A Quick Survey – What Do You Want to Know About Self-Publishing?

Hi friends!

Many of you know that I teach online classes on self-publishing, how to get your completed manuscript up for sale as an ebook and/or a print book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.

You may also know that it’s my personality to want to continuously improve what I do and what I teach. The next class will begin next month, in April (haven’t nailed down the exact date yet), and I’d like to get your input. Will you fill out this survey for me? Thank you so much!

At the end of the survey is an email address you can use if you have questions about the class, but also notice there is a link to my new web site where you can sign up to get a free 10-Step Checklist to Starting Your Self-Publishing Business. I hope you find the checklist useful as you begin or continue your journey in self-publishing.

Thanks again for taking the survey below! Together you and I are going to write books that change the world! 🙂

Self-Publishing Class – Sample Lectures

I thought you might want to know more about the self-publishing class that I’ll be teaching starting Monday. So here are some samples from some of my class lectures.

From Lecture 1

Welcome to my class on self-publishing your book! I’m glad you’re here. There are a lot of ways to get your book out into the world, and I’m going to present only a few. Then you’ll be able to take what you learn here, continue to research and learn more about your other options, and make changes (if you choose) in the future with more confidence.

The first things you’ll need to decide are:

  • do you want to publish in ebook only, print only, or both?
  • what software will you use?
  • what distributors will you use?

Starting today, if you haven’t already started a notebook or computer file to save all the information you collect on self-publishing, do it now.

I use an ARC notebook from Staples to save everything that is already printed, or that I print out.

http://www.staples.com/M-by-Staples-Arc-Customizable-Durable-Poly-Notebook-System-Black-9-3/product_886237

I prefer these because I like how easy it is to pull a piece of paper from one section and press it into another without having to open and close a 3-ring binder all the time. But whatever you like and will find easy to organize is what you should use.

I save different information – my house style guide, some how-to blogs that I’ve saved, a list of passwords and links to the distributors I use, and much more – in a Scrivener file.

Screen shot - Style guide

From that Scrivener file, I can cut and paste links I need easier than if they were in a printed file, and I can continually update my style guide, add new books or formats (like audiobooks), and organize other information that I don’t feel the need to print.

From Lecture 2

In addition to the big choices – will I publish in ebook, print, or both formats? what software will I use? – you have a lot of detailed choices as well. This lesson will help familiarize you with some of those choices, and provide web sites where you can look up more information and/or sign up for the service.

Business Type

When you sign up for an account to publish your book with a distributor (KDP, Smashwords, etc.), you will need to provide your legal name (if you write with a pen name) and/or your business name. I chose to register a DBA (Doing Business As, also known as a Fictitious Business Name) so I could have a company name without the expense of setting up a corporation or LLC. You will have to do your own research on this, ask your accountant and/or attorney what is best for you because I am not qualified to give legal or financial advice.

If you live in California, here is a link to the state web site explaining the minimum tax if you set up a corporation or LLC. Google “[my state] minimum tax” to find out more about the tax consequences of setting up a corporation/LLC in your state.

https://www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/faq/beMinTax.shtml

CHOICE: How will I set up my distributor accounts, and what do I need to do before I can sign up for those accounts?

Tax Identification Numbers

When you sign up with a distributor, you need to provide banking information and a tax ID number so you can get paid and so your earnings can be reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

If you run your business as a sole proprietor, with or without a DBA, you can use your social security number or you can apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). While I can’t give you legal or financial advice, here are some articles that may help you decide.

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Employer-ID-Numbers-EINs

http://legal.answers.com/definitions/should-you-use-an-ein-or-your-social-security-number

http://info.legalzoom.com/need-ein-am-dba-23281.html

Depending on your bank and your business type, you may be able to set up a business checking account. (Your bank can tell you if they require an EIN for a sole proprietorship with or without a DBA, or if they will allow you to use your social security number.) Your royalties/earnings can be deposited there instead of your personal account to make accounting and taxes easier. Or your bank may only let you set up a separate personal checking account. Either way, you need to decide where you want your money deposited.

If you use PayPal, you may want to research how you can set up a separate PayPal account connected to your business checking so you can keep your business and personal finances separate.

CHOICE: How will I set up my banking for receiving payments and paying expenses?

