Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What puts the ‘Calamity’ in Calamity Place Romance?

Last year, when I started thinking about writing my next book, I decided to try something completely different.  Something lighter, easier to read, and a novel that had an element of mystery, yet wasn’t all-encompassing mysterious.  There are enough drama-filled romances out there, in my opinion, so I decided to use the term ‘calamity’ instead.  It involves less-intense situations, namely, where people get out alive!

"A real-life saga that pulls at your heartstrings."

Calamities in these romances occur basically amongst the floors in the building known as ‘Calamity Place’.  The storylines take place in Toronto, Ontario, my hometown, and they involve twentysomething characters, with their own set of personal issues.  But they are all interwoven somehow, and if they’re not, they sure end up that way! 

When writing these novels, I purposely made it so that the characters were all introduced based on their presence either in another part of the story, or in another volume, making it easier for the reader to remember, without having to use a lot of back story.

The beauty of this type of serial romance is that there is never really an ending.  Each story has its own cliffhanger, and the reader never really knows where the conclusion will be….I still don’t! 

It starts with Kendra, a shy recluse, who has many friends itching to pull her out of her shell.  While reluctant most of the time, she finds herself giving in to Cassandra or Missy’s pleading, and paints on a happy face to quell any misgivings her friends may have about her.  But why is she such a hermit?  Kendra is beautiful, smart, and isn’t shy around men.  Her friends know what it is, but Kendra hasn’t admitted it to herself…yet.

The second novel in the series focuses mainly on Cassandra and Luke.  They met at a bar once, had a brief relationship, and then suddenly Luke ships himself out of the province for a much-coveted position as a police officer.  In book two, however, Luke comes back…and oh, what a roller coaster ride they have!

The third novel, still a work in progress at the time of this posting, tells about a couple introduced in book one, Linda and Ray.  Also in the mix and adding to the calamity, is Mark, Luke’s best friend and fellow police officer colleague.  But it’s not a love triangle or anything that you would expect.  The relationship that the three have is very unique and while I haven’t reached the end of the manuscript yet, I can say that the conclusion will be heart-breaking, but at the same time very fulfilling, depending on which male character turns out to be your favourite!

Book One is just 99 cents!

Books one and two are currently available on Kindle, and free for Amazon Prime members.  Book one is just 99 cents!  Look for book three coming in Spring/Summer 2017!

Subscribe to my newsletter so I can let you know when book three is available!  Click here to subscribe.
  


Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Return of the Word

Eleven years ago I took a break from corporate life to raise my children.  Approximately ten years ago I decided to do something I’d always wanted to do: write a book.  The practice became addictive, and then I learned how to publish, promote and blog.  To be perfectly honest, I loved every bit of it and I still do.  I fell in love with the written word, and it has become a lifelong love.

Nearly twelve years later, I have written and self-published countless books in both fiction and non-fiction.  The whole process is still very enjoyable to me.  Words, story ideas, and scenes come to me always.

However, while pouring my heart and soul into writing, publishing, promoting, etc., I learned a very painful lesson: Be careful not to make the written word your be-all-and-end-all. 

You see, writing, while some can make it their living, the odds are very stong against most of us.  As a writer, you have to be rational and realistic, and have a career already in place.  If your books do become successful enough that you can quit your day job, great, but more than likely that isn’t going to happen, and you have to remember that always.  Writing should be a love, and something you enjoy doing when all your other things are taken care of. And as a love, you need to make time to do it every day, for yourself.

Last year, I returned to work after a ten year hiatus.  The tables turned; I took a break from promoting and blogging, but I never stopped writing.  Writing is a part of who I am now and it will always will be that way.  Now that I’ve adjusted to working full-time, I can also slowly return to promoting and blogging.  So far I’ve touched on Facebook, Twitter, and I’ve continued posting some of my books on Wattpad.

If you love writing, just be careful and make sure that isn’t all that you love.  With all of the obsession over writing, I’d forgotten how much I also loved to work; to interact with live people, rather than just cyberspace and e-people, if you will.  Also, writing doesn’t pay…at least, it doesn’t pay well, and having a paycheck; contributing to your family, is a very rewarding experience. 

