A Winding Stream


a-winding-stream-cover

I’m in the habit of doing ‘soft’ releases – minimal fanfare and proclamations. Nevertheless, I’m incredibly proud to announce the publication of this new book, and the first in my portfolio that’s non-fiction.

A Winding Stream chronicles the two-week canoe and camping trip that my maternal grandfather, Earl R. Handy, made with his friend, John B. Hudson, in 1924. 1924!  Five years before the Great Depression, seventeen years before Pearl Harbor. In June of 1924, the Snyder Act granted US citizenship to all American Indians. George Mallory and A.C. Irvine died attempting to climb Mount Everest. And on the last day of June in 1924, the Democratic National Convention adjourned at midnight with William Gibbs McAdoo and Al Smith deadlocked in balloting.

This little book (54 pages) may be of interest (outside my family!) to those interested in the region, canoeing and camping, the environment, local history, or to anyone wanting to take a quiet journey back ninety-two years. Paddle down the rivers with Earl and John for fourteen days. And if you think you might like to re-create this adventure, please let me know!

Pick up your copy at Amazon and come see me in December at one of my book events!

Thursday, December 1 (6:00pm) – Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville, RI

Saturday, December 3 (11:00-5:00) – RI Authors Expo at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, RI

Happy Book-iversary (to me)!


99centsMy 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.

Kicking January to the Curb


On the train to Engelberg, Switzerland. Photo by M. Reynolds
On the train to Engelberg, Switzerland. Photo by M. Reynolds

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.

2013 and The Books I’ve Read


BLOGDaydreamer

I may not have had a stellar month of reading in November (or December), but then again, I published my fourth novel, so cut me some slack! Here are the books I actually finished in 2013 (I started plenty more – some I couldn’t finish and some I’m still reading):

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  1. Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb. 1/3/2013.
  2. I Heart Ed Small by Shirley Johnson. 1/4/2013.
  3. Rule Number One by Nan Reinhardt. 1/19/2013.
  4. The Fall of the Misanthrope by Louise Wise. 2/3/2013.
  5. The Girl, the Gold Tooth, & Everything by Francine LaSala. 2/13/2013.
  6. Christmas in Wine Country by Addison Westlake. 2/16/2013.
  7. Champagne Toast by Melissa Brown. 2/23/2013.
  8. Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. 2/23/2013.
  9. The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood. 2/27/2013.
  10. A State of Jane by Meredith Schorr. 3/3/2013.
  11. Unmasking Maya by Libby Mercer. 3/18/2013.
  12. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. 3/18/2013.
  13. In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister. 3/27/2013.
  14. Social Insecurity by Kate Eileen Shannon. 4/6/2013.
  15. Way Out West by Blanche Marriott. 4/13/2013.
  16. Viewer Discretion Advised by Cindy Roesel. 4/14/2013.
  17. Maid for Love by Marie Force. 4/19/2013.
  18. Daydreamer by Brea Brown. 4/23/2013.
  19. Is This All There Is? by Patricia Mann. 4/27/2013.
  20. Wild for You by Sophia Knightly. 4/28/2013.
  21. Eyes of the Many by Kelly Graham. 5/3/2013.
  22. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. 5/7/2013.
  23. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin. 5/11/2013.
  24. Rita Hayworth’s Shoes by Francine LaSala. 5/20/2013.
  25. Fatty Patty by Kathleen Irene Paterka. 5/27/2013.
  26. The Secret Keeper (#1) by Brea Brown. 5/27/2013.
  27. The Karmic Connection by Libby Mercer. 5/31/2013.
  28. When You Were Older by Catherine Ryan Hyde. 6/2/2013.
  29. Midnight Train to Paris by Juliette Sobanet. 6/18/2013.
  30. The Gatsby Game by Anne R. Allen. 6/22/2013.
  31. Saving Saffron Sweeting by Pauline Wiles. 7/6/2013.
  32. The Sunset Witness by Gayle Hayes. 7/16/2013.
  33. The Secret Keeper Confined (#2) by Brea Brown. 7/20/2013.
  34. Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout. 7/30/2013.
  35. The Secret Keeper Up All Night (#3) by Brea Brown. 8/9/2013.
  36. The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. 8/15/2013.
  37. Where We Belong by Catherine Ryan Hyde. 9/8/2013.
  38. The Illegal Gardener by Sara Alexi. 9/12/2013.
  39. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. 9/13/2013.
  40. Thin Rich Bitches by Janet Eve Josselyn. 9/14/2013.
  41. Men in my Town by Keith Smith. 9/16/2013.
  42. Chasing Memories by Tia Silverthorne Bach. 9/27/2013.
  43. Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde. 10/3/2013.
  44. For I Have Sinned by Kathleen Irene Paterka. 10/8/2013.
  45. Fifty Ways to Leave Your Husband by KC Wilder. 10/20/2013.
  46. Oxygen by Carol Cassella. 10/25/2013.
  47. Merry Chick Lit by various authors. 11/24/2013.
  48. Merry & Bright by various authors. 11/24/2013.