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATION: How will changing from one business type now (sole prop/DBA) to another later (corporation/LLC) affect my business? How will it affect my sales, sales rank, tax reporting, sales reporting, etc. from the vendors and distributors I’ve signed up with?

From Lecture 5

This lecture is not going to be an exhaustive how-to on using InDesign. You’ve either decided to learn it and you plan to use additional resources to do so, or you are already familiar with it to some degree. This will also help you get your book set up in InDesign if you have used Quark Xpress or Pagemaker or another desktop publishing program. There are enough similarities among the programs that knowing how to do this or that in one program gives you an idea of how to do it in another.

I’ll tell you what I do, and you can follow my directions, or just use them as a jumping off point to decide how you want to design your book’s interior. (You can also read along and ask yourself if this seems easy enough to learn. I think you’ll find it is.)

What I Do

Following are directions for creating a new file, making it into a template so you have all your settings saved for future books, and then adding your current manuscript to the template to create a new document.

Open InDesign
Go to File, New, Document
Under Intent on the popup screen, leave it as Print (the default)
Under Pages, make it a few more pages than you think it needs to be

Example: My superhero story is 100,000 words and came in at about 325 pages with the manuscript, the front and back matter, and the short excerpt of the next book at the end; my 8,000-word short story is about 36 pages with front and back matter and short excerpt

Under Page Size, choose Custom, then you’ll create a custom preset for all of your books

Adjust the width and height to the sizes you want for your print book (this won’t affect your EPUB if you create one from InDesign), and type in a name for the Custom Page Size.

Example: You could create one that is 4 1/8” x 6 7/8” and call it “Mass Market,” and create one that is 5” x 8” and call it “Trade Size.” Then you only need to choose which Custom Page Size you want to use this time.

Screen shot InD New Doc 1

Click on the Add button to save the name of the Custom Page Size. If you created more than one, click on the one you want and hit OK.

Screen shot InD New Doc 2

Leave the columns section as is if you are creating a novel template. Adjust your margins according to the CreateSpace guidelines. (You may have to click on the “chain” icon next to the top and bottom margins in order for your changes to save.)

Example: I use 0.75” for the top, bottom, and inside margins, and 0.5” on the outside margin

Sign Up Today!

These are just a few examples of what you’ll learn in my 4-week online class, Your How-to Guide to Self-Publishing. You will receive 8 lectures with 92 pages of information, including screen shots, to help you get your book up for sale as an ebook and/or in print by the end of the class. Everyone will be encouraged to ask questions and offer suggestions to each other so that everyone can avoid or solve problems, and gain the newest information in an ever-changing industry.

Manuscript not ready? No problem. You can go through the lectures and practice with a dummy manuscript. This will give you an opportunity to ask questions about anything you don’t understand so you can be ready when your manuscript is complete.

Check out my Classes page and sign up for the class. It starts Monday, January 12, 2015.

Last Day to Join Self-Publishing Class

finish signHi friends! Just wanted to let you know that today is the last day to join the class I’m teaching, “Your How-to Guide to Self-Publishing.” You can sign up here or read more about the class.

We started this past Monday, September 15, and the class will run through Saturday, October 11, 2014. It’s $30 for the four weeks, and it’s run via Yahoo Groups. That means you never have to be online at a certain time. You can read the lectures as they come in your email, and participate in class discussions via email at any time during the month.

The class is set up so that you learn about all the decisions you have to make to self-publish your book, doing it all together as we go along, and then having your book ready to upload by the end of class. You can also go through all of the steps with a test copy of your book and just don’t hit “publish” at the end. That way you have someone helping you figure it out as you go, and you can use your notes to finish publishing your book later when it’s ready.

If you have any questions about the class, feel free to leave a comment or email me at Kitty AT KittyBucholtz DOT com.

Happy Writing! 🙂

Assembling a Self-Published Book

Over the next two months, I’ll be assembling my newest book, Superhero in the Making, book two in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series. (“Superhero Books for Her!”) This will be the fourth time I’ve put a book together to self-publish, so I’m finding patterns and creating checklists.

whyWhere Will You Distribute?

