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stories about writing

When Genius Strikes an Author of Contemporary Women’s Fiction

All writers have them. Those ah-ha moments when a plot piece falls into place or a saggy middle suddenly becomes a pivotal hill. Those brilliant words that threaten to explode in our heads. Ah, the joy!

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It’s a great feeling when the words click!

Unfortunately, my words seem to click at the worst times. Take today for example. (Actually, it might be last week, or two years ago. It depends on when you’re reading this post.)  I heard back from a beta reader regarding my new manuscript, You gave me wings!. She had lots of good things to say.

However, she also pointed out areas that still needed work. That’s okay. I got this! I needed to think through her suggestions. Time to take the dogs for a walk. If an ah-ha moment hits me, I’ll record it into my phone. Damn. Phone’s dead. Okay, no biggie. I’ll focus on relaxing and keep the ideas at bay. Breath, relax, and walk.

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Walking Stevie and enjoying the sunshine.

Who was I kidding? As soon as my feet hit the pavement the plot twists and turns flowed like the Nile after a monsoon. I was panicked. There was no way I would remember all the amazing, astounding, award-winning, awesome, (my, that’s a lot of words beginning with the letter a!) ideas until I got home. I had two miles to go! I started my mantra: remember, remember, remember, REMEMBER.

See, that’s the problem with forcing one’s brain to remember. The thoughts skitter away, frightened by all the intense shouting for them to stay put and new thoughts slide in!

For example, as I walked home I thought about all the times I have my ah-ha moments but can’t write them down. (Way off the topic of my manuscript.)

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What was I trying to remember?

For example, I always seem to get a great idea when I’m just starting to fall asleep.

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Any body else suffer from this or is it just me?

Or when I’m in the shower? Or, how about when I’m driving????

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Hey, don’t use your phone while driving!!!

Why do the thoughts choose the worst times to spring on me? It’s like they’re lurking in the shadows of my brain, waiting for me to lower my guard.

‘Surprise! Ha ha, you can’t write me down. Boy, are you screwed!’

From now on I vow to always have a pen or pencil with me. Always! Even if I have to stick them in orifices that weren’t designed for the task.

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That looks like it would hurt. Perhaps I’ll try to store it someplace else.

I won’t need paper. That’s what hands are for–right?

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Why use paper when a hand or two will do?

Ah, a writer’s life. Full of… damn, what was I going to write? It was absolutely brilliant!

Blessed be :}

By the way. Ever wonder why I chose a younger hero for Annah in The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish, my contemporary women’s fiction novel? Watch my newest Interview with an Author! and find out.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChm2p75hhhZn8gRt_deyhuw

Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more exciting, thrilling, thought-provoking videos (or, you can just laugh as I trip over my words).

 

 

 

 

10 things I learned on my way to becoming a self-published author.

#1: Ice cream is therapeutic.

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Ice cream helps with all marketing angst.

Why my doctor would recommend I stop eating it is beyond me. Without a daily hit of Ben and Jerry, The Summer of Annah would have never been published. My recommendation for aspiring indie-publishers–stock up!

#2: A thick skin is a must.

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It takes a thick skin to be a writer.

Everybody and her sister are going to make comments about your work. If you’re lucky enough to have a publisher buffeting the world, rock on. But for those of us who publish indie, we wear a large target on our backs. And while you’re growing that skin, learn how to roar. Because you’ll need that talent for number 3.

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I am writer; hear me roar.

#3: If you roar loud enough, some one will hear you.

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Is anyone listening?

How else will the world know you’ve published a book? Over 10,000 books are uploaded to to the big three: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks, each day.  (This is on a global scale but I’m still not convinced the data is correct. However, I do know that in 2014 Claude Nouget estimated that a book was uploaded to Amazon, every five minutes, 24/7.) Regardless of the numbers, there’s a whole bunch of books out there. Roar, baby, roar!

#4: Develop a marketing plan BEFORE you publish your book.

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You need a plan to develop a good marketing plan.

