Here you can follow the blow-by-blow account of my attempt to transform myself into a (regularly) published author.

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Accidentally Yours Available as Ebook

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Accidentally Yours, a collection of short stories, poems, and essays, by Joan H. Young is now available as an eBook from Amazon and Smashwords. It should appear on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Overdrive in just a few days. The paperback edition will also be ready in a few days.

The volume contains 30 poems, 16 short stories (several of which are micro-fiction), and 9 non-fiction essays. Thematically, they are all over the map. That will keep you from getting bored. It also gives you a glimpse into my chaotic mind. Enter if you dare. All this for $3.99 in the eBook format!

Diana Kathryn Wolfe-Plopa, founder of Pages Promotions, LLC, and an author in her own right, says, "This collection of short stories, essays, and poetry feels like a Literary Advent Calendar. Each time I turned the page, I was given a little gift of story, perspective, and art. It was impossible to take it slowly. Remarkable in this writing is the flash fiction pieces sprinkled throughout. The art of writing a complete story in just a few short lines is a difficult skill to master. Joan does it here with an acumen and comfort that reveals the true nature of her outstanding writing gifts. The balance between shorter and longer pieces creates a natural ebb and flow to the writing."

And Jean Davis, author of speculative fiction writes, "A delightful collection of poetry and prose that will make you gasp, laugh out loud, and fondly appreciate days gone by."

After a frustrating day of formatting woes (I usually don't have many problems, but the issues probably stemmed from culling the pieces from many different files, created in various versions of several different software packages), both major platforms (Amazon and Smashwords) have approved the files, and they look pretty clean. I don't see a bunch of formatting oddities in the previews.

You can find Accidentally Yours at Amazon and Smashwords.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Accidentally Yours Anthology

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One of my goals for the year was to bring out an anthology of my varied short writings-- stories, essays and poems. However, the amount of effort required to finish North Country Quest has put all of my other goals into a tail spin.

Getting a collection of my short works together really doesn't require a lot of effort. Everything is written. Some final editing is needed, compiling things and maybe adding a little text about some of the stories, but most of the work is simply formatting the book.

So, this week, I got my act together and tried to come up with a title for the book. I read some articles about how long an anthology should be. While researching that, I learned that anthologies are often given the same title as the lead story.

I'm not usually one to ask what other people think about titles and cover art. In this case, it's probably a good thing I did. I came up with six possible titles, and my first choice only got one other vote, from an engineering friend.

The overwhelming choice of the people who participated was Accidentally Yours, which is also the first story. I'd really like to have this title and cover be appealing enough to attract people to buy it, so I'm taking the advice I've received.

One person said, "Accidentally Yours reflects a mystery of a first encounter." That said a lot to me. The collection will be eclectic, to say the least. Themes are all over the map-- very much like my brain. That first story is set on the frozen North Sea, so I went looking for a royalty-free photo I could use and put together a possible cover. What you see above is only tweaked a bit from that first effort. I like it! Others seem to like it!

This could be a winner. One author friend of mine says her short story collection is her best selling book. Maybe I can have this ready to go in a month... in time for Christmas. That's not out of the question, without taking away from the time I'm working on North Country Quest.

So far, it includes flash fiction, literary fiction, entertaining short stories, essays, and quite a few poems. The list includes, at this point, nine stories, five essays, 14 poems and a few two-sentence stories. I'm aiming for about 200 pages. Formatting has begun.

If you helped in the title decision, thank you!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

3288 Review

alt text 3288 Review
This summer, I had a short story accepted to the literary magazine, 3288 Review. My complementary copy arrived today. Sweet stuff.

The story is titled, "The Valley."

I wish I could tell you this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship, but sadly, the publisher of the magazine has decided they can't make a financial go of the project and this is the last issue.

alt text The Valley by Joan H. Young

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Should I...?

author Donald Levin

I stand or sit there for a few hours, an author friend on each side of me (pictured above, mystery writer Don Levin, whose books you should try).

They sell a few. I have sold nothing. The truth is, no one is selling very much.

I'm tormented by questions. Should I be trying harder to lose weight so I'd look better? Should I not care about losing weight so I'd be mainstream plump like so many others? Should I have gone to an event closer to home? Should I be writing my technothriller faster? Should I have focused on the children's picture book this year instead of North Country Quest? Should my table be arranged differently?

The event is beautifully organized, but somehow an audience has failed to materialize. We are "networking;" we are enjoying a really nice box lunch; we are buying a few books from each other. But we are not selling books to new readers.

Diana Plopa, the organizer, has segments where authors who requested a time slot can read from their books. The pieces will be put together into a program for Cable Network TV (Detroit market). So that is good!

author Joan H. Young reading from The Bigg Boss

I discussed marketing strategies with Don on one side and Bob on the other. We are all struggling to figure out what works.

