Some Quick Facts About Independently Publishing Your Book

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Those of us who write books can all see it clearly: the world of publishing is in a state of flux. Independent authors are popping up ever more frequently, and there are numerous reasons for it. Why? Because writers want to maintain control over their own projects. Because writers want to immerse themselves into all aspects of the publishing process, from conception of story to editing to designing the cover to marketing and promoting their novels themselves. And, because writers write as a hobby, something they do on the side and not as their sole livelihood; perhaps they don’t want the hassle of everything that can come with traditional publishing.

There are many reasons independent authors choose to be independent.

As of October 9, 2013, in the United States alone, data by ProQuest and Bawker reported that the number of self-published titles jumped 59% from 2011, with up to 391,000 self-published titles released.

E-books comprised 40% of the market in 2012, and continue to gain on print, though print saw a rise of 33%.

Many self-published authors like myself find the process of seeking a traditional publisher as an obstacle to getting our stories out there. We write, therefore, we want someone to read what we write. We need an audience, even if the audience is smaller.

Those of us who are independently/self-published authors see ourselves as “managers” of the entire project, and become vested in our work. Sometimes, we need help with parts, and we turn to friends or colleagues to assist with aspects we might not know too much about. In my own case, I had friends edit my book. I also had my friend shoot the cover of Beneath the Mimosa Tree, my first book. Additionally, she photographed me for my author head shot for the novel as well. Likewise, I will have her do the same with Baseball Girl, the novel I will soon release.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

When your sole income does not come from the sale of books, it is easy to have fun with self-publishing. It’s a great side hobby where you can put all your talents to work. As someone who worked in public relations and publishing for years, I wrote all my own press releases and media alerts; I’ve contacted book stores to see if they are interested in selling my book; I’ve booked my own book talks; I’ve entered indie author contests and placed; and I’ve even coached other people as to how to do it. It’s really quite fun, and something I’ve never been afraid of doing. Why? Because I love it.

Many self-published authors get picked up by big publishing houses, so even if you publish something yourself, if you still desire that “larger” audience, you can certainly continue to try.

The numbers are pretty staggering, though. The world of publishing has changed, continues to change, and I don’t see this trend ending anytime soon.

Begin Again, Just The Same

Keira Knightley and Adam Levine in “Begin Again”

* * *

“Begin Again,” a film featuring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine, was released over the summer, but I never got the chance to see it. However, on Saturday night I spent time with my friend Elizabeth, and we hunkered down and watched it. As a fan of the movie (and now Broadway musical) “Once,” I got sucked into this film right away, and there was no denying why. John Carney wrote and directed both films, borrowing a little from his own life. As a sucker for romance stories (usually ones with happy endings), both “Once” and “Begin Again” revolve around bitttersweet love stories peppered with songs as an added bonus.

It’s much too late, and I’m much too tired to do a full review of the film, but if you know me and you like my taste in movies and books, give it a try. Both Elizabeth and I liked it very much. I’ve downloaded the music from iTunes, and have enjoyed listening to it. In fact, for your musical entertainment, I’m going to show you a clip. In this scene, Keira Knightley has composed a heartfelt song and sings it into her boyfriend’s phone after they have broken up and Adam Levine has broken her heart. He is on the road, a rising artist. She is back in New York composing this song with a friend.

And although this film doesn’t have a happy fairy tale “romantic” ending, we know she (Keira) is going to be fine, so we are left in a good mood. Likewise, Mark Ruffalo is fantastic as the washed up agent who just needs to find that next talent, and he brings a lot of humor to this musical comedy. I think we can all relate to the feelings of heartbreak, whether it’s a heartbreak from years ago or one more recent. Keira’s performance is raw and believable and reminds us of how that moment feels.

Be The Little Engine That Could (#NaNoWriMo)

TheLittleEngineThatCould* * *

I remember it well. The Little Engine That Could was one of my favorite books as a kid. I loved that the underdog, that little engine, could fight the odds and make it up and over the mountain. We were rooting for that little engine. We wanted that little engine to defy the odds and show us its gumption.

And now, many years later, I’m writing. I’m proving I’ve got gumption. I’m going to finish novel #2, and I’m so close. I can taste it. I’m just about at the top of the mountain—at the crest—and ready to coast down the other side.

