Blog Hop Eggs-travaganza!

Good morning and Happy Easter!

I wasn’t planning a post this morning, and it isn’t about this blessed day, but because I begin the A to Z Blog Challenge tomorrow, I’m posting today. Wishing you a day full of hope and renewal, whether you observe or not.

It’s a Blog Hop Egg-travaganza-elleganza! Thanks to my friend Sandra Bellamy at Quirky Books (here’s a link to her blog) for tagging me.

With CHOCOLATE FONDUE releasing soon (most likely in the middle of the blog challenge, probably around mid-April), it’s now my turn to answer the blog hop questions and pass this on to some hopping good blogs.

  • What is the working title of your book?

CHOCOLATE FONDUE (and is a sequel to my début novel, CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST)

  • Where did the idea come from for the book?

One of my closest friends inspired me to write this sequel when he asked about one of the characters in my first book. I knew that I could continue the story, and I wanted to stay with the chocolate theme.

  • What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary fiction. A little bit of romance.

  • Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’ve always liked Emma Stone as Bernadette, but she probably is better suited to the first book, and the younger Bernie. Julianne Moore, perhaps, for Bernie. Abigail Breslin is a little young, but I think she’d make a great Lucia. Mila Kunis has a good look for Nani. I’m still thinking about Michael and Gary!

  • What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Twenty-three years after giving him up for adoption, Bernadette Maguire unexpectedly meets her son, who is unaware of who she is.

  • Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am self-publishing.

  • How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last November, and drafted this novel in thirty days. Then I spent the next three months revising it.

  • What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m not sure. I’m inspired by Anna Quindlen, Claire Cook, Wally Lamb, but could never compare my writing to theirs!

  • Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Well, my first novel, CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST, was inspired by my own year of study in Switzerland. This seemed a natural sequel to the initial story, since I’d brought the character of Bernadette forward twenty years by the end of the first book. But I wanted to write CHOCOLATE FONDUE in a way that, even if you hadn’t read the first book, you could enjoy and understand the second.

  • What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s really a love letter to Switzerland. I would hope it would spark an interest in visiting this beautiful country. And it may inspire a little chocolate fondue creation!

Now I’m passing this along to…drum roll please…

To Be Free or Not?

It wasn’t an easy decision. Should I use some of the free days allotted to me by being in the Kindle Select (exclusive to Amazon) program for 90 days? That’s one of the benefits, if you call it that. Five free days to give away your book to whoever wants it.

One half of me thought, ‘I worked so hard on this book, spent a lot of money on editing, formatting, and besides, this is my full-time job now. I haven’t had a paycheck in over a year – why would I want to give away something I’d worked so hard to create and perfect?’

The other half said, ‘But the purpose of writing a book is for that book to be read, by as many people as possible. So even if you have to give it away, you’ll gain more exposure, and maybe (maybe!) those readers, if they like this book, will want to read your next novel.’

This past month was heady – because a lot of friends and family members downloaded my book and provided wonderfully positive feedback. They posted terrific reviews on Amazon. They shared the link with their own friends and helped me to promote it. Even some strangers let me know how much they liked it. It feels pretty good!

But now that we’re past the first month, it’s time to get this book noticed by people who don’t know me. So I’m on board with the free promotion, for today and tomorrow. If you haven’t had the chance to read “Chocolate for Breakfast” yet, here’s a great opportunity! If you had, you can gift it to someone you know.

Get it here:

This Past Week – wow!

This past week saw the launch of my debut novel, “Chocolate for Breakfast.”  (As if you didn’t already know!)  I’ve been touched by all the love and support, and genuinely moved by the positive reaction to this novel.  You can download it here.  A few people asked for the paper version – unfortunately, I’d blown my budget on editing, formatting, and the gorgeous book cover, so there’s only the digital download available.  But even without a Kindle or an iPad, you can read the book on your computer using the free Kindle app.  Meanwhile, I am keeping busy by working on my second book, which is totally unrelated to this one.  I’ve indulged in a bit of Swiss chocolate (!).  I’m also reading a manuscript for a writer pal – this is new to me, but I want to do what I can to help other writers, as so many established authors have inspired and assisted me.

Speaking of established writers, I read an interview with author Sue Grafton (“V is for Vengeance”).  You can read the interview here.  I’ll admit, I’ve never read any of her books, although I think this latest “V” book is somewhere in my house.  During the interview, she was asked if she had any advice for young writers (hey, I’m not young, but I am a new writer).  She said, “Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work.”  Excuse me??  The interviewer, to her credit, mentioned the indie success of John Locke, and Grafton back pedaled slightly, but retained her belief that self-publishing is a short cut and self-published books are often amateurish.  So, anyone interested in a never-read paperback version of “V is for Vengeance?”