You wouldn’t go to Disney World without a plan, so don’t published your book without a plan. Know ahead of time what you’re going to do and when. Nail that sucker down to the last minute and be prepared with contingency plans when things don’t work out, because, they won’t. See #1.

#5: Tweet your ass off!

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Tweet until your fingers bleed.

Twitter is a great way to develop an author platform. But, and this is a big BUT, make sure you’re tweets are relevant. Tweeting about your cat barfing on your comforter has nothing to do with your book, unless the book is about locations where cats prefer to barf, then, well you get the idea.

#6: Dive in. The Facebook waters may be shark infested and full of the remains of despairing authors but at least you won’t be alone.

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Facebook is your friend!

An author page on Facebook is a must for every aspiring indie author. Why? Well, how else will you pass the time while your waiting for your book to sell?

#7: Invest money. And when you think you’ve spent enough, borrow some and invest more.

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It takes money to make money! What does that saying even mean? Jeez.

To date, my debut novel has cost me… a lot! Let’s see, there was editing, cover art, formatting, marketing, more marketing, a website, web hosting for the website, more marketing, triage for when the reviews stopped, requests for reviews, book purchases to send to reviewers, postage costs, ice cream, wine, larger clothes. The list just keeps growing. I recommend a second, third, or perhaps fourth job to help pay for your book. And the ice cream. And the wine. And the larger clothes.

#8: Find a good therapist.

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Writing is hard. Marketing is hard. Thinking is hard.

Either Jack Daniels will do or someone with a degree who can help you figure out why you wanted to self-publish in the first place.

#9: Ignore the hordes of other authors pumping out books.

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Where’s the writer?

You’ll be one of millions but your book is yours. It’s unique because you wrote it. Cheer for the other authors and bless their success but stay focused on what you’ve written.  Unless you’re getting trampled by the other authors. Then, I suggest revisiting lessons #1 and #9.

#10: Be true to your calling.

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“I know I can think of a different word than ‘walk.’ I know I can.”

Writing isn’t for everyone. It takes courage to put that pen to paper, or key the letters into a computer. Courage and tenacity. When the voices in your head refuse to speak to you, it takes a gentle hand to get them to play along. If you want to write and publish your book, stick with it. But remember, when in doubt, follow rule #1.

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Never cry over dropped ice cream. Pull our your credit card and buy another cone.

Oh, and please, BUY MY BOOK!

The Summer of Annah
Enter my love story.

Blessed be.

 

Photos courtesy of Pexels.com  🙂

Measuring Success as a Self-Published Romance Author

I’m a self-published romance author. To be exact, I’ve published my novel, The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish, a contemporary women’s fiction. I’m in the similar sub-genre as Nicholas Sparks (although not as successful), which, interestingly enough, brings me to the topic of this post–how should I measure my success as an author?

 

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How does a person measure success? Money? Fame? Glowing accolades? Affording a new boob job? Having Ben and Jerry name an ice cream after them? Hmm, how about Sexy Shortbread Author or Tinthia Toffee Nutty Swirl? I’ll have my marketing manager work on that as soon as she figures out how to market my book. (Don’t rush me, I’m still trying to figure out how to market your damn book.) Sigh, the voices in my head are starting to annoy me. Where was I? Oh yes, success. There isn’t a yardstick that a person can use to determine success. It would be great if there was. I could say, ‘Yup, I’ve reached success. See here. I’m at this little bold line. Sure thing. I’m successful!’ And success isn’t a one-shot occurrence. A person will have many successes and, sadly, many failures, in her (or his) lifetime. For simplicity sake, however, I’m focusing on my success as a debut author.


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Allow me to reword my original question: How will I, a newly published author of contemporary women’s fiction, determine when I’ve reached success with my debut novel, The Summer of Annah? My son posed this question to me just the other day. I almost blurted out, ‘When I’ve sold a million copies!’ But then reality took hold, I paused, allowed his question to register, and pondered it a while. How will I gauge my success? What will be my yardstick?