Check out my books on Amazon, Kobo, and Wattpad.  The first book in my LA Cops Series is always free on Amazon, and the first book in my ‘To Hide in Holly Springs’, and ‘Calamity Place Romance’ series are just 99 cents on Amazon.



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What's in a Book Title?

If you scroll through Amazon, you'll pick up many different titles.  And by different, I mean some that are intriguing, others that are pretty basic eg. one word titles, and some that a reader will pull up to learn more about the book, because the title is so unusual.

Myself, I like to create book titles that have that sort of affect; unusual.  Even though authors like Sandra Brown, who often select titles that are a little vague (probably on purpose-another clever tactic), and get away with selling zillions of books, I like to make my book titles more interesting.

For example, my first book I called 'The Message in Dad's Bottle'.  It sounds a little like 'Message in a Bottle', that famous book that later became a blockbuster movie, but it's not quite that.  I chose that title to leave readers wondering "what message is in the bottle?  and why is it 'dad's' bottle?"

 I'll Never Wear a Backless Dress' was probably the most difficult title to come up with.  The title probably took me longer to create than the actual book did.  The title itself is rather ironic because the cover is an image of me wearing a semi-backless dress.  Hence the inspirational point of view I create in the book; the fact is that I did exactly what I said I wouldn't do, because I fought through one of the obstacles the Lord gave me to fight.


Fiction titles are a little trickier sometimes, depending on the content.  For 'Blessed and Betrayed' I wanted to depict the main character's disposition: she was, in fact, both blessed and betrayed all her life, without knowledge of either.

My personal favourite is 'The Wife of a Lesser Man'.  Many readers have asked me why I chose that title, and they've also commented on the cool fact that I managed to put the title into a section of dialogue inside the book.  If any of you are children of the 1980's and were William Hurt fans, you'll remember a blockbuster movie called 'Children of a Lesser God'.  That name always stuck with me, as did the content; it was such a compelling story of a man who falls in love with a hearing-impaired woman.  While brainstorming ideas, I wanted to make the name of this book very memorable and interesting, so I morphed a title from a way-back movie and created 'The Wife of a Lesser Man'.

Okay, I whimped out a little on 'Don't Mess with Daddy's Girl'.  The original title was 'The Night He Threw Out Saigon', which in the end, I thought it sounded too exotic, and I wanted the name of the book to be a clear reflection of the strength of Jessica, the main character, and how the two men in her life fight to get her back home safely.  Don't Mess with Daddy's Girl just fit.
The original title to 'No Thanks, Mommy, I Peed Yesterday' was 'Just When
I Needed to Laugh'.  Which, in the end, didn't cut it for me.  No Thanks just seemed more poignant and the phrase itself tells you what the book is about.  Plus, I tested it out with some Facebook friends and they said just the title itself was funny, so there you go.


Last, but certainly not least, 'The Wheels of Change'This book had a title before I wrote the first paragraph.  The reason being: I wanted it to be about a man in a wheelchair.  And it is that and so much more, but I wanted to focus on how the main character changes so much after being put in a wheelchair, and how differently he sees life from it.  It's a simple title, I know, but it says it all.






What about you?  What sort of titles do it for you?  Which ones have stuck in your mind over time?

Here is the link to my Amazon page if you would like to view all my books from one page (I've provided links to the individual books above-just click on each highlighted title to be linked to Amazon). 

Please leave a comment if you have something to say.  I would love to hear from you :)




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Free Twitter Tool I Wish I Knew About Long Ago

Perusing potential new Twitter friends, I discovered a remarkable tool I did not know about called ‘Pinned Tweets’.

The way it works is you can ‘pin’ any tweet you want to the top of your tweet list.  Meaning that you can select a tweet that someone else tweeted about you (or one you tweeted yourself); perhaps book accolades, reviews, free day plugs, etc., and pin it to your profile.

What is the advantage?  Well, one is it highlights this tweet so that anyone hopping on your profile will see that tweet first.  Two, if your Twitter friends are looking for a tweet to retweet you, they don’t have to look far to find the one you’ve chosen to stand out above all the rest.

How do you use it?

Find any tweet and look at the footer strip where there are three small dots on the far right hand side.  If you hover over the dots with your mouse it says ‘more’.  Click on that and select from the drop-down menu ‘pin tweet’.  This will pin the tweet to the top of your profile and you can see it by clicking on your tweets.  It will be the first one and it will actually say at the top ‘pinned tweet’.

