Fun with Research for Next Release

IMG_1099Saddle up for some Fun with Research on my Next Release!

If you’ve heard me talk about research in the past, you know I consider it a necessary evil for writing.

The problem started in high school. Yeah, I know, you don’t want to go there. Neither do I, but that’s where it started. Remember those dreaded research/term papers? You had to make outlines, notecards, quote
s, bibliographies, works cited pages and the list goes on. The two worst parts for me were the outlines (I still get nauseous thinking about outlining) and research for the notecards. I honestly didn’t mind reading the books for information, but having to make note cards to PROVE that I did was really annoying. It wasn’t so much I had to prove I did the research as the fact that I wasn’t going to use those cards to write the paper. Once I handed them in for the ‘pre-work’ grade, I doubt I looked at them again.

HOWEVER, over the past few years I’ve come to realize I can have fun with research. Hallelujah!

Nowadays my research is much more hands on. I wrote another post about this subject almost two years ago as a guest on Jessica Aspen’s Blog. I wanted to give you an update on my latest research experience – Guest Ranches.

My current WIP (work in progress) will be the first of the new Masters Men series, Master Security. It features Chance Dugan who was introduced in Her Master Match, and Marley Jasper, owner of the Jasper Ranch. (If you need to brush up on the Masters Men, feel free to click here for information on the first Masters Men Series.) I figured if I was going to feature a guest ranch in my book, I should probably know what running one entailed. Cue research.

Okay, so I had to do a little, very little, searching on Google to get started. It didn’t take many keystrokes to find a place to contact. I sent an email to the General Manager of C Lazy U Ranch. It wasn’t long before he responded and we arranged for a call. I sent him some questions ahead of time. His answers weMain Lodge at C Lazy U Ranchre very helpful, but he suggested I really needed to see things for myself and invited me to visit. My niece went with me so when I ran out of questions or forgot to take pictures she could pick up the slack.

So, we went to the ranch and it was amazing. The C Lazy U is a premier guest ranch in the U.S. located in Granby, Colorado. Our cabin was unbelievably comfortable and had fireplaces in both rooms. We went ho
rseback riding and snowshoeing. We joined others in the community area of the main building for lunch, dinner, and breakfast. All the meals were good, but the dinner was definitely outstanding. All of the employees were friendly and welcoming. There must be a requirement that the cowboys are good looking, because they would all look great on a book cover. Also, the female wrangler (that’s her in the picture at the top of the post) who led our trail ride grew up on a dairy farm. If you remember ChancRiding at the C Lazy U Ranche from his cameo appearance in Her Master Match, he grew up on a dairy farm, too. So, now I have a contact to find out more about how a small dairy farm works. Bonus!

The only issue was the C Lazy U is so much more than my heroine could handle as a family guest ranch. It turned out, that wasn’t a problem either, because David Craig, C Lazy U’s General Manager, also arranged for us to visit a nearby family-owned and run guest ranch, the Drowsy Water Ranch. C Lazy U is huge and open year round while Drowsy Water is open from June through mid-September. That is much more likely what my heroine would be able to deal with as a family-owned guest ranch. Even though Drowsy Water wasn’t open right now, Justin Fosha, one of the owners gave us a tour through the knee high snow as well as giving us a better feel of what a family-owned and run guest ranch would entail.

So, if you want to see what all this FUN RESEARCH results in late this spring, you’ll keep an eye out for the first installment of the Master Security series. While I don’t have a final title yet, the working title is WRANGLING DUGAN. If you’d like a little teaser, keep reading. If you like that title, or have a suggestion for a different one, leave a comment.

Chance waited in silence for Marley to continue.

“Early this morning someone broke into the main house.”

The pencil he’d been tapping snapped in two. He stared at her. “The main house as in the one you and your parents live in?”

She shrugged. “It’s just me. My parents moved to Arizona when dad sold the ranch to me. I guess Colorado wasn’t dry enough for them.”

Chance ignored her attempt to break the sudden tension. “They actually got inside? Your security system didn’t go off?”

“Oh, it went off. As soon as they stepped one foot in the kitchen, I pulled the trigger on my father’s old shotgun.”

“You shot them?” He knew his eyes were wide as saucers, but he hadn’t expected that.

“Maybe, I’m not sure if any of the buckshot hit him or not. I aimed at the door’s frame. It’s a ranch. Shotguns are the security system.”

