Thursday, December 31, 2015

Out with the old, in with the new....

At this time of year, it's hard not to reflect on the months gone by, and consider what the new year will bring. What I have I achieved? What could I have done better or differently? What did I most enjoy?

In 2015, I released two historical romance novels. My third, THE BRIDE TOURNAMENT, in which the Gone With the Wind love triangle meets The Bachelor, scheduled to release January 7th. I'm offering three copies for a Goodreads giveaway.

And my first two books were also in boxed sets. AT HIS COMMAND is in Castles, Knights and Chivalry, and FOLLOW YOUR HEART is in Highlanders, Lords and Lovers.

I'm writing a novella I hope to release in February. Because it's a different time period and setting, the research (though interesting) is slowing me down. More details on that soon.

And I'm preparing for the start of a new paranormal medieval series, perhaps in April. The first book is written, the second was my NaNoWriMo project. Can I finish in time for a July release? And will readers follow or will I be starting all over again because of the addition of significant paranormal elements?

From time to time I think about the second book I wrote, which I haven't released yet. It's got a lot more actual history than the books I've released...not quite historical fiction, but more than most say readers like in historical romance. Of course I love the story, which is based on an actual letter that was written but never delivered. What should I do with that, and manuscripts I've completed in other genres?

Here's to a Happy New Year!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Bride Tournament by Ruth  Kaufman

 The Bride Tournament

 by Ruth Kaufman

 Giveaway ends January 05, 2016.
 See the giveaway details
 at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Scrinch (Scrooge + Grinch) and Holiday Gratitude

Instead of being my usual Scrinchy (Scrooge and Grinch) self this time of year because of all of the muss and fuss, I'm going to focus on why I'm grateful for the holidays:

1) I usually work at home, and the seemingly endless construction of a new house behind me stopped early today. And there won't be any on Christmas. 

2) The popular coffee shop I often go to when constructively evicted by hammering, sawing, drilling, engines running and/or trucks beeping was blissfully empty and quiet this morning. 

3) More time to just write. I'm working on a new project--a novella. More on this soon. 
There are so many other hats to wear as an author, from cover designer and blurb writer for upcoming books to getting more reviews for current releases to doing more promotion to growing my newsletter list so I can occasionally share news with readers (I hope you'll sign up!). Any of these tasks could take an entire day. So while businesses are closed and no acting/VO emails arrive, I'll write.

4) Holiday music. I've been listening to Pandora's Christmas station and Chicago radio station 93.1's all-Christmas programming. I enjoy classics sung by Perry Como, Bing Crosby and others, but I prefer choral arrangements.

5) Some people may have (and even enjoy) many gatherings and events and/or holiday guests. My family just gets together for a quiet meal and gift exchange. So while others cook and clean and entertain, I plan to write. 

6) A personal end of December tradition is to go through my filing cabinets and closets. So far I've recycled four garbage bags of papers. I like to start out the new year organized. Clean out the old, make way for the new.

7) After Christmas sales. A great time to save money on holiday cards for next year and other items.

8) Holiday cookies. A friend received too many and shared some. 

9) Pretty Christmas lights and decorations throughout the city. 

10) When the holidays are over, and regular life resumes.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

For my fellow Scrinches (Scrooge + Grinch)

I am a Scrinch--part Scrooge, part Grinch--someone who doesn't love the holidays. In part it's because of how the hustle-bustle of decorating, cookie making, gift buying and giving, party throwing and attending takes over everything else. I've already received emails and seen posts about offices closing until January 4. While those who are Gainfully Employed with paid holidays may appreciate all of the downtime and getting paid to take time off, as a feelancing Gainfully Unemployed, I see two weeks without auditions and paying work.

However, I am awaiting the final script for a small VO job, and I have what could be an exciting writing assignment--more on that later.

In part, I admit I feel pressure--to give great gifts and have a wonderful time. What are YOU doing for the holidays? New Year's Eve? Thankfully, I already have fun NYE plans. Whew.

Several years ago I had a true story published in an anthology. My Scrinchiness abated in 2009 when I portrayed Major Nougat at Winter Wonderfest, a vast indoor holiday amusement park filled with amazing decorations. Interacting and improvising with kids and seeing their true wonder made me appreciate that season.