This is a great tool and I’ve found it to be very useful already.  I hope many of you start using this as it makes life so much easier for people like me, who want to reciprocate a mention/rettweet with a tweet.  It’s a real time-saver so we don’t have to scroll down, perhaps through days worth of tweets, to find a book plug or original tweet (or something that isn’t a retweet).

Check it out!  See my profile to view the ‘pinned tweet’ and give it a try!

Do you know any more little goodies like this?  Feel free to add it in the comments!



Sandy is the author of fiction and memoirs.  Her latest release is a funny, kid-style memoir called No Thanks, Mommy, I Peed Yesterday.  

Coming October 20!  Don't Mess with Daddy's Girl, Book Two in her police procedural series, is a gripping romantic suspense about a man's love of two things: his girlfriend and the stock market.  Learn more.




Subscribe and get Book One for FREE today!  Click here for details.

To learn more about Sandy, please visit her website www.sandyappleyard.com

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

5 Things to do When You're Stuck in a Following-Follower Rut

Twitter is quite the mystery to most.  It’s telling by how many books are published about  the workings of the site. 

One day you have retweets, mentions and followers coming out of the woodwork, then the next you’re scrimping to find people to thank for all those mentioned. 

It’s inevitable to go through a lull every now and again, but if you find your numbers have hit a wall and are stuck there, this post will help get you past it.

First, use a service like www.justunfollow.com weekly, removing all inactive users.  About once a month I recommend going through and removing those who are not following you back

Note:  Be sure to give a good week or more of lag time when you begin following people spontaneously, otherwise you’ll be unfollowing people you haven’t given a fair chance to follow you back.

The only way to climb the Twitter totem pole (unless you’re a celebrity or have incredibly good luck) is to follow people spontaneouslySo here are a few tips to get you there:

1.  Find an author or person who does something similar to you.  Find out who they’re following and follow them as well.

Note: don’t just go and follow their followers, be sure to follow who they’re following, use their taste in following.  If the person is loyal and trusted, you’d be wise to use their lead.

2.  Be sure to respond when they thank you for following or when they simply send you a shout out.  It’s important to make connections, so you don’t appear to be just a serial follower.

3.  Do not respond to direct messages.  Many Tweople have their account set up with auto-tweets that are triggered by new followers.  If you spend time responding to these, you’ll waste a lot of valuable time doing what they ask (liking their Facebook pages, etc.) and chances are they won’t reciprocate.  I recommend responding to requests only when they tweet you; this way you have a better chance that they will reciprocate.

4.  Another quick and easy way to follow people is to scroll through a loyal follower’s recently followed list.  This can be found by simply rolling through all their recent tweets and following those they’ve made connections with.  You can also do this by following those that they’ve included in their recent thank you tweets.  

5.  Last, and frankly the easiest, is to simply follow back those who follow you

Note:  make sure you only follow those who do similar to what you do (writers, bloggers, etc.) otherwise you’ll be following everyone and their mother’s uncle, so to speak. 

Tip:  A sure way to get others to follow you is to put a blurb in your profile like mine “I follow those who, like me; eat, sleep and breathe books”.  This way you give people a general idea of what you do and what you’ll do for them.

But most important is to offer quality content in your tweets.  This means to not only mention and retweet good stuff, but to provide your own excellent original posts and re-posts.  This, above all, will encourage followers.

Want a new follower?  Simply follow me by clicking this link.  I follow back all writers, authors and just about anyone who has something interesting to say!


Sandy is the author of fiction and memoirs.  Her latest release is a funny, kid-style memoir called No Thanks, Mommy, I Peed Yesterday.  

Coming October 20!  Don't Mess with Daddy's Girl, Book Two in her police procedural series, is a gripping romantic suspense about a man's love of two things: his girlfriend and the stock market.  Learn more.




Subscribe and get Book One for FREE today!  Click here for details.

To learn more about Sandy, please click here to go to her website.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Before You Download That Image for Your Blog, Read This

I don’t know about you, but I got so sick of hearing about copyright issues and constantly scrolling through image after image in what was said to be a free database, only to find it was watermarked.  

Are you with me?

So I did some research, and found this handy-dandy little website called myecovermaker.com.  