He rubbed his temple again while he tried to come to terms with the image of her facing off with a would-be attacker in her kitchen with a shotgun.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Don’t forget to check out Sandra’s most recent release, A Chance Event – A Chain of Love novella.

What I Learned this Morning

wakeupI admit; I’m a morning person. Ask my sister, she’s probably wanted to throw shoes at my head since I was five. FYI, she’s NOT a morning person. IF I set an aalarm clocklarm, I pop out of bed when it goes off and the day begins. The idea about staying in bed after the alarm and easing into my day doesn’t work. My brain immediately starts listing all of the things I could be doing and the ‘ease’ part of the scenario goes out the window. Hitting snooze i s a sacrilege in my book (hubby does not agree). If I wanted to sleep for fifteen more minutes, I would have set the alarm for fifteen minutes later. Just doesn’t make sense to interrupt my sleep with an alarm so I can get a few more winks.

teaSo, I hit the floor and am ready to roll. This does not mean I want noise, conversation, or company at that time, just that I am up and mobile. I may be a morning person, but I am not, as a rule, a loud one. I like to fix my tea (yes, coffee drinking friends, I start out the day with tea, coffee comes later) and head downstairs to quietly start clearing out the ‘busyness’ (read as email and other social media, etc.) that built up overnight. Then feed the dog at 6:30, refill my teacup, eat some breakfast (although that sometimes comes much later), send hubby off to his job (he doesn’t get to work from home as I do), and head back downstairs to write.???????????

Sounds great, right? Here’s the problem – some days I pop out of bed with a headache. Even a small just letting you know I’m here headache can set a bad tone for my day.

nanoThis is where the ‘What I Learned this Morning’ part comes in.

Today was such a day. I woke up a minute or two before the dog. I rolled over debating the merits of trading my warm bed for getting tea in a cold kitchen and BAM – it hit me. No, no, no, no, no! I do not have time for a headache today. It’s Thanksgiving week for crying out loud. I have an upcoming promotional event this weekend, a novella due to my editor, pies to bake, soup to make, NANOWRIMO to catch-up on, a scuba class, an the list goes on. I don’t have TIME for a danged headache.

I climb out of bed, grumbling in my head and put the tea water on to boil in my electric teapot. After letting the dog out, and popping 3 aspirin, I pour the now ready water into my cup that holds 2 Morning Thunder Celestial Seasonings and 1 Green Tea with Ginger, teabags (both contain ample amounts of caffeine) and let it steep for a minute. While I wait, I pick up FullSizeRender (4)the Sunset magazine that came in the mail last week and is still sitting on the kitchen table unread. I walk back to the counter and stand beside my steeping tea hoping proximity will pull some of the caffeine into my system. I start thumbing through the magazine and find an article about living a ‘celebrity’ life for a day. Intrigued, I set the magazine on the stovetop and start reading.

Half a cup of tea and ten minutes later, I smile and chuckle. As I close the magazine, I realize my headache is gone. What’s more? I’m relaxed. Hmmm, maybe there is something to this easing into the day.

There you have it; what I learned this morning. Sometimes, I don’t have to rush into the day. Point of fact, I may end up getting more done than expected (or required) because I feel well and relaxed. MAYBE, taking that ten extra minutes to read something fun rather than actually doing something I’m supposed to was smarter than I ever imagined.

Maybe and maybe not, you decide. Here’s my overall take on the situation.

Tea (or coffee) + slow time focused on something unimportant = no headache + positive attitude + more energy to do the important things.

Author Sandra KernsI’m taking it under advisement. More testing of the hypothesis is probably required, but I’m feeling pretty good about the outcome. I’m ready to get to work!

Have a great day everyone! If you don’t happen to have a Sunset magazine to pick up, you can check out one of my books by clicking on this link: Published Novels.  Or check out #beezeebooks for all kinds of books from myself and other authors.

Happy reading!

 

Five Reasons you need an Author Business Plan

Picture of me 1 (1)

Please welcome author Amy Denim. Amy is joining us to discuss the importance of a business plan for our writing careers. Amy will be available to answer any questions you may have after reading the post.

Five Reasons you need an Author’s Business Plan

Thanks for having me on your blog to kick off the Coffee Break blog tour, Sandra. I love talking the business of being a writer, which is, of course, why I write books about it!

Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans copy

The second book in my series of business books for writers, Coffee Break Guides, just released on Christmas day. The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Writers: The Step-By-Step Guide to Taking Control of Your Writing Career came about when I started out to write my own business plan.

