My first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, was published on August 12, 2012 – nearly four years ago! (It was republished with a new cover in April 2013.) In those four years, I’ve written and published six novels, all of which have given me tremendous pride and a sense of accomplishment. I’m doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing, and that is sufficient. Well, pretty much.
New novels can trigger a sales flurry, but sales drop off after a time, even for beloved best-sellers.
So….for the coming week, every one of my six novels will be discounted to 99 cents for the e-book (Kindle version). I have no control over the print price, but if you come to the RI Authors Book Expo on December 3, 2016 http://www.riauthors.org/riexpo/ , I’ll have print copies available for a great price.
You can grab a three-book series, described by one reader as “writing (that) draws wonderful pictures of the characters and allows you to really ‘fall into’ the book ~ which is one of my favorite things about reading.” Or read about a group of classmates readying for their 25-year high school reunion and visiting old grievances. A novel about a young woman pursuing her dream of becoming a best-selling author, only to face a harsh reality check. And finally, a lighter story involving two friends who gamble on a dream of turning a rundown farm into a premier wedding venue. If you’ve already read these books, here’s a chance to give some gifts. In any event, I’m grateful – so very grateful – for all the positive feedback and encouragement I’ve received, from friends and strangers new friends, over the past four years.
I know this is a locally-directed post, so I’ll keep it short.
This Saturday, February 8th, from 11:00 to 1:00, I’ll be selling and signing copies of my four novels at SWEET TWIST in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
The Murphy sisters, as I call them, were very gracious in inviting me to their lovely boutique to sign my books, and the Chocolate Trilogy will be front and center. Yes, I’ll also have copies of Bits of Broken Glass, which I can now label an Amazon #1 best-seller, as it held that lofty position this past weekend in three separate categories on Amazon.
Stop by if you’re in the area, and while you’re there, check out the fabulous assortment of gifts at Sweet Twist. Besides Vera Bradley accessories and John Medeiros jewelry, they have delicious chocolates for Valentine’s Day. You know, there were many years that I was single and Valentine-less, and I never once denied myself something sweet on February 14th. Indulge! Life is too short to skip chocolate. And I hope to see you on Saturday!
Who else is happy to see this month end? You, Atlanta? New England? Fargo? I get it. We’re done with January 2014. Onward!
The month that seemed to drag on forever, with long icy fingers that tightened around our throats, is fading away. We move into the shortest month now, with longer days. Here in Rhode Island, the sun rose this morning at 6:58. It sets at 5:01. Yippee! By the end of February, the sun will rise 36 minutes earlier, and set 34 minutes later. Seventy more minutes of daylight.
Tomorrow I’ll meet Nancy and Karen for breakfast, both high school pals. I haven’t seen Karen since we graduated – a long, long time ago. But through the miracle of social media, we’ve seen pictures of each other. Karen and Nancy are both ageless. Isn’t it something that when you look into the face of a friend from more than 30 years ago, you don’t see crinkles at the eyes, or silver at the scalp? You see the girls you whispered and giggled with. I treasure these times.
And from what I’m seeing, there could be a mini-reunion the following Saturday. I’m signing copies of my novels at Sweet Twist in East Greenwich, which is owned by three sisters, one of whom I remember from high school (this is what happens in Rhode Island – two degrees of separation). With a trilogy of chocolate-titled books (and one about a high school reunion!), Sweet Twist is a perfect venue. And, as an author/publisher who’s had some difficulty getting my books into independent bookstores (I don’t get that – you’re indy, I’m indy, can’t we work together?), I’m grateful for the chance to showcase my books in a beautiful boutique that sells, among lots of other things, chocolate!
And before you know it, February will be blowing through and dragging March in. It would be lovely if we were done with snow this winter, but the way things have been, I doubt it. The Great Blizzard of 1978 occurred in early February, and we’ve had plenty of snowstorms in both February and March. Either way, it sure feels good to say goodbye to January. And just one last note to the folks who live down the street from us: you can take down your Christmas ornaments. You know, the ones you hung in the trees and along the roofline. Really, it’s time.
Are you an author/publisher? I am. I’ve written and published four novels, three of them in a trilogy. And while online sales have been steady, I’ve wanted to get my printed books into bookstores, especially indie bookstores. After all, we’re both independent, shouldn’t we work together?