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While contemplating his question I thought about birds and flowers. Here on the Concord River I have an abundance of both and I often draw wisdom from watching how Mother Nature uses them for her own success. So, as I sat and considered my son’s question, I thought about a robin’s nest I found this past spring. Like all birds, American robins will lay more eggs than can survive. It’s just one of the many laws Mama Nature set in motion eons ago. (Stay with me, I’ll get back to books in a moment.)

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This particular nest contained four eggs. A few weeks later, by the time they were ready to hatch, only one egg remained. Two eggs had been eaten by a pair of grackles and, sadly, one resembled Humpty Dumpty. Not even the king’s men could have helped it. The parents were left with one egg, resulting in one fledgling. Were they successful? Think about it for a second. Seventy-five percent of their progeny died!

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However, as far as Mother Nature was concerned, the parents were successful. Evolution granted them a large clutch to allow other animals to continue their own survival while allowing the robins to continue their genetic line. Get it? It’s a number game.

Now, let’s consider plants.

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A single dandelion can produce over a thousand seeds in a growing season with each flower generating close to 200 seeds. If even one tenth of the seeds germinate, that translates into loads of dandelions, which will probably find their way onto my lawn however, that’s another story for another blog. Back to success. Even if one dandelion plant produces two additional plants, that’s success in Ma Nature’s eyes.
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Most sunflowers will generate up to 2000 seeds from a single flower! Again, if a one sunflower plant results in two additional sunflower plants producing their own seeds, success has been achieved. Have I lost you? No? Good, because not it’s time to come back to the whole reason for this post–measuring my success as an author.
My book, The Summer of Annah, which is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback, (Granted, that was a shameless plug but since I’m paying for the web hosting of this blog and this is my blog, I can damn well plug anything I want. This blog post is full of shameless plugs.) is, as already mentioned, on Amazon, the largest virtual book warehouse in the world, possibly even the universe.

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Placing The Summer of Annah on Amazon‘s virtual bookshelves is similar to scattering thousands, no, tens of thousands of seeds into the wind. How many do I need to germinate to represent success? Well, if one person buys my book, that could be construed as success. Correct? Does the reader who purchased my book have to enjoy it? Well, dah! So, my success will not only be measured by someone buying my book but actually enjoying the story I wove. Okay, how about leaving a review? Does the person have to leave a positive review on Amazon before I’ll admit to myself that I’m a success? Yes… No… Perhaps…Wait, most people don’t write reviews. The reader could still enjoy my story, so… no. Then how will I know she enjoyed the story without the review. So… yes. Emphatically, yes! The reader must buy the book, enjoy the story, AND leave a review.

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According to Amazon, six people purchased my book and they’ve left great reviews.
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Therefore, more than one person has purchased my book, enjoyed the story, AND left a review. Translation–I’m a success. Hooo Yeah, time for a happy dance.
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Then I thought about it some more and came to a different conclusion.
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When I saw my son later that day I told him all I needed to be a successful author was to write a story as best as I could. If my readers like the story and leave reviews, that would be gravy on the mashed potatoes of life (or ice cream on the cake). I’m 60 and I want to start a career as a storyteller. I may not be as successful, financially speaking, as Nicholas Sparks, or as popular as Nora Roberts, but if I write true to my heart, I’m a success.” (By now my son’s eyes glazed-over and he was probably thinking about his next snack.)
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In closing, The Summer of Annah is my first book. Oh, I’ll grow as an author. (Goddess willing I have enough years left in me to remember the difference between a dangling participle and modifier.). For now, though, I’ve written the best I had within me.
I want to thank those of you who have journeyed to Copedale, New Hampshire, to share the love story of Annah and Eric. Thank you to the readers who have left reviews on Amazon. In addition, thank you to my future readers, whoever you are, for taking a chance on a debut author of women’s fiction. You are my yardsticks to the success of my journey into storytelling.
I am a success! Blessed be :}

 

 

Failure and Marketing

According to historians, Thomas Edison once said ‘I’ve failed my way to success.’ Hmm. He is also quoted as saying, ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ And, let’s not forget about Albert Einstein’s famous quote on failure: ‘You never fail until you stop trying.’