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My favorites from this list? In no particular order, the books that affected me most this year were:

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I don’t usually jump on the NYT best-seller bandwagon. In fact, I’d rather support indie authors, being one myself. Many of the books listed above are indie-published, and well worth your time. Read the blurb, check out some of the reviews, and find yourself some good books!

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Self(less) Publishing


www.pw.org
http://www.pw.org

Today is a better day than yesterday. Yesterday, I read a post from a writer who claimed, “I can’t believe it. TWO DAYS and I can finally say I’m a real published author!” She said this because, after self-publishing her début novel, she had connected with a self-described “team publishing platform and a social marketing engine for books.” She’s ecstatically happy about it, and good for her. Each author should publish her books the way she wants.

The problem I had with that statement, though, and previous statements made by the writer, is the implication that a self-published author is less than one who is traditionally published. I commented on that post, and the writer attempted to backpedal, posting “I think you’re a real writer if you write and you’re a real author if you finish a book, but a published author is someone who’s been published by someone else. So, I was a real author before, but not a published author because I didn’t have a publisher. It doesn’t mean my work is any better or worse.”

wool

Ha! Okay, whatever. Hugh Howey, Jasinda Wilder, and Catherine Ryan Hyde might disagree. I disagree. I am both an author and a publisher, and very real at that. I publish my own books, so how can I not be a published author? I’ve established tremendous relationships and friendships with self-published authors online – I wouldn’t think of even one of them as anything other than a (real) published author.

So this morning I headed over to my local Barnes and Noble bookstore. It’s minutes away from home and a nice place to visit before the frenzy of Christmas shopping turns it into a circus. I bought a small non-fat salted caramel mocha (no whip) and a copy of the current issue of Poets & Writers magazine. What a great issue! There’s a big section about self-publishing in the current issue – well worth a read. Here’s some of what I took away:

“Both traditionally published and self-published books can be amazing, good, or just plain bad. So it’s an author’s job to do his best to be in the amazing category and blow readers away.” (Jennifer Ciotta, author of I, Putin)

“The bitter reality is that this is a ludicrous way to make money. No creative endeavor – actor, rock star, dancing, etc. – is a plausible way to make money…So if you’re doing it for the money, you’re on a pathway to bitterness. Do it because you love it, you love the process, you love the engagement, you love getting better at what you do.” (Richard Nash, founder of Cursor and publisher of Red Lemonade)

And relating to the term “self-publishing,” as if it existed in contradistinction to “selfless-publishing,” Nash says, “I do hope we abandon the term quickly, so we can proceed to helping individual writers realize their goals, matching their skills with peers and intermediaries without regard for how closely they mimic what was once called traditional publishing. We’re all publishers now. That’s both a desire and a prediction.” [my bold]

Bravo!

Casting the Movie – “Bits of Broken Glass”


I’m a guest on the lovely Courtney Giardina’s blog today, casting the movie version of BITS OF BROKEN GLASS. Now all I need is Joe Traversa to direct!

Here’s the post:

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Good morning everyone! We are continuing with our run “The Perfect Cast” blogs as I can’t get enough of them!
Martha Reynolds is stopping by today with her picks for her book Bits of Broken Glass and I have to admit, I am loving her picks for this one! Take it away Martha!
My third novel is out and it’s a departure from my first two, Chocolate for Breakfast and its sequel, Chocolate Fondue. While there’s still one more in the chocolate series to be completed (before year-end, fingers crossed), this novel is, on its surface, about a 25-year high school reunion, but is really about a lot more than that.

How much really changes in 25 years?  Former classmates are poised to find out as their first-ever high school reunion gets closer. Some lives have improved, some have soured, but all remained connected by their shared West Alton High past…

Once the target of ridicule, one-time “ugly duckling” Kellie has transformed in both beauty and attitude, though her fears and fragility remain as deep scars within. Will facing those who once wronged her help or do even more damage to her delicate psyche? Joe was adored by everyone in school. Well…almost everyone. Being gay in a close-minded small town, he knew he had no future in West Alton, so right after graduation, he traded one ocean for another. Now an Oscar-winning Hollywood director, Joe is ready to return. Except that it means having to face the horrific event that ultimately pushed him away… Former cheerleader Cherry planned this reunion to make peace with those she may have wronged in school. But as she faces cancer and stares down her own mortality, will she really be able to make things right again? And then there’s Scott, the West Alton “lifer,” who’s been collecting a disability pension from the town for a suspicious back injury, among other questionable life choices. Are his reasons for wanting to attend the reunion pure? Or does he have another agenda? As the months count down, long-kept secrets will be revealed as the question ever looms… Can you ever really go home again?

