar calendar, and since there are only 28 days in a lunar month, every so often the calendar is recalculated. That’s why Jewish holidays have floating dates. But never before and never again in our lifetime will Hanukkah and Thanksgiving be celebrated on the same date. So Happy Thanksgivukkah!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.

LINDA

P.S.  Don’t forget to celebrate with Celebrate Romance!   Only 99 cents at Amazon, BN, Kobo and Smashwords.

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