Was It A Mistake?

Last year, when a friend suggested that I try writing a book, I was all excited! I could not wait to get started and finished two within about a month, did all my own editing and got them self-published as soon as I could. That was when I made the mistake.

Well, I am still debating whether it was a mistake or a misdirection. I have learned quite a bit about the marketing side of being a self-published author, but I am still trying to decide if these small positives outweigh the negatives.

What was the mistake? Joining a few different writing groups on Facebook. Now you do not have to tell me I should have thick skin and not take things personally. I have been writing for many years, just not books, and I have been in the spotlight often. And I am not whining about it all. Just have been wanting to say these things and have been putting it off.

I have a very high comprehension level, so when I read things, I retain a lot of the information. Sometimes this is good, sometimes it is bad. In the case of writing books, it becomes overwhelming. All I seem to think about is all the rules that people would post about in those groups. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. Don’t dangle your participle, show instead of tell, and many other little tidbits that when you uncover them all, drive you absolutely crazy! I don’t know about you, but when I am reading a book, I do not stop when reading a sentence and say “Oh no! She dangled a participle!” So why is it so darn important that other authors like to take this rule or whatever other rules and constantly shove them in your face? I know that was probably a rude way to say it, but there….it’s been said. And then all the critique about people who write books and do not hire professional editors. It is like we are pariahs to the writing world. Well, I am sorry, but I am unable to pay for a professional editor. And don’t tell me I can find it. It is not there. Don’t judge. And funny thing is, people have read my books and actually enjoyed reading them. So I have that going for me at least.

So now, here I am with two other books in process and I am so overwhelmed with rules and feeling like the stuff I am writing is absolute junk, that I have lost almost all desire to write any more. I have moved on to other projects, like starting my own online store. And not that there aren’t any frustrations doing that, but I am not in any groups that have others talking about this topic, so I am free to do as I please with all aspects of developing, growing and promoting the store.

So, in the meantime, my stories sit. I struggle to think of things to put in this blog. I guess I should start writing about how to start an online store…lol. And well, if you are interested, here is the link to the store:  CALADAISY

In the meantime, I hope you all keep following along here. I will get back to writing some fun blogs to fill in while my book writing takes a hiatus.

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I Hated Christmas!

When I started this blog, I decided that at some point I was going to do some random blogs about life and stuff to go along with my author blogs. I am sort of in a self-imposed slump on my writing for right now. I am waiting on word from a couple of contests, thinking about the story line for my current work in progress and considering entering a couple more contests.

Sales are not as well as I had hoped. But that is okay. I am not disappointed or disillusioned. It is obvious, now that I have since learned a few things after I published, I am considering taking the books offline after Christmas and giving them a little overall revamp. When I published, I only used Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and I did not use CreateSpace, which I have since learned is the way to go. So I am thinking that after the holidays, this will be my next project. This is just another reason why I am in a self-imposed hiatus on working on the third book. However, the mind is a jumble with many different ideas on plot twists that I recently thought of and I am working them all out in my brain before putting them into the story. This seems to be my way. I have to work things through in my head before I decide to finally type everything out. Yep, I am weird…lol

So while I sit every evening reading Facebook posts, working on artwork and listening to music, I am slowly getting myself into the Christmas spirit. Tonight was the first time in a few years that I actually listened to Christmas music. I had been having trouble hearing certain popular songs on the radio because they bought back memories that made me sad. I lost my mom in 2014. When I was growing up, one of the things we always did together was listen to the few Christmas carol albums that we had and sing the songs together. Music and singing had always been a big part of my family life growing up. We were all in the church choir and my dad and oldest brother had pretty awesome tenor voices. The first Christmas after she passed, I didn’t have many issues with the music because silly me went and crashed on my way to work on the morning of December 19th, so I spent my birthday, Christmas and New Year’s in a trauma center suffering from 15 broken bones and a dislocated hip. I do remember just before the accident though. The radio station was playing Christmas music randomly during the day and I was just pulling into the garage when O Holy Night came on. It was the same version we used to listen to when I was a kid and it was always one of her favorites. I remember sitting there in the car and bawling my eyes out while listening to the song. Since then I found I avoided the carols. Tonight, I dug through my music channel and found the old songs while I worked on some Christmas art. I got through listening to the carols okay. It is the typing of all this that got to me. So, I guess as they say, time heals all wounds.