Ah, but it’s not that easy. Bookstores are wary (perhaps rightfully so) to take on self-published books, for different reasons. Perhaps they once featured a local author prominently, whose books turned out to be poorly written and unedited. Not good. Perhaps they dislike Amazon so much that they’re unwilling to take on any writer who sells exclusively through Amazon. I think that was the case for me with one indie bookseller. But it’s too bad, because I love indie bookstores! And I write good books. And I have a pretty good network of readers, contacts, friends, and colleagues who could help draw business to that bookstore. But it does no good to whine about it.
Instead, I’m….(hold on, I hate this expression but I’m going to use it anyway)….thinking outside the box. If the bookstores don’t want you, where else would your books be noticed? For me right now, it’s at Jennifer’s Chocolates, a fabulous shop in the Wakefield Mall in beautiful Wakefield, Rhode Island. Making artisanal chocolates for over 15 years, Jennifer’s Chocolates infuses both flavor and technique into every bite. All of their chocolates are handcrafted in small batches using blends of the highest quality imported and domestic chocolate.
How great is this?! They also sell single copies of each of my three books in the series (Bits of Broken Glass didn’t seem like such a good fit). Even if you’ve already devoured the books, stop in for a sweet or two (recommending the dark chocolate peppermint bark!).
On Thursday, December 19th, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, I’ll be participating in “Discover a Local Author” night at the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in the lovely town of Harrisville, RI. It’s an opportunity to meet other authors and readers, and I’ll have my books available for purchase. If you’re in the area, please stop by!
So, what creative ways can you think of to sell your books? How will you stand out?
Wow – not much! I track my reading progress at Goodreads, and apparently I haven’t finished many books in the past couple of months. But it’s understandable, as I published a book in late September and another last week. I have a few books open, though, and hoping to catch up in December.
So what did I read?
Merry & Bright, six tales of Christmas cheer by some fabulous women authors. It’s available in digital format from Amazon, for just $2.99 and is a light, easy read.
Merry Chick Lit is another anthology of short stories (six of them!) and is only $0.99 for the e-book. PLUS! All proceeds from the sale of this e-book go to Rocking the Road for a Cure, to help women with breast cancer. It’s a buck! Go get your copy.
Oxygen, by Carol Cassella, a real-life anesthesiologist. This book was, as I like to say, unputdownable. While I found the story of Dr. Marie Heaton the anesthesiologist gripping, it was the inner story of her fractured relationship with her father that really moved me.
Fifty Ways to Leave Your Husband, by kc wilder. No, I’m not planning anything! This book was a lot more than I expected. Well-written and captivating, it
follows Eve Wolcott on a journey of self-discovery. There’s laugh-out-loud comedy, memorable characters, and plenty of delicious sex in this book (definitely for adults). But there’s also a glimpse into Eve’s heart, and the author skillfully lays bare all of Eve’s doubts, fears, and second-guessing.
In fact, I’m joining author kc wilder tomorrow for an afternoon of “Chick Lit and Cheer” at her home in Wakefield. The house is open from 11:30 to 3:30, so stop by if you’re in the neighborhood (message me for address and directions). We’ll have nibbles and noshes (how about a block of chocolate cheddar – yep!) as well as our books, but mostly we’d love to meet you!
I’ll get back to reading in December, but first I’m going to finish beta reading a manuscript for a friend (almost done!) and another for one of my favorite authors (cannot wait!). Then it’s back to four books that I’ve started and bookmarked.
Hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving with family and friends. The holiday can be a struggle for some, and I know not everyone feels merry and bright. Take a deep breath and consider what you can do to brighten someone’s day. It will undoubtedly brighten your own, too.
Apparently that defines me as an author. Since August 2012, I have published four books. Four! In sixteen months. Recently, I watched this interview Charlie Rose did with author Donna Tartt. She just released The Goldfinch, about 10 years after her last book. One book in 10 years! She says she’s tried to write faster, but doesn’t enjoy it.
I can’t even imagine taking 10 years to write a book. Then again, I wasn’t writing when I was in my 20s (or 30s, or…). When I started writing two years ago, I was already past the midpoint of my existence, and still had a lot of stories to tell. So, yes, I write fast. I slow down to edit. But this is what I do (I’m sure Ms. Tartt isn’t waiting tables on the side, but she must subsist on something other than what I imagine is a pretty good advance). This is my full-time job. So I think I’m producing what I should be producing.