And guess what?  It’s not just for making covers for your ebooks!  And, best of all, it’s FREE! 

Note:  There is a paid option, but you can get what you need from the free version.




Here is a gallery of some of the cool blog images I’ve created over the years:













It takes anywhere from ten to thirty minutes to create a professional-looking image for the header of your next post.  The more you’re seasoned with it the less time it takes, as there are some fussy details depending on what you want to do.

Here is a quick breakdown of how to create a simple design:


Step 1.  First, select which free type of cover you want (free designs have a tag in red that say FREE).  I recommend using the second option, paperback stack.

Step 2.  Then you select your background. Now, don't be fooled; you can select any one of the backgrounds, but if you only want to use a portion (say you like just the colour of a piece of one of the backgrounds), you can crop the cursor so you can zoom in on that particular portion of the background.  Or, if you like the whole thing, simply click 'select and continue'.

Step 3.  Next is where you can insert text and images.  If you have an image already saved to your computer, simply click on 'upload images' and choose from there.  If you want to select from the supplied images, you have your choice of symbols, stock photos, graphics and shapes.  

You can crop, move and resize all images and text within the provided box, and you can also use special features with text such as font, size and effects.  You can change the colour of a portion or all of your text and/or images.  You can also rotate, flip, contrast or bring text or images to the front so it stands out better.  Play around with it and see what works for you.

Step 4.  When you're satisfied with your cover, click on 'finallize' and you can change the size of the cover there.  If you want to make changes, simply click on 'edit cover' and go back.  If you're happy with it, I recommend selecting the 2D rather than the 3D cover, otherwise your work won't be flat and it won't appear proper for your blog post.

I've been using this free service for about 3 years now.  If you're interested in creating a free book cover using this site, here is an example of what you can do (I used it to create a cover for my first novel):



I invite you to share some of the free things you've made in the comments below.  Post a link or the image itself!  Let's have some fun!

Sandy is the author of fiction and memoirs.  Her latest release is a funny, kid-style memoir called No Thanks, Mommy, I Peed Yesterday.  

Coming Soon!  Don't Mess with Daddy's Girl, Book Two in her police procedural series, is a gripping romantic suspense about a man's love of two things: his girlfriend and the stock market.  Learn more.




Subscribe and get Book One for FREE today!  Click here for details.

To learn more about Sandy, please visit her website by clicking here.  








Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What is the Key to Writing Successfully?

One of the most important things to have as a writer, more important than knowledge, experience or a great writer’s platform; is momentum.

Momentum is the key to writing successfully, and it is what you get when you’re on a roll, when you’ve got your story in mind or already started, and you have the drive to continue working on it until it’s finished, regardless of whatever else you are doing.

So how do you get it? 

Here are the ten practices I use to maintain constant writing momentum.

1.  Write every day.

Make it a habit.  Find what time of day best suits you and set aside that time to write.  Think of it as your ‘me’ time and it helps to minimize the feeling of selfishness that authors can sometimes get.  Consider writing a favour you do for yourself each day; like exercising your brain.

2.  Write at least 1000 words per day.

1000 words is basically 2.5 pages single-spaced.  Not a lot.  But it’s the regularly doing that many words a day that’s going to get that book finished.  Even if the words suck, at least you’re writing down something.  It’s like primer; you can’t do a good job painting a wall if you don’t prime first.  You can always go back and make changes when the book is complete.

The key here is setting a goal.  Every time you set a goal and meet or exceed it, it makes you feel good and gives you more motivation.  It becomes a cycle and, more importantly, it becomes a habit.  A good habit. 

3.  Make notes after you’ve finished your writing session.

We can’t always finish a scene or chapter before we get interrupted or run out of time.  The best way to maintain good writing momentum from the last time you wrote is to remember exactly what you were planning to write next. 

It’s also a good idea to make notes for future chapters or plot ideas, even character lines that can be used later.  Don’t always rely on memory because then you’re sure to forget once ideas pile up, and then you’ll be kicking yourself for forgetting and worse, for not writing them down.

4.  Do not let other book ideas interrupt you finishing your current project.

You’re right in the middle of writing your latest manuscript.  Suddenly a new book idea pops into your head.  It’s such a phenomenal story idea that you are so tempted to pause your current project and start the new one.  A month later, the same thing happens.  Do you see a pattern here? 

