Monday, December 12, 2016

Doing It All Wrong...And Liking It

This is my wrap-up-the year (2016) post, and what's-ahead (2017) post.

What happened this year?

I turned fifty. I had a mid-life crisis that went on and on for months. I didn't write anything for almost a year.

I continued to feel like an outsider in Romancelandia...not just as an author, but also as a reader.

Politics gave me insomnia and depression.

On the flip side (the positive, happy place)...I am hugely proud of my kids. I am proud of my husband.

I traveled to Iceland, a beautiful and inspiring country.

I finished my Klaus Brothers series.

I am so grateful to be surrounded by incredible friends...people who are loyal and supportive.

I have an exciting game plan for 2017.

I came to a big conclusion about myself and my "writing career"...I am basically doing this all wrong.

All of the stuff I *should* be doing to have "success" (huge sales, make bestseller lists, etc.) are things I don't want to do...


1. Write a series of full-length books. Be consistent, create a cohesive brand.

Me: I don't want to write a series. I like stand-alone books, and I like shorter stories. I love trying new things. I like challenging myself with every new project. I like switching it up--from women's fiction to fantasy to children's lit to comedy. On the queue for next year is horror and contemporary fiction.

This goes against everything we're taught about making a cohesive, consistent brand for your readers.


My readers know every new book from me will be a surprise. Something new, different, unique. I'm good with that, and my small and merry band of readers are good with that, too.


2. Follow the trends.

Me: No.

I don't want to write NA or sports romance or jerky heroes or whatever the latest band-wagon topic is. I like diving into new ideas. Even if they're not popular. Even if I might fail. That's okay.

My new interest is exploring the relationship between man and nature. My projects for next year are focusing on that topic. I'm blending my background/interest in science with my creative writing. Yippppeeeeeee!

3. Be an aggressive promoter.

Me: No.

I'm not begging for reviews or offering bribes or gaming the system. I'm not interested in street teams or asking my readers to do stuff that is not their responsibility. As a result, I'm not one of the authors with hundreds of 5-star reviews at Amazon or anywhere else.

And I'm good with that.

4. Use social media primarily for sales/promotion.

Me: Do I promote on social media? Sure! Sometimes.

Do I also use social media to socialize? Yes. I like talking about plants and glass and my nature hikes and weight loss and dachshunds and cocktails and books I read and films I watch. Sometimes I talk about politics (on Twitter) and often I post pics of my travels and family (especially on Facebook, where I still have an old-fashioned account not a page).

My favorite thing about social media is socializing. I have friends all over the world, and that makes me really happy.

My main goal for social media continues to be chatting with friends, and occasionally using it to promote my own publications. It might not be the best thing to do from a business standpoint, but it's a good thing to do from a personal standpoint.

5. Crank out books as fast as possible to "feed the beast."

Me: Eye roll.

The treadmill for Romancelandia has gotten completely out-of-hand. Cranking out new material as fast as possible is now the norm. That's just not my thing. I want to take my time next year and create something really special.

I'm jumping onto the old-fashioned idea of "one book a year."

In fact, I'm clinging to a bunch of old-fashioned concepts about publishing that may no longer be popular, but they're working for me.

My take-home message following the mid-life crisis and fiftieth birthday and life-changing trip to what makes you happy.

I'll leave the rules to someone else.

I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and Inspiring New Year and Happy Reading and Happy Writing!

Love to all,

Friday, December 2, 2016

Festive Holiday Reading Recommendations

Happy December!

Time for a few holiday recommendations...

1. The Seven-Course Christmas Killer by Rosie Genova

I just discovered the Italian Kitchen Mystery series by Genova this year, and I inhaled all three books within days. It is an adorable cozy series with a writer heroine, a family restaurant, lots of fun characters found on the New Jersey shore, sexy romantic tension, and plenty of delicious Italian dishes. This series is full of win! This holiday novella is a quick festive read. It has the perfect balance of Christmas cheer, tasty Italian recipes (like Nonna's Wedding Soup and Shrimp Scampi), and suspense. Treat yourself to the whole series! (The novella is only 99 cents!)

2. A Hanukkah Miracle by Julia Barrett

My friend Julia has released a very sweet Hanukkah novella this season. It includes "mature" characters, an interfering Jewish mother, and an unexpected romance. If you're looking for a lovely Hanukkah story, this is it. I loved it! On sale right now for only $1.99.

3. I read two fabulous books by Barbara Wallace recently, Winter Wedding for the Prince and Christmas Baby for the Princess. These are both part of the Royal House of Corinthia Series. Wallace always does a superb job capturing Christmas magic, and these two novels really got me in a festive mood. Both have plenty of romance and wonderful happy endings. Happy sigh.

4. Melting Mr. Frosty's Heart by Liz Fielding

This was my first read by Fielding, and it won't be my last. I was super impressed with her writing. She really packs it into this quickie story--gorgeous writing, characters who pop off the page, and vivid imagery. Now I want to read the rest of the series.

5.  An American Mail-Order Bride Christmas Collection by E. E. Burke

Burke is an author who does not get nearly enough attention...I am always impressed with her books. These stories were perfect for the holidays...charming, sweet, romantic, and filled with great historical tidbits. This is an excellent deal for only 99 cents!

More books to come...


Love, Penny