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Saturday, May 17, 2014

I'm Baaaack -- Reflections on Three Years of Freelancing

I can't even remember when I last posted on here, and for that I am sorry.  In fact, some of you may not even remember me! I would give excuses, etc., but honestly, now that I am freelancing, I've just had to be super careful how I spend my time, and that includes my writing time.  That said, I have resolved to be more active on this blog, as this community has in the past been great supporters, and, well--I miss you all!

The last time I was on here, I think I had decided to stop teaching and instead begin a freelance writing and writing coaching business.  I told myself that after a year of full-time freelancing, I'd evaluate the business and what it had taught me.  Well, the fact that one year turned to three sort of sums it up for me.  I can't believe it's been three years, but it has, and they've been the fastest, busiest, and yet most rewarding (by far) of my life.

In that time, I've cultivated a list of long-term clients who are as devoted to me as I am to them, and I've worked with thousands (yes, literally, thousands) of others.  I've worked with more projects than I can count.  I've blogged about, edited, coached, cajoled, listened to, urged, and interviewed more than three hundred writers, and I've helped develop more than a hundred manuscripts.

In short, I've had a blast.  But what I've not done as much of as I'd like to lately is my own fiction writing.  I think back to where I was three years ago and laugh, because I originally started my business as a way of having more freedom to do my own writing.  And in some ways, that is still true.  I still have the flexibility of taking on work or passing on a project, and I can generally do it on my own timing.  The problem--and it's a nice one to have--is that I've been completely booked.  Quite literally, since the day I quit teaching and started full-time freelancing, I've had work, and generally more than I can even do at one time.  It's been sort of mind-blowing how very easily the work has come, especially compared to how very difficult so many other parts of my career have been, and for that I am deeply grateful.

Right now, my calendar is more full than I'd like it to be, but I'm just sort of going with it.  I'm still making time to write, just not as much as I'd like to.  But for now, for this moment, for this season in my life, it feels right.  What I'm doing and the balance I'm finding is necessary for my growth and development.  It's also really teaching me a lot about the business -- so much so that I know the next time I begin a novel or even a short story, I will approach it far differently than I have in the past.

And as for the novel I had going, way back when?  No, I haven't given up on it.  Currently, I am at a crossroads with it because I received feedback that felt "right" but will take the work in a very different direction than I'd planned.  I'm not sure that it's the right direction for the story (it involves adding a whole other narrator), but it feels good.  At the same time, I know how long each rewrite has taken me, so I'm really thinking hard on this before I commit to it.  It will almost be like writing a whole other book.  And yet--maybe that is what I need to do, given the knowledge I have now.

Regardless, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I've had to make a steady living freelancing, a living that has been more than five times as lucrative as the one I was eking out as a "part-time" college teacher.  And that, sadly, says far more about the system of adjunct labor than it does about the virtues and values of freelancing.

Most importantly, though, I am happy.  For the first time in my adult life, I can say that, without shame and without reservation.  I am happy, and I look forward to what the future will bring.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Enter to Win a New Kindle Paperwhite!

Last week, my publisher, Montlake, sent me a lovely, brand new Kindle Paperwhite to celebrate the sales of my romantic suspense novel, Fatal Error!  It was a wonderful surprise, and I've been enjoying it so much that I've decided to give away another (sorry! you can't have mine!) along with a copy of The Best Victim (or any of my other books!) to celebrate the paperback, audio, and official Kindle e-release of The Best Victim. Entering is easy. Just click the link to find out how.





Thursday, February 27, 2014

Favorite Fictional Pets: Enter to Win!

To celebrate the release of The Best Victim,
which features an adorably feisty old dachshund named Dumpling, I'm giving away another $10 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book to readers who tell me the name of their favorite fictional animal.

To enter this week's contest, please follow the link to my Rafflecopter giveaway! Best of luck to you!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Win a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

To celebrate the release of The Best Victim in paperback, audio, and full e-book editions (April 22nd, Montlake) I'm running a Rafflecopter drawing to win a $10 Amazon gift card and a free download of the Kindle edition. Please visit my Facebook author page to enter and find out more about how you can increase your odds of winning!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Notes from the Research Vault: Can you trust your Caller ID?

In my upcoming release, THE BEST VICTIM, (earlier releasing as a Kindle Serial from Montlake) the protagonist is fooled into picking up the telephone by a "spoofed" Caller ID, which makes it look as though the other party is a trusted caller. The truth is, it's all too commonly done, and so easy to do that anyone with web access can pull it off completely legally--as long as one claims it's being done as for "prank" or "entertainment" purposes. I've even done it myself while researching the book, calling a friend who was rather confused as to why she was getting a ring from The White House. But can you imagine the harm a stalker or scammer could do with this technology?

Read more about spoofing in this article by David Lazarus of the LA Times.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Best Victim Begins November 26th

If you're like me, there are a few special shows you're so hooked on, you tune in every week and never miss an episode. My next full-length romantic thriller, The Best Victim, will be released in that same fashion, with each weekly episode ending in cliff-hanger fashion, beginning with Episode One's release on Nov. 26th.



Here's the cover copy, to whet your appetite:

You don’t deserve to live.
The ugly words delivered online finally hit their mark. The younger sister of web security specialist Lauren Miller took the taunts to heart—and took her own life. Devastated, introverted Lauren has nowhere else to turn but the arms of a man who shares a similar pain…and a burning need for vengeance.
FBI agent Brent Durant is determined to unmask the Troll King, a vicious Internet stalker he suspects of preying on the weak, goading his victims into suicide. Victims like Lauren’s sister. Working off the grid as a rogue agent, Brent risks it all—even his freedom—to bait the clever killer. But when he involves Lauren in his deadly game, their unexpected chemistry complicates an already tangled web. With his dark obsession all-consuming, can there be any room in Brent’s life for the passion Lauren stirs within him?

What's been fascinating to me, as I embarked on this venture with Amazon's Montlake Romance, is that the serial is nothing new at all. So many of the books we now consider classics were originally published this way, from Tolstoy's Anna Karenina to Jack London's Call of the Wild to a host of Dickens' classics, including David Copperfield. Eager readers followed the story via their favorite magazines and newspapers. Only later were the episodes compiled in a single volume.

These days, serials such as The Best Victim are usually first published electronically, delivered weekly to the readers' Kindle devices for one low price ($1.99, in my case, for all the episodes). Once the novel is completed, usually in about 9-10 episodes, it will then be published (at a higher price point) as a single volume, in electronic, paperback, and audio editions.

Writing the book has been both a delight--I love these characters so much--and a challenge, as I'm frequently composing one episode, doing developmental edits on another, and sometimes also copyediting a third! Fortunately, I plotted the book in detail ahead of time and outlined which events would occur in which sections, which has proven crucial in keeping me on track.

If you're a Kindle reader, I hope you'll consider preordering or jumping in with the episodes at any point. If you'd prefer, however, late April will mark the release of the full-length novel.

Happy reading!