I wish I could say I always enjoyed Christmas and it was one of my favorite holidays. To be honest, it really never was. I hated Christmas. As a kid, I enjoyed the break from school, but that was about it. You see, the fates cursed me by giving me a birthday on Christmas Eve. Yes, you get ripped off when it comes to presents. People think it is okay to bring one present and tell you “Well, you can open it today or tomorrow.” And as a kid, all I could think was “Well if my birthday was in June, you would have given me two presents, so why is it is acceptable for you to just give me one because my birthday is the 24th?” I know, it sounds selfish, but there is a reason for that too. Quite honestly, we were quite poor. I am number eight of eight kids. We never had Christmas presents under the tree each year. If I did get presents, it was from a random aunt/uncle that would bring only the one as I said above. My parents never had the money to buy any of us gifts for Christmas or our birthdays. My dad felt it was better to spend the spare money on a good family meal and that was it. There was one year he really splurged. He bought us all a little mini four-pack of Whitman’s Sampler candy. And mine had a quarter in it for my birthday. I had never had a birthday party. I didn’t have a birthday cake until I was about 9 years old when I baked a cake for myself. It didn’t have any frosting, but it was the most memorable birthday cake for me ever.

So to me, Christmastime always seemed like a depressing time. Once it was all over, I had to return to school and the inevitable questions from classmates about what I got for Christmas and my birthday. Most times I just made things up so they would not treat me any differently or feel sorry for me. Or tease me. I was teased a lot as a kid because we were so poor.

Eventually, I grew up to adulthood and Christmastime changed. I had a man in my life, and ironically enough, he had a December birthday too. We are exactly nine years and nine days apart. All of a sudden, I had a birthday that was not Christmas themed. I didn’t get a present on the 24th and get told that I could open it today or tomorrow. When I woke up on Christmas morning, there were actual Christmas presents under the tree. And every year since then, we have always had separate birthdays and then Christmas and he and the kid always made both days special.  So I learned to love Christmas after all those years. I no longer resented all those years of nothing. It made me a stronger person and I learned to appreciate all the good things I had in my life.

But the best part was when our daughter started getting old enough to enjoy Christmas. It was like looking at Christmas all over again through the eyes of a child that didn’t have to face the harsh realities of life like I did being from a poor family. It was wondrous and glorious and fun. More than likely, we went a little overboard when it came to decorating and presents, but to sit there on Christmas morning and see the light in her eyes and the joy on her face was worth every penny we spent. And thank the stars! Her birthday is in June so we got to have a fun time with presents for her twice a year. It healed all the hurt and anger I had inside from when I was a kid. Yes, I know there is a reason for the season, but when you are a kid dealing with all that I did, you don’t really understand life and you resent everything about it.

We haven’t put up a tree in a few years, mostly due to space issues in our apartment, but this one here is big enough, so I am considering it. Despite cringing at the thought that our little demon child cat will have her way with it. I usually have to anchor the tree to keep it from falling over, I now have a huge selection of shatterproof ornaments and we never put any lights on the tree because she likes to chew on electrical cords. The whole process is humorous at best, so I will leave my Christmas memories with that and the picture at the top of the page. As you can see, our little Skwidgy making her nest in the tree from a few years ago.

Thank you once again for following my blog page. I want to wish all of you the most joyous holiday season ever. I shall leave you with everyone’s favorite quoted line: “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Any and all comments are welcomed. Don’t forget to click the “follow” button so you can keep up with my latest blog posts.

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I Am Finally Calling Myself a Writer!

I had more thoughts to share on my writing journey as things have progressed since I started this blog. Isn’t it always that way? You spend so much time writing something, but then after you post it for the world to read, you think of so many other things you really wanted to say, but didn’t think of until after the fact. So for now I say “oh well” and carry on. I may repeat things or elaborate more on them, but that is the fun of having your own blog…you get to say what you want whenever you want to say it.

I honestly don’t know why I never thought I would be a writer as I was growing up. I had always loved to read, my spelling and grammar had always been good, and my comprehension skills were well above par. All my life, I have loved to play word games and solve word puzzles. Over the last ten years or so, I have been posting articles on forums, guest blogging on some different websites, and doing interviews for a print magazine. I even had a job for over five years writing responses to complaint letters. Two years ago, I started my own blog. Four years ago, I wrote a ‘How To’ book. So why was it that when someone mentioned to me that I should try writing a novel, I cringed at the thought? It was such an intimidating prospect to me. I was like a gypsy that never really landed in one place when it came to my writing. I was everywhere.