Be that little engine, I tell myself. Keep going. If I can do it, you can do it. It’s #NaNoWriMo (that’s National Novel Writing Month for those of you who don’t know what that means), and we’re all working to complete a novel during the month. Because it’s kind of a big challenge for writers, I thought I’d string together some of my all-time favorite quotes from writers about writers or just some inspirational quotes to help push you along in your projects.

Good Luck. Now go make it over that mountain.

JKRowlingToniMorrisonFirstDraftsJohnGreenDCFonatanaHemingwayGutsJaneAustenRickRiordanQuotesJudy BlumeGuy Kawasaki

Hitting A Rough Patch

hearts&books* * *

I spend a lot of time writing. I spend a lot of time reading.

Does this sound like you?

It sure as hell sounds like me. Maybe it sounds like you and me and a lot of other people.

So, because we, collectively, spend a lot of time reading and a lot of time writing (me, for my profession, as well as scribing a book or two or three–what’s your excuse?), coming up with an enticing blog post can get a bit, shall we say, tricky.

Fried brain on toast, if you know what I mean.

Sometimes I just sit here, looking at the screen and saying to myself, “What the heck am I going to write about today?” I used to blog three days a week, now I’m down to one day a week. I’ve hit a rough patch. I’m honestly just so darn busy that this poor little blog of mine has had to take a back seat to my career…my kids…my hubby…and readying the porch for winter.

Seriously. I just finished “closing up the porch” for the season. I wasn’t ready to shut it down, but I didn’t want our brand new cushions on our brand new furniture to become moldy, so I vacuumed them, cleaned them, stored them in bags, and brought them inside. I vacuumed the porch floors and dusted all the furniture before I wrapped it all up and covered it for the season. I suppose I could write about that.

Or perhaps I can liken closing up the porch for winter to my own mind closing up a little with regard to this blog. There are things I know I could write about, but I always wonder whether someone would be interested in what I have to say. It’s a coin toss, and I’m not willing to call it in the air.

CartoonMy husband loves to tell me that my blog is not “streamlined enough.” He says I write about too many subjects, and that if I focused on just one topic, I might find a niche for my blog.

I’ve never much liked niches. It’s like being pigeonholed, and I don’t much care for that idea either.

I tell him I would be bored.

I can’t imagine only writing about one subject (such as writing). I write all day long and I read all day long and I teach writing. Why would I want to write about writing when I already do that?

Nah, I say. I just want to write about subjects I want to write about, and I want to vary my topics. That could involve writing about books, television, movies, fashion, life lessons, childhood stories…who knows?  You never know what I’ll pull out of my twisted little hat on any given day.

No one says a blog has to be one set way.

The power of the imagination is incredibly intoxicating. All you have to do is let your imagination go to places you never thought were possible…be daring…write in a way that is a little scary, dearie…write stories you haven’t told…tell stories you’ve always wanted to tell…

Can’t you feel the creative juices flowing? Can’t you envision the spark that just caught me and lit my fire?


Just focus.

It’ll come to you.

I tell myself that.

A lot.


Stuck In A Rut? 7 Suggestions To Help Get You Out

Sometimes, the very idea of doing “the same thing again” is enough to make us go mad. And I’m not talking “a little mad;” I’m talking stark-raving, “I’ve had enough” and “I don’t ever want to do this again” kind of mad. Statements like, “If I make one more meatball” or “If I fold one more pair of socks” might turn us into Jane, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s main character, in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Here’s the thing, people: we can’t get away from those mundane, dreary, monotonous, mind-numbing tasks, so we have to turn to other things to give us a lift, and bring us back to life. Here are 7 of my favorite suggestions to help get you out of that sort of tiresome rut.