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I love inspirational quotes. They’re so… so… inspirational.

At this point you’re most likely wondering where I’m going with all this blogging about failure and inspiration. Am I correct? (If you’re not curious you must have dosed off. Start reading from the beginning and catch up.) The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish has finally been uploaded to Amazon in her electronic book format. She’ll go live on May 28, 2016. That just four days away! Four little days to implement my marketing plan, if I had one.

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I’ve spent the past few weeks fighting with Microsoft Word files and making changes to changes I made to the changes I made to the changes.

Some would call my actions procrastination but I like to call them fine-tuning. Eventually, the changes needed to be slaughtered and Word cooperated. Back to the marketing plan. “Annah is going live and I need to tell the world about her!” (Cue suspenseful music–something like dun-dun-daaaaaa. You get the idea.) I should have written down a marketing plan. I’m a writer, for goodness sake. Writing is what I do! Oh, right, I write fiction. Marketing plans suck. They’re so dry and boring. No kissing. No sex. No hero to come sweeping in to save my sorry ass. Did I mention that marketing plans suck?

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Perhaps the readers in Wales will hear me if I use a larger can?

Now what do I do? Hire a marketing professional? (Have I mentioned Ben and Jerry’s has a new flavor. Oh, sorry, I lost my train of thought for a second.)

It’s a really good flavor. Blueberry layered with bits of graham crackers swirled through a sweet, creamy vanilla base.

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Yes, I know. Ice cream has nothing to do with marketing The Summer of Annah but it might have a lot to do with the ten pounds I’ve gained.

Where was I? Oh, yes. the dreaded marketing plan. Time to pull up my big girl panties and write one. Orrr, I could try Empower-Mint!

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Blessed be :}

 

 

 

 

I think I can!

Have you ever read the story about the little engine that chugged up the steep hill? He kept repeating to himself (yes, he was a talking engine) ‘I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.’ He was the original self-published author.

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For example, when a person says they think they can do something, they truly believe it! Case in point: When I say I think I can market my book The Summer of Annah, I’m implying that I believe I can do it. I believe I can tell the women (and men) in Sidney, Australia and Sacramento, California, and all the lands in between that A Midsummer’s Wish is a fabulous romantic drama. I really, really think I can do it! How, unfortunately, is the conundrum.

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How do I tell a woman sitting in a Starbucks at the Sydney airport–a woman who happens to be searching Amazon for a book to read on her flight–that The Summer of Annah should be her choice? Or, how to I get a woman who just received a Kindle for Mother’s Day to add A Midsummer’s Wish to her reading list? How? How? How?

To help me answer the marketing conundrum question I took a self-publishing marketing course. The course could have been four weeks of intensive, thought-provoking, insightful, helpful information that laid out a marketing plan in a concise, step-by-step fashion with loads of success stories thrown-in to help fuel a desire to succeed. Or, the course could have been a waste of time and money. Ummm, I’ll take door number two for $1.00!

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Oh wait! My bad. I did learn something. I need to market myself on a daily basis!

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I’m not sure standing in the center of town counts but it’s worth a try. Blessed be :}

Oh, and BUY MY BOOK PLEASE!

And, please, sign-up for my newsletter at tinthiaclemant.com.

 

 

 

 

#olderheroinesrock

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The Romance Writers Association New England Chapter’s conference is over. All the writers have withdrawn into their collective corners to sort through the networking names they collected, write down the ideas they acquired, and, as in my case, shake their heads about their literary agent appointment and wonder, WTF!

The appointment was seven minutes in length. I prepared myself by admitting it could either be the shortest seven minutes of my life or, to date, the longest seven minutes. It fell somewhere in-between.

Although the agent was a lovely young women (young being the operative word) she proceeded to tell me there wasn’t a market for romance novels with older heroines. Really? Well, bull-oney!

Let’s go over some facts. According to the U.S. Census, between 2000 and 2010, 45 to 64 years old grew in number from 31.5 percent to 81.5 million. Since women make up over 50% of that population, that means there’s, hmmm, let me see, carry the two, move the decimal, oh geez, there’s a whole lot of woman who need older heroines!