It was only recently that the metamorphosis came. I was editing a story for an author friend and he was telling me all about his experiences with writing and self-publishing and that I should give it a try. I told him he was crazy and went on to edit his book. As I was reading, it was one of those “aha” moments.  I realized how relatively easy it was and I thought to myself, “I can do this!”

So the bug was planted in my brain and I decided to try becoming a romance novelist. I chose the romance genre, because to be quite honest, those are the only books I have read on a consistent basis. It was something I knew a lot about from my extensive reading history. My next thought was “What type of romance do I want to do? What am I going to have fun with?” It was then that I chose to write in the Time Travel sub-genre. When I read those styles of stories, I really enjoyed them and some of the humorous aspects of people living in different times and experiencing the wonders of those times.

My next step was to pick some characters and choose a setting/location. For my first book, I decided I should stick to an area that I knew about, so I chose Laguna Beach, since I had lived there for over 25 years. I made my main character a struggling artist and Laguna Beach, being an artist community, would be the perfect setting for her to live. It also helped that I knew many of the little tourist spots and the different businesses in Laguna Beach, along with some of the local folklore that I could use in my storyline.

How did I pick my characters? I chose their looks based on what I considered beautiful from other stories I had read. The woman was tall and well built, with fiery long red hair and emerald green eyes. Her counterpart, the man in the story from another time, was tall and lean, with black hair and dark sapphire blue eyes. When it came to their names, I wanted something slightly Irish for her last name to hint at her ancestry as a redhead. For her first and middle names, I just chose very feminine names that flowed together. For the man’s name, I just chose something traditional and easy, which just fell together. This is where Gabriella (Gabby) Elizabeth Kincaid and Jacob (Jake) Michael Evans were born.

For my second book, I decided to give a contemporary romance a try and see what I could do with writing something in modern day times. I wanted it to be based in the south, so pulled up a map and started looking at small towns that were close to larger city’s that everyone knew of. I pulled up a map of Georgia and noted a small town called Gordon, which was just outside of Macon and close to Atlanta. I did some research on the town itself and found that it was famous for its nearby local Kaolin mines and the town was named after the Gordon family, who had been running the local train depot since it was established in the 1800s. I decided that one of my characters was going to be a distant relative of the Gordon family and that I would mention something about the local mining business. Other than using a couple of names of local lakes in the story as well, I made up the rest about the town.

My distant Gordon relative was not the main character of the story, but he was the one that started it all. For his background, I borrowed some of the details from my husband’s family: his grandfather disowned his dad for joining the Marines to fight in WWII and the character’s name was Charlie, which was one of his dad’s brothers.

My main character was a young southern girl living a tough life and dreaming of becoming a published author. Charlie enters her life and changes it forever. During the course of that change, she comes across the other main character, Drew Dalton. Drew is the typical southern boy with lots of good looks and plenty of charm to go along with it. Together, they face the legacy of Charlie’s gold, murder and kidnapping while slowly falling in love.

I am now working on my third romance novel and this one is about as far from the other two as I could possibly be.  One day I was sitting here at my desk contemplating what I should write next when I looked over at a large dragon globe lamp that I have on a nearby table and the thought of doing something with a dragon type of creature stuck in my brain. After some thought, I decided to do a fantasy type romance novel with Viking/Valkyrie type main characters and a creature called a Derigon, which is a cross between a dragon and a raven. The shape and characteristics are of a dragon, but it is covered in the downy soft black feathers of a raven. The time and location settings for this story are completely fictional and all made up from the depths of my mind. It is definitely a slower process for this one.  I wanted to work harder on the word count, so I am using more time to do that instead of rushing to get the story all down as fast as I can and editing from there.  I am also working harder on the storyline to get more depth and detail out of it.

In the meantime, during my slow writing phase of this latest novel, I still have been crazy busy. I have spent the last month or so building up myself as an author and creating a brand online for myself and my books. Had I known this was important, I would have done it first, but I am still learning all this madness, as you can read in my other blog posts. I have not let my writing stall out though. I have since entered a couple of contests and I am hoping to hear some great results from that. For one of the contests, it is comprised of an anthology published through one of the Facebook writing groups that I recently joined. The category for this one was called A.C.O.W.-A Contract of Words. The rules were that the story needed to contain a contract of some sorts in the story line. I really stepped out of my genre for this one and did a murder/mystery/thriller type of story. It was definitely unfamiliar ground, so I am skeptical about just how well I did and if I will make it into the anthology, also considering the competition I am up against. But I am not going to get dejected if I am rejected. I will just improve on the story and make it another novel at a later time.

