Monday Mayhem – Immortally yours

Yesterday morning, one of my best friends in the world sent me a text telling me that she was cleaning out her pen drawer and came across a piece of immortality:

 

Yes, that’s a pen with my parents’ names and home phone number on it.

Don’t fret, I’m not exposing them. They have both passed away, and that number is no longer in service. But it’s a nice piece of nostalgia on many levels. My mom’s birthday was on Saturday, so she was already on my mind. It’s a relic from a time when the telephone was our best means of instant connection with one another. And having these made was just soooooo quintessentially my father.

Bob Kidwell was here.

My dad loved having his name on things. Pens, pencils, notepads, calendars – wall and pocket versions. He loved putting our names on things. I still have a few #2 pencils emblazoned  with MARGARET MARY KIDWELL around here somewhere. He ordered them for me when I was in college. He knew I hated filling in those little circles, and I suppose he was afraid I’d forget my own name amidst the test anxiety.

When I showed the picture of the pen to Fodder, he commented that it was my dad’s bid at immorality. And I don’t think he’s far off the mark.

Twenty+ years later, they are still turning up in pen drawers.

He left behind seven children – five of them boys destined to carry on the family name – and enough custom-printed stationary items to last decades beyond his passing.

Way to go, Daddy!

Many authors have pens, notepads, and other swag imprinted with their name and brand. Other than the bookmarks I had printed once, but haven’t gone much beyond that. My books are my bid at immortality. I wrote them and put them out into the world. After I am gone, they will be like the pens my dad left behind.

Margaret Kidwell Ethridge (aka Maggie Wells) was here.

They may end up out of print, but there will likely be the random paper copy floating around a used book store or flea markets. Friends and total strangers will have a part of me embedded in Kindle libraries, on their hard drives, and tucked away in cloud storage systems. The pirated copies people upload and download illegally?  I may not get paid for them in my lifetime, but the internet is forever. I’m not inclined to thank those who steal my work and post it for their own gain, but they are helping to make me immortal as well.

Immortally yours, Margaret.

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Monday Mayhem – To Blog or Not to Blog

To blog, or not to blog, that is the question…

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer. Or to continue spewing random words onto the interwebz every Monday, braving the slings and arrows of SEO optimized posts…

I go through this debate every fall as I start goal setting for the next year. The fact is, there are about 4-6 of you who comment on these post regularly, and 20-30 who actually click the link to read. Occasionally, I have a Monday where I hit 50+ views, but those are rare.

And the numbers haven’t been growing. Actually, they are slipping. So I have to wonder…

Is there a better use of my time(and yours)?

And the answer is, probably not. In truth, this blog is the only way I have of communicating with a wide, unrestricted audience.  We all know that social media site throttle posts so they don’t reach a broader audience – even those who have opted in. Since I’ve removed Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from my phone, I find myself looking at them less and less. I also think this is a growing trend, so ditching my blog for social media doesn’t makes sense.

Newsletter mailings rely on opting in, which is great, because we can assume that the audience wishes to receive them. The problem is, we all suffer inbox overload. I myself can be rather capricious when it comes to  randomly unsubscribing depending on how my day is going. And if someone sent me newsletters weekly, they would be a goner. Which means the blog is the best way to stay out in front of potential audience.

So here I am. I’m optimized baby. My readability scores are high. I use eye-catching images like this one to pique the interest:

But if the audience isn’t clicking the link, does potential reach matter?

These are the questions that plague me every week when I sit down to write my post. But in writing this post, I’ve managed to answer the big question for myself. So, let me ask you, lucky person who clicked because of the cute but slightly confused hamster, the more important question:

What kind of posts do you want to see going forward?

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Pantser life

Yo-ho! Yo-ho! The pantser life for me!

Hey, gang! I’m back again this week, with a new/old trick. I’m reverting to my old pantser ways.

Reader say, “Wha?”

You see, the writing world is generally comprised of two types – plotters and pantsers. Plotters work out every detail of the book before they even open page one. Pantsers have an idea and run with it.

In other words, a pantser writes a story by the seat of their pants.