Chocolate Fondue was written in November 2012 during NaNoWriMo, and edited in the months after that. Bits of Broken Glass was written from March through June of this year, and edited for three months before its publication in September. Bittersweet Chocolate, the new book, was written during Camp Nano (which is National Novel Writing Month in July) and edited this fall.
I do understand authors who take more time to write. Mostly, they have a lot of other balls to juggle: parenting, working, traveling. Life is complicated! Author Adriana Trigiani (can’t wait to meet her tomorrow!) has written 13 books, and I think her first one came out in 2001. Author Ann Hood had her first book published 25 years ago, and has about 20 books in print. She has stated that it takes a year or two for her to complete a book, and I understand, because she travels and teaches and parents. Author James Patterson has written a ton of books (click on his name to see). He’s written 95 novels since 1976 – that’s prolific!
And today I was a guest on Tracie Banister’s blog. Here it is! GUEST POST – CONTEMPORARY WOMENS’ FIC AUTHOR MARTHA REYNOLDS
Today’s featured author on Books by Banister is the lovely and talented Martha Reynolds. She and I connected on Twitter and Facebook, and we share a love of great books and cute dogs! When she told me that she wanted to write a guest post involving her adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bonnie, I, and my trio of Cocker Spaniels, thought that it was a fantastic idea! Read on to learn how Bonnie has helped Martha with her work.
What My Dog Has Taught Me About Writing
by Martha Reynolds
1) Be Curious – Bonnie never lets an opportunity pass if she has a chance to sniff. There might be something good there! Similarly, I am learning to explore new possibilities in reading. Although I write what is considered contemporary women’s fiction (romance, mystery, chick lit, it’s all there sometimes), I’m trying paranormal, young adult, adventure. A well-written story will grab me, no matter what genre it’s called.
2) Nap– Unlike me, Bonnie knows when to shut down. Sleep is vital to our well-being, and although not everyone needs eight hours, we need enough. Skimping on sleep will never be good for productivity.
3) Get Outside and Play – When Bonnie hears the words “ride” and “park” in the same sentence, she races to the door, her tail wagging furiously. She knows how wonderful it is to be outside, off-leash, running through grass. For those of us who sit for hours in front of a computer, taking a break by going outside is important. Fresh air, sunshine, even a walk in the drizzle can clear away some of the junk that builds up in our heads. I always have a little notebook and pen in my pocket, just in case an idea forms while I’m outside walking.
4) Learn New Words – No, it’s never too late to teach a dog new words. Bonnie is almost four, but she can still learn something new. And so can I. One of the best ways? Read, read, read. I read both print books and digital versions, and if I come across a word I don’t know, I look it up!
5) More Wag, Less Bark – Yes, the barking is annoying. She wants more food, or she sees a squirrel out the window, or the blasted doorbell rings. Or I’m on the phone. No one wants to hear it. And no one wants to hear me whine, either. Instead of griping about the work involved in self-publishing, or the slower-than-I’d-like book sales, how about I make happy noises about all the blessings in my life?
6) Stick to a schedule – Bonnie gets up, she goes outside, she tinkles and poops. Every morning. Every afternoon. And another tinkle at night. She likes her routine. And so do I. Two cups of coffee and a light breakfast in the morning, then write for two to three hours. That’s my routine, my schedule. And when something throws that schedule off (and something always will), I’m out of sorts. It’s okay, life happens. I just get back on track as soon as it’s feasible.
7) Never give up – Bonnie has one of those toys with a hole in it for hiding a small treat. It’s her job to figure out how to get it. And she gets it every time! Sometimes it takes a long time, but she is persistent. Because she knows, she understands that there is a reward. Same with writing. Feel like you want to give up sometimes? Of course you do. But there is a reward to writing. You finish your manuscript and all its revisions, you publish, or you find an agent and get a publishing deal, but none of this happens overnight. We all know that some of the world’s best and most prolific writers went years before they found success. Some had to die first. Hopefully, that won’t be us! Never give up on your dream.
Thanks to Martha and Bonnie for dropping by Books by Banister and sharing their wisdom with us. Be sure to check out Martha’s very popular and well-reviewed CHOCOLATE series. Details below!