So as I wait on pins and needles to find out about these contests, I am slowly getting back into the fantasy novel little by little. The holidays are upon us, so there are slim pickings on the spare time to get some writing done. So for now, I did this blog and I am working on a new one for my darts blog page. But most importantly, I have evolved in my thinking. I may still have to work a full time job to pay the bills, but my journey has begun. I am now calling myself a writer.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today. I appreciate it very much. Any and all comments are welcomed. Don’t forget to click the “follow” button so you can keep up with my latest blog posts.

Please also take a moment to visit and follow my Facebook Author Page

Want to see my writing resume? Please visit my Author BIO page.

You can also catch me on Instagram: @annesleepykramer

Follow me on Twitter: @sleepykramer

 

Keys to the Self-Publishing/Marketing Madness

The time had come. I have two books published and I am part of a niche group that is not really interested at all in reading romance novels, let alone share my posts about it, or about anything else I write. It is an extremely tough crowd. As a result, I have only had a few sales. So here I was, I slayed the dragon that was writing a book, I beat up the demon that was learning how to self-publish and I achieved success by having two self-published books on Amazon. Now what do I do?

I willfully admit I was at a loss as to what I needed to do to promote me and my books. So what’s the next best thing for a girl to do? She goes to Facebook and looks around for groups of people that are wondering the same thing. The best thing that I learned first: I am not alone! There are so many new authors out there struggling with the same problems as me. Not that I like to capitalize on anyone else’s misfortune, but I was grateful to find them! I found a few Facebook groups and the members there have been immensely helpful in giving out advice and sharing many other blogs about how to market and promote yourself and your book. The biggest factor, and I should have known this from all my experiences in my niche group, I needed to brand myself. Honestly, I figured after all the years I spent branding myself in my niche group and promoting my website and my blog for this group, I would not have to do anything more. Why? It was because I already wrote a book in this niche group. I was already an established published author, so why would I have to go out and do that again just because they were romance novels? Well silly me! I found that I needed to go out there and brand myself as an author for romance novels and get to work on promoting myself and my books.

So, I did it. I went on Amazon and created an author profile at Amazon Author Central. I then went to Goodreads, and updated my profile and added my new books to it. The next stop was BookBub, and I created an author profile and added my books there too. I created a Facebook author page that was separate from my personal page and that niche group. I already had a website in my niche group, so I used one of the pages there for an Author page that has links to all my profiles, all my books, and a resume of all the work I have done prior to writing books. The last step I took and why you are reading this now is I started my own author blog. I am sharing my journey in becoming an author and this blog is dedicated to that point where I am at now, learning all I need to do to promote myself and my work. In the meantime, before I get back to writing my third novel, I have entered two writing contests and I am going to submit a short story through one of the groups that actually publishes collections of short stories from the group members, which I thought was a pretty cool idea. I am excited for this challenge, and hoping I can have a little success to help get my name out there and noticed.

Here are my pages so far: Facebook Author Page, Amazon Author Profile, GoodReads Author Profile, BookBub Author Profile, my website Author Page/resume, and my Author Blog

Now I am going to share with you the groups that I joined on Facebook and some of the links to blogs that have some great information about promoting yourself and your books.  I did receive permission from all the blog owners to post links to their pages, and I thank them once again for agreeing to let me share their information here.  I hope you gain some valuable insight to the process with my blog here today and it helps you on your path to becoming a successful published author. Please note that you have to join the groups before you can view anything. There will also be some questions for you to answer prior to your approval being completed, so be patient once you submit.

