Nancy: July Accountability Thread

Hello I Am Accountable words on a name tag sticker showing you accept responsibility or blame for a problem

Wow. June 2018. What a month. I’m exhausted on so many levels. But still standing (mostly), still fighting the good fight, and still hoping for a better month to come. Also, just returning from a weekend out of town, overseeing multiple house projects, and preparing for houseguests coming at the end of the week. And fighting with my web host over my site they broke two weeks ago and still haven’t fixed.

But that’s no excuse for slacking off on July goals! First, a quick recap of my progress in June. Let’s take a look-see at those goals from what feels like a century ago.

June Progress

1) Finish the first draft of the Women’s Fiction project. Done! I typed THE END on the first draft just this past Friday! Of course, it’s only the end of phase one. Now the real work begins. Writing: It’s a process. Rewriting: It’s a necessary evil.

2) Finish the romance novella and novel 1 revisions. Yeah, kinda sorta. Continue reading

Jeanne: Deadlines and Schedules and Dates, Oh My!

Pocket WatchA couple of weeks ago, I was still happily piddling around with Girls’ Best Friend, the contemporary romance I’ve been working on for a couple of years. Then, one morning, I suddenly realized that if I want to release The Demon’s in the Details, Book 2 of my Touched by a Demon series, on October 1st, I was in trouble.

Let’s work backward through the schedule.

October 1: Make the book live on Amazon.

Last week of September: Load the book onto Amazon. Set up any ads I’d like to create to promote the book.

First three weeks of September: Have the book proofread and formatted.

August: Have the book copy-edited and work through the copy-editor’s recommended changes. (My first book had literally thousands of recommended changes, so I need a couple of weeks after I get the book back before I can pass it on to the proofreader.)

Are you feeling panicky yet? Well, I am.

Continue reading

Nancy: The Big Reveal: Name Change

Hundreds of years ago, Shakespeare’s Romeo told Juliet, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, roses and amorous suitors aside, turns out there is something to a name, especially when it comes to a writing career. Some weeks ago, I went on a quest determine the best name(s) forward for my planned multi-genre writing career.

For as long as those of you reading the blog have known me, I’ve been Nancy Hunter because that’s the name I chose a decade ago (!!!) when I had a book come out with a publisher. At the time, I worked in a very intense and Very Serious career, and needed to keep some daylight between it and my writing life. This was not a deep cover pen name, as co-workers with appropriate googling skills would occasionally uncover my ‘secret identity’. And HR departments always knew it, because I had to claim my intellectual property (IP) at the outset, lest the corporations employing me try to claim writing created on my own time as theirs. (Gotta love corporate America: for the price of your salary, they claim the right to monetize everything you say, do, think, and feel every minute of every day, please and thank you.)

Lo these many years later, I’ve left that corporate world. I swear! Girl Scout’s honor (yes, I was actually a Girl Scout, so you can trust me). And in addition to the freedom to make my own schedule and write whenever and where ever and whatever I see fit, I also now have the freedom to use my very own legal name. If I so choose… Continue reading

Kay: Going Long at the Berkeley Book Festival

Last weekend, our Elizabeth, who lives just down the road from me, and I decided to go hear Catherine Coulter interviewed at the Berkeley Book Festival. This annual event, held in downtown Berkeley, California, attracts thousands of visitors, who can hear famous and not-as-famous writers talk about a wide variety of topics and, between panels, browse the many booths that crowd Berkeley’s Civic Center Park and the surrounding streets. This is the third year I’ve attended, and I’ve always enjoyed it, but this year the weather was cold and blustery, so lingering over intriguing new titles in gale-force winds was not in the cards. Elizabeth and I pretty much steamed our way through the booths in an effort to keep warm.

I was interested in hearing Catherine Coulter speak because she started her career writing shorter, category-length Regency historicals, Continue reading

Nancy: Story at the Speed of Light

We live in the age of speed. Everything needs to be fast, from the cup of coffee we get from the drive-through window, to the loading of our favorite websites, to our response time to every email, text message, and social media ping. As technology accelerates, it drags the microprocessors inside our skulls with it, conditioning us to think faster is always better. It’s no wonder we’ve come to expect our stories to move fast as well.

Don’t want to sit on pins and needles through commercials to find out what will happen next on your favorite show? Record it and fast-forward right through those suckers. Don’t want to wait week after week for a TV series to reach its conclusion? Watch something else while you wait for all the episodes to become available (or are dropped at once on streaming services) and binge-watch to your heart’s content. Our brains adapt very quickly to the rewards of story NOW, as services like Amazon and Netflix well know. It’s no accident that the next episode in a series starts playing on your TV within seconds of the end of the installment you just watched.

