In the time it takes to watch a Romantic Comedy… you can read Hollywood Beginnings!
That was my plan when I set out to write a novel for summer. I made it a Quick Read, so you could finish it on the beach (or during a couple of lunch hours or waiting in the van… yeah, I know how busy life gets!)
I’ve always loved the Frankie and Annette beach movies and came up with the premise…
“What if…” your mother had been an up and coming star but left Hollywood before you were born? What would have driven her from stardom, and how would you, as her daughter, feel about growing up in Minnesota?
My main character, Amy, feels a little robbed. And when mother and daughter return to the City of Angels for a funeral, an over-due L.A. adventure is exactly what Amy gets!
And you’ll get Hollywood Beginnings with all the laughter, romance, and real women’s aha moments I could pack in a Quick Read… For FREE until midnight tonight! Download it in seconds from Amazon by just clicking on the cover!
So a funny thing happened to me in February…
Because of all your great support and encouragement, The Do-Over made its way up the Amazon Kindle Bestseller list!
The Amazon Top 100 seemed an impossible dream for an indie author like me, but we did it! Thank you especially to everyone who posted a review on my Amazon page or clicked on the thumbs up button to encourage other readers to find a Montana writer who’s done it all from her tiny home office.
I’m always looking for that sentence or two of support that leads new readers to give my books a try!
This Sunday to celebrate (and because it’s almost Valentine’s Day!) I’m giving away FREE downloads of Plan On It.
I gave away over 20,000 copies of The Do-Over, so don’t hesitate to pass this on to friends. The more the merrier! (Plus, it may count as a gift from you even if it’s a Freebie!)
And finally the Newbie which is also a Freebie… If all the Amazon stars align, my newest novel, Back To U, will be available on Valentine’s Day and FREE!
As a writer and a teacher, I’ve had some really great years. But as an author, this is already the most amazing year ever, and it’s only February!
Thanks for coming along on the ride!
1965 was a great year for buying a car… average cost? $2,650. Rent? How about $118. It was also the year the Sound of Music was released; Wham-O Super-balls were everywhere (and if you ever had one you know how “everywhere” they could go); the Beatles sang “I Feel Fine”;
TV added Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, and Green Acres to the evening line-up; the mini skirt appeared on the fashion scene; and I appeared in time to be the first girl born that year in the state of Montana.
Having a birthday on New Year’s Day has been a mixed blessing. There’s always a celebration the night before, for example. But on the actual day, it’s pretty hard to get anyone to rally for cake. My father’s birthday is Christmas Day and for 86 years he barely got a cake, so I try not to complain.
I’ve had a lot of great birthdays, ushering in the New Year, and feeling grateful for the one I’d had the privilege of living. This year is a distinct one for me, though. I started 2011 with one major life goal unreached. This is not to say that every single thing I ever put down on my January 1st list, I achieved. Some, over the years, I’ve had to let go.
I am not going to be in an MTV video playing guitar next to the sisters of Heart. I can live with that.
Nor will I ever have a shot at Tom Selleck. Again, I let that one go by the late 80′s. And it’s not looking good for me to spend spring break partying in Florida when I need to put my energy into preventing my teenagers from EVER doing that.
But some dreams don’t die. Some dreams no matter how much you’d like them to leave you, just keep whispering from somewhere deep in your soul. Mine was to be an author. Not a writer, mind you. I was a writer and have been a writer since 3rd grade. A writer writes, and I can’t help myself. I’ve scrawled bits of stories on napkins and bank deposit slips. When it comes to being a writer, I could check “Yes.” What I didn’t have was the chance to have readers.
That’s not entirely true. I’d had chances, but they relied on things beyond my control, like agents and editors, and the economic state of the publishing industry as it was swallowed up by large corporations. And then… I had a real chance that was in my hands. I put out an e-book, a romantic comedy novel, The Do-Over, and over the course of the summer and fall, I found readers.
This Christmas when my second novel, Plan On It, came out, I gave away free downloads of both novels in the Amazon Kindle store and readers found me. Thousands of readers found me. Thousands of readers that sent The Do-Over into the top 5 for Romantic Comedies, and Plan On It in the top 20 Funny Romance in less than a week.
I’ll tell you, it’s been such a crazy great week for me, I’m tearing up right now, and it’s not just because I make Jambalaya for New Year’s Eve and the onions are very powerful! I have had, at last, the chance to share what I write, and that is the best birthday present I’ve ever received. Thank you.
Happy New Year ahead!