Most writers naturally gravitate to one style or the other. I started out as a pantser and continued that way for a number of books. But as my career progressed, I started selling books to publishers on proposal. Therefore, I needed to submit a detailed synopsis of each book I intended to write.

This is how I evolved into sort of a plantser – someone with a pretty sketched out outline of the book, but still winging it on a chapter by chapter basis.

But I am not currently under contract. I have no series to complete. I am, at the moment, free as a bird.

So what did I do?

I started writing a book I hadn’t even thought about until I opened my mouth Tuesday morning and a story started coming out.

One that hadn’t been hopping around in the plot bunny file. One I haven’t plotted, or even barely thought about. An idea popped into my head Monday night, and Tuesday, I started writing it.

This should be fun, huh?

In other news

Double Play is coming in October! Digital pre-order is available at all e-book retailers. The audio production is in progress, and should be ready for October 25, 2018 release.

Paperbacks will be available, They look fabulous, but I have to tell you, they are a little pricier than the usual mass market paperback. I wanted to produce them in the 4×7″ size to match the other two books, but there’s limited production availability for that trim size in print on demand.

ANNNND – I have declared 2019 the year of the backlist. As part of the celebration, I’ll be resurrecting some out of print friends – like Tracy & Sean from Contentment, Maggie & Tom from Commitment, and Lynne & Bram from Spring Chickens!

Whew! That’s what I have going on. What’s new with you?

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Back to Reality

Summer fun vintage car

Back to life, back to reality

As of last week, I am back to reality-working full time.

Some writers would shudder as they read this sentence, but I am more than a little relieved. Turns out, I’m one of those people who needs stability and structure in her life in order to be creative.

It seems counterintuitive, I’m sure. Most writers dream of being unfettered. I know I did. But having unlimited time to write does not mean you’ll have unlimited creativity to back it up.

The truth about writers

Being a writer is not at ALL like you see on TV. Sorry to bust that myth, but that’s the truth of it.

Authors do not sell a book and become automatically rich. Some never make much money at all.

The reality is, few authors can survive solely on the income from advances and royalties. Most have other streams of income-teaching, content creation, graphic art creation, or another side hustles.

We also don’t hear about the people who may be underpinning this marker of perceived career success. Behind many a good author is a partner with a steady income and employer-based health insurance. But their names are not on the cover so…

The misconception that being able to ditch the 9 to 5 grind is a sign of authorial success endures.

This wasn’t my situation. My unemployment was never meant to be long-term. I didn’t toss a match as I walked away from the corporate world and expect to become the next Nora Roberts. I was downsized, and because I carried our employer-based health insurance, I needed another job as soon as possible.

Still, I thought I might be able to take better advantage of the situation. I was wrong. These months of uncertainty have been hard. I’ve written 40 books whilst employed full-time. I wrote exactly 3 chapters while unemployed.

Lessons learned:

  • I need structure and time constraints. I work well under pressure. Left to my own devices, I spend too much time communing with Netflix.
  • It’s difficult to write happy ever afters when worried about bills and health insurance.
  • I can make enough money to pay the bills, but not to pay my bills and maintain our coverage long-term. Having two self-employed persons in the household can get pretty spendy. Welcome to America 2018, where too much entrepreneurship is highly discouraged.

Summer fun vintage car

I don’t regret my summer of fun.

I relaxed as much as I could. Sally and I suntanned and napped.

Fodder got used to having lunch, because I am accustomed to eating on schedule.

But the reality is, I was ready to get back to work. Happy for life to settle into a pattern again. I like a good rut.

Soon, I’ll be ramping up for my 10th NaNoWriMo, and psyching myself up for crunch time.

How about you? Are you a creature of habit, or a go with the flow kind of person?

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Monday Mayhem – Slowing My Scroll

We have rolled into September. How did that happen? With the change of the calendar page, I decided to make a change of my own. I am slowing my scroll.

What does that mean? It means I have removed all my social media apps from my phone.

Gasp!

social media icons

Like many people, I’ve been thinking about breaking the social media habit for a while now. Facebook is great for keeping up with family and old friends, but the recent political climate has tainted the fun as far as I am concerned.