Even young girls need older heroines. How else will they learn about strong women who can stand on their own two feet, survive and prosper–and still have hot sex?

Tweet #olderheroinesrock

Spread the word. It’s time to take back romance novels and show those youngun’s a thing or two about being a heroine. We own it!

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Sexy and smart. I want Diane Lane to play Annah in the movie version of my book. Step aside Katniss Everdeen.

Join my poll on my Facebook page. Choose and be counted. Do you want older heroines or young, inexperienced, moody, emotional, pouty heroines?

And Tweet #olderheroinesrock

Oh, yeah. It’s time to rumble. Blessed be :}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Down the Marketing Rabbit Hole

Read about marketing, make notes, read about marketing, make notes, find time to write new story, read about marketing, make notes, find time to eat ice cream, read about marketing, oh dear, oh dear, I’m running out of time.

I’m channeling my inner white rabbit.

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I foolishly believed writing a book would be the hardest part of the journey to becoming a published author. Create a great story, get the words onto paper, struggle with dangling participles and modifiers, and, ultimately make the words flow in a manner that pulls the reader into the story. Easy as pie. (I’ll have a slice of apple, please. Extra Ben and Jerry’s vanilla ice cream. Make it three scoops.)

Don’t get me wrong. I knew having a big-time publisher accepting my humble novel was a shot in a very dark, very long, very large tunnel so I made the decision to self-publish. Seemed like a no-brainer to me. Hey kid, don’t drink that!

Yup. Just like poor Alice, I’m now a very tiny (did I mention I feel tiny?) author in a raging sea of other self-published authors, all scrabbling for life boats we call ‘readers’.

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How do I get my first-time, self-published author’s name out to the readers in this country? The world? Hello, can you hear me?!

The information about marketing a self-published book is overwhelming. Do this. Register for that. At times I stare in awe at all the papers littering my desk. It’s astounding the desk hasn’t collapsed under their weight. Where did I put that article on creating a marketing to-do list?

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Mr. Caterpillar, may I have a hit on that pipe?

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There are companies who will market your self-published romance novel (or any book, for that matter). Hmm, interesting. Oh, what’s this fine print? WTF! You want how much money?

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Sigh. Can someone help me find my way without forcing me to take a second mortgage on my house?

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Blessed be :}

Oh yes, please like my Facebook author page.

Photos: http://conradaskland.com/blog/alice-in-wonderland-illustrations/

A journey of becoming a storyteller begins with a single word.

Lao Tzu is quoted as saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I wonder if he was speaking literally or figuratively? Most likely figuratively and that’s how I’ll use his insightful wisdom in this post.

No matter what path one puts herself (or himself) on, the first step must be taken for the journey to begin. Once we’re on the path, tangles of roots and jutting stones may cause us to falter, stumble, and perhaps throw our hands up in frustration and admit defeat. This damn journey is too perilous to undertake. The heck with it!

Other times we pick ourselves up, dust off the grime and pebbles, then plod forward, determined to reach our destination. Our focus might become narrowed at this point. Wanting to avoid any further mishaps we keep our sight on each step.

The downside of this mindset is we miss out on the wonders the journey can hold. A rainbow, waterfall, encouraging smile from a family member. We’re not celebrating the journey, we’re enduring it, just to get to the end.

This musing does have a purpose. I’ve been so caught in the jungle called learning how to write that I forgot to enjoy why I started writing in the first place. I wanted to tell a story. I wanted to create characters that live and breath and love. I wanted the world to meet my new friends know them as I’ve come to know them.

Now that the book is finished and scheduled for its June 21, 2016 publication, I’m brave enough to look back over the path I’ve traveled since May of 2015. Damn there were lots of places where I tripped, fell, skinned my knee, and almost burned the pages. But I didn’t. I wrote a book. I told a story. It started with a single word and grew, morphed, and is finally ready for the world.

The beauty of it all is I’m not even close to reaching the end of my journey, which is to be a story teller. I’ll be on this path for a long, long time.

Blessed be :}