Author Bio: Martha Reynolds published her debut novel, CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST, in 2012. It follows a young woman into adulthood during a year abroad in Switzerland. CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST was voted the 2012 Book of the Year in the category of Women’s Fiction by Turning the Pages Books. Her second novel, CHOCOLATE FONDUE, is the sequel to CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST. Both books are available in digital and print versions. If you haven’t read the first book, you can still enjoy the second, but it’s better to start with Breakfast!
She and her husband live in New England, never far from the ocean.
Book Blurb: Young Bernie (Bernadette) Maguire is in for the journey of a lifetime when her junior year abroad takes her to Fribourg, Switzerland. Ripe for love and adventure, she is seduced by a handsome Swiss banker, but is horrified when she discovers she’s pregnant. Protected and befriended by those who help to keep her secret for as long as possible, this moving rite-of-passage tale will warm the heart as a young woman struggles with an all-too-familiar dilemma. Yet after an unexpected death and the discovery of her pregnancy by a classmate, Bernie’s life takes some unexpected turns that will take decades to resolve. Buy Chocolate for Breakfast:Amazon
Since CHOCOLATE FONDUE is a sequel, I’m not going to post a blurb because it would be spoilery!
Today I was a guest on Samantha Stroh Bailey’s blog, and in case you didn’t see all the leads to it through social media, I’m reposting it here.
Welcome Martha Reynolds!
Martha Reynolds’s first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, effortlessly transports the reader to Switzerland, and she creates a main character you just have to know more about. The story is heart-wrenching, fascinating and delicious, and I’m so excited to read the sequel, Chocolate Fondue. Martha as a person is kind, warm and funny, and I’m thrilled to have her here today. Welcome, Martha!
Write what you don’t know about what you know
Elan Barnehama is a straight male who wrote a book (Finding Bluefield) about two lesbians in 1960s Virginia. How did he write about a situation so different from what he knew? We’ve all heard the mantra: “write what you know.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? But the story can be so much better by writing what could happen, perhaps what should happen, instead of what did happen. And it doesn’t mean you can’t use what you do know. Ann Hood’s first novel, Somewhere off the Coast of Maine, involves a teenage girl, Rebekah, who believes her tortured high-school life would be so much better if she could just get a nose job.
Readers thought Hood must have gone through the same trauma. She didn’t, but her memory of wearing too-thick eyeglasses, and having to constantly repair them in class, evoked the same kind of feeling that Rebekah knew. For me to write about my character Bernadette’s experience of an unwanted pregnancy and subsequent decision to carry the child to term and give it up for adoption was sometimes challenging. I don’t have children, and writing about a young woman who makes the decisions Bernadette made provided opportunity for me to dig deep for emotions that would help me to write these passages. Yes, online research is available, but it’s tapping into the inner emotion that will help you write your story.
Elan Barnehama says that all his writing is autobiographical – in that it comes from him – but it’s not biographical, because it’s not about him. Connecting with the essence of the characters’ humanity is what the reader wants, and it’s what propels me as I write about what I don’t know.
Young Bernie (Bernadette) Maguire is in for the journey of a lifetime when her junior year abroad takes her to Fribourg, Switzerland. Ripe for love and adventure, she is seduced by a handsome Swiss banker, but is horrified when she discovers she’s pregnant. Protected and befriended by those who help to keep her secret for as long as possible, this moving rite-of-passage tale will warm the heart as a young woman struggles with an all-too-familiar dilemma. Yet after an unexpected death and the discovery of her pregnancy by a classmate, Bernie’s life takes some unexpected turns that will take decades to resolve.
Martha’s second novel, Chocolate Fondue, is a continuation of the story told in Chocolate for Breakfast, her award-winning début novel.
Twenty-three years ago, Bernie Maguire, a young student in Switzerland, delivered a son. Giving him up for adoption was the right decision, she knew, but Bernie always wondered about the boy who was now a young man.
Back in Fribourg, Switzerland for vacation, Bernie is stunned when she sees the man she knows is her son. Now she must decide whether to identify herself to him and hope for a connection, or say nothing and leave the young man to live his life. The matter is complicated by a hotel employee who discovers the truth, and who intends to get in the way of Bernie’s plans.
Martha Reynolds ended an accomplished career as a fraud investigator and began writing full time in 2011. Martha Reynolds published her début novel, CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST, in 2012. It follows a young woman into adulthood during a year abroad in Switzerland. CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST was voted the 2012 Book of the Year in the category of Women’s Fiction by Turning the Pages Books. She and her husband live in New England, never far from the ocean.
