Thursday, December 28, 2017

Looking Ahead To 2018 #MFRW #Authors #52

What do I hope to accomplish next year?  First, let's see if I accomplished last year's goals:

-Publish #4 of The Chosen  Check:)
-Promote the release of Crossroads Anthology Check:)  See below
-Write #5 of The Chosen  Started it; see below
-Write Heart Song  Not even close.  See below
-Do well at all planned events (5 total)  Mixed; see below

So what's with all the 'see below'?  I used my Christmas money to pay for the book cover and editing for #4.  The planned events?  I ran into weather issues, organizers who didn't promote the events, and bad booth placement.  My laptop crashed, along with stress and LIFE issues that prevented me from writing.  My huge 'what-the-hell' moment came in April, when I discovered the story I'd written was deemed 'too dark and violent' for the gentle readers, and would I please rewrite it in seven days?  I went one further and wrote TWO completely different stories in a week's time.

My Goals For 2018:
-Write #5 of The Chosen
-Promote Whispers Anthology
-Limit my craft fairs and set up at only the March event; Author's Fair in April; our Watermelon Fest in August, as well as GenCon (if we get approved); Harvest Fest in Sept; Imaginarium in Oct; and Christmas Show in Nov.  Also only do the free events around town (1st Fridays, and one or two Farmer's Market).
-Finish Heart Song (I did finish Ch. 5 and am well into Ch.6!)
-Set up a few local signings at our coffee shop/brewery.
-Get our Green House torn down, and the Brown House emptied.  I've decided to move my office into the Brown House (provided the spouse approves!).
-Continue participation in the MFRW Blog Challenge 2018.  This year was fun; let's hope it keeps going!

What are YOUR goals for next year?  Want to see what others are planning for next year, click here.

I hope you've all enjoyed this blog challenge; I've certainly enjoyed getting to know my fellow blog hoppers and more books have been added to my growing TBB list.  I'm hoping an amazon gift card arrives in my stocking at my mother's house this weekend!

Happy New Year!!!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dear Newbie Writer.... #MFRW Authors #51

First of all, HOW is it there is only two more weeks of 2017?  It seems to have flown by!  Thankfully, most of my holiday gift-buying is complete, as well as most of the baking.  Now I need to shoo everyone out of the house so I can wrap everything. Thankfully, we're staying home this year, and traveling after Christmas.

Dear Newbie Writer,
***Just realized I misunderstood the topic....if you've already written a book, skip the first few paragraphs****

I applaud your desire to write!  If this is truly what you want to do, then by all means write.  Get your story/poem/memoir down on paper or some form of document.  Don't worry about getting it perfect; this is a 1st draft, so your only priority at the moment is to finish it.  I don't care if it takes a month, a year, or twelve hours....I want you to write 'the end'.

Then what?  You've finished; now take a day or two to celebrate!  Because now the hard part begins.

What?  You thought writing it was hard?  Oh no, my friend....roll up your sleeves, fix yourself a pot of coffee/tea/favorite non-alcoholic beverage and sit back down.  Flex those fingers and dive in again.

Read your document again, or if you're just now typing it up, see if you can fix any errors.  Typos, grammar, punctuation.  Or plot holes.  Does any character suddenly experience an eye color change?  Or forget they're already wearing a coat and put it on twice?  (Yes, it happens!)  After you think you've polished it, save it, email it to yourself, or send it to a trusted friend.

Another hard part is blurb writing, or condensing your story down to 25 or even 50 words.  Believe me, it's tough at times.  Maybe write a synopsis (another 'dirty' word, lol!) 

You want to be published?  Research is next.  Search publishers.  Get on social media and talk with other authors, publishers, editors, etc, to find the right 'fit'.  Want to self-publish?  Awesome!  Have a professional editor comb through your words and let them work their magic.  Don't know an editor?  Get out your favorite book and email the author (if you're not already friends on social media with him/her) to ask about contacting said editor.  Also cover art.  You want a professional cover.  Authors on social media can help with this also.  

After you've done all that, start a blog (if you've not already) and reach out to other bloggers for interviews, guest spots, or seek out Goddess Fish for a book review tour ($35??).  

The day your book goes live, celebrate!  Splash it all over Social Media. Hold a contest on your blog.  Soak in the wonder of your success; you are now a Published Author.

Now even more hard work begins.  You want to reach readers, right?  Find a local craft fair and rent a booth.  Go to Vista Print dot com and order business cards, bookmarks, and any other promotional items.  Order print copies of your work.  Not a huge amount, unless your budget allows for it.  Have fun!  You'll meet readers, people who will express interest in writing, and yes, some people will turn up their nose at your baby.  Do NOT be offended; not everyone will 'automatically' fall in love with your masterpiece.

If that's not your style, then search for author events in your area or price range.  If you're too late for space, volunteer at the event and network with the authors.  Yes, you have to TALK to people.  Make friends; many other published authors are friendly and will invite you to play in their sandbox.  Don't forget to return the favor or pay it forward after you've mentored another newbie.