Which brings us to the favorite story delivery system of many of us on this blog: books. Continue reading

Nancy: The Big Reveal – Nancy Hunter, Author Website

Last week, I was lamenting my sad lack of progress on my website. This week, I’m singing a different tune.

That’s right. I did it. I completed my author website. You can see it by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post, after I’ve shared some details about creating the site and a few caveats to know before visiting it. Or you can skip straight to the link and come back here after that. (Go ahead, you know you want to do it! It’s definitely what I would do.)

The Look and Feel of the Site

To set up my website, I used a WordPress template built by a company call Author Cats. I’m giving it a try, and might decide at some future time that it’s not the right template for me, so I can’t tell other authors whether it would be right for them. I do think there are some interesting things, to consider. The look of the template is built on an underlying philosophy that is particularly geared to self-publishing writers, but is something to consider for traditionally-published writers as well.

If you’ve done any research on self-publishing, you know how important the author newsletter and the email mailing list used to distribute it is to a writer. It’s one of the few things an author really owns. You don’t own your Facebook or Twitter account. You don’t own your Amazon or Kobo or iBooks account. You can’t force good reviews on Goodreads or count on BookBub ads. But you can connect with readers who would want your books by collecting the email addresses of those who are interested, and then reaching out to them regularly. That’s why you’ll notice that there are two to three places to sign up for my newsletter on every page of my website. And the landing page (where the newsletter sign-up occurs) does not have a menu bar (visitors have to back click to leave the page).

That’s what the site will hopefully do for me, the author. What I hope it will do for visitors is provide a clean, easy-to-navigate place to learn a little bit about me, try a sample of of my work, and effortlessly contact or follow me if that’s their thing.

Placeholder Information

As with many things in life, including me, my website is a work in process. Where appropriate, I’ve made it clear that the Harrow’s Finest Five series will be available in the fall of 2018, the freebie meet cute stories that subscribers get for signing up for my newsletter won’t be sent until May 2018, and the excerpts for kickoff novella and novel 1 will also be unavailable until May. There really is a good reason for this: I want to present the best-possible versions of my books and the excerpts that represent them, which precipitates a good, thorough editing process with an amazing editor. This is happening as we speak, but I want have ‘final’ drafts for another month or so.

I have included placeholder book descriptions on the excerpt pages, in the interest of having something to share about the upcoming books with site visitors. But this, too, will change after I’ve worked with my editor on the book descriptions.

Room to Grow

Some of the self-publishing-specific functionality of the template I’m using is the ability to quickly and easily embed buy links to outside sites that are connected directly to images and text on my website. Changing and updating these links, for instance if I start in Kindle Select and go wide later, is also easy peasy. Easy is important to me. You know how long it took me to get this site set up. When I need to make updates and add more fancy, book-centric bells and whistles, a Nancy-proof way to do so is essential. Otherwise, I’ll never do it.

Over the next several months to a year, I plan to launch websites for my other writing alter egos: Nancy J. Yeager for Women’s Fiction/Mainstream, and NJ Christensen for Mystery/Nordic Noir. (We can discuss the brilliance or idiocy of this plan in a future post.) I had hoped this template would provide an easy way to have multiple home pages that I could manage out of the same site, but it doesn’t look like that’s the case.

Max makes an appearance on my new website, but I hope you won’t see him! He’s on the 404 page.

There are no doubt good technical reasons for this, but sadly, it means I’ll probably have to build separate websites. But it does look like I’ll be able to manage the sites from one dashboard and easily embed links between them. Here’s hoping.

The Reveal

So now, here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for (or, at least, the moment I’ve been waiting for over the past several months). To visit my new website, click on this link to go to nancyhunterbooks.com! And if you’re so inclined, sign up for my newsletter while you’re there. I’ll talk more about that when we closer to the first issue in a few months.

Love the website? Hate it? Have deep thoughts to share? Let me know in the comments.

Nancy: Third Time’s the Charm…I Hope!

One of the things we talk about a lot here on the blog is how to balance a writing life with the rest of life. The rest of life includes family obligations, major life events, and – as is the case for several of us – the dreaded day job. I think I’ve mentioned a time or two (or a hundred) that my day job is very intense and deadline-driven. It’s also a high-stakes profession, with peoples’ jobs and livelihoods and companies’ multi-million (or even billion) dollar deals on the line. Gee, I wonder why I have insomnia?

Another truth about my day job, though, is that it’s not so dreaded. At least, it didn’t used to be. It was, in fact, my dream job when I started working in the field (business proposals for US government contractors) as a writer. After some years of experience and training, I moved into managing the proposals, and found the perfect fit for my skillset, work style (did I mention the word intensity?), and career goals. Continue reading