I’ve found that one of the important things you need to know before you begin is which distributors you will use. For instance, while Scrivener (where I write my books) has the capability to create an EPUB file, Smashwords still required a Word document the last time I uploaded a book there in May 2013. Since I want my ebooks to be absolutely identical on any device, and because as of May 2013 all the distributors I used accepted Word files, I found it was easier to create just one file and then make the necessary changes on the copyright page. (As opposed to having a Scrivener EPUB file, a Word file, and an InDesign file and having to remember to make any little edits to all three files, at least this way I only had to remember to make the same edits in two files. We’ll see if I do it differently this time to take advantage of Scrivener creating the EPUB and mobi – for Kindle – files for me. When I created my ebook-only short story, “Superhero in Disguise,” Scrivener helped me format the files fast.)

One thing to love about the free Smashwords Style Guide is that if you are meticulous in following the instructions there, your completed Word file will upload to any of the other distributors as well on the first try. (As of May 2013, I uploaded to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords – who distributed to “everyone else.” I had no problems with B&N’s original “PubIt!” program, but its new NOOK Press messes up my books now, every time. So I now let Smashwords distribute there for me. That will change when I decide to spend the money hiring out my formatting or figure out my NOOK Press problem.)

Incompatible Upgrades

Another thing to consider is whether one of the programs you use has been very recently upgraded and other programs will not work well with it until they upgrade as well. This happened to me in May 2013 with Unexpected Superhero. Between Scrivener, NOOK Press, and an EPUB validator I was using, the Scrivener EPUB file had errors I couldn’t fix when I tried to upload it to NOOK Press. It was frustrating and time-consuming tracking down the problem, trying potential solutions, and eventually having to abandon my upload and have Smashwords distribute it. But these things happen and you need to go with the flow. (Again, unless you hire a professional formatter.)

Since my husband used to be a graphic designer and owns several professional programs, and I’ve done some newsletters using Quark Xpress, I decided to go that route for my print books. My husband and I created a template in Quark for my first book, Little Miss Lovesick, and I uploaded the final file as a PDF to CreateSpace. Again, plan for the unexpected. I couldn’t get Quark to create the PDF even though it was an option for the software. Turns out a lot of people were having the same problem. I finally had to send the file out to have it converted. Of course, then I had a PDF that I couldn’t change. Why was that a problem if my book was already printed?

A Professional Print Version

Yup, found a few typos. When I created the ebook files, I corrected any little things I saw as they came up – without thinking about it. Meaning, I didn’t make identical changes to the Quark file, which is why I mentioned above, be aware of how many separate files you have to change if you find a typo. And now, because I couldn’t get Quark to create a PDF for me, I could make my edits but would have to send the file out to be converted to PDF every time, forever. My husband and I started talking about upgrades and – voila! I got an email from Adobe about their Creative Cloud suite. Instead of purchasing the software and upgrading every year or two, you could pay a monthly subscription fee and always have access to the latest version. Not only that, you have access to every piece of Adobe software (that I’m aware of). Because my husband and I both use more than one piece of Adobe software, the monthly Creative Cloud membership seemed perfect for us.

So for my second book, I used Adobe InDesign. LOVE. IT. I sent out my Little Miss Lovesick Quark file to Nick Davies at Tinstar Design and he quickly converted it to InDesign for me for a very reasonable price. I made my minor edits in the new file and it was ready to re-upload. I also took that Lovesick file and created a master template for my future books, which I then used for Unexpected Superhero. Now my print books all have the same look every time. Definitely the professional way to go.

Writing SmileyChecklists Save Time

During the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve continued to make notes about what I do, how I do it, and what order to do it. For instance, in your print version, if you add the header in the master section so that it appears on every page, then manually delete the header from the first pages of chapters, then go through every line of the book taking out words that are split/hyphenated to the next line, it will change the way the text flows and…wait for it…your manually deleted headers will sometimes be on the wrong page. Sigh. Then you have to re-do the header.

Yes, I learned that by doing it. 😉

So now with Superhero in the Making, I’ll take my newest checklist and begin working down it in order. Any time I find something not working right, I’ll make a note of how to fix it and, if necessary, change the order of steps in my checklist. Until I decide to send out my book files to a professional formatter, this is an effective way to get my books printed so that they look absolutely professional, and I’m not re-inventing the process every time. I haven’t looked into the prices of professional formatters or know who’s the best at a reasonable price because I genuinely enjoy the book-building process. But someday I may have to let go of this part in order to get more writing done and more books out.