I know, this seems like a lot.  But do it at your own pace, at your comfort level.  No one is going to force you to publish your work, or even get it written.  Only YOU know can decide how much or how little you want to do.

Why did I decide to pursue publishing?  Because I had several people ask me 'why aren't you published?'  Why did I start writing?  Because I finally found a way to get these characters out of my head.

The best piece of advice someone gave me?  "Don't get it RIGHT, get it WRITTEN'.

Good luck and remember I'm here if you have any questions.  Didn't like what I had to say, then by all means, seek out the others on this blog hop by clicking here. 

Kenzie Michaels

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What Have I Done??? #MFRW Authors #50

Correction:  In case you missed it, my cookie recipe last week had a typo in it.  I use a 10 oz bag of chocolate chips, not 16 oz!

This week's topic is tough.  Before I was published, my main accomplishment was the fact I'd graduated college, had given birth to two amazing children, and despite some rocky times, remained married, even though the 'D' word had come up a few times.

At the beginning of 2003, I was flying high.  My first 'baby' was published, though under a different name.

Another child made his appearance, shocking the hell out of me.  I'd thought my baby days were well behind me, for at least another ten or so years, and they'd be grandchildren!

Here it is, 2017, and what have I accomplished?

Hitting #3 on the ARE Best Seller list in 2009 with All She Ever Wanted

Heart's Last Chance sold 47 copies in one month in 2014, causing me to email our bookkeeper with the 'are you sure that's accurate?' question.....yes, it was!

I've published 10 books under my name, and 7 titles, plus four short stories and a poem under another name, bringing the total to 21, with three more due out next year.

We bought our 2nd house last year, and for an early Christmas present, we used our insurance settlement money as a down payment on a 2017 GMC truck.  Same make and model as the one involved in the wreck at the end of October, only newer.  And with heated seats!  Did I mention it's also in MY name?  LOL!

And yes, we're past the 26.5 year mark, and the 'D' word hasn't risen its ugly head since last summer, when I spent 3 weeks house sitting for my parents, and he was none too happy about it.  He was VERY happy to have me back, though.

So while I can't pin down ONE accomplishment, I think my score card's pretty good:)

Now if I could just make the USA Today's Best Seller list....or actually have my royalties every month support more than just a couple of jello shots every week at karaoke!

To see what other authors view as their Biggest Accomplishments, click here.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Holiday Recipe Time! #MFRW Authors #49

First of all, let me give a shout-out to my firstborn, who turns 26 today!  Happy Birthday Kyle!  Love you very much:)

Since this week's topic didn't specify whether it's main course or dessert, I decided to do both.

This is my favorite chicken dish:  Wolfgang Puck Chicken and Rice.

It involves some prep work and sounds complicated, but after making it for several years now, it's not that hard.  I just have to remember to make it on a night when I have lots of time.

Wolfgang Puck Chicken and Rice:
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pkg crumbled goat cheese
1 T tarragon, chervil, and parsley (I've also used basil, thyme, or rosemary; just depends on what I have in the cabinet!)
2 cups Chardonnay
1 shallot, minced (I've also used onion powder, since the family doesn't like to SEE the onions)
2 cups chicken broth
Salt (optional; I use salted butter, so don't need any more)
4 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick of butter, cut into tiny pieces

2-3 cups of instant rice (depending on family; there's 6 in mine)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine goat cheese and the herbs.  Cut a pocket in each chicken breast and place a spoonful of cheese mixture inside.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then drizzle with EVOO.

Combine Chardonnay and shallot (or onion powder) in saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the wine has reduced (usually 15 mins).  Stir in chicken broth and continue boiling until liquid has reduced by half, usually 15-20 minutes.

While liquid is reducing, bake the chicken breasts for 20-25 minutes, depending on thickness and size.

After liquid has reduced, add cream and continue to boil until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon lightly (usually 5-7 mins more).  Whisk in the butter in small pieces, making sure each piece is incorporated before adding the next.  Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste, and add in extra cheese mixture.

Cook rice according to directions.

*Note*  My family loves the sauce so much, I've doubled it in the recipe.  If you're only feeding 1-2 people, cut recipe in half, with the exception of the cheese and herbs.

Now, I know You're All Dying For My Cookie Recipe:
It's the easiest one in the world, thanks to my mommy!

1 yellow cake mix
1 stick of butter (softened)
2 eggs
16-oz pkg chocolate chips/M &M/butterscotch chip/PB chip/whatever you want to use

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir cake mix, butter, and eggs together until well mixed.

Add in chips and stir well.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls (or scoop) onto baking stone or cookie sheet; bake 11-15 minutes, depending on your oven.

Cool five minutes, then transfer to drying rack or whatever you use.  My family is notorious for eating the first two dozen as soon as they appear; I usually get 3 dozen out of each batch of dough.  I start stocking up on cake mix around October-November, when they go on sale for about a dollar-$1.25 a piece.  White cake mix can be used also; I just happen to prefer the yellow.

To see what other goodies are in this week's hop, click here.

Bon Appetit!