Jeanne: Interview with Ellen Lindseth

I first met Ellen through my 2015 RWA® Golden Heart® class, the Dragonflies.

Lindseth-AGirlDivided-26015-CV-FT

Even before we met in person, it became apparent that we had some things in common. Ellen resides in Minnesota, where I lived for three years back in the 90’s. We both love to travel. And we both love flowers.

The day I posted a picture on Facebook of a water plant I was having trouble identifying  and Ellen hopped on to say it was bladderwort, our friendship blossomed. Then, in February of this year, our mutual friend and Dragonfly Tracy Brody, hosted a writers’ retreat on Kiawah Island, off the coast of South Carolina, and we got to spend a week writing, taking long walks on the beach, sharing meals and swapping brainstorming ideas.

Enough reminiscing. On with the questions!

Question 1: I love the idea of a set during WWII. Tell us a little bit about A Girl Divided, which becomes available today on Amazon.

Hi, Jeanne! First, I’d like to thank you for this chance to talk about my debut book. I’m super excited to talk about my story, which is both like and yet unlike other WWII romantic fiction books currently out there, and is receiving very good advance reviews. One thing readers will note right away is that my heroine, Eugenia Baker, never sets foot in Europe. This was a deliberate choice on my part because the war truly was a global conflict, and affected so many other parts of the world, including China, Burma, India, and South Africa – all places that Genie travels through on her journey to the U.S. Continue reading

Jeanne: The First Pancake, Part Two

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how self-publishing your first book is kind of like making your Pancakefirst pancake–it may turn out just fine, or it may be a scorched, runny mess, depending on how good a job you do of making the batter, setting up the griddle, etc.

I managed to get The Demon Always Wins set up for pre-order on Amazon on July 31. As of last night, I had 59 pre-orders. That may not seem like much, but according to Kameron Hurley, the average self-published book sells only 250 copies in its lifetime. And while the average traditionally-published book sells 3000 copies over the course of its publication life, 250-300 is the usual first year total.

So, with two-and-a-half weeks remaining till my book actually becomes available, I’ve already hit 22% of average lifetime sales for self-pubs and of first-year sales for traditional books.

So yay!

Continue reading

Jeanne: July Progress Report

20180725_084520Nancy’s accountability thread yesterday reminded me (as it frequently does) that I’m committed to posting a progress report each month, too.

Goals for July:

  1. 1. Complete my revision of The Demon’s in the Details and send it off to my copy editor on August 1, as scheduled.
    • Done. Exactly on schedule, as it happens.
  2.  Get The Demon Always Wins loaded into Amazon for pre-orders before I head for the RWA® National conference, so that I can invite people to pre-order.
    • Good news: The ebook is available on Amazon for pre-order. I ran into some  issues in work I’d contracted out, though, so it didn’t happen until July 31st.
    • More good news: As of this writing, I’ve sold 51 books! Woo-hoo!
  3. Get through the RWA® National Conference.
    • Done.
    • The basket of apples and bookmarks pictured at the top of this blog is a recreation of the one I set up in the Goody Room at the conference. I gave away maybe fifty bookmarks and about three dozen apples over the course of four days.
    • The honor of taking home the necklace (aka “winning the Golden Heart”) went to Kay Hudson for Jinn on the Rocks. On the plus side, I did meet a couple of agents at the GH reception and they requested submissions of my contemporary romance, Girl’s Best Friend, when it’s ready. So now I’m trying to figure out how to make that happen without losing momentum on my paranormal series.
  4. Work with Barclay Publicity on my release campaign for The Demon Always Wins.
    • I’ve been working diligently to grow the following for my Facebook author page  and to acquire more Twitter followers. Both of which I’ve made progress on–452 FB page likes and 536 Twitter followers. Neither of which is anywhere near what I need for effective marketing, but it’s an improvement.
    • I’ve also been working with Barclay on identifying the optimal item to reward newsletter signups. More on that in a separate post.

Continue reading

Jeanne: The First Pancake

PancakeThere’s a wonderful indie comedy from 2003 called Pieces of April about a young woman who invites her suburban family to her walk-up apartment in the Bronx for Thanksgiving dinner, only to have her oven go out Thanksgiving morning. I saw it years ago, but there is one line that stuck with me.