I hope this has been helpful to you. If so, let me know and I’ll try to post more on this topic in the future. I’ll be teaching a self-publishing how-to class online in September that you may find useful as well. I’ll let you know the details soon. Happy Self-Publishing!

Little Miss Lovesick Is In Print!

Finally!! LOL!!

I’ve been waiting to share this news with you for years! When Stephanie and Shonna and I started 2012, we each picked an area we wanted to discuss for the year, and mine was self-publishing. Now I have officially self-published a book in digital form and print form. Yay!

If you’d like to pick up a copy of Little Miss Lovesick for yourself and/or give it to friends or family for Christmas, I have my own CreateSpace store page up now. You can see the book’s description and order copies and generally cheer that I finally made it! 🙂

I wrote a post on my web site with fun bits of trivia about how Little Miss Lovesick came to be. You might enjoy reading that, too. 🙂

From more of a writerly standpoint, I thought I’d share a few publishing details here for my last regular post on Routines for Writers.

  • I’ve thought about self-publishing long enough that I decided, if I was going to do it, I was going to set myself up as my own micropublishing company. I filed a DBA (also known as a fictitious business name), bought a block of 100 ISBN numbers, registered my company name rather than my own name with self-publishing sites like Kindle Direct Publishing, PubIt! (Barnes & Noble), Smashwords, CreateSpace, etc., and I asked John to make a logo for us. I’m also going to join the Independent Book Publishers Association with my 2013 budget.
  •  I bought a lot of ebooks and paper books to help me learn how to self-publish my books. If I had continued to use Word to format my book, Aaron Shepard’s Perfect Pages would have been the most useful. But since I decided to go a more professional route (for one thing, my husband John is a former graphic designer, has all the software, and I’ve used some of it before), Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual Vol 1 and Vol 2 have been the most helpful so far.
  • Aaron Shepard has two other books that I bought, but have only skimmed, that I think will be useful in helping me figure out how to promote my books better, how to help them be more discoverable. They are Aiming at Amazon and POD for Profit.
  • Going to the Self-Publishers Online Conference was also a big help. Lots of good information there, and super nice, helpful people. They also suggested a few more books and web sites, but I haven’t gone through all that material yet.
  • I bought a photo from Dreamstime.com and John (former graphic designer, remember? lucky me!) played with it in Photoshop and Illustrator to create the full cover for both the ebook and the print book.
  • John owns QuarkXPress 7.2, a professional desktop publishing program, and I’ve used it to create newsletters in the past so I was familiar with the basics of how to use it. For both of these reasons – but particularly the “professional” part – we used it to create the interior layout. HOWEVER, we had problems getting the program to create a pdf (needed to upload to CreateSpace or Lightning Source or just about any print company). It crashed every time. So I had to send the file out to Staples and they were awesome! But now, because we need to upgrade John’s Photoshop and Illustrator programs for future book covers, we are going to buy Adobe InDesign as part of the Creative Suite. Interestingly, one of their “top 10 reasons you should switch from Quark” is that it will create pdf files quickly and easily. I hope so.
  • There are two options on CreateSpace (Amazon’s print self-publishing arm) for proofing your book, the digital proof and the print proof. I am a former magazine editor who used to use both to be sure we had the most perfect copy of our magazine we could manage, so I used both this time, too. (It takes about a week or so longer to wait for the print proof before approving the file.) I did find some errors, so I’m glad I took the time.

Those are the highlights of what I did over the last year. I hope you find it useful in your own journey.

As I mentioned, this is my last regular post. We’ll be posting irregularly from now till June. (Our web hosting is paid till then.) I’ll continue to post a couple times a week on my own web site, letting you know what is happening with my books, and writing silly things like my Netflix Picks column. 🙂

Stephanie will post when she’s not crazy busy with school. And at the end, you’ll hear from all three of us saying goodbye to you. Meanwhile, we hope you have a fabulous holiday season, and happy writing! 🙂

Printing Books and Saying Goodbye

Hi friends! As you know, I’ve been working hard on getting more books written and self-published. Very exciting times for me! For the last year, I’ve expected to have to say goodbye to you here on Routines for Writers, and that goodbye is swiftly approaching. My last weekly post will be in two weeks.