As always it’s a crazy-busy time of year, but I’d like to share a pair of holiday inspired songs (only vaguely inappropriate) and offer you TWO PRESENTS! ( No, really, it’s okay if you didn’t get me anything)
The first song is for my writer friends out there… Sing to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas,
the one I hope’s right down the road.
Where the scenes I hammer and readers clamor
to rush my Kindle book download.
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas
with every novel that I plot.
May the book be funny and hot,
and may all the comma errs be caught.
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas.
I’ve worked the keyboard all year round,
where my neck would seize up, my fingers freeze up,
my head would spin around and pound.
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas
I made my list in case he might…
May St. Nick bring a manuscript tonight,
’cause I’ve heard those elves can really write.
This next number (I’m sounding like a lounge singer now, aren’t I?) is one I wrote for my beloved Bookgroup: all women, all amazing, and all wondering if… Here Comes Menopause.
You can hear this song performed (not by me) in front of my very own Christmas tree. I love the little dog in the background (also not mine but I wish he were).The yellow title below links directly to Youtube where you’ll enjoy lyrics like… “She’s got a bag that’s filled with rage, but she loves you just the same!”
And didn’t I say something about a PRESENT… about TWO PRESENTS? Yes, I did. To thank everyone for being so wonderfully supportive and encouraging in my first year as a real live author, The Do-Over and my newest novel, Plan On It will be available for FREE downloads on December 26!
Thankyouthankyouthankyou and happy e-reading!
I have a refrigerator magnet my husband bought me because the crazed 1950′s woman on it looked like me. I don’t believe I look like I’m out of a 50′s advertisement, but she does resemble me with the slightly unhinged expression all mothers sometimes wear.
On the magnet it says, “I took the road less traveled. Now, where in the heck am I?”
I thought of the magnet recently because I’ve been trying to step back a bit and see the big picture. Since the book was launched on May 28th, my 18th wedding anniversary, it’s been non-stop busy for me.
E-marketing is O-verwhelming
Every day I try to do some marketing: contact reviewers, keep up with my author facebook page, explore new sites like Goodreads, pass the word in my community, and try to post as regularly as I can here. I’ve now forgotten what I’ve done, not done, thought about getting done etc…
Addicted to Office Supplies and Proud of It
The other morning I sat up in bed with a cup of tea, a new legal pad (blue because I’m a sucker for office supplies), a calender, and a couple dozen scraps of paper and sticky notes. I asked myself three questions: “Where have I been? Where am I? Where am I going?” In terms of the book, it helped me generate a master to-do list and see I’ve come a long way in just over six weeks.
It also reminded me that on a day to day basis, I tend to ask the last question, “where am I going?” or even more commonly “where do I want to be?” far more often than I appreciate where I’ve been and, more importantly, where I am.
Where Am I?
Right now in my home office, it’s 10:30 at night. I can hear my girls watching a movie and my husband getting ready for bed. Over a cup of Sleepytime tea, I’m enjoying the click of my keyboard, the cool air moving through the house, and the scent of a mock orange.
It’s a tree and a life I planted (where have I been?) I now enjoy the blossoms of it all (where am I?) And I look forward to gathering blooms and family and books in another bouquet in the morning (where am I going?)
I wonder if you, like me, have those same moments of focusing on the last question and not giving yourself enough time or credit or room to appreciate the first two. I wish right now for nothing but right now.
This Memorial Day weekend, while my daughter Grace and I suffered colds together and the rest of the family enjoyed the long weekend (we really were happy for them), I sold my first book. Yes, The Do-Over appeared at long last on Amazon and hooooooooray, a sale!
I thought about a great many things besides “where did that box of facial tissues get to?” But one thing that struck me was how glad I was I had learned to see and accept synchronicity when it showed up, sometimes even on my doorstep.
E-Publishing as a Fear-Based Activity
I’d been letting the idea of e-publishing roll around in my head for a while. My friend, the novelist Dennis Foley, cheered me on for at least a year before I let myself imagine it. Still it took more nudging than that for me to consider a non-traditional approach to getting to readers.
I’ve been a big fan of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and had the privilege of taking several groups of amazingly creative people through it. (Peer pressure should never be underestimated as a great way to get your life rolling.) In the book, Cameron stresses the importance of looking for synchronicity, ways the universe helps us out.
So I was half-way thinking about moving ahead with my dream of publishing, and doing it my way. (I once had a bumper sticker with Frank Sinatra in a snappy fedora that said, “It’s Frank’s world. We just live in it.”) But, of course, I lacked all the technical skills to make it happen. And then the magic of synchronicity brought me Roxanne…
June first has probably always been a day I’ve looked forward to. Living in Montana, winters are long and spring is something of a miracle. (To give you a feel for my mood in January… I throw a neighborhood women gathering I call The Donner Party Tea.)