And Twitter… Oh, I have such a love/hate relationship with Twitter. I used to love it. There are some things I love still.

Every Sunday night, a bunch of romance writers have a weekly chat on a variety of topics. It’s been an excellent place to get to know other authors, and for us to share a little of the angst that comes with being a writer. And trust me, there’s a lot of angst.

But along with all that good stuff comes a sort of gang mentality. Twitter is very us against them. And the pile-on… It can get ugly.

True, social media has given each of us a platform. We can share our every thought, opinion, or memorable meal. But should we?

I agree, some of it is good and fun. However, I find much of it draining.  For that reason, I’ve been finding ways to limit my time using it.

Ironically, I learned about Scroll Free September from an article my niece shared. Still, I X’ing out of all those apps.

I’m mostly over my fear of missing out. Probably because I’m pretty sure I won’t be missing much that would do me any good. At least, nothing I need to know about while standing in line at Walgreen’s.

I can always take a look when I’m on the computer.

It’s a holiday!

So, happy Labor Day, my friends.

I hope this day of rest is the perfect reward for all of your hard work.

Put your phone down.

Go out and play.

If you need me, you can reach me the old fashioned way…maggiewells1@gmail.com

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Monday Mayhem – Dumpster diving beats dumpster fires

Dumpster Diving

The news has been nothing but a dumpster fire all week, so Fodder and I decided to go dumpster diving.

Now, I am not a flea market or yard sale type person. Fodder is. The man lives for the hunt. I like to tell Fodder that I don’t want most of the junk that’s cluttering my house already, so why would I go buy someone else’s cast offs?

Yeah…He doesn’t follow the logic. Not when there’s treasure to be had.

One person’s trash is another woman’s treasure

He took me to the donation center of a large national charity under the pretense of offloading some of the stuff he no longer wanted cluttering up the barn. While he made the drop, it was suggested that I wait inside because the pickup has no A/C, and it’s August in Arkansas.

Mm hmm.

I have to tell you, I found it to be a very sad place. This is where memories go to die. They are tossed into a large plastic gondolas on wheels and rolled out into a huge warehouse space, where they are pawed through by strangers. I didn’t like it.

Fodder tried to cheer me up by telling me that these things were getting new life and a new home, but still. I couldn’t wait to leave. There’s were too many items in there that reminded me of thing my parents had around the house when I was growing up.

Then, I turned the corner and spotted this little lady in need of a loving home:

Underwood Typewriter

Her keys seemed to be in working order, her carriage proud. She’s lacking a ribbon, but I’m not above providing such fripperies. I checked the sign above the bin. All items weighing more than 5 pounds cost only $4.

Sold!

Fodder spent the evening polishing her up, and look how she shines.

Cleaned up

Maybe all we need to take us from a sad place to a happy one is someone to notice us. A second chance. Some love, affection, and a touch of Old Gold polish.

Now my Underwood (Claire or Carrie? Her true ambitions are yet to be revealed.) is parked next to my super sleek Karmann Ghia.

typewriters

Looks like this is the start of a colorful collection.

How about you? Do you collect anything? Did you start the collection yourself, or was it something that just happened?

 

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Monday Mayhem – Mob Mentality

Running With My Mob

We usually hear the term ‘mob’ used in a derogatory manner, but I’m using it in my own way this time.

I met with some of my mob this weekend. I’ve missed a lot of Diamond State Romance Authors meetings this year due to travel and other conflicts. Luckily, I was home this past weekend, and I got a chance to catch up with some of my favorite people in the world.

Megan Mitcham, Me, Mandy Harbin, and Brinda Berry
Megan Mitcham, Me, Mandy Harbin, and Brinda Berry

Friends who share a common interest are essential to life, in my opinion. Writing is very solitary and sometimes isolating. As writers, we spend a lot of time in our own heads, and the voices we hear there are not always kind and supportive.

We are our own worst critics.

There’s a tendency to fixate on few negative reviews on our books, rather than the dozens of positive ones.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m pretty sure we all think the last book we finished was the last book we’ll ever be ABLE to finish. After this, the ideas will dry up, the words will escape us, our audiences will abandon us, and so on and so forth.