But that just means you can visit me at a new location! Yay! My web site is at http://kittybucholtz.com/ and I’ll keep you updated on the new books I have coming out, as well as talk about funny things like what I’ve watched on Netflix, and interesting things like brain science. I hope you decide to come visit me there. (I’ll miss you if you don’t!)

This past week I’ve been working on the interior design of the print version of Little Miss Lovesick. At first, it was daunting to the point of not even wanting to start! Since it’s my first time putting a book into print, I was a bundle of nerves, afraid the whole process would be so time-consuming because of my learning curve that I would not only never finish it, but I would’ve wasted all that time I could’ve been writing. Funny what fear can do to you!

But my awesome husband sat me down at his computer where he has Quark Xpress and he opened the file he’d created for my book (he used to be a graphic designer). He showed me how to use a few key commands, and I started editing. I found a couple dozen punctuation changes I wanted to make, but only a few words that were missing or mistaken. After I finished the copy edit, I did a bunch of other little things like –

  • changing the justification to fully justified
  • making each chapter start on a new page, with the chapter heading partway down the page
  • deleting the headers from the first page of every chapter
  • making the first word of every chapter all caps
  • adding an icon to each scene break (a little fish since the heroine meets the hero on a fishing trip)
  • moving most of the hyphenated words to the next line so the pages look cleaner
  • updating the copyright page for the print version
  • and getting John’s help making the title page look attractive

If you’re doing any self-publishing, keep the above list as a starting place on formatting your print version. You may add some more items to your list, as I may over time. But it’s a helpful place to start.

Whew! It was a huge amount of work, but the inside of the book looks great! Now I just have to write the back cover copy and help John finish the full book cover. Then it will be ready to put up for sale at Amazon!! Woo-hooo!! I can’t wait!!

I’ll let you know when it’s available for sale in print. I’m trying to have it ready by Thanksgiving, but it may be the first week of December. (It’s already available as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and many more online retailers.) If I have any tips about the cover or any of the “getting your first book into print” issues, I’ll tell you about them over the next couple weeks. Meanwhile, have an awesome week! See you on my web site! 🙂

What Are My Options?

One of the big questions in every area of life is – what are my options? How do I want my hamburger cooked, what do I want on my pizza, how do I like my coffee – the smaller questions. What will I do for a living, how can I make ends meet until the work brings in the money, which of several directions should I take to get there – the bigger questions. (Why am I here, what is God’s plan for me, where will I go when I die – the most important questions, but not directly related to writing. 🙂 )

In writing, I’ve asked myself if I want to write fiction or nonfiction, business articles or romances, romantic comedies or superhero books with a romantic thread. While I like each of these ideas and many more, I have learned in life that you have to focus first to get started in any new endeavor. You can spread yourself thinner later. So I published a few nonfiction pieces, then focused on romance.

I went to Christian writers conferences in the early years because those were the writer friends I was hanging around. I got close enough that I was getting phone calls from an editorial assistant at Tyndale House, but I was writing just enough out of step that we could never quite get my work to run along on their track. Things never worked out.

A friend introduced me to her agent and soon I had representation. Surely my big break! It seemed the right thing to do was to continue with the romantic comedies (called chick lit at that moment, but shhh, don’t say that phrase any more). My agent and I talked about different things I could try when chick lit died. I chose not to pursue an opportunity with a Christian publisher who pays tiny advances. I was too insecure to try writing YA when my agent suggested it. I could see I had options, and – right or wrong – I made the best choices I could.

After four and a half years, I talked to my agent and decided to walk away. I was trying to do what I felt she wanted me to do, but my creativity was drying up by trying so hard. I needed a break. I’d been thinking about going to grad school for years, so when the opportunity came up, I took it. It was so beyond different from what I expected, not challenging at all, that I complained for a long time about what a waste of time it was.

But over the last couple of months, I remembered that I do have options. I can choose to live with disappointment over my grad school work, or focus on what I learned from it. For instance, I learned that I can write YA! I got some extraordinary feedback on a YA story I wrote. More excellent feedback on a spiritual dystopia/urban fantasy I wrote for my final project. And after flying to last year’s RWA National Conference the morning after my last class, and hearing a couple more editors tell me they weren’t sure they could sell my work, I knew I had another option.