Does it matter if I sit or stand--one might look disengaged while the other might look too aggressive? Should I have dressed nicer? Should I have dressed more casually? Should I have spent more hours writing so I'd have a new book in the Anastasia Raven series.

Well, events sometimes work and sometimes they don't. With two hours to go and still no book sold, it became a game. Can I make it to the end without selling a single book? But almost at closing I did sell one. So I lost the game, but I'll take it.

One has to accept that there are going to be days that are financial losses, but I can't continue to suffer them so regularly. Here's hoping the next one will be a big seller!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Pentwater Arts and Crafts Fair

This, right here, is the future of what I do.

small girl reading a book

Yesterday and today I was at the Pentwater (MI) Arts and Crafts Fair. The weather was marginal yesterday and downright icky today. Nevertheless, I did OK on sales. More on that later.

On Saturday, three of us shared the booth. We've done this before, and we work well together. Jean owns the sandwich board sign and it is great- it lets people know what we are about.

authors selling books

There was live music by Awesome Distraction of Manistee. They were quite good. Not so loud they blow out your brains, but our booth was very close to the stage, so it made it really difficult to talk to people. This is one of my pet peeves, and yet, when the music was playing people were definitely more upbeat and engaged. Don't know quite how to solve that conundrum. I'm sure it wasn't too loud for those a little farther away.

two guys with guitars

At one point they warned us that the Coast Guard helicopter was going to be flying low overhead as part of a demonstration so people wouldn't be alarmed.

Coast Guard helicopter

Today, it was just Jean and me, well.. and Bitzi, who helped bring people to our table.

woman with purple hair holding a dog

I met two new (to me) authors, so that was great.

Now for the nitty-gritty. I'm not throwing in the towel yet, but I need to do better than I did this weekend. Alternatively, I can do more than two shows a month, which will result in less writing time, and/or less volunteer time. It will definitely make me crabbier.

I can keep this up at this level for a while, but eventually there has to be an upturn in sales, or I will need to add another source of income.

I can live frugally, but I do need to have a car and a place to live and food, and a few minimum other things. I get tired of having to forego a lot of activities because I can't afford the gas or whatever. I know, I do go to a number of things, but I have to pick and choose carefully, often camp or sleep in my car, take my own food, etc, etc. I'm not whining, I'm just being honest. After a lifetime of having pretty much nothing, I'm used to it, but I'm not going to let the finances get to the point where I can't afford to do anything at all other than eat and drive.

We shall see. No major decisions until after this year. I'm trying to move from small potatoes to medium potatoes. Maybe that's just a slow transition.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Celebrate Scottville Event

I haven't done much posting of author events on this blog, which is where I really should be doing it instead of on My Quality Day. Maybe I'll try to do better.

Anyway, today was a fun little opportunity. Never discount fun little chances to sell books. This was a very local event celebrating some new businesses in Scottville, the town where I live. Space was free, lots of businesses held drawings for prizes, bounce house and activities for kids. All the things that make small towns fun.

The Cats and Jammers band played live music, which was really good- old time and folk music with a really upbeat sound, but not so loud that you couldn't hear yourself think or talk to people who might want to buy books.

I sort of stumbled into the opportunity. There is a new local author, Sandi Malburg. She's written a book of local history, "Lost Towns of Mason County." She was offered a chance to sell her brand new book, and then it sort of expanded to include other local authors, and I jumped on it.

I sold several books, had another internet TV interview, may have a chance for a local radio interview, and may have gotten my Dubois Files series in the elementary school library. Local people who know you are always going to be great supporters... assuming you put out quality books.

And now... it's been a busy day. I'm going to take Sandi's book and go get comfortable.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Honored and Amazed, MOWA awards

One should always enter as many categories as possible for awards, particularly if it doesn't cost anything to enter. This year, for the Michigan Outdoor Writer's Association, I placed entries in three categories. Now, I have to be honest, since I won one award last year, I was thinking I might get one again this year, but I never expected what did happen.

The biggest surprise was the one pictured above, which is for photography. Let me explain that the photos submitted had to have appeared in a publication for which you were paid. That limits my selection a lot. In fact, it eliminated all of my really good photos. But, I did enter two pictures. This one took 3rd place. It's Cedar Falls at Hocking Hills, Ohio.

So, while I was still in shock from that one, I also received 3rd place in the category I thought most likely to receive something. This is the same as last year, a story about a non-consumptive activity (eg, not hunting or fishing). My entry was the story of my Midland to Mackinac hike last fall.

And then, I couldn't believe I heard my name again, for 3rd place in best overall column. I feel as if this is quite a big deal, because a lot of the writers do regular columns, and I'm pretty sure there was some stiff competition.

