Where Romance and Suspense Collide

Category: Writing Life Blog Posts (Page 2 of 3)

Look What Just Arrived!

Paperback Proof of Eenie, Meanie, Minie, No!

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I don’t think I will EVER get tired of receiving these in the mail. Opening the box and seeing my book is amazing!

I really love this cover. The background photo is  perfect  for the book. This book will send you back to the land of high school cliques and heartaches and then pull you into the scary reality of the present as Nikki and Joe try to stop a killer.photo (3)

I also want to share the acknowledgement page with you. I know the pic is a little grainy, but I still wanted to share. There were two specific people I wanted to give credit, but also a shout out to those of you who inspire me to keep writing by purchasing my books.

I promise to have the paperback ready soon!

Five Reasons you need an Author Business Plan

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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!


Sandra S Kerns’ blog on Death by Chocolate

Death By Chocolate

It’s 10:50 pm and we just got back to our hotel after the Death by Chocolate party held by RWA’s Kiss of Death chapter. The treats were delicious and we ate so much chocolate our teeth hurt, but the company even better. We sat at a table with a great group of writers. There was a variety of both published and unpublished finalists at the table. We really didn’t know each other before tonight, but you wouldn’t know it if you had been listening in on our conversations.

First I’ll fill you in on the Unpublished finalists at our table. Denny S. Bryce received Honorable Mention in Category/Series for her story, Chasing Damn. Howard Lewis received Honorable Mention in the Mainstream category for his story, And Snakes Oh My. In the Single Title category, Tracy Poole took 2nd place for her story, A Risk Worth Taking.  They were all a blast to cheer on.

Before I tell you about the Published finalists at the table, let me explain how the published division works. They give out all the certificates and then announce the winner of the category. There are no 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, just finalists and a winner. My category, Category/Series was announced first. There were six finalists in the category, which to me says it was a pretty tight race. Unfortunately, I didn’t win, B.J. Daniels did. I was, however, the only self-published author in the group. I’m pretty proud to have placed with such well known names as B.J. Daniels, who was also the overall Published winner. The next one at our table to sit in the hot seat was Angie Fox, for her book (which I judged, and loved) Immortally Yours. Again, unfortunately, Angie didn’t win, though she felt like me that it was great to be in such great company. The winner was Christa McHugh, for her book, A Soul for Chaos, which was self-published and I also judged.  The last category to be announced was Mainstream, and we did have a winner. Sandy Parks, for Repossessed, won, beating out Hank Phillippi. Wow! Fantastic table, huh?

Later out in the hall, I ran into another lady, Joanna Campbell Slan who was a finalist in the Historical category. She hadn’t been at the party and asked if I had won and what category I was in. I told her and then we looked at the program, so I could try and tell her who won in her category. As I was looking it over, I realized she had won. She didn’t believe it, so I took her in to the room where the party had been. The coordinator was still there and she verified it. Joanna was stunned. It was almost as good as winning myself to give someone such great news.

Okay, I know this would all be more fun with pictures. I promise I have some, but it will take a few days for me to get those posted. I’ll get back to Colorado next week and I promise I will post pictures and book covers with links. Until then, go enjoy some more chocolate for me.

An Interview with Multi-published Author, Annette Brownlee

Sandra Kerns: Why did you start writing and why paranormal romance? Is there a story behind it?

Annette Brownlee: I’ve written on and off all my life. However, when I turned 29 I had a mini mid-life crisis. I made a list of things that I wanted to accomplish in my life. At the top of my list was publishing a novel. It actually took me by surprise. I hadn’t thought much about writing before that. I dove in and wrote a novel. It wasn’t very good but I received enough positive feedback from agents and writing instructors to continue. I also published a short story in a national magazine which provided me with additional motivation to continue writing.

My second story was prompted by a true tale of a young boy’s death. My love for the paranormal branched from a visit by that young boy. Yep, I was visited by a ghost. I hadn’t given much thought to ghosts and the afterlife before that, but you can’t deny it when one is standing in your kitchen.


SK: The characters in your new Spirit Savers series are quite varied. Can you tell us what inspired them, their names, and the title of the series?

AB: I like writing about strong women who shoot from the hip. Many of my favorite characters are missing a filter – they say what they think without pausing to assess the potential consequences. They’re the people who say what you’re already thinking but are too polite to verbalize. Chaos is a little like that. She’s socially awkward and not concerned about making friends. As for her name…well she earned it. The characters seem to choose their own names.

The series is titled “Spirit Savers” because the group itself began as a means to help spirits cross over. They’re not traditional ghost hunters. There are many who believe that a spirit’s energy can be trapped after they die. It seems much more compelling than traditional ghost hunting and it gives the characters a purpose.


SK: What came first – the idea or fun research? Do you believe in ghosts? What kind of research did you do for such an interesting topic?

AB: The idea came first. There’s a big difference between believing in ghosts and wanting to go out and make contact with them. However, when you’re writing about ghost hunters there’s a lot to know. They use specialty equipment. They have systems and practices, and each ghost hunting group is a little different. Sure, there are a lot of television shows about ghost hunting but that’s like using CSI as your crime scene research. It’s just not a replacement for real world knowledge.