I came home from that conference and decided, as an experiment, I was going to self-publish Little Miss Lovesick, the book my agent almost sold to two houses before chick lit died. When the process went a bit smoother than I expected, I considered my options again. I could keep trying to write and pitch my work to the current establishment, or I could start my own business again. The idea of running my own publishing company got my endorphins dancing.

One option that worked out for me was choosing to get involved in two self-published anthologies. The first one, Romancing the Pages, will come out in September as an ebook – see the lovely cover here. My superhero short story “Hero in Disguise” is one of nineteen short stories I hope you enjoy. In a few months, another anthology will be published with a dozen or so short stories written by my friends in my Sydney writer’s group. Another group of stories I think you’ll enjoy. My “Rescue at Loon Lake” is a fun little precursor to my novel Love at the Fluff and Fold.

It’s been a heck of a year. Several moves, several deaths, more months of unemployment than paid work between John and me, a lot of trials and testing. Career-wise, the worst part for me has been not being able to follow-through on my goals, my commitments to myself that I made end of last year. I’d planned to get Little Miss Lovesick into print by Christmas, finish and self-publish Love at the Fluff and Fold digitally and in print by March, and have the next book out in September.

Due to the weight of life this year, I’ve thought about sending my work to other publishers, let them do some of the work in return for some of the monetary rewards. I know I have options. Maybe giving myself a little break would help. It’s an awful lot of work to do all of the publishing work yourself. Several wise men in the Bible have said to count the costs before you start building so you don’t wind up broke, half-finished, and a laughingstock. I think I know the costs of continuing down my current path, and I’m willing to pay them.

I’ll continue to try to keep my options in mind at least once a year so I can adjust my course as necessary. It’s a good writing routine to have. In fact, because I love teaching and miss doing it more, I’m going to offer my Goal Setting and Time Management for Writers class again in January. We’ll start bright and early on the first Monday in January and get our ducks in a row for the coming year. I’ll remind you again when you can start signing up.

Whatever is going on in your life and your writing career, remember that you have options. Some will be better than others, but rarely is “I had no choice” true. What are some of your options?

Creative Breakthroughs – Whew!

We’ve talked about where our creativity comes from this month, how our thoughts and feelings influence it, and when procrastination helps or hurts the creative process. Now that we’ve talked about the more difficult side, let’s look at what creativity looks like when it works.

Creative breakthroughs – whew! I don’t know if I could continue trying to live a creative lifestyle and work in a creative endeavor if I didn’t have frequent breakthroughs. I think we get an endorphin rush when the breakthrough is big enough. We’re happy to the point of laughing out loud and we’re filled with sudden energy to keep going! Yay! Thank God for wiring our brains this way!

This past week I’ve been working my way through a book I found in my library, The Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee. Only two chapters in, and I love this book so much it’s on my must-buy list! The web site is also spectacular, full of colorful encouragement and happiness-inducing how-to’s! You may know that I started my own publishing company to publish my books. I did not jump into it with no business sense, though. I have a bachelor degree in business administration as well as a master’s degree in creative writing. I want to work in a creative industry, but I want to do it right.

I’ve written a few business plans in my life, done a halfway decent job with them, but I don’t think I ever looked at them again once they were printed and added to the 3-ring binder of “business stuff.” But the way Jennifer suggests creating your business plan – and I’m only two chapters in, but I think I’m right – both uses common business sense and business tools and the more visual creative side of your brain to create a bona fide business plan that doesn’t get filed away and that you’ll actually use. (Guess what optional reading is being added to my January online class on goal setting?!)

One of your writing routines should be to check in with yourself to see if you’re on the road you meant to be on. When I went to the RWA National Conference in July, one thing I wanted to verify while I was attending workshops and meeting agents and other publishing professionals was – am I on the right road for me?

By the end of the last day, I was doing the Happy Kitty Dance because I knew self-publishing and being a business owner was exactly where I wanted to be! Nothing had changed to make me decide to give it up. Hearing all about what’s going on in New York and who is looking for what didn’t make me want to re-start submitting to agents and editors. Now that I’m making a more visual and creative business plan (and giving myself permission to forego the look of a traditional business plan!), I’m more excited about doing more frequent check-ins with myself. I love Jennifer’s idea of using index cards to keep track of parts of the plan so you can add new ideas when you think of them. I’m sure Jennifer is a friend I just haven’t met yet! I love the way she thinks! 🙂 I’ve been trying to make my business background fit into my creative life, and I’ve tried to get my creative life to fit into a sound business mold, but Jennifer is the one who put the two worlds together.