One thing I do like to do during the holidays is go through all of my drawers, cabinets and closets. Organizing and donating is one way to start the new year fresh with my best foot forward.

How do you feel about the holidays?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Getting out the word about my new release, THE BRIDE TOURNAMENT

My third book, THE BRIDE TOURNAMENT, releases January 7, 2016. I'm seeking cost-effective ways to get the word out. Amazon shows 1,434 historical romance releases in the past 30 days, so it can be easy to get lost in the crowd. How much time and money am I willing to spend, and how do I predict the best return on my investment?

I'm offering a Goodreads giveaway, during which members can enter to win one of three print copies. Perhaps some of those who sign up will be interested enough to buy it or one of my other books. So far 52 people have entered, with 27 days to go. My investment: Time: less than half an hour Cost: 3 paperbacks + shipping.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Bride Tournament by Ruth  Kaufman

The Bride Tournament

by Ruth Kaufman

Giveaway ends January 05, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

I'll be participating in a Facebook party on January 9 in conjunction with another author's release. Readers can stop by, chat online with authors and comment to win giveaways. I'll be hosting from 3:30-4:00. Time: half an hour to 4 hours. Cost: whatever I decide to give away.

Reviews: Tracking down reviewers can be time consuming, and costly. Publishers Weekly's BookLife doesn't charge, but doesn't accept that many books, either. I'm fortunate that my first two books were accepted. Time will tell it they'll review TBT, also.

Kirkus charges $425 with 7-9 week delivery, as does RT Review Source. There are dozens of other places, but each has a separate submission process and time frame, with no guarantee of review. There's also no guarantee that any review will be good or include a short, well-worded compliment I could use on, say, a bookmark or my website.

And it's hard to measure the impact even a great review has on potential readers. But you need some reviews if you want to participate in certain promotional publications (amounts and ranking, for example over 4 Amazon stars, vary). And I doubt many readers like coming across a book with no reviews.

Many authors say writing great books is the most important thing. I wouldn't release a book if I didn't think it was great, but will readers agree?

Stay tuned....

Thursday, December 03, 2015

How do you define success?

I ended National Novel Writing Month with 35,107 words, or more than 1,000 (around 5 pages)  a day. That may sound like a lot, and is definitely more than I'd have written without the NaNo process. Yet via social media, I know many not only "won" NaNo by achieving 50,000 words, some wrote over 100,000! I participated in a Romance Writers of America word war that had over 8,000,000 words written by 278 participants.

We're not supposed to compare ourselves to others. Happiness comes from within. No regrets. Blah blah blah. The question is: how much should I have done in NaNo or do in other pursuits to experience the satisfaction of success? Perhaps I could have pushed harder...not gone out with that friend, watched that TV show, run those errands until I hit my daily goal of 1,667 words. Should I have kept BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard) until I reached 50K? Or should I be pleased with what I did accomplish, and accept that putting in some, even significant, effort is success?

Certainly there are true emergencies that prevent us from succeeding. And everyone faces what my romance writing chapter calls life job deadlines, family issues that need taking care of sooner rather than later. Some succumb to these as reasons they can't get this or that done, while others take them in stride and accomplish what they set out to do anyway.

What's the point of setting goals if you don't care when you don't achieve them? I don't accept that they're mere benchmarks to make sure we do something rather than nothing. Not that we should beat ourselves up if we come up short, but how do you learn to pace and discipline yourself for the next reasonable goal?

Of course, what qualifies as success to one may not be enough for another. Many NaNo winners and participants either don't finish that novel or do anything with it if they do. Some may enjoy the process and being part of the NaNo community year after year. Not everyone wants to make the effort involved to publish and sell books. Others may ponder all of those words languishing "under the bed."

Many kids today get trophies for participating, not winning. Yet in the Olympics, athletes can lose out on a medal by a hundreth of a second. How many viewers remember those who aren't on the podium, despite all of the effort needed to get that far?

I'm working on defining success for myself. If I'm being honest, 35,107 words isn't an example of it.