A Personal Note… #twitter #tweeps #friends

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It’s time for me to slow down for a few minutes and share what’s in my heart with anyone who might take the time to read this.

Time is my most formidable enemy these days.

Many changes have occurred in my life over the past six months. I’m still reeling, and trying desperately to regain my equilibrium…to manage my time so that I can meet my responsibilities while also setting aside a few minutes each day to do what I WANT to do.

Unfortunately, the one thing that I enjoy the most is what has suffered the most: my social media. Twitter, in particular.

Six months ago, I had time each day to pop on Twitter to chat with friends, to re-tweet my favorite authors and bloggers, and share and respond to tweets that made me smile, that interested me, that touched me in some way.  That isn’t the case anymore.

I’ve made some wonderful friends on Twitter. I’ve been very lucky that, in some cases, casual tweets have actually turned into cherished and personal friendships with the person behind the tweets.

When I published my book in March, I also entered the realm of Facebook, because everyone said “You need to be on Facebook!” I’ll admit, even though I set up a page there, I’m still somewhat lost in Facebook-land, but that’s okay. I’ll figure it out eventually. Hopefully. *laughs*

I just want to express my heartfelt thanks to those on Twitter who have stayed with me, and ask for your patience with me. I’m not ignoring you. I appreciate every “Hello” and every re-tweet. Just because I don’t always respond with a personal “thank you,” it doesn’t mean that I didn’t see it and appreciate it.

Thank you.

That is all.

Have a lovely Sunday! And if your dad is with you, give him a big hug and a kiss. No matter how busy you are, you’ll never regret making time for Dad.

~Scarlett
xx

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What color is “teal”? and what does it have to do with my writing? #WriterWednesday #amwriting #author #writer #writersproblems #blindness #NFB

What color is “teal”?  Imagine, for a just a moment, trying to describe that color, or any color, for that matter, to a blind person.

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I grew up with blind parents. This had its disadvantages, of course, but the older I get, I realize that there were important advantages, too.  More on that later…

A few years ago, “teal” became very popular in fashion, design, and decorating. I took my mom shopping for a new outfit one day, and was describing an attractive suit to her as she gingerly touched the dress, feeling the collar, the sleeves, and the way the dress was made.

“What color is it?” she asked.

“Teal,” I responded.

“What color is teal?”

Hmm.

Have you ever tried to describe a sunset to someone who has never seen a sunset? Have you ever tried to describe a color to someone who is blind?

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And what does that have to do with my writing? 

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As a reader, sometimes I find myself getting annoyed with long, detailed “description,” and begin to skim the page.

As a writer, I admit, I am guilty of superfluous description, and spend a great deal of time editing my manuscripts to correct that issue. It is a natural tendency I possess, and more often than not, I’m unaware that I’m doing it. I suppose that is the result of having spent my life describing the world that I see to my parents.

My mom was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease of the retina. As a young girl and through her teenage years, she could see well enough to see colors (she has a vivid memory of the primary colors) but she quickly lost her remaining sight as she became a young woman. For a while, she still had “light perception”… best described as walking into a dark room where there is a light on and being able to see the contrast between dark and light…but lost even that bit of her remaining vision when I was a young child.

My dad lost half of his sight as a child due to deep cataracts on his eye. At that time, they didn’t remove the cataract, they removed the eye. He had a prosthetic eye, and developed another very large cataract on his other eye, which progressively diminished his remaining vision.By the time the laser surgery for cataracts was perfected, the cataract was so large and so deep, the doctors were afraid to remove it, fearful that he would lose what little vision he had left. Dad had what we call “travel vision”… he could see just enough, in most cases, to get around by himself without a guide dog or a white cane.

My brother and I have had a wonderful life, despite our parents’ handicaps. My mom has always said, “My biggest problem with being blind is a sighted person’s misconception about blindness.”  I have tons of stories to illustrate that point. Perhaps some day I’ll write a book about it.

But back to the subject at hand…

I have had writer friends ask me to read their WIP, asking if they have enough “description” in a particular passage. This always makes me laugh, thinking “You certainly asked the right person about that!”

Hopefully, in my own writing, I have avoided droning on and on in my description of a scene. Maybe I’ve reached the right balance, since many who have read my book have made comments like “I felt like I was in the room!” or “I could literally see your book unfolding like a movie before my eyes as I read it.”  These comments, while completely unsolicited, make me smile, and make me feel as if  I’m successfully avoiding “description overload” with my writing.  It truly is like fighting something that is part of my nature…something unconsciously ingrained in the way I write and the way I talk.

So, what color is teal?  What color is fuchia? Burgundy? Silver? Turquoise? Azure?

How would you describe a sunset, or the ocean, or a shuttle launch, or a tabby kitten’s fur to someone who is blind?

Just think about it…

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Birthday Resolutions – “*the eighth in June*” #birthdays #gratitude #celebrate

Today is my birthday. Big woop, right? Yeah, that made me laugh, too.

Birthdays have never really been a big deal for me. I don’t say that to elicit sympathy, because being a “big deal” and being “special” are two completely different things.
All my birthdays have been “special,” because those who love me have made them so.

As a young child, when I learned that June 8th was my birthday, I would announce to my parents that “The eighth in June” was my birthday. *smiles at the memory* (Yes, Daddy, I miss you so much today, the eighth in June.)

I didn’t grow up with a huge birthday party every year. There were a few, yes, and they were awesome. But as an adult, usually I’ve been working on my birthday, and except for the cards, phone calls, lunches, drinks, or dinner out, the day has been the same as any other day.

But a few years ago, I decided to approach my birthday differently.