Am I excited enough here for you to click on those links and check out the book and the web site?! The excitement is because I had a creative breakthrough last week! Something that I’ve been trying to create finally came together and I’ve got the endorphin rush to prove it. And not just an endorphin rush – meeting your friend for coffee and talking about your works-in-progress can give you that, but does it always help you write more and better afterward? Part of knowing you’ve had a creative breakthrough is when you have lists and pages of ideas, and when normal and unrelated “stuff” in your life sparks even more ideas.

Reading the first chapter of The Right-Brain Business Plan on the elliptical machine at the gym (difficult, but it can be done – just don’t fall off when turning pages!), I had so many ideas about getting back into teaching that I was afraid I’d lose some of them. I used to put on an annual one-day writer’s workshop called Write Now! Workshops. I stopped doing them when I started traveling so much. But I have plans for a lot of online and live workshops starting in January 2013. I knew I wanted to get back into teaching, but I wasn’t sure how and where I wanted to start. Jennifer asked all the right questions to get my little brain humming!

I’ve still got most of the work ahead of me in getting my business plan down. But the other thing that excites me is that I can spend a little time “playing.” I can use that drawing class I took two years ago to make little drawings on my business plan. (Oh, how my professors at The Wharton School would faint!) I can use some of the cool programs on my Mac to get more colorful and more creative. I can take pictures of myself in PhotoBooth and record me giving myself a pep talk in GarageBand and add those to my business plan. I’ve been praying for God to help rekindle the fire in my spirit for my work and I think this is part of His answer! I’M SO EXCITED! LOL!

Check out the book and the web site. Get yourself a plan that works for you, no matter how you get it written, and then work at making it happen. You can do this!

Speaking of creative breakthroughs, my friend Mona Hodgson had a creative breakthrough recently. She’s been writing children’s books since before we met (she’s one of my first writer friends!) and has published over a dozen of them. But she wanted to write adult books, too. In 2010, her dream came true. Two Brides Too Many, the first book in the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series, was released by WaterBrook Multnomah. Too Rich for a Bride followed in 2011, and The Bride Wore Blue came out in May of this year. On October 2, the fourth and final book, Twice a Bride, will be released.

Today Mona is celebrating the release of her very first book trailer! You get to be among the first people to see it! The trailer is beautifully put together. You’ll want to visit these four sisters yourself. Celebrate with us by picking up a copy of Two Brides Too Many, or finish where you left off if you’ve already started the series. I think you’ll enjoy it. Congratulations, Mona, on your wonderful series and the beautiful book trailer! I can’t wait to see what your next series will be!

You can visit Mona at her web site www.monahodgson.com/ and on Facebook at Facebook.com/Author.Mona.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation – Kitty

What a quick two months it has been! Another month and summer will be over?! Holy smokes! So what have I been doing? Well…

As many of you know, my mother died in May. That was rough, and I don’t seem to remember much about June. In that respect, I’m glad that we decided to take a summer break here at Routines for Writers. I needed time. (And I thank all of you who have commented or sent me encouraging notes or hugged me when you saw me. You’re all such a great group of people!)

In July, I hit the restart button again. (We’ve talked about that before. I love that button.) I got back into my writing groove, finalizing a short story for one anthology and writing a new one for another anthology.

In August, “Hero in Disguise” will be published in Romancing the Pages, an ebook anthology of 17 short stories by writers of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America. (See a picture of the cover here by Winterheart Design.) My story is the romantic meeting of the hero and heroine in my upcoming superhero romantic comedy series, The Adventures of Lewis and Clark. I love the way they meet, all dressed up on Halloween, lots of secrets between them.

Later this year, “Rescue at Loon Lake” will appear in Moonlit Encounters, an ebook anthology of 10 short stories and novellas written by my Sydney chapter-mates of the Romance Writers of Australia. Mine is the funny story of a newcomer, a lost dog, and the dog catcher. It’s part of the Strays of Loon Lake romantic comedy series about lonely men and lost dogs finding love and a good home with women who are learning to find their strength. The first book in the series, Love at the Fluff and Fold, will also be out later this year.