This was the first group I joined and now it has over 33k members. It has a lot of advice to share for new and not so new authors. It is also a great forum for everyone to ask questions, ask for advice or to have people read your work and offer critique or help if you want it.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/611602735649133/

This group is the one where I have received the most advice from and it is where a lot of the information in this blog comes from. The members of this group are very willing to help in all aspects of writing, editing, publishing, reviewing your writing if you ask, help you choose a book cover, and generally provide answers to any questions posted. It currently has over 37k members and the posts are very frequent.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/mikegeffnerpresentswritershelpingwriters/?ref=bookmarks

This last group is for anyone to share their work, whether it is a link to your new book, a link to your blog, or just to post the link to your author page to share and to have others connect with you. It currently has just short of 8k members, but there are a lot of posts from authors sharing their work.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/writersauthorspromo/?ref=bookmarks

The first site that I saw with information on how to promote my book was called: 30 Things You Can Do Right Now to Promote Your Book, by Amrita Chowdhury. The first two steps she mentioned were to start up an author website and to start a blog, which I went and did. It wasn’t as hard as I initially thought it was going to be. Oddly enough, I have had a blog for two years now in a niche group, so I don’t know why this part intimidated me, but it did.  Here is a link to her list of advice for new authors to promote their books:

https://tinyletter.com/amritac/letters/30-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-promote-your-book

This blog was another one that I came across that had a lot of insightful advice on how to promote yourself and your work. It is by Cathy Presland at AuthorUnlimited.com and it asks: If there’s one question that is eternal and ongoing in our author community, then it’s how to sell more books. It is crisp and concise with lots of great and sometimes very imaginative ideas. Here is the link to her blog:

http://authorunlimited.com/50-ways-to-promote-your-book/

May Dawney has put together a no nonsense blog about marketing yourself and your book. She starts it off by saying: Marketing. Within the author community, it’s a dirty word. Within the reading community too, by the way. Marketing doesn’t have to be a dirty word, and here’s why.  It is a great read not only about marketing your book, but creating a brand of yourself as an author. Here is the link to her blog:

http://maydawney.com/talk/blog-marketing-is-not-a-dirty-word-and-heres-why/

Joanna Penn at TheCreativePenn.com also has a great list of advice that she shares with her readers about: Sell More Books And Reach More Readers. How To Market Your Book. She even has written a book about it if you are interested in reading more, along with a bunch of other books dedicated to the writing, publishing and marketing subjects that we all struggle with. Here is the link to her blog full of great advice:

https://www.thecreativepenn.com/marketing/

Author Rick Brown recently published a book entitled:  Kiss my baggage fees! How to be a savvy travel hacker: Travel like you have a fortune without spending one. 

Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/Kiss-baggage-savvy-travel-hacker/dp/1979599785/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511054339&sr=8-1&keywords=kiss%20my%20baggage&dpID=51RZs3Yw8YL&preST=_SY344_BO1%2C204%2C203%2C200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

The book itself offers the reader information on how to master the art of travel hacking and travel like you have a fortune without spending one. More importantly, I wanted to share the list of ideas that Rick has created to market and promote his book for sales. Obviously his book is related to the travel industry, so he has thought out some pretty interesting ideas on working in that industry to tap into some hidden sales potential. I am sharing the list because there are plenty of other writers out there who may be interested in trying out a few of his ideas. It reminds us to think outside the box when it comes to promotion. There are many avenues out there that a writer can travel to ensure successful marketing of themselves and their book.

The list goes as follows:

Look into retail locations like AAA, luggage and travel stores, travel agencies, airline book stores and independent book stores, UPS stores, hotels/motels, Costco, local cafes, Vegas vendors, trade shows, local events, weekend markets, and flea markets. On your website, use Paypal Integration and videos. Promote your Etsy page on Pinterest, and also promote on YouTube. Utilize coupon sites such as Groupon, Living Social and entertainment books. Use affiliate networks such as Clickbank and JVZoo. Utilize online retailers such as Amazon and Ebook websites. Also consider using classified sites such as Craigslist, eBay and Gumtree. One could also do interviews for local magazines. The Mobile Apps feature in Facebook Marketplace can help, along with creating a Facebook page. Other sites to consider for more advertising would be LinkedIn and Instagram. He also suggested using Rangeme.com, which helps sellers find buyers in big name stores like Walmart and Target.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today. I appreciate it very much. Any and all comments are welcomed. Don’t forget to click the “follow” button so you can keep up with my latest blog posts.

Please also take a moment to visit and follow my Facebook Author Page

Want to see my writing resume? Please visit my Author BIO page.

It Was a Writing Frenzy!