So, I'm a bit flabbergasted. And, I made a few more friends this year, so little by little I'm feeling as if I might fit in.

They explained that they have people from out of state judge these, some people with national media connections, so they are making every effort to be sure the judges don't know who wrote the entries. We have to redact anything that would clue someone in as to who wrote the articles.

2018 MOWA award

Monday, May 27, 2019

How to Painlessly Hug an Author - Tip #3

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Sometimes you'd like to give an author friend a pat on the back, but writing a review of a book just seems too difficult. There are many ways to help writers that don't take more than a few seconds of time.

Today's tip: rate one or more of their books on any author site. Often, you can do this without writing a review. If more is requested, you could simply say "great," or "average," or made me feel sad," etc. You can do this on Amazon, Smashwords, Bookbub, AuthorDB, Hometown Reads, Goodreads, and probably other sites.

If you want to help me, there are some links here





I'll be adding an occasional tip to this series.

How to Painlessly Hug an Author- Tip #2

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How to Painlessly Hug an Author - Tip #2

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Sometimes you'd like to give an author friend a pat on the back, but writing a review of a book just seems too difficult. There are many ways to help writers that don't take more than a few seconds of time.

Today's tip: follow an author on any of the social media channels they use. This might include Amazon, Smashwords, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Bookbub, AuthorDB, Hometown Reads, Goodreads, etc. If you like a particular author, you probably know where they hang out.

If you want to help me, Amazon and Smashwords links here





I'll be adding an occasional tip to this series.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Writing is More than Words

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The writing life is more than just putting words on paper. Particularly if you are an indie author. If you are independent, you actually are running a small business.

Here are some of the pieces of what I've been doing for the last few days.

1. I received a notice from the State of Michigan that I hadn't paid my 2015 sales tax and that I owed mega bucks. Went to my tax person, who is out of town, but I made an appointment. Another person there looked at the numbers and my paperwork and agreed that this wasn't even my account. So this issue is going to take a while to sort out.

2. I tried to continue transferring the tapes I made while hiking to digital before they get too old and dried out. This is where I left off in April of 2018, noted in the post linked below. However:
      A. This computer has no external microphone jack
           i. I looked up how to get around that and the answer appeared to be a USB mic jack
           ii. Went to my computer person to verify this. He said yes, he had one, downloaded all the drivers for me and made sure it was working. Problem solved with a small investment
      B. I had to sort the tapes which were all in a box and labeled, but needed to get them in order.
      C. I had to download audacity again since the computer crash
           i. It needed one more driver that doesn't come with it.
           ii. I had to figure out how to use it again.
      D. I'm now actually transferring tapes to digital!
           i. This needs to happen to keep the audio recordings from degrading
           ii. I need to have several of the next ones on my computer before I go east, so I can write while I'm on the road.

3. I have to get all my 2018 records for taxes ready before I leave on my trip east, because the tax appointment is almost immediately after I get home.

4. I am trying to get my head back around where I was with North Country Quest. Thought I might have lost part of a chapter, but I think I hadn't written anything down yet, so I just need to recover what I was thinking about.

Perhaps some words will get typed today.

See What Does an Author Do All Day

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

How To Painlessly Hug an Author - Tip #1

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We're always asking you to write reviews. I know! But maybe you don't want to think that hard. Maybe you find the mechanics of the whole process difficult. Maybe you think a book was only worth 3 stars, but you don't want to really "say that out loud."

So how can you help support your friends who write, or those whose books you love even if you don't know them personally?

This suggestion should take under a minute to accomplish. Can you spare a minute a month to help support an author? I think that's a reasonable request.

You can do this for any author you like. Of course, I'd be thrilled if you take this suggestion to help me, but ANY AUTHOR you enjoy is going to feel the love if you do this. Trust me.

Today's tip: share a link to their author page, or one of their books on any social media site. Anywhere you like to interact. Go on... it took you longer to read this post than it will to help an author.

If you want to help me, Amazon and Smashwords links here

I'll be adding an occasional tip to this series.

Dead Mule Swamp Mistletoe Print Version Available

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Dead Mule Swamp Mistletoe is available in paperback format Amazon. It should be appearing soon at Barnes & Noble.

Anastasia Raven accepts an invitation to accompany her friends Cora and Jerry on a Christmas ski holiday at the historic Janes Mill Bed and Breakfast. The rambling Victorian house, deep within Thousand Lakes State Forest, is being renovated by the new owners, Frank and Betty Farnsworth, who want to show off the beautiful home and location. A winter storm isolates the party. What could possibly go wrong? Ana is joined by her son Chad on this adventure, and Jimmie Mosher's family joins the fun and mayhem to cater the party as Cherry Blossom Cuisine.