So I’m thinking about casting Bits of Broken Glass. Folks who graduated from high school in 1988 would be about 43 years old now, so I kept that in mind when I developed my dream cast. Here it is:

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 Minnie Driver is my choice for Kellie. She’s got a great look, can handle the dramatic elements in the story, and she does a very believable American accent. I’ve loved her ever since she played Bernadette “Benny” Hogan in “Circle of Friends,” based on the novel by Maeve Binchy.

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 Ewan McGregor as Joe. At first, I wanted Leonardo DiCaprio, because he’s so…Leo, but he’d steal the spotlight away from everyone else, and this story is as much about Kellie as it is about Joe. Ewan McGregor has the look (easy on the eyes), and he’s be a great Joe Traversa.

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Rachel Weisz as Cherry. She’s perfect as the former cheerleader, the beauty whose terminal illness has transformed her appearance.

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 Vince Vaughn as Scott. Believe me, this is a perfect choice! In fact, when I was writing about bad boy Scott, I would visualize Vince Vaughn. I’m sure he’s a really a nice guy, but not for this movie!

Supporting roles:

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 Julie Delpy as Suzanne. As best friend to Kellie, and to Joe, Suzanne plays a vital role in the story.

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Octavia Spencer as Camille. I hesitate to choose her, because she might be too famous for this small role, but Ms. Spencer could turn any role into something special, and I think she’d shine as Kellie’s self-conscious, big-hearted co-worker.

Now you’ll have to go read the book to see if you agree!! …Go on now, Bits of Broken Glass is available at Amazon! What are you waiting for

My Third Novel


Cover Design by StanzAlone Design
Cover Design by StanzAlone Design

In a departure from the “chocolate” series, my third novel, which I’m releasing this Sunday, is about a high school reunion. Here’s the blurb:

How much really changes in 25 years?  Former classmates are poised to find out as their first-ever high school reunion gets closer. Some lives have improved, some have soured, but all remained connected by their shared West Alton High past…

Once the target of ridicule, one-time “ugly duckling” Kellie has transformed in both beauty and attitude, though her fears and fragility remain as deep scars within. Will facing those who once wronged her help or do even more damage to her delicate psyche? Joe was adored by everyone in school. Well…almost everyone. Being gay in a close-minded small town, he knew he had no future in West Alton, so right after graduation, he traded one ocean for another. Now an Oscar-winning Hollywood director, Joe is ready to return. Except that it means having to face the horrific event that ultimately pushed him away… Former cheerleader Cherry planned this reunion to make peace with those she may have wronged in school. But as she faces cancer and stares down her own mortality, will she really be able to make things right again? And then there’s Scott, the West Alton “lifer,” who’s been collecting a disability pension from the town for a suspicious back injury, among other questionable life choices. Are his reasons for wanting to attend the reunion pure? Or does he have another agenda? As the months count down, long-kept secrets will be revealed as the question ever looms… Can you ever really go home again?

Now, I didn’t graduate from high school in 1988, but I remember 1988 for many things: a milestone birthday, a new job, a new apartment. Also, a bad relationship, escalating debt, and the frustration over not doing what I wanted to do (write books). Fast forward 25 years (really fast, believe me) and I’m set to release my third novel in a little over a year. Yes, I’m writing quickly (you write quickly and edit slowly) – I’m finally doing what I love, and sometimes it seems I can’t write fast enough!

The book is available through Amazon, both in digital and print versions. I would very much like to be featured in my beloved independent bookstores, too – just sayin.’ Anyway, I hope you like the book. I thought it was an important story to tell.

Chocolate for Breakfast – First Anniversary!


Light tasty breakfast, on wooden table

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already. Two years ago, I ended a career in fraud investigations, and once I’d healed myself (externally and internally), I began writing the book I’d always wanted to write. At the outset, I thought a story about a young girl who spends a year abroad in Switzerland, living in a tiny attic room, and who experiences the unexpected loss of a parent, would make for a compelling book. That was my story. But it wasn’t really interesting enough. So I let it take flight, using my imagination to create the character of Bernadette and sending her on a personal coming-of-age journey. Thanks to all who have read CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST! And thank you for your positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and for the kind and encouraging messages of support during the past year.

As many of you know, I’ve written and released a sequel, CHOCOLATE FONDUE, and I’m planning to release the third and final (really, last one) book in the trilogy, BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE, sometime this fall. In the meantime, I’m celebrating the first-year anniversary of CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST by hosting a little party, and you’re all invited!