Oddly enough, before I was able to even finish editing my first book, Laguna Sector, a new idea jumped into my head and I just had to get started on it. Within a day I had already written close to ten thousand words and the story was going strong. So I gave up the idea of editing Laguna Sector so I could get it published and just went with the new story. Less than ten days later, the majority of the story was done.  The newest one was called Cally’s Dream. I had written two books in less than three weeks. For someone who never dreamed of writing anything other than what related to the sport of darts, I thought it was a pretty impressive accomplishment. Yes, I am tooting my own horn and patting myself on the back.

Deep down, I am a perfectionist, so I spent the next two weeks editing, editing and more editing for both of the books. I wanted to make sure they were perfect before I had to take the time to get the publishing part done. I am not going to lie. This was the part that intimidated me the most.

But there was a slight detour I needed to take with the first book. I was still under contract with the publisher for The Ultimate Book of Darts and there was an option clause in that contract for a book #2 of any type. So off went the first manuscript, Laguna Sector, to the publisher. Now normally an author would be sitting there waiting with baited breath to hear back from a publisher about them wanting to take on their book. I honestly did not want them to. I also knew that the chances were pretty slim that they would because they do not publish anything in the romance genre. So I spent that time editing and editing some more while waiting on word and working on creating my cover art. Thankfully, my buddy the author is just a great guy that does all his own cover art, and he took a little time and created two really awesome covers for me.

Then, after a couple of weeks, word came back from the publisher. They tried, but just did not have a spot for it. Was I sad? No. I was actually quite elated! Because they said they tried to find a spot for it. To me, that meant they considered it worthy enough to actually try to find a spot for it. It was a huge boost to my confidence as a writer. So while most authors are bummed out about rejection, I was on top of the world.

During the whole process of waiting, I was conferring with my buddy, who was the one that talked me into this madness to begin with, about the self-publishing process. He was a great help, but unfortunately, he had paid for a program to format his books. I didn’t have that kind of money to do that. So I went to my newest best friend, Google, and punched in a query about formatting an eBook. I came across a website for a free program called, Calibre. It had a couple of videos to help learn what to do and it ended up being very simple to use. I was rather intimidated by this prospect because I am technologically challenged, but even I could figure it all out on my own.

Now it was time to conquer Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon. It is a little time consuming at first when you don’t know what you are doing, but it is explained pretty well and there are a lot of help topics available. The eBook process was pretty simple since Calibre did all the formatting for it for me. I did have a little trouble with the margins of one of my covers and had to edit it somewhat, but that was the hardest part of the eBook process.

Next came the formatting for the paperback version of the books. Now that the covers were edited and uploaded already for the eBook, that part of the process was taken care of and I could use the same images.  When setting up for the paperback, you have to choose what size book you want to start off with, along with fonts, paper, etc. It was suggested to use 6×9, as that was the most popular, so that was what I went with. I was using Microsoft Word for my stories, and I learned it is important to remember to format correctly for all pages, not just the first page. This was a struggle for me because I could not figure that part out right away. KDP will let you upload a Word doc, but your margins have to be spot on, or it will not print correctly. I learned that I needed to change my page size to 6×9 to start with. Obviously with the start of a chapter, your top and bottom margins are going to be different than on the regular pages, so you have to go in page by page to make sure these are set correctly before uploading.  Trust me; I had to upload about a dozen different times because I was stuck on the margins process. But I learned, and when it came time to upload book two, I knew what the margins had to be, and everything went off perfectly.

After a few hours of struggle, I was officially a self-published author for not just one book, but two! The amount of elation and the sense of accomplishment were huge for me at this point. That night, if you were to tell me I would not sell one darn book, I would not have cared one bit. I was on my way to greatness and that was all that mattered. There are so many times where life’s challenges kick you down, but when those great moments show up, it makes everything that much more worthwhile.

Thanks for stopping by again as I continue my writing journey and I hope somewhere along the way, another author reads this and it was beneficial for them. When you get a chance, head on over to Amazon and pick up a copy of Cally’s Dream and let me know what you think of my second try for the romance genre. I appreciate any and all feedback.

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The Writing Journey Continues…

Now that I decided to bite the bullet and start writing romance novels, I now had to decide just what I was going to write about. I thought back to the many, many novels I had already read and what were the ones that I enjoyed the most. I always found that I really liked the ones that were set in old time England, Scotland or Ireland, but I didn’t feel I was qualified enough in my knowledge of those times to be able to do the research correctly.