Why would an author need a business plan? I’m glad you asked. *wink*

1) You are a business. No, really.

The second you made the decision to get your work published you became a business. Unless you truly are just writing for yourself, your grandma, and your dog and don’t plan to ever sell your work, than welcome to the publishing industry. It’s big business. We may write for years and years before getting published, and it could be years after that before you actually make any money from your efforts, but every business has a start-up phase. No, we aren’t a traditional business that goes to the bank to get an SBA loan that required a spreadsheet-filled tome. But applying for funding is only one small part of why you might want a plan. What that means is that you, writer, don’t need a boring traditional business plan. Because you’re in a creative industry, you get to create a right-brain business plan. Yay!

 2) Keep the taxman happy.

Okay, you’re on board with the whole “I’m a business” thing now, right? Right. And what do businesses do? They file business taxes. *cue scary slasher movie music*

The IRS has a really “interesting” page on their website with questions to help you determine if your writing is classified as a hobby or a business. Having a business plan can help you answer “yes, I’m a business” to five out of the eight questions. Here’s an example:

The IRS: Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?

Your Business Plan: Why, yes. Just look at my word count/time tracker, my detailed ten-year goals plan, my budget, my marketing plan, and my competitive analysis.

(All the resources listed in that answer are available as templates you can download at www.coffeebreaksocialmedia.com/books/resources.)

I really, really, really recommend you get yourself an accountant to help you file your taxes, especially if it’s the first year you’re going to file for your business. It will cost a little bit more than say, buying TurboTax, but not too much. And in the end, it’s totally worth it when you avoid (or win) the audit game.

 3) Keep yourself accountable.

I have manuscript ADD. A shiny new idea for a book easily steals my attention from my current work in progress. Instead of Ritalin, I have a business plan to keep me on task. And if I use that plan to hold me accountable, at the end of the year I’ll have three beautiful manuscripts completed instead of twelve half –finished, semi-plotted, next best-sellers waiting for me to find the time and dedication to write them. An important part of any business plan is a production schedule. If you’re traditionally published you already know that publishing waits for no (wo)man. If you don’t turn your next book in on time, you’re book’s release day could get pushed anywhere from a month to two years! If you haven’t sold or published a book yet, it’s a great idea to get into the habit of creating deadlines for yourself and keeping to them to practice up. You won’t need Jiminy Cricket to keep you on task. Always let your business plan be your guide.

 4) Increase your productivity.

Accountability and productivity are totally BFFs. I know when I first started writing seriously I had grand goals (and they were all over the place – see the previous comment about ADD.) But did I achieve them? Not even close. Why? Because I hadn’t written them down and didn’t really keep track of what I had to do, or what I had actually gotten done. When you create a business plan those things you need to be successful become much more real (and easier to keep track of.). If you laminate that sucker and put it up on your wall/mirror in your bathroom/mobile above your bed you’ll be able to check items off as you complete them. How great would it feel at the end of the year to know you actually accomplished your career goals? Yeah, that’s right. It feels party on, excellent.

 5) Measure your success.

Have you ever told someone you’re a writer and have him or her ask you how it’s going? What was your answer? Anything like, “Umm. It’s good.” But did you really know? I didn’t used to. How do you measure your success? I know a great way. Create a business plan and at the end of the year evaluate how you did. (You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?) The great thing about creating your own goals, budgets, and evaluations is you get to decide what success means to you. The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Writers can help you make those decisions and even has a whole section on evaluating yourself at the end of the year. The next time someone asks you how your writing career is going you can answer with a resounding “amazeballs!”

What do these five reasons for having a business plan mean when you put them all together? It’s about you taking control of your writing career. Really successful businesses have really strong business plans. Really successful authors do too. I encourage you to become the writer you really want to be, to realize your dreams this year, be it to publish your first book or become a NYT best-selling author. And let a business plan help you do it. Make your 2014 ROCK!

 

Amy Denim’s Bio:

Amy Denim writes business books for writers and contemporary romance. She loves hot heroes (like chefs and cowboys) and curvy intelligent heroines (like chefs and cowgirls.)  She’s been a franchise sales coordinator, a lifeguard, a personal shopper, and a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. But now she spends her days reading and writing at her local library or in her book cave.

