Posted in Authors, Books

Why Writers Shouldn’t Give Up

I’m participating in the Writing Contest: You Are Enough, hosted by Positive Writer. The idea behind the contest is to write a blog post to inspire other authors to keep writing. In this crazy, competitive field, it’s very easy to become discouraged. Like other authors, I’ve gone through spells of depression and dissatisfaction with myself and my work. There were numerous times I was prepared to throw in the towel, chuck my writing, spend more time with my family and friends, and only write for myself if I felt the need. But this feeling passed when I reminded myself of how far I’ve come and the way I’ve touched readers’ lives by sharing my words with them.

I’ve been writing professionally for over thirty years. Because I’m an animal lover, and it’s always a good idea to write what you know or at least what you can research, I started by publishing articles in pet magazines. My first two articles about my cats enabled me to become a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association. A few years later, my first mystery story, “Stitches in Time,” appeared in the anthology, Cat Crimes Through Time.  In 2008, after my cat Floppy passed away, I self-published my first book, Cloudy Rainbow, a paranormal romance about a woman who participates in a virtual seance to save the man she loves. I featured Floppy as a character and the backstory included fictional details from my college days as an editor on the student newspaper at Long Island University/C. W. Post campus. I had no idea how to market the book, so I didn’t sell many copies, but I got a copy on the shelf at the library where I worked as a librarian.

I didn’t write again until 2015 because I thought I was too busy with work and family obligations. That was an excuse. I now realize that I stopped because I’d lost faith in myself and my ability to write because I hadn’t sold many copies of my first book. I came out of this funk when a patron at my library who’d read Cloudy Rainbow encouraged me to keep writing. She told me she believed I had talent and that I should follow my dream of being an author. I was hesitant to listen to her, but her words finally got through to me. I was inspired to write another book. This time, instead of self publishing the book, I began to look for a publisher. Having become involved in social media, I entered a Twitter competition called #Pit2Pub. It was through this competition that several small publishers contacted me and asked to read my complete manuscript. I ended up signing with one of them for A Stone’s Throwthe first book of what would become my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series that now totals four books.

Although I was thrilled to have landed a publisher, albeit a small one that focused on publishing eBooks, things didn’t turn out the way I’d envisioned them. I wasn’t paid an advance, and my royalties often totalled less than two digits. However, I’d met other authors, both those who wrote for my publisher and those who belonged to online Indie author groups, who showed me that they were in the same boat as I was. I no longer focused on making money but on reaching readers. It made my day when someone wrote a 5-star review for my book on Amazon or told me in person at the library that they loved the characters and the twist at the end of my book.

I was feeling better about myself and my writing until my publisher turned down the second book of my series. I was devastated. I thought my writing career was over before it really began. Then I saw an announcement for another #Pit2Pub competition. I figured that I had nothing to lose by entering, but I was worried that no one would want the second book of a series. As it turned out, I heard from a different publisher, Solstice Publishing, and signed a contract with them for Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceAlso, after getting my rights back from my first publisher, Solstice reprinted A Stone’s Throw with a new cover and updated edits. They also reprinted Cloudy Rainbow as a tenth-anniversary edition. I currently have six books and several stories published by them and have signed for two holiday eBook stories that will be published this December.

Last year, I found a second publisher, Creativia, now known as Next Chapter, through another author. I had an unpublished psychological mystery, Sea Scope, that I’d been shopping around to agents hoping to publish it with a larger publisher. I was attracted by Next Chapter because of its marketing approach, attractive covers, and the formats in which its booked were published. In May 2019, Sea Scope was published in paperback, eBook, and large type editions. The audio was released afterwards on Audible, and hardcover copies are scheduled soon.

Despite my success and experience with seven published books and three publishers, I still haven’t achieved my dream. I’m still seeking an agent and traditional publisher. I know that this dream is possible, but I also know that agents receive tons of queries. It’s hard to stand out in the current competitive book market, but that’s no reason to stop trying. I truly believe that whatever your writing dream is, you can achieve it as long as you don’t give up.

Posted in Freebies and Special Offers, Sea Scope

Free Paperback Mystery To Celebrate National Lighthouse Day

In honor of National Lighthouse Day on Wednesday, August 7, I’m sponsoring a contest for a free paperback of my psychological mystery, Sea Scope, featuring a murder by a lighthouse. To enter, you must be a U.S. resident. Comment with the name of your favorite lighthouse, either a place you’ve visited or one you would like to see. All comments must be posted by Saturday night, August 10. The winner, who will be selected randomly from all comments, will be announced on Sunday, August 11. Don’t miss the chance to get a great summer read for free.

The Story Behind National Lighthouse Day

For the bicentennial of the United States Lighthouse Service in 1989, the U. S. Lighthouse Society petitioned Congress to declare National Lighthouse Day on August 7—the date in 1789 that the Ninth Act of the First Congress, establishing federal control of lighthouses, was passed and signed by President George Washington. The measure was signed by President Ronald Reagan as Public Law on November 5, 1988 but only for that day in 1989. A similar declaration was won in 2013, but efforts to add the day to the official national calendar have not succeeded.