You can enter to win a great prize here: an Amazon gift card, a copy of CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST in e-book form*, a signed copy of CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST*, or some Swiss chocolate! Just enter through Rafflecopter below.

*If you already own CFB and would like to read CHOCOLATE FONDUE, I’ll gladly make the switch. If you’d read both books, I’ll send you a copy of the new novel when it’s released. Your choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So – I tried to get this Rafflecopter thing to work, but I don’t know if it’s going to take. So, if it doesn’t show up on this blog post, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what kind of chocolate you enjoy most. That’s it! If the Rafflecopter widget shows up, use that instead. (Hey, I’m technically-challenged and/or it doesn’t like WordPress.) If Rafflecopter doesn’t work, I’ll use random.org to choose the winners.

What I Did Wrong


www.istockphoto.com
http://www.istockphoto.com

One of the best blogs for writers is Anne R. Allen’s. It’s my favorite, because she always provides valuable content. And she’s funny. Her most recent post listed the 12 Things for new independent writers to avoid. You can the entire post here, and if you’re a writer, you should.

Of those 12 things, I was guilty of three of them. So I want to make my confession and tell you what I’ve learned in the past year.

#1. DON’T Publish your first novel before you’ve written a second. I did that. Anne writes, “The most popular way of marketing a self-published book right now is giving away a lot of free copies. But this only works if you have other books for the customer to actually pay for. You should write at least two novels before you try to publish—whether you’re hopping on the query-go-round or self-publishing. Marketing takes a whole lot of time, and once you’re doing it, writing novel #2 is going to be really tough. Give yourself at least two novels worth of time before you jump into becoming an author-publisher.” She’s right. Giving away Chocolate for Breakfast was intended to get me more “reach,” and perhaps it did. I did receive messages from strangers telling me I’d written a good book. And I’m hoping they liked it enough to buy the sequel. But if I’d had the sequel available at the same time, I believe my sales would have been better. Hey, I can’t go back. All I can do is keep writing.

#7. DON’T Expect a lot of sales right away. I did that. Anne writes, “Self-publishing works on the principle of slow building. It doesn’t work like traditional publishing with a big splash, push for about a month, then a slow petering of sales, followed by returns, pulping the leftovers and rinse, wash, repeat. Self-publishers sell mostly e-books, and e-books are forever. A title can sell nothing for months—or even years—then suddenly take off once you’ve built an audience with other books.” Now I know. Once Chocolate Fondue was released, I saw an uptick in sales of Chocolate for Breakfast. Because people could see that it made sense to read ‘Breakfast’ first. And here’s another thing: I expected a lot of reviews right away. That doesn’t always happen, either. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. Plenty of readers have let me know how much they’ve enjoyed one, or both of my books. I’ve asked them if they would consider posting a brief review on Amazon and/or Goodreads (on Amazon, I hear it helps with visibility). But it doesn’t always happen. Some people simply don’t want to do it, or don’t understand how necessary a good review is to a book’s ranking. You can’t force it, and no, you can’t buy it.

#10. DON’T Publish through a vanity press. Yep, I did that. Here’s Anne’s take: “Oh, sure. I know that,” sez you. “I’d never get duped by a scammy outfit like PublishAmerica. I’m going with a big name publisher: Simon and Schuster. I’m using their self-publishing wing, Archway.” Sorry. Archway is run by AuthorSolutions, a notorious vanity publisher (even though AS is now owned by Penguin.) For more on vanity presses and how to avoid them, see David Gaughran’s blog post.  You don’t want to publish with a vanity press because they make money off the author, not book sales. They often charge 10 times what the normal self-publishing route would cost and the books are so overpriced you can’t make a profit selling them. Please go back and click on the link to read her points in entirety, especially if you’re not yet published. I’m an intelligent woman who dealt with law and contracts a lot in my previous life. But I wanted to be published. And my emotions led the way into what I now see as a bad deal. Yes, I was published. It cost me over two thousand dollars to get an e-book online, and it would have been an additional sixteen hundred dollars to have a print version. The publisher kept 30% of whatever I sold, and when a book is priced at $2.99, there’s not much left for the writer. Certainly not enough to make up the cost of getting published. I’m not saying I was a victim – but I was naïve and inexperienced. Now, I’m neither, and if I can help to educate a new writer, I want to help.

Anne R. Allen doesn’t just write a great blog, she also writes great books! Visit her Amazon page here.

Third Time’s a Charm for This Book Cover


Cover by Stanzalone Design - property of Martha Reynolds
Cover by Stanzalone Design – property of Martha Reynolds

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 before you 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!