Springtime this far north doesn’t arrive on June 1st necessarily. That day can bring snow just as readily as sunshine. But this June 1st I’ll have my new season regardless of the weather. It’s the day my novel, The Do-Over, will be available.
Long Winter of Publishing
And yes, I have waited through a long winter of publishing… many, many long winters. I like to think I was supposed to tell the stories of women at mid-life and needed to get there myself to understand the terrain. Who else could capture the joys and irritations, the exhaustion and stubborn hope than a sister who is also knee-deep in permission slips and peri-menopause?
Admit it, if you were looking in at your own life, you’d find it interesting. (And I don’t mean a can’t-look-away-from-a-train-wreck interesting.) You’d see, as I do, that women at this stage in life are working hard for others and just beginning to see that they can begin to shift some of that amazing caretaking energy back to themselves.
I think of The Do-Over as a female fantasy in which we get all the good things and some of the bad things we deserve. Most of us don’t want to blow up our lives so much as take a break from them. And not just a vacation from warehouse shopping and work, but a vacation from our own limits. That’s what Mara Jane Mulligan does, and it’s what I hope mid-life lit. encourages us all to do.
What draws a writer to a story? Maybe it’s something lofty like a desire to change the world, but what drew me to The Do-Over was a long, cold, dark winter stuck inside with two children. I fantasized about taking a vacation from my beloved family and returning re-energized.
After the wonderful break, I’d be ready to make another peanut butter and jelly sandwich and happy to warehouse shop for jugs of ketchup. Since a vacation wasn’t actually shimmering on the horizon, I spent the rest of the long season escaping to my computer. I lived Mara Jane Mulligan’s story vicariously, and I hope others will feel the fantasy of their own domestic escapes.
Question and answer with the author
Where did you get your idea for this book?
There were a rash of movies about superheroes, and it struck me that they were male fantasies. I thought, “what’s a woman’s fantasy?”
Every woman I know longs for a break. A vacation is great, but even when you’re on one you’re still a wife and a mother and a woman who doesn’t wear prints. The real fantasy would be to take a break from your whole life, be somebody else, and recharge enough to head home again.
Where do you get your ideas for writing in general?
I wrote a screenplay from an obituary. I read them every day because I love that they are mini biographies. I keep my eyes and ears open for things just like that, an over-heard bit of conversation in the grocery store, a piece of news, a picture. Then, when something strikes me, I ask, “what if?” and try to put the least likely character in a challenging situation.
What are your inspirations?
I just love to write. “Inspired” sounds like the stars need to align, but I think writing is fun. I entertain myself by living with stories in my head. Besides, if I’m not writing, I’m like a hamster without a wheel, and my family is inspired to tell me to get to work.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Third grade. I wrote a story for Mr. Hartman, a Nancy Drew sort of mystery based on my grandmother’s black velvet watch band. The story was well received at Muldown Elementary. I realized writing was great fun, and I was forced to abandon my second grade dream of being a botanist, a profession I chose because the word was cool.
What do you like to read?
I always have a non-fiction book going. I think of it as continuing education. I love books about finance and budgeting, self-improvement, home organization, business, and, of course, writing and creativity. In fiction I read for pure pleasure: Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Janet Evanovich, and Jennifer Crusie.
How do you balance writing and family life?
I write at home, so it’s been tricky. I learned never to write when the girls are around. My mom radar is always on, and I’m easily distracted by anything I hear outside my office door. I can plot, research, take notes, etc… but I don’t even try to get any pages done. Now that they’re both in school, it’s easier, but I still go away from the house to write during school breaks. I’ve written with no trouble in a McDonald’s playland with children screaming. They just weren’t my children.
How did you start writing novels?
My background was in poetry, and I was teaching college English when I had an idea for a novel. I think working in different forms keeps writing interesting. I dove in and used the first novel to learn how to write one. My first screenplay started the same way, as an exercise in how to be a better writer. Now I like to alternate novels and screenplays.
How did you research The Do-Over? Did you run away from home or play volleyball on a nude beach?
First, what I love about fiction is that I get to make stuff up. It’s the main reason I don’t use my journalism degree. News agencies frown on “made up” stuff. For The Do-Over I took many, many bubble baths while entertaining the fantasy of thirty days away from everything, including myself. And I did take the family to Vancouver to fill in the details of that wonderful city. I scouted the beach next to the nude one. I like to imagine I would have happily gone the female equivalent of the full monty had the children not been there.