What ends up happening is that you have five or six current writing projects on the go, and you’ve lost sense of your original feel and ideas for most of them. 

The way to stop this is to pull over and take a break, for an hour, from your current writing project.  Write down every possible detail you can about the new project idea that has come to you.  Any detail, down to a possible line or the thought pattern you had when the storyline arrived inside your head.  Save it to a Word document and shelve it.  You can go back and add to it if more comes to you, whether it’s more ideas for that current story, or another book idea. 

As a writer, this is bound to happen, and be thankful that it does.  There are lots of writers out there who would beg and steal to have this kind of flow of inspiration.  But don’t let it distract you.  Take control of it and unleash it when your original project is done.  Otherwise you’re risking losing momentum in your projects because you’re constantly switching from one book idea to the next.

5.  Do not go back and edit until your book is finished. 

Small edits are fine.  Or if something in the timeline isn’t working once you’ve reached a certain point.  What I’m referring to is major plot changes halfway through the book.  What ends up happening is that your original book plan becomes so skewed from constantly making changes, that you lose momentum and give up.

If you have an idea for a different plot, consider that a new plot and make notes in the file mentioned in tip#4.

6.  Go back and re-read. 

Sometimes we do have to put our work away for a while.  Whether it’s due to illness, personal life situations or in my case, having your kids home for the summer.  I do still try to squeeze in some writing each day when I can even if it seems impossible.  But in the event that you do have to walk away from it, make sure you come back and simply re-read where you left off or even the whole manuscript.  Don’t just shelve the book for good and start anew.

7.  Make small sacrifices.

Many of us watch what we may think is just a little television, or spend a perceived small amount of time surfing the internet or on social media.  But if you record the actual time that you use on each or individually, you’d be surprised how much it amounts to. 

One of the best things I ever did for myself was to turn off all the notifications I had on my cell phone.  It was such a distraction getting Facebook and Twitter updates constantly, I barely got any writing done.  The same holds true for the television.  If you cut even one or two shows out per night, you’d be amazed how much writing you can get done.

8.  Get a good laptop, and a good laptop bag.

When I say this, I mean a laptop that is comfortable to use under any circumstance.  Why?  Because if you use little bits of time while on road trips or when you know you’re going to be waiting (at the doctor’s office, dentist, etc.), you can use that time to write.  A good laptop bag is a huge must for me, because my last laptop was so damaged from being knocked around inside a makeshift bag, I nearly lost all my files because it simply gave out on me one day without notice.

9.  Read if you can’t write.

Every night before bed I read.  Sometimes I write, too, but for the most part I’m too tired to write.  Reading good books is food for a writer’s brain.  Consider that if you don’t read that you’re literally starving your brain if you want to continue being a writer.  You simply cannot have the tools involved in writing good books if you’re not reading them too.

10.  Get plenty of rest.

This is somewhat self-explanatory.  However, one interesting point I will note here is that for me, sometimes if I’m feeling particularly ‘out of steam’ literary-wise, I take a nap.  Somehow, usually when I awake, an idea has popped out of my head that gets me out of my temporary slump. 

Needless to say if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep there’s no point in trying to hash out your 1000 words.  Take a nap or give it a go the next day; or hey, if you’re feeling brave, give it a shot! 

Conclusion

Not everything happens overnight; try to implement one or two of these practices over a weekly basis.  It took me nine years to grasp all these things, so take your time.

These are all the steps I follow and so far I’ve had really great momentum with my writing career.  In the nine years that I’ve been writing I have 11 books to my credit (5 self-published, 2 others being released by traditional publishers later this year, and 4 other manuscripts looking for homes) so what can I tell you?  If you want to be successful at writing, write! 


Do you have any additional steps you take to help keep your writing momentum going?  Please share below!

Sandy is the author of fiction and memoirs.  Her latest release is a funny, kid-style memoir called No Thanks, Mommy, I Peed Yesterday.  

Coming Soon!  Don't Mess with Daddy's Girl, Book Two in her police procedural series, is a gripping romantic suspense about a man's love of two things: his girlfriend and the stock market.  Learn more.

Subscribe and get Book One for FREE today!  Click here for details.

To learn more about Sandy, please visit her website by clicking here.