UPCOMING LIGHTHOUSE FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Listed below are upcoming lighthouse festivals, events, and meetings that are featured on the website of the United States Lighthouse Society who provided information for some of the facts included in my book.

APOSTLE ISLANDS LIGHTHOUSE CELEBRATION, WI

August 27 – September 14, 2019.  Highlights are cruises to many of the lighthouses of the Apostle Island.  Features landing, tours and hikes on several of the island.  Complete cruise schedule is available at: http://www.lighthousecelebration.com/

MAINE OPEN LIGHTHOUSE DAY

September 14, 2019. This popular event, which is sponsored by the United States Coast Guard, the Maine Office of Tourism and the American Lighthouse Foundation, attracts between 15,000 to 18,000 visitors each year and offers the general public the rare opportunity to climb and learn about over two dozen historic Maine lights. More information available at: http://www.lighthousefoundation.org/maine-open-lighthouse-day/

MUKILTEO LIGHTHOUSE FESTIVAL,WA

September 6 – 8, 2019. This annual three-day festival takes place at Lighthouse Park in Mukilteo, WA. In addition to tours and visits through our working lighthouse built in 1906, the festival features live music, the Mukilteo Marketplace filled with 50+ artists, the Avenue of Food, a large Children’s Area with non-stop activities, a beer garden and two dinners on the lawn at the lighthouse, complete with a spectacular fireworks show both nights. They host a Military and First Responders appreciation dinner on Friday night (all military and first responders welcome, please email exec.director@mukfest.com for an invitation). https://mukfest.com/

EDMUND FITZGERALD MEMORIAL BEACON LIGHTING, SPLIT ROCK LIGHT STATION, MN

November 10, 2019. This annual event, from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, commemorates the sinking of the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald and the loss of her 29 crew members on November 10, 1975. It is also a time to reflect on the memory of all lives lost in Great Lakes shipwrecks. The lighthouse, fog signal building and visitor center will be open. Costumed guides will greet visitors and provide historic site and shipwreck information. Throughout the afternoon, visitors can view a film about the Edmund Fitzgerald in the visitor center.

At 4:30 pm, the lighthouse will close temporarily while the names of the crew members are read to the tolling of a ship’s bell and the Naval Hymn is played. Following the ceremony, the beacon will be lit, and the tower will be open again to tour. This is the only opportunity each year when visitors can climb the tower after dark and see the lit beacon. More info at http://www.mnhs.org/splitrock/activities/beacon-lighting

MICHIGAN LIGHTHOUSE FESTIVAL

August 2, 3 & 4, 2019. The Michigan Lighthouse Festival begins August 2, 2019 in Port Huron at Fort Gratiot Lighthouse with an “awesome” Buffet Barbecue under a tent and a very “special speaker”! The following lighthouses will be participating, some with a “special event” to be announced at a later date. Huron Lightship, Port Sanilac, Harbor Beach, Point Aux Barques and Port Austin. http://www.michiganlighthousefestival.com/

MICHIGAN LIGHTHOUSE GUIDE

Michigan has an array of festivals that celebrate its deep maritime heritage. Michigan’s port cities roll out the red carpet and provide you with a fun filled collection of memorable experiences with a nautical flare. http://www.michiganlighthouseguide.com/festivals.html

TOLEDO LIGHTHOUSE WATERFRONT FESTIVAL

July 6 & 7, 2019. Enjoy continuous entertainment, a nautical arts & crafts village – featuring over 50 of the area’s finest nautical artists and crafters. As well as children’s activities, a lighthouse story tent, delicious food, silent auction, and more all the beautiful Maumee Bay State Park. http://www.toledolighthousefestival.com/

PORT CLINTON LIGHTHOUSE FESTIVAL AND AMATEUR RADIO ACTIVATION

August 17th & 7, 2019. The Port Clinton Lighthouse Festival is an annual event which coincides with International Lighthouse and Lightship weekend every year near August 7th. The one-day festival features lighthouse tours, nautically themed art and educational programs, arts & crafts vendors, food, music and stunning views of the Lake Erie Islands. The lighthouse will be activated with an amateur radio station during the festival.  If you want to tune in or contact them via amateur radio frequencies, you will need to find a ham radio operator that can operate on the 40 or 20 meter amateur radio frequency bands. For details on the Port Clinton Lighthouse Festival go to http://portclintonlighthouse.org/2019-festival/ and for more info about the amateur radio activation go https://www.qrz.com/db/W8GNM/8.

mybook.to/SeaScope

Sarah Collins needs an escape. Mourning her brother’s death and the impending breakup of her marriage, she accepts an invitation to return to her childhood home in South Carolina, where her family operated an inn.

She hasn’t been back to Sea Scope for twenty years; not since she and her brother Glen discovered a body by the nearby lighthouse. She never understood why her parents left Sea Scope so suddenly, or the reasons behind her father’s suicide.

After Sarah returns to the inn, she faces long-buried memories, text messages and strange clues. Something is not right in Sea Scope.

Reunited with people from her past, she tries to figure out what’s going on in her childhood home. As the past and present collide, she must face truths about her family, and what happened that summer day by the lighthouse. But will she survive to tell the tale?