I decided to make it a “me” day, to celebrate myself by spending the entire day doing only what I wanted to do, for me, myself, and I.
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Yes, often that is a considerable challenge, but during the week before, I really work for it. I fulfill my responsibilities, take care of my business, and work “ahead,” so I can truly have a day off, just for me.

I’m constantly reminding friends to celebrate themselves every now and then, because I celebrate them all the time!

For those who allow their birthday to slip by without any kind of acknowledgement or celebration (and you know who you are…), I say “STOP THAT!” Everyone has their own special gifts, and we all deserve to take just one day each year to celebrate ourselves!
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Even if it’s only celebrating the fact that we’ve made it through another year. Ha-ha.

So today, I’m celebrating ME! The celebration may involve a trip to the spa, lunch with friends, a delicious afternoon nap, relaxing on my deck while soaking up some sunshine, catching up with friends and loved ones who call with their good wishes, enjoying a favorite bottle of wine, catching up on some reading, something “forbidden” for dinner… without guilt, without feeling selfish.

Just one day each year… all mine!

Tomorrow, I am back at work, in my regular routine, business as usual.

But today, I will celebrate my *sparkle* and thank God and my family and my friends for my life.

I am filled with gratitude.
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So, Now What? #WriterWednesday #indieauthor #writersproblems #amwriting

 

Two months ago, I published my first novel…a really great story (in my humble opinion) that took years to come together.  So, now what?

I wrote, worked with beta readers, cut, added, rewrote, edited, edited and edited. I engaged a cover designer, an editor, a proofreader. I had a launch. I’ve tweeted, set up a Facebook page and a blog. All my writer friends agree, if you haven’t done this yourself, you cannot possibly understand the incredible amount of work, stress, and angst that goes into actually seeing the finished product listing on Amazon, or wherever you choose to sell your book.

At That Moment is the first book in a series, a story that includes a bit of fantasy, a great deal of reality, and many questions that women in their thirties (and all ages, honestly) face from time to time. I know it’s a great story…I’m just wondering how to spread the word now. I’m anxious to get the second book out, mainly because I’m also a reader, and personally hate to wait…and wait…and wait…for the next volume of a series I’m reading and enjoying.

This is the conundrum. Do I write? Or do I push back my plans to get the next book out as soon as possible, and spend my time working on promotion and marketing of the first book?

Like many self-published indie authors I’m privileged to know, I’m not rich. I can’t hire a PR firm to promote my book, nor do I have unlimited funds to spend on book promotion. I don’t have a Personal Assistant I can assign these tasks to while I write. And also, like many indie authors I know, self-published or not, I don’t have unlimited time to devote to either writing or promotion. I have a busy life with responsibilities and people who depend on me. So, I’ve been searching for help.

There is no lack of promotional “help” out there… “We’ll tweet about your book for 3 days for $14!” “List your book with us! We’ll tweet about it for 7 days for $50!”  and on and on.  What is an author to do?  Who sees the tweets?  Do they reach readers who enjoy my genre? Will they be worth my hard-earned money? Just researching all of these sites is extremely time-consuming and exhausting.

There are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of blogs out there giving writers advice, outlining what they should do to get their books noticed and jumpstart their sales. “Long before you even publish, build a platform.” ie: Set up social media sites, collect a huge following, develop a mailing list, create a newsletter with interesting content. Well, no, I didn’t do that. Shame on me.

The simple fact is, word of mouth sells books. Most people don’t have a clue how much a review posted on Amazon helps an indie author. There are some inexpensive (and sometimes even free) promotional opportunities available, if you search hard enough. But quite a few of them require a minimum number of good reviews posted on Amazon to qualify for their services.

If you have enjoyed a book, please take a few minutes of your time to go on the book’s Amazon listing and rate it. You don’t even have to have purchased the book from Amazon (Thank you, Amazon!) to leave a rating and review on the page. And a “review” doesn’t have to be a 3-page analysis of every aspect of the book. It can simply say, “I liked this book and recommend it to others who enjoy this genre.” A short and sweet review of that fashion may not seem like much to you, but it counts as a “review” and can mean the world to an indie author…the best “thank you” for the incredible amount of work that goes in to writing and publishing a book. And it can simply make an author’s day, providing a sometimes much-needed shot of confidence.

I am extremely grateful to those who have posted such awesome reviews of At That Moment. Each one builds my confidence, and makes me so happy that others are understanding what I have written, relating to my characters, and are enjoying the read. Thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart.

I’ve written a story that I truly love…a contemporary novel about a woman who experiences an incredible life-changing moment, and it explores the age-old question, “Does she have the courage to take a leap of faith?”  Or does she cling to her comfortable, predictable life where she’s in control of the outcome? (Yes, I know that’s a myth, but isn’t it one we all believe?)

A few years ago, I shared the first draft with a few close friends who badgered me almost daily, “You HAVE to publish this!  This is a great book! People will LOVE it!” I swallowed my fear and doubts, and published it.

So, now what?

Do I push on with the next chapter of the story, and just let my book languish on Amazon, hoping that someone will notice it? Or do I let the next chapter sit in my computer while I spend my available time marketing and promo-ing my book? Unfortunately, sometimes it comes down to one or the other.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not spending my time this morning writing this to elicit pity or just to take up time that I could otherwise be using to write my second book, or promote my first. I’m truly interested in hearing what others have done to meet this challenge, because, the truth is, this issue has almost paralyzed me to the point that I can’t seem to do either.

Thank you for taking YOUR valuable time to read this post, and to respond, if you have any words of wisdom to share.

Are you an indie author? Have you faced this same conundrum? What did YOU do?

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