Monday, November 16, 2015


There are times in life when you say, What? It's been how long? Being an author is like that.
I can't believe my book has been out for a three-hundred-sixty-five days. And yet, I can't believe it's only been a year. It's perfect that Becoming Beauty was published in November, the month of gratitude, because I'm overwhelmingly grateful.

I'm grateful that I took a chance on myself and the story that rattled around in my soul for years. It desperately wanted to be told.

I'm grateful that Cedar Fort Publishing took a chance on me. Becoming Beauty may not be wildly successful, but it continues to move. I appreciate that the publishing house took me in hand and made so much more of Becoming Beauty than I could have done alone. Much of the good press has originated with Cedar Fort, their team of professionals, and their connections. A huge thank you to them!

I'm grateful to friends, new and old, online and in my community who have supported me. Countless individuals have created blog posts, bought books, recommended Becoming Beauty to friends, invited me to visit their school, book clubs, libraries, and coffee shops. I love that. And I love all of you who have taken time out of your life to help a girl out. I love you all. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to publish a book.
I'm grateful to my family for being so proud, so impressed, and so supportive. It's true that they are my biggest fans. And yes, they keep thinking this is soooo cool and asking when my next book will be published. How awesome is that?

I'm grateful that stories keep whispering to my heart. It is not the end of the road and I refuse to be another one hit wonder. Even on my hardest teaching days, I know that there is another life waiting in the wings, an impatient muse tapping her toe until her chance to breathe life into another story arrives.

One year later, here's what I know: Don't abandon your dreams. Don't abandon that bit of more that is struggling to take center stage. It is more marvelous than you can ever guess.
Also, want in on a secret? Since Becoming Beauty can't have cupcakes for her birthday, she's shelling out the gifts! 99 cents all week! Just in time to gift it to a friend or secure your own holiday read!
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook
books&things ebook
iTunes ebook

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Proper Romance

There's something magical about a premiere novel, through it a writer's voice and style is introduced to the world. 
Along with her premiere novel, Julianne Donaldson created a new genre, the Proper Romance. Donaldson is apparently a girl like me, who enjoys a clean read without all the religious mumbo jumbo. Don't get me wrong, religion and romance have their place in life, but reading about them can become preachy and, well icky.

Proper Romance strikes the happy medium between Christian Romance and Adult Romance. Donaldson's first book, Edenbrooke, is a perfect example. It's chock full of exuberance, humor, and first love. 

Marianne Daventry isn't your run-of-the-mill debutante. She's fond of twirling, meandering through the great outdoors, and singing ridiculous songs about cows. (Seriously.) How can she ever hope to become the type of lady worthy of a great fortune and marrying well? However, when the situation arises, Marianne must rise to the occasion, and with her sparkling sense of humor, wonderful heart, and innate clumsiness, hilarity and heartbreak are sure to be in ample supply.  
Edenbrooke is the favorite of my niece, Amy, who probably identifies a little too well with nutty/adorable/genuine Marianne. Amy's real-life romance, riddled with many a ridiculous moment, rivals Marianne's. If you enjoy a healthy dose of awkward giggle with your romance, Edenbrooke is the Proper Romance for you.

Just as the premiere novel tells a lot about a new writer, the sophomore novel reveals even more. Sophomore novels show how much the writer has grown and what storytelling skills they have refined. More than anything, seeing the direction an author takes after the first novel is fascinating. 
The entire tenor of Blackmoore is darker, more serious, and more suspenseful than Edenbrooke. Kate Worthington (not Kitty as she has been called since girlhood) faces prejudice based on her less-than-proper family relations, her past, and her friendship with a titled young man. Unraveling the threads of Kate's past alongside Henry Delafield, her best friend, is an absolute delight. And untangling her growing feelings for Henry is both delicious and heartbreaking. 

The depth and romance of Blackmoore makes it my favorite of Donaldson's novels. It's like the friend who is more interesting and solid because of the hell they've been through. Don't get me wrong, those happy-go-lucky folks are lovely and they bring the laughter, but they may not be the ones you want at your side when the crap hits the fan. 

Discovering clean books that are clever, humorous, and full of heart is the best. I can recommend them to others with a clear conscience, which is my absolute favorite. I like to think of Becoming Beauty as a Proper Romance (even though Donaldson's publisher didn't pick it up). There's just enough flirty/snarky romance to keep things interesting, but not enough to reach the ick zone. 

Find Donaldson's books on Amazon: Edenbrooke, Blackmoore, and just arriving on the scene Heir to Edenbrooke, the prequel to Edenbrooke. Oh, it's gonna be good!
I'd love to hear about your Proper Romance favorites...for instance, anything Jane Austen will do! Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Coloring Contests & Captain America

Maneuvering through today's marketing world requires finesse, creativity, and maybe a collection of dorky tee shirts. Luckily, I have kind friends who've helped me to set up a website, arrange author events, and connect with readers both on- and off-line. (Thanks, friends!)
I've learned something from those much more wise friends of mine. The key to marketing is keeping everything fresh. Blog posts, status updates, traditional book signings and other author events, etc. 

After arranging a couple of book signings, my marketing guru Raylynn Sleight suggested holding a coloring contest at the same time. My kindergarten teacher brain flipped into high gear, visualizing unsupervised children graphitti-ing every possible surface. 

“They have a kids area," she reminded me calmly. “But we don't have to do it if you don't want to.”

My teacher brain shut up for a second. My inner problem-solver filled the void. “Maybe we could do an online contest too?”

That did it. We located free Beauty & the Beast coloring pages online, nabbed crayons from my classroom, and gathered all my regular book signing paraphernalia. Raylynn designed custom posters and graphics to promote the signings online and at the various locations. (Have I mentioned how awesome she is?)

The technique worked beautifully at the signing, which was held during Friday Night Art Stroll in Ogden. Engaging kids in an activity while chatting up their parents--which was exactly what Raylynn had envisioned--was more fun than I could have anticipated. (And no, there were no crayon mishaps.) In addition to a successful sales event, involving social media in choosing the winner was a fabulous plan. I haven't had so much interaction and discussion in a long time! So much fun!

The next author event was a signing at Salt Lake Comic Con with several other Cedar Fort authors. We needed something to encourage super fans to stop long enough to chat with them about our books. After much deliberation, we settled on a prize wheel. It gave us a reason to call people over and offer freebies, but what really kept them chatting with us was the fact that all of us were friendly published authors. Some sales were made based on that alone. (Seriously thought, if you can't find any talking points at Comic Con, you need to watch more movies and read more books/comics. Because Captain America!)

These two events went quite well, but sometimes things won't work as well. Stay positive and learn from the experience. Spend more time thinking about the people who will be attending and cater to them for the next event. Just because you don't sell many books doesn't mean you are a crap author with nothing to offer. (That last bit was for me. *hangs head in shame*) At the last author event Raylynn and I set up, I sold very few books, but I made some fabulous connections. 

Here's my nugget of wisdom: the only time an author endeavor is a failure is when we give up. So, carry on and keep writing and schmoozing! It's good for you.