My artwork from "Wine & Canvas" Night.
My artwork from “Wine & Canvas” Night.
  1. Try something new. It’s so cliché, I know, but isn’t this what our parents taught us? If you’re tired of something, go try something new. Recently, one of my friends organized a night out at a local restaurant where we painted and drank wine and had social time. It’s called “Wine & Canvas” and it’s not something we would typically do; however, it was just what we wanted to do, and we all said we’d do it again, even though none of us is Picasso.
  2. Do something all by yourself—yes—without anyone tagging along. Yesterday, my son went to our golf club and practiced hitting from the tees and also worked on his chipping. My husband was sick, and so he went all by himself. He’s only 14. When I went to pick him up, I found him in the club restaurant sitting at a table alone enjoying lunch while he watched the Redskins game. I was so proud of him for not being afraid to do something by himself; he feels quite at home at the club. In fact, he feels comfortable enough to do what he did without batting an eye. I love his sense of independence. I remember a couple of times when I wanted to see a film and no one wanted to go with me. I went by myself. It’s sort of liberating to walk into the theatre and know it’s you, your Coke, your bucket of popcorn, and your movie. Doing something by yourself doesn’t make you a loser; it shows you are confident enough to not give a rip that you’re doing it alone.
  3. Color. Yes, you heard me…color. How long has it been since you sat at a table with a piece of paper, picked up a 16-pack of Crayola crayons, and just colored (and not with your kids). The little things we take for granted as children—all the play time, the creativity, the ingenuity that was so valued—can get lost when we become adults unless you MAKE TIME for it. If coloring doesn’t float your boat, paint, draw, write a poem, craft a love letter, or build a model airplane or a tree house. Do something that allows you to remind yourself that deep within you, there was a hint of something genius (or at least mildly genius).

    Photo credit: Prevention Magazine
    Photo credit: Prevention Magazine
  4. Float away in a bubble bath. Even today, I still use Calgon’s old advertising slogan: Calgon—take me away. Allow yourself to relax in the bathtub. Bring a book or magazine in there with you, some candles, some classical or spa music, and just float away for a half an hour or so. We tend to shower under time constraints: we have to get to work, we have to run to school, we have to attend an event. A bath is a much more leisurely activity that requires you to actually STOP and SIT and SOAK. And before you plunge into this idea, go to your nearest drugstore and buy yourself some sumptuous bath bubbles, bath salts, or bath liquid. The scents are alluring and you can decompress luxuriously.
  5. Take time to be a GOOD friend. Now is not the time for me to tell my woes of disappointing friendships, but when I moved last year, several people I considered good friends hardly noticed I was leaving (one in particular I counted as a very dear friend). I didn’t get so much as a hug or wave, let alone a card or a follow-up phone call to see how we had made out. It was quite hurtful; it forced me to consider over the last year what it takes to be a good friend and taught me, even at this stage of middle age, what kinds of friends I don’t want. We are truly lucky if we can count our dearest friends on one hand. My friend Jenny and I classify “good friends” as those who would nurse us if we were sick or dying. We all know who those people are in our lives, so take time out to be that GOOD FRIEND to those you care for deeply. Nurture those relationships. Additionally, take time to be open to new friendships, as some new ones might surprise you and be absolutely delightful (this is where I say “thank you” to all my new, welcoming friends). You never know when someone might need you, in both small ways and big ways. It really can make the biggest difference in someone’s life.
  6. Read something that knocks your socks off and makes you think. I can’t tell you how sometimes the right thing to do is to “step outside your comfort zone.” Reading the book “Unbroken” has completely changed my  perception of World War II. And, it was a leap of faith. Recommended by family members and friends, I read this book and couldn’t put it down. This got me out of a rut in no time flat; I was forced to think about someone other than myself, and it felt really good to consider what those men went through. Additionally, I have discussed the book with many other people, so it was a conversation starter and a relationship builder. It has made me appreciate our freedom, our soldiers, and our veterans much more deeply. Don’t be afraid to venture into a new area with your reading. You never know where it could take you or what you could discover about yourself and others.

    Take a cue from this elegant couple...Prince William and Kate Middleton
    Take a cue from this elegant couple…Prince William and Kate Middleton. Photo credit:
  7. Dress Up and Do Something Fancy. I know what you’re going to say: no one dresses up anymore, not for anything except an occasional wedding or funeral. It’s sad, really. I marvel at what people wear to the theatre (as in Broadway-style theatre) and church these days. While I love “comfort clothes,” I miss the way people used to dress, in sophisticated clothes for a night on the town. When we see a well-dressed person these days (or even more so, a well-dressed couple), we take notice. Wow, we think, they are looking snappy. And yet, we are celebrity obsessed and want to see what they wear to the Oscars and to the MTV awards, etc. etc. So why don’t we do the same every now and then? Host a party and ask folks to dress up; go out on the town with your date and dress to the nines; have a ladies night out and get swanky. It might very well get you out of a rut.