So…I signed up for a ghost hunting class. I spent a weekend at a haunted monastery. During the day we’d learn about the different technologies and how to debunk the most common claims. At night, we’d hit one or two of the buildings and hunt.

I expected the weekend to be creepy. I mean, you’re walking around in the dark in abandoned buildings looking for ghosts. That’s the kind of stuff horror movies are made of. But it wasn’t creepy at all. It was actually a bit tedious. You need to be patient and there’s very little instant gratification. In most cases you don’t know if you have any evidence until you go back and review the audio and video recordings and the photographs taken during the investigation. We did have some fun experiences that weekend and I walked away with an appreciation for paranormal investigators.


SK: If you could be any animal in the world what would you be and why?

AB: Oh, goodness. I have no idea. I guess I’d be some type of bird. I enjoy being in the sky. I spend a lot of time on mountain tops.


SK: In your opinion, what are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

AB: I grew up with a very strong mom who took good care of herself. Self care – and that means time off, exercise, and healthy food, not to mention laughter and friends – is essential not just for writers but for everyone.


SK: Why e-books?

AB: Why not? I’m a bit of a control freak and a bit impulsive. If I feel like doing something, I usually dive right in. The digital industry has taken off and it seemed like a fun thing to try. I love writing and will always write. Digital publishing provides authors the ability to take immediate control of their careers and their books.


SK: Are you athletic or a couch potato?

AB: Athletic, I guess. Not intentionally, and I certainly don’t have any particular expertise, but I love trying new things and challenging myself. I have tried just about everything including mountain biking, snowboarding, rock climbing, and fitness dance. Within the past year I was introduced to CrossFit and I’m hooked. It satisfies my need for intensity and variety. You rarely do the same workout twice. It’s so much fun.

SK: I’m looking forward to the next installment in the Spirit Saver Series. That said, do you have any other books in the works for us to look forward to? While we’re waiting for both, do you have favorite authors to recommend to us and why?

AB: I am putting the finishing touches on a book I actually wrote several years ago. It features another strong and somewhat crazy heroine, an airplane accident, a haunted watch and a seriously sexy Irish attorney. It’s the first in another series. As for favorite authors, I’m a bit varied in what I read but will buy anything by Ilona Andrews and Charlaine Harris. Ilona writes fantastic urban fantasy with a kick butt heroine. And who can resist Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse? Can you tell I’m fond of strong and quirky heroines?

SK: Yes, I think we got that. 🙂  Thanks for visiting with us and continued luck on your writing journey.

Check out Annette’s latest release, Deadly Chaos.

Trouble, death, and mayhem are attracted to her like water to the shore. When a stalker becomes deadly, Chaos defends herself, leaving another body in her wake. But this body won’t go away. He’s stalking her in death too. To get rid of her ghost, Chaos employs Dakota Santiago and the Spirit Savers, a ghost hunting group devoted to helping lost spirits find their way.
Dakota Santiago knows she’s coming. He’s been warned in his dreams. Yet nothing in his past prepares him for the trouble Chaos brings. She tests his patience, his faith, and his abilities. He may have to pull out all the stops and risk everything to save a woman called Chaos.

– OR –

If you’re a romance writer yourself, you might want to look into her writer’s craft book, 1001 Romance Story Starters and the website she hosts offering guidance to other romance authors: http://makealivingwritingromance.com/about




Deadlines – Love em or Leave em?

Okay, so I haven’t had to deal with a lot of ‘official’ writing deadlines. Yet. Does NANOWRIMO count?

In my day job, working at a school, I’ve found that deadlines and due dates are not quite as substantial as they used to be. Maybe I’m dating myself, but when I was given a due date by a teacher, it was THAT day, not the next day or the next period.

I realize that the digital age has a lot to do with people believing they can fudge on a deadline. Like, when I tell someone something is due for the newsletter by a certain day and they come two days later and ask if it has been posted yet. If not they ask, can’t you just stick this in? And, being the enabler that I am, I say yes.

So, as you can imagine, when someone gives me a deadline I try very hard to keep it. In fact, I prefer having deadlines. If you tell me to ‘get to it whenever,’ it might never get done. There is always something to distract me or keep me too busy to get to it. If, on the other hand, you tell me you need something in ten minutes, you will probably have it in nine. It’s not so much an over achiever issue as a fear of disappointing someone.

Recently signing with an agent for my writing, I have had a few very minor deadlines. For the most part, they were self induced. I haven’t been told they need something by Tuesday or all bets are off. To be honest, the agency has been great to work with and highly motivating. I have to admit it was nice to have someone tell me they liked a manuscript so much they wanted to represent it. Once I got over that thrill, I accepted that it meant getting down to serious work. This weekend was the first real deadline I had for them. Yes, I set it, but I told the agent I would have something done by this weekend. It was telling someone else that made it a REAL deadline to me.

Did I make it? I have one more quick read through before I send it off, so yes, I think I can safely say I made it. And dang but it feels great!

So, I would like to know how YOU feel about deadlines. Don’t worry, though. There is no set in stone deadline for your answer. Post any time, any day, no due date rules 🙂


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