Then, we get together one Saturday and realize we are all thinking the same thing.

Safety in numbers can be the positive flip side to the mob mentality.

As long as your mob isn’t operating with nefarious purpose. Mine isn’t. All we want to do is write books with some kissing in them.

I’m going to try to tap into the positive energy I gleaned from running with my mob this weekend and embark on a new project. You know, the one I was sure was a stupid idea, and I’d never have enough words to write, and no one would want to read.

In the meantime, Rosie is out in the world. Give her a chance, will ya?

Oh! And wish me luck!

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Monday Mayhem – Mumble mumble

I don’t have much to say this week, so I’m just gonna mumble.

A RING FOR ROSIE came out last week. Thanks to all who bought it, tweeted or shared posts, and generally helped shout (not mumble) it to the world. I’m not good at tooting my own horn, and I am eternally grateful to have you as my horn section.

Finger puppet couple

I’m over the pinkeye and mostly over the technicolor bruising from my slip and fall down the steps. Frankly, I’m over feeling puny in general. I’m hoping that this week I can return to what passed for normal prior to my trip to Denver.

I did watch the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society movie on Netflix and enjoyed it very much. No, it’s not as detailed as the book, but I think they did a nice  job with it. A couple of the scenes had me grinning at the screen like the hopeful romantic I am.

Revisions on SUPERSTAR are coming along slowly. I added a bunch of additions to my plate, then in doing so, realized it was overkill. Now I am free-writing those parts and will pare them down to round out the story.

DOUBLE PLAY is set for release on October 25, 2018 and it looks like we are a go for simultaneous digital and audio release. Yay! I’m working on making a mass market sized print-on-demand version available for anyone who wants to special order it, but I have to tell you, being my own publisher is proving to have a steep learning curve.

And so, here I am, mumbling through. How are things going with you?

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Pinkeye

I brought back a souvenir from Denver – pinkeye!

I thought I’d share a pinkeye pictorial to show how my week has gone:

By Monday afternoon, I realized it wasn’t just an itchy contact lens, so it began.  Artificial tears, cool compresses, and this nifty improvised pirate patch. Yep.

No.

I woke up on Tuesday looking like prize fighter…

Off to the Urgent Care we went! One prescription for antibiotic drops later, we were home and armed with every Lysol product on the market.

Alas , by Wednesday, Lefty was a goner.

Thursday was more of the same, but by Friday, we saw progress! Less red, but it took a toll on the skin around my eyes. I look like I have a shiner or two.

By Saturday, I could see the whites of my eyes again! Hallelujah! Don’t shoot!

 

They are still itchy and not quite ‘right’, so I have not attempted a fresh pair of contact lenses yet. Hopefully in the next day or two, all will be back to normal.

Needless to say, eyedrops and icepacks have consumed my week. I did make it through two fabulous audiobooks by Christina Lauren (Love and Other Words and Dating You, Hating You) whilst lolling about being sad and pathetic.

If you need audiobooks to listen to while you loll about, might I suggest LOVE GAME or PLAY FOR KEEPS? Now is a good time to catch up, as I have just sent a finalized version of DOUBLE PLAY to my audiobook publisher for production. Yay! Look for it in late October!

So, yeah, that kept me entertained this week. How has your week been?

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Monday Mayhem – So, this happened…

So, this happened this week: 15 Best Romance Novels of 2018 (So far)

No, seriously. Click on the link. That really happened. Look at me…right smack dab between Ms. Beverly Jenkins and the fabulous Alyssa Cole! Okay, LOVE GAME is, but I wrote it and it was named one of the 15 best of the year so far by BookPage!

THRILLED!

And this is happening this coming week:

Yep. I’m hanging out with the cool kids these days. The best part is, I’ll get to hang out with this cool kid for most of the week:

So, yeah, things are happening. I’ll report back when something else happens. In the meantime…go read a book!

Oh! And only 3 weeks until A RING FOR ROSIE (Play Dates #3) releases!

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