Amy started out her writer’s life scared out of her wits because she didn’t have a business plan, hadn’t yet created an online platform, wasn’t on twitter, didn’t have a Facebook fanpage and had never even heard of Goodreads. She just wrote books. So she spent a year becoming a publishing industry information fiend and now does consulting for creatives on how to use take control of their writing careers. She started Coffee Break Social Media to help writers and artists learn to use SM platforms effectively (without the scare tactics) but still have time to create. She believes business plans and social media can be every writer’s friend, sometimes they just need an introduction.

Visit Amy on her author website at www.AmyDenim.com or for tips and tricks on the writing business at www.coffeebreaksocialmedia.com.

Preview about upcoming Blog Guest Post

Hi everyone! Happy New Year!

Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans copy

I’m gearing up for an exciting, busy, energizing, focused, prosperous, and enjoyable new year, what about you?

Do you have lots of resolutions? If not, lots of plans both business or personal? Have you figured out how to make the most of your time, talent, and money? OR, are you still wringing your hands hoping next year will be smoother seas?

I hate to burst your bubble, but it isn’t likely. Life happens. It isn’t always easy or pretty. It usually smells like a gym  rather than a rose garden. However, there are ways to make it less stress-filled and more joy-filled.

Take my first blog guest for the year, Amy Denim. Amy is the author of the Coffee Break Series of books to help writers with the ‘business’ side of writing. That is, the part of writing most of us creative types resist – promotion, scheduling, deadlines, goals. She does it in a very comfortable, laid-back style that is easy to read and almost easier to understand. I say almost because I still struggle with putting myself into the business cage, but I’ll admit, Amy makes it easier.

I’m about halfway through “The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Writers,” and have already filled out some of the forms she lets you download for free! Her conversational style makes you feel like she is sitting right beside you guiding you each step of the way. How comforting is that? It’s like having your own personal business planner only better.

Why better, you ask? Because instead of someone doing it for you, you LEARN, really learn how to do it yourself. I don’t know about you, but I always feel such a sense of accomplishment when I learn something new. Add to that, the fact that this is about making my business (yes, according to Amy, I AM a business) successful. Who could ask for more than that?

So, folks, click on the book cover to the left. That will take you to Amazon where you can buy Amy’s new book for just 99 cents. Yep, you read that right. 99 cents through tomorrow. I guess she wants everyone to have an opportunity to set up their business plan before the year gets too busy and at a super fantastic price!

Then, after you’ve bought the book, start reading it. As I said, I’m already about halfway through it (and no, I bought it – I didn’t ask her for one because she would be doing my blog). While you’re reading it, jot down any questions you might have because Amy will be here on Thursday, January 2nd to answer all of your questions. If you don’t buy the book before her ‘blog appearance,’ that’s fine, her post will give you more inspiration to set up a business plan and then you will want to buy it.

Stop back by on January 2nd for Amy’s post – Five Reasons YOU Need an Author Business Plan. She will  give a copy of the book in the winner’s choice of Kindle or paperback, too. There’s another reason to stop by!

Now, sorry, but I have to get back to reading the book so I can ask more questions.

Happy reading!

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SMJ Wants YOU to Read

SMJ Chilling at Home.jpgSock Munkee Jr, checking in with all my blog and Facebook friends. I’ve been having a lot of fun this summer. I hope you have too, and I promise there will be more summer pictures of my adventures posted soon.

But first,

SMJ Dressed for Marketing Mtg.jpg

we need to get some important business out of the way. See, I even have a tie on, so this is important. Pay attention.

 

I’m sure you’ve heard my aunt’s next book is coming out soon. I do mean soon, it will be available on September 3rd, though you can pre-order it now by clicking one of the links below. Here’s a picture of me holding the proof copy. Cool cover, huh?

008     A Daring Proposal - Sandra S. KernsSmashwords  Kobo

 

  As you may know … I am an avid reader.  I’ve read all of my aunt’s books. Like Callaghan’sConundrum. You could pick it up and read it while you wait for A Daring Proposal to pop-up on your e-reader next week. You won’t be disappointed.

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Sam Callaghan planned a quiet holiday weekend with his son. Then he got a call from his partner about a sniper at a local mall. You know what they say about the best made plans, yep, they usually get blown out of the water. See what happens to Sam and the rest of the characters in Callaghan’s Conundrum on a holiday weekend in Colorado.

I really want to encourage you to pick up a book, even if it isn’t one of my aunt’s, and get lost in a good story. There’s nothing like it. Until my next post . . .

Happy Reading everyone!                                                                                                                                                                                           SMJ