In addition, John and I have been taking advantage of a break in his schedule to get cracking on the print version of Little Miss Lovesick. You may remember that I signed up to attend the Self-Publishers Online Conference in May. Due to my mom’s illness, I wasn’t able to participate at the time, but I am catching up. The suggested reading (Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, and Publishize) has been extremely helpful in putting together a nice looking print edition of the book. This also will be available later this year. You can see how busy I’ve been!

Last week, I attended the RWA National Conference in Anaheim, CA. I expected to learn a lot about craft and self-publishing and spend lots of time and energy networking – and all that happened to an even greater degree than I had hoped. But before noon on the first day, I had an unexpected surprise – I won a brand new Sony Reader!

I was so excited, I was jumping up and down. Here is a picture of me moments after Stephanie Beam Warner from the Sony Reader Store announced I’d won. I haven’t figured out yet how to get Little Miss Lovesick on it without having to purchase it, but I’ve got a nice “bookshelf” full of Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and H.G. Wells already.

Because I love excellent desserts, I have to admit – I took a picture of the amazing chocolate something-or-other we had on Friday. I texted my author friend Kathleen Wright and told her I wanted to lick the plate. She texted me back to do it, but I restrained myself. Barely. Oh my gosh, it was delicious! Of course, I remembered to take a picture of the food, but I was so focused on what I was doing and learning during the conference that I forgot to take pictures of anything else. Not even a picture of me with my friend and roommate, Lauraine Snelling. Darn!

Lauraine and I had some great brainstorming sessions and great conversations with some of our other friends who were there – authors Charlotte Carter, Nancy Farrier, and DiAnn Mills especially. I also met the president of the Independent Book Publishers Association and had a great talk with her about that organization. I now have in my budget the amount of the membership dues so I can join as soon as possible. Plus, I think I know who I want to contact when my budget can support an attorney. One of the speakers was excellent and practices law in the publishing field (and in my state!).

Finally, to round out my busy July, the day after I got home from the conference, Lauraine and Kathleen and I spent another half a day brainstorming. Exhausting, but so worth it! During five hours of using Fring and Skype, we worked through some issues for the fourth book in their S.A.V.E. Squad series and the first book in my Strays of Loon Lake series. Both books are so much better for our time together.

So there you have it. That’s more or less what I did on my summer vacation. And it doesn’t even include all the non-writing things I did! Like most good vacations, I sort of wish it wasn’t over and I still had lots of extra time to work on my book instead of our blog. But like most good vacations, I’m also glad to be back.

Now tell us what you’ve been up to this summer!

Spending Time with Mom This Week

Hi friends! No writerly news for you this week. I’m spending time with my mom as she approaches perhaps her last days in the hospital. We’ll see what God’s plan is for her. This past week has been more of a blessing to me than I ever expected, and I can see it’s been a blessing for Mom, too. I’ve written a bit more personal note on my Kitty Bucholtz, Author web site if you want to take a look. I’ll write more about this journey over there in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, I’ll see how much of the Self-Publishers Online Conference (which starts today) that I can attend from the hospital and give you the highlights next week or the week after. I may be late with my post next week for the same reason I’m late this week. We’ll see. I can’t say I’m all too worried about my productivity as a writer this week. But I do wonder if the words will start pouring out geyser-style when this is over.

I try to be professional here and not push people’s buttons by talking too much about God and how very much He impacts my life. But I’m breaking that rule now. I’ve never felt so surrounded by love and mercy the way I have this last week. And that’s why I know God isn’t a figment of our imagination, or an all-powerful but distant higher power. How can people love like this on their own? How can perfect strangers be so full of compassion and mercy by themselves without it coming from somewhere? I don’t believe it’s possible. Even if you don’t believe in God, you can still feel Him all around you if you have felt the love and care of other people for you. Pay attention this week and see if you agree.

All I know is that no matter how great an imagination I have as a novelist, I can’t make up the kind of peace I feel, even as I approach saying goodbye to my mother. It’s coming from outside of myself. And I don’t believe “the world” is capable of giving people this kind of deep peace. It’s God, and the only reason I can imagine He would do it is because He must love us. And that is really, really good news.

I hope you have good news this week. I’ll talk to you again soon!