Connect with Martha!
Read and follow the writings of Martha Follow her on Twitter @TheOtherMartha1
Buy the books in both paperback and digital versions! Amazon
Finally, I have a beautiful cover for my first book! StazAloneDesign made the covers for both of my books, and I couldn’t be happier.
I’d created my own cover after severing ties with the small press I’d been working with since last summer. After educating myself about self-publishing (note: educate yourself beforeyou self-publish), I decided that I’d paid them enough money. I wanted to keep what I earned, not give it back to them. And even though I believed I had ownership rights to my original cover (after all, I’d paid for it as part of their “e-book package”), I really didn’t want that cover anymore. I wanted to start fresh. So I took a photograph of a still life I created on my dining room table – a beautiful little cup and saucer from Italy (thanks, Kevin) filled with dark coffee, a croissant, and a bar of Toblerone. Chocolate for Breakfast! I learned how to create my own cover, and, honestly, I liked it better than the one I’d had originally.
But when I decided to create print versions of my book, I found that the photo was unacceptable. Not enough dpi, whatever that means. All I knew was that I couldn’t use it, and in an effort to get the print books done, I used a CreateSpace template that was pretty horrible. Anyone who purchased one of those, I’m really sorry, and all I can ask is that you don’t judge this book by that cover.
Anyway, I went back to my pal Lyn Stanzione, who create my luscious cover for Chocolate Fondue. She made this delicious cover, and I couldn’t be happier with the two! Thanks, Lyn!
Today I’m a guest on Nan Reinhardt’s blog, and I list my five favorite places in Switzerland (it was difficult to choose just five, trust me). You can read Nan’s blog post here.
My Top Five Places to Visit in Switzerland
5. Arosa – located in eastern Switzerland, Arosa is both a summer and winter resort. I traveled there with my mother in the early 90’s. We didn’t ski, but enjoyed gorgeous views from the train window for the entire train ride to Arosa, as we climbed impossibly steep mountains to an elevation of 5,800 feet. A mile high! The delight was in getting there, and the memory I made with my mom, who was in awe of the spectacular mountains. We stopped for lunch at a nearby café, and neither of us could read the menu, which was in German. I ordered pig’s liver for both of us (ugh!). Arosa has been a famous Alpine health resort since 1877, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Mann both stayed there, giving it more notoriety.
4. Vevey – Vevey lies on the north shore of Lake Geneva, in the canton of Vaud, and is French-speaking. Nestlé has its world headquarters in Vevey, and milk chocolate was invented there in 1875. It’s known as one of the “pearls of the Swiss Riviera,” and boasts gorgeous views and vineyards. Its most famous inhabitant was Charlie Chaplin, and there’s a statue of him at the shore.
3. Lugano– Lugano borders Italy, in the southern canton of Ticino, and is about as Italian as you can get while still in Switzerland. It takes a few hours to get to Lugano from Zurich, since they’re at opposite ends of the country, but once you spot the palm trees, you know you’ve arrived in a totally different place. Although the area doesn’t have the majestic mountains of other regions, you can still climb, hike, and bike. And the food! Everything is regional and exquisite.
2. Grindelwald – hey, this is why you go to Switzerland. The three mountains – Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau (translated from German to Ogre, Monk, and Maiden) each top 13,000 ft. In May of 1987, I ventured to Grindelwald and was surprised to find that the Grindelwald-First lift was celebrating an anniversary and tickets to the summit were half-price. I couldn’t wait! Dressed for a late May day in light clothes and no socks, I quickly discovered how the climate changes. The three-stage lift was once the longest chair lift in Europe, and by stage two, I’d rolled down the canvas side flaps for protection. At the summit, it was a blizzard! (The lift came equipped with a heavy coat, so I didn’t freeze). A respite with “chocolat chaud” and a croissant had me ready to descend, back to verdant meadows and edelweiss.
1. Lucerne – If I retire to Switzerland, I want to live in Lucerne. Smack in the center of Switzerland, Lucerne has it all. Set on Lake Lucerne, it is surrounded by breathtaking mountains, including Mt. Pilatus. The old town is car-free, and the city is easy to navigate. Tradition and modernity stand side by side in Lucerne, and, of course, it has the Blue Balls Music Festival (don’t ask me, I don’t know!).