I’m sure I could come up with more, but on this Monday, these are my favorites. Pick one and do it. Then tell me all about it.

Add Color To Your Life—And Your Wardrobe—Boden Style

Bought this tweed jacked. It's really smart and versatile.
Bought this tweed jacket. It’s really smart and versatile.

This was the year I decided to make the change, the plunge, the difference. Little by little, I’ve been updating my rather dull, “all black” wardrobe and infusing it with some color. My fellow professors love to tease me when they see me in something other than black. In fact, the other day I wore a hot pink dress with black tights and boots and they all said: “Wow! Nice color!” It’s been a running joke that my wardrobe consists of lots of black, and then some more black.

The inspiration for me has come for two main reasons: (1) I am getting older, and wearing black all the time can be a little depressing, and (2) Boden’s catalogue has inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and add some zing—pops of color, new styles, and even some tweed.

While it hasn’t exactly been the easiest transition for me (I still reach for all black when I want to feel most comfortable), I am embracing all the colors of the rainbow. I’m enjoying the experimentation, having fun with this new vibrancy in my wardrobe, and actually, if I’m to be totally honest, feeling just a little more colorful, not only on the outside, but also on the inside.

Below are the clothes from Boden that have influenced my decisions–and some of these are real winners.

Be bold, ladies. Be colorful.

Really cute stuff here. Love the bird dress (bought a similar one) and the pop of color in the turquoise stockings is fabulous.
Pinks, greens and blues. This outfit comes together and is just plain fun.
Pinks, greens and blues. This outfit comes together and is just plain fun.
Again...this turquoise with pink, yellow, purple and green. I would never think to put this together, but wow! Lovely color.
Again…this turquoise with pink, yellow, purple and green. I would never think to put this together, but wow! Lovely color.
Simple green dress...but just so sophisticated and cute.
Simple green dress…but just so sophisticated and cute.
Putting together color really means putting together color schemes that go together. It DOES NOT have to match perfectly for it to work.
Putting together color really means putting together color schemes that go together. It DOES NOT have to match perfectly for it to work.
I'm going for overall sophistication. I would never wear the skirt color near my face because it would wash me out, but wearing it on the bottom with a navy blue up top—total winner.
I’m going for overall sophistication. I would never wear the skirt color near my face because it would wash me out, but wearing it on the bottom with a navy blue blouse up top—total winner.
What can I say about this combination, except ... stunning. Look at those rich colors, and how nicely they work together. Faboo.
What can I say about this combination, except … stunning. Look at those rich colors, and how nicely they work together. Faboo.
Another tweed jacket with a pop of pink underneath. Classic and beautiful.
Another tweed jacket with a pop of pink underneath. Classic and beautiful.
Just purchased this green skirt. Can be dressed up or dressed down. Pretty cute little number for snowy days, or just to wear for comfort.
Just purchased this green skirt. Can be dressed up or dressed down. Pretty cute little number for snowy days, or just to wear for comfort.

Smashing Pumpkins: A Story

Originally posted on steph's scribe:

Smashing Pumpkins: A Short Story

I posted this short story last year for a brief period of time. This story’s always been near and dear to my heart and is probably one of my favorite things I’ve written. If you like it, why not consider reading “Beneath The Mimosa Tree,” and perhaps even my upcoming novel called “Baseball Girl.” Coming in March. Happy Halloween!


Janie’s big house on the water overlooked Annapolis in St. Margaret’s and had recently been featured in Annapolitan Magazine. Her father and mother had purchased the renovated show home two years ago, before her mother took it upon herself not to care about anything. Prior to this home, they had lived in a smaller colonial in St. Margaret’s on the other side of the highway. Janie’s best friend had lived next door to her, and though she thought the new house was pretty, she…

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