I have been a fan of Nora Roberts for quite a few years now. I especially love her trilogies that tie all together. They are fascinating and enjoyable to read and there are times where I have been chomping at the bit trying to wait patiently for the next book to be released. She has done some contemporary ones that I have liked as well. But I am not Nora Roberts, nor do I think I will ever be.

I did remember that for a period of time I really looked around to find romance novels that included time travel, as these ended up being funny at times too. They generally were a quick and enjoyable read and left me with a good feeling once the book was done.

So, after all the thoughts on it, I decided my first book was going to have some time travel aspect to it. I figured that maybe with being able to make stuff up instead of having to do a lot of research, I would be able to work harder on the writing and spend less time worrying about if I got every single detail right. I also decided that the setting would be somewhere that I used to live because I knew a lot of the details of that area and would be comfortable using them in the story.

This is where Laguna Sector, my first romance novel, was born. The setting is in Laguna Beach present time and the same area of Laguna Beach in the year 2153, and it is called Laguna Sector. I spent over twenty years living in Laguna Beach and my husband grew up there. Our daughter also grew up there and when she graduated, we moved to Laguna Niguel, which is right next door, and we lived there for another seven years.

Here is what the introduction looks like in my book, to help explain the setting a little more:

Laguna Beach 2017: The quaint little beach town of Laguna Beach is located in Southern California about an hour south of Los Angeles. The town grew in popularity as an artist community due to all the artists and entertainers who have made Laguna their home over the years. The landscape of Laguna’s coastline is full of a variety of beach areas, with many of them containing rocky bluffs that made perfect scenery for artists of all levels.  Parkland areas cover many spots throughout the town, and the craggy canyons out in the San Joaquin Hills have, for years, been an inspiration for many artists.

While the town may be small, it is internationally known for playing host to large events such as The Pageant of the Masters, The Festival of the Arts, The Sawdust Art Festival, and Art-A-Fair, just to name a few. The town was originally settled in the 1870s and officially founded in 1887. The town itself, while a popular destination for tourists, still remains isolated from the demand of developers because it is surrounded by hills and has limited road access. There are only three ways out of Laguna Beach, northwest or south on Pacific Coast Highway or northeast through Laguna Canyon. There are many beaches in Laguna Beach and the tide pools at Main Beach are a popular tourist spot.

Laguna Beach, in its past history during the years of the 60s and 70s was known as the center for the hippie culture. The Brotherhood of Eternal Love was located there and world renowned psychedelic drug advocate, Timothy Leary, lived on Gaviota Drive. People who make their home there now are often jokingly referred to as “Lagunatics”. Many other famous people over the years have called Laguna their home. Stellar names such as Judy Garland, Bette Davis and Rock Hudson, just to name a few. On Christmas Day in 1970, Laguna Canyon played host to what was later known as the Woodstock of the west coast. About 25,000 people gathered for a one-day music festival, called The Happening, which did not end until three days later. In 2004, MTV created and casted their show Laguna Beach from the locals who attended Laguna Beach High School.

The cramped coastal town itself is dotted with many smaller homes and businesses, but once you ventured higher up, the craggy hillsides provided the perfect setting for the multi-level goliaths with their shimmering glass facades built by the rich and famous who chose to make Laguna Beach their home. These goliaths of the elite would spend their days like soldiers standing at attention while looking out over the vastness of the ocean. They would preen in all their majestic glory for the entire world to pay homage to their beauty as they looked up from below.

Laguna Sector 2153: In the latter part of the 21st century, all state and local government agencies were abolished. Cities were broken up into groups and classified as Sectors. State lines were adjusted and Colonies were created. Each colony was made up of their own group of sectors. All the colonies together created what is known as the United Alliance, and National Oversight was the only government agency in charge of ruling all of the colonies in the Alliance. The towns formerly known as Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills and Laguna Niguel were all merged into one Sector called the Laguna Sector.

What once was a thriving area for tourists who wanted to spend time at the beaches of Laguna Beach, has since become a desolate ghost town. Shortly before the Alliance was formed, beaches were closed permanently and citizens were banned from spending any time near the water. The pollution rate had increased so much over the latter part of the last century that all marine life in the water that touched the western colonies had since died off and the toxic levels noted in the water itself made it necessary to shut the beaches down completely. The general population that enjoyed their cliff side homes looking out over the ocean now chose to move inland and build their homes in the canyons to enjoy the stunning vistas of the San Joaquin Hills. What used to be considered the Green Belt Conservation Area of Laguna Canyon is now dotted up and down the hillsides with the million dollar homes of the rich and famous. The once shining structures on the hillsides of Laguna Beach no longer have an audience to appreciate their beauty. They now stand as lonely sentinels looking out over the ocean waiting for life to return them to their shining glory.