Asked by some friends about her relationship with her parents, April says, “I’m the first pancake.”

The film goes on to explain that the first pancake is the one you throw away so the others will turn out okay.

The Demon Always Wins is starting to feel like the first pancake. Continue reading

Jeanne: The Ship to Tarshish

WhaleI intended to make today’s post a review of the 2018 RWA Conference in Denver that I attended last week. I have plenty to talk about–my first ever shot at giving away swag to promote a book, the great workshops I attended, my second experience as a Golden Heart finalist (though not, I’m sorry to say, as a winner this time).

But then I got to thinking about Jonah and the Whale, so we’re going to talk about that instead.

For those of you who weren’t frog-marched to Baptist Sunday school as impressionable children, God called on Jonah, a well-known prophet, to go to Nineveh and tell the Ninevites that they were screwing up, and to knock it off or he’d smite them.

Jonah didn’t think the Ninevites would be open to hearing this corrective feedback, so he hopped on a ship to Tarshish and high-tailed it in the opposite direction. Continue reading

Jeanne: The True Heart of the Golden Heart®

dragonfly-3469873_640Elizabeth’s post last week on the future of the Golden Heart® got me to thinking about my own experiences with this RWA tradition.

As you may know, I was a finalist in 2015 for The Demon Always Wins, my debut paranormal which will be released on September 1st on Amazon. It was a thrill to final, and an even bigger thrill in July, when the book went on to win its category. But the greatest win I received from the contest wasn’t delivered until the next February.

In January, 2016, after a routine mammogram, I was diagnosed with invasive ductile breast cancer. I was very fortunate because the mammogram and follow up ultrasound caught it very early–I think my tumor was 4 millimeters–about the size of the tip of your pinky finger. In March I had a lumpectomy and did a course of radiation and I’m happy to report that I’ve seen no recurrence.

But in between that January diagnosis and my March surgery, something pretty amazing happened. One Saturday morning in February, I did a quick check of my email before heading out to go hiking at a nearby nature preserve, as I usually do on Saturdays. To my surprise, in my inbox was a $5 Amazon gift card from on one of the Dragonflies, as my Golden Heart® class had chosen to name themselves. I was a little befuddled, but I had to meet a friend at the preserve, so I decided I’d figure out what was going on when I got home.

When I returned, around 10 a.m., there were two more gift cards in my inbox, also from Dragonflies. All day long, my inbox pinged with new arrivals as my Dragonfly sisters used their wings to carry me aloft. When I reached out to thank them and ask what they were doing, they said they wanted me to feel like I was getting little hugs all day long.

I truly did.

By the end of the day, I had amassed around 40 gift cards in varying amounts, totaling almost $300. In my mind, that money is earmarked for buying, at a minimum, every Dragonfly debut novel, so that I can read it and leave a review and, in some small measure, pay them back for their support during what could have been a lonely and frightening time.

So, RWA® Board if you’re listening, that’s what the Golden Heart® is really about. To my mind, we shouldn’t be looking for ways to dismantle it. We should be looking for ways to spread this kind of sisterhood and camaraderie throughout the organization.

Jeanne: Publicity

Marketing Hat (2)In June, Danielle Barclay of Barclay Publicity was the guest speaker at my RWA Chapter meeting. She talked about how authors can build a strong digital footprint to support their marketing efforts.

Hearing her made me realize it’s time to put on my marketing hat. Before her presentation, I hadn’t given any thought to hiring someone to help publicize the release of my debut novel, The Demon Always Wins, which will debut on Amazon on September 1st.  I figured on a more grassroots approach:

  • Putting the book into Kindle Unlimited (more on that here)
  • Releasing two more books within six months of my debut to keep myself visible to the Amazon algorithm.
  • Asking for reviews via my newsletter and my FB author page.
  • Entering the book in every published-book contest I can find. It did well on the unpublished-book circuit, so getting it in front of potential readers in the form of judges seems like a good way to gain visibility.
  • Being patient and trusting that my funny, satisfying, off-beat books will gain an audience.

Then I listened to Dani Barclay talk about the things one should do to promote a release (and a career) and realized how naive I was. The above list wasn’t going to be nearly enough to give my book any chance of being seen and read in a world where thousands of books are released on Amazon every day. Continue reading