Here’s another one.  The Guardian (UK) posted a story this past week claiming that “Fifty Shades of Gray” has surpassed all other book sales.  You can read that article here.  I read all three books in the trilogy, and no, not because I wanted to read “mommy porn.”  As a writer, I wanted to know what put E.L. James on the bestseller list.  And yes, I’ve voiced my own opinion that the writing was not very good.  In fact, Erika Leonard, who is E.L. James, stated in an interview on The Today Show last spring that she is not a great writer.  Does it matter?  She has ruled the bestseller lists for months.  And some writers can’t stand it.  The vitriolic rants against E.L. James are unbelievable, especially coming from writers.  They want her off – OFF! – those bestseller lists, as if she has no right to be there.  They’ve started campaigns to bring her down.  Are they offended by the genre, the writing?  Or perhaps that she has achieved a success they can only dream of?

In the words of another artist who has received her share of peer scorn and ridicule, “Why do you have to be so mean?”

Pre-Launch of My First Novel

For nearly a year now, I’ve been working on my first novel, and it’s almost ready for publication.  I finished it!  It just needs to be formatted for e-readers.

I’ve decided to self-publish, and to have a digital version only.  Why?  Well, a lot of people now have a Kindle, or Nook, or iPad.  And if they don’t, they still can read a digital version of my book on a computer.  I’m self-publishing, meaning I format the manuscript, create the book cover, write the bio, and do all the marketing.  I chose this after a year of reading posts by authors and publishers, understanding that the publishing world today is so different than it was thirty years ago (when I was dreaming about a career as a writer), and, if I am to be honest, not wanting to spend months or years sending electronic queries to publishing houses, waiting for replies (rejections), when I can get my work out there.  I don’t believe that traditional publishing is validation.

Look, I don’t know who will read “Chocolate for Breakfast.”  I know some of my friends will.  But I didn’t write it to make a lot of money.  I wrote it because I love to write.  Whether it’s these weekly blog posts (or daily last April during the “A to Z Blog Challenge”) or writing and rewriting my first novel, I’m doing what I love.  I hired an editor to, well, to edit, to polish the manuscript, and I believe it’s the best it can be.  I’ve built my platform through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and, thanks to the fabulous Tonya Kappes (, I’ve learned how to market.

One thing Tonya suggested was to create a Pinterest board for my book.  Are you familiar with Pinterest?  I joined months ago, put up some recipes, some of the places I’ve traveled to, but never really got into it.  To me, it seemed better suited for a bride-to-be or a home decorator.  But I had a lot of fun creating a board for “Chocolate for Breakfast.”  I found pictures of places relevant in the book.  Then I thought about who should be cast in the movie version (hey, a girl can dream!), so I posted photos of some of the people I imagined in the roles of Timmy, Karl, Hanna.  Now, you can look at the board and have an idea about the book, even before it’s out.

Hoping for a July 3rd launch date, but a lot of it depends on the formatting and getting it all ready for Amazon.  I’ll be back here to shout when it’s ready!

This Writing Journey

It’s been a week since I’ve posted my final blog in the “April Blogging from A to Z Challenge.”  Yes, I did survive it, but the end of a daily post meant focusing more on the revisions to my first novel.

When I began writing last August, I decided not to make this blog about the progress of my first book, mostly because I thought it would be tedious (I wrote 5,000 words today!) and uninteresting (I stared at one paragraph for two hours today).  Also, when I decided to write this book, I was terribly unenlightened about the entire publishing world today.  I’ve learned a lot since then.

All I knew was that after leaving a job in fraud investigations, and dealing with a debilitating back problem, it was time to do something different.  Something I’d always wanted to do.  Writing was that something.  Was it too late to start?  The beautiful thing about writing is that it doesn’t (really) matter what age you are.  Some hit it big in their twenties, others in their fifties, or later.

I took two online courses, from September to December last year: Beginners Writing Workshop and Advanced Fiction Writing.  Both of them were worth it.  I learned to write better dialogue, backstory, characters.  By New Year’s, I’d written about 60,000 words and decided on a title: Chocolate for Breakfast.  That title, and the unedited manuscript, have been copyrighted.

Meanwhile, I’d been building my “platform,” essential for any writer these days.  I use LinkedIn, Facebook (adding a Martha Reynolds Writer page link to my personal page), and Twitter (where I am TheOtherMartha1).  I began following authors, publishers, bloggers.  I joined Goodreads and Pinterest.  With all this online presence, how did I ever get any writing done?!  It’s a challenge, but requires some discipline, in order not to be distracted.  And I write every day.

I’m reading.  I find authors who write the kind of books I want to write.  I read biographies, fiction, classics, poems, essays.

I learned about self-publishing, but there’s a lot more to learn.  I accept it as a viable option, and enjoy reading about the successes of self-published authors like Patrice Fitzgerald and Juliette Sobanet

I found an editor, through Twitter, who read my manuscript and provided me with an eight-page analysis of what worked and what needed improvement.   It’s what I needed to get to this phase: revisions.  I’ll likely return to her for the final edit, and if she likes my work enough, perhaps her small publishing company will want to publish it.  But self-publishing is there for me.

Every day is an opportunity to do better.  Onward!