Thanks for stopping by again as I continue my writing journey. When you get a chance, head on over to Amazon and pick up a copy of Laguna Sector and let me know what you think of my first try for the romance genre. I appreciate any and all feedback.

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How My Writing Journey Began

All my life, I never dreamed of becoming a writer. I spent a lot of time reading and generally was known as a nerd in school, or typically called, a brainiac. It wasn’t that I was super smart, I was just old for my age and at a socially higher level than other kids my age because I was the youngest of eight kids and most of them were adults or close to being adults while I was growing up. I also had excellent comprehension skills that helped me remember details that most people would quickly forget after reading something.

Most people that know me personally know that I have been a competitive dart player for over thirty years. I met my husband at a dart tournament and we have now been together for over thirty years as well. At one point, he was one of the top players in the country and traveled to different parts of the world to compete in international events. I shared in many of those experiences. With the birth of the internet and the rise of many online websites devoted to darts, I discovered a lot of people like talking about the history of the game and I felt I had a lot to share. Eventually, writing out those long posts turned into writing different articles and doing a few player interviews. It was then that my writing career was born.

Oddly enough during those first few years, I also had a job that involved writing. I work for a major insurance carrier and at the time I was an associate in their grievance department and my job was to respond to complaints via letter. I was lucky enough to have a great boss, who herself was an avid reader her whole life, was extremely intelligent, and was the harshest editor I had ever met. It never failed that no matter how many times I edited my letters prior to sending them to her for review, they always came back with some sort of changes made. It infuriated me. I was a competitor deep down and always had to do my best at whatever I did, so when my best ended up never being quite good enough, it frustrated me to no end. But do you know what else it did? It taught me a lot about writing and I didn’t even realize it.

In 2012, I had long since relocated and left the writing job behind, but I had still continued doing guest blogs for different websites and some player interviews for a print magazine, but my level of writing had slowed down considerably. One day at work, on my break, I decided to check my email. I also have had a website for years devoted to darts and I have an email account for this too. Generally, I do not get many emails in this account, so even when something goes to the spam folder, I will still read it just to make sure it is spam. I will never forget that one day in September that I did this and saw an email with the subject title: Book Offer. Naturally, I had to click on it so see what it was about. As it turned out, there was an Editorial Director for a publishing company based in New York that was a casual dart player. They were looking at the options of having someone do a type of “how to play darts” book for them, he had found my guest blogs and website information and was contacting me to see if I would be interested in the project. I was stunned. I had never written anything more than a blog in my life and now someone was giving me a huge opportunity to write a book, and the book was about something that I loved to do. How could I say no?

One year later, The Ultimate Book of Darts was released and I was a published author. It was the greatest time of my life. When my first copies of the book arrived, I rushed home from work, opened the box and just cried. It was such an amazing moment in my life.

Eventually I progressed in my writing and created my own personal blog for darts and have been having fun with that part of it all. It gives me the chance to still be creative in my writing and continue to promote the game I love so much.

One day, an old friend started telling me about how he was writing books and asked if I would be interested in helping him out with the editing process. I had already edited a screenplay for him in prior years, so it was something I was used to. That night I sat in front of my computer and began editing, and after a short time, my thought was “I can do this” and that is how I finally decided to write books of my own. His genre is military sci-fi, which was not quite my thing, so I decided to give the romance world a try. I had been an avid reader of romances since I was in my twenties, which was a lot of years ago. My friend explained all about self-publishing by then and I was sold. I could write my own book and self-publish and it wouldn’t cost me a dime. What he neglected to tell me was that it would cost me “time”, but we will leave that story for another blog. I ended up writing two stories in less than a month and it was the greatest fun.

As of today, I am now a published author for two romance novels. One is in the time travel sub-genre and one is a contemporary romance. My third one is a work in progress and is more like a Fantasy/Viking/Valkyrie type of story with royalty, castles, fairies and a creature I created called a Derigon.

All of my books are available on Amazon via eBook or Paperback and are easiest to find by accessing my author page:  Amazon Author Page-Anne Kramer

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