Tuesday, December 31, 2013


As the year eats its own tail and begins again, it is time for that annual reflection on “Did I Managed last years' goals?” and “What the heck is the plan for this year?”

I've been known to do a string of these, draw out my goals with piles of specificity, and I believe that helps, but somehow with my two weeks off, I've managed to fill the with crazy 'didn't get done yet' stuff that needed doing. So I will be a bit briefer than in past years.

[I heard that sigh of relief]


Last year's goal: Lose about 80 pounds...
Last year's result: Lost 54 pounds, but in the last three months have gained about half back.
Conclusion: I did pretty good, then not so good, but at least this year I only have 50 to lose.

The How for 2014: Weight Watchers, Walking... Pretty much exactly the same as I did it LAST YEAR but without changing jobs and publishing a serial (both of which have made things super hard since July). I find the new year is a good time to just get my nose back to it. If you want the REAL specifics, just see LAST YEAR'S PLAN.

Also... I now have a carpet in my basement and a yoga mat, so I have a more feasible plan for getting some core stuff into my routine.


Last Year's Goal was about Family stuff, and there we had a pretty good year. I am very proud to say as of Friday, HWMNBMOTI has had a year of sobriety. This has meant some changes at home, 98% of them good. My daughter successfully graduated high school and completed her first semester at community college. There was a juvenile delinquency misstep with Thing 2 and some graffiti, but it is over and there are no lasting repercussions. I've come to accept that my children are just never going to do things the easy way. It is the price of marrying the hot bad boy... tell your daughters.

My 2014 balance goals are a little more loosey goosey. I am trying to get each of my family members to commit to a TV show with me—I know it sounds pathetic, but none of them want to walk with me and the other things my kids would want to do with me all cost money, so we are starting with this.

And READING... I haven't done a specific reading goal before—I sort of fit in what I can between editing and beta reading. But I found one that looks like the PERFECT size, hosted by Lori at Escape with Dollycas. It is to read through the alphabet, which is just one book every two weeks. You DON'T have to go in order. I think it will help me push myself just a little and be a good excuse to work in some of those 'classics' we are all supposed to have read that I haven't managed yet... and it will give me a way to pick WHICH of all of your great books I plan to get to next (because if I don't PICK I end up doing something silly like rereading because I am overwhelmed... this is a way to whelm me... or something)

And then the Writing Plan:

GREEN: 2013 goal MET
RED: 2013 goal NOT MET
PURPLE: 2013 goal MIXED
BLUE: 2014 goat SET

Medium Wrong DID get polished and into ABNA, but didn't pass the pitch stage... I have notes for another revision so I think it will also be THIS year's ABNA (but hopefully with a passable pitch)

What Ales Me: DID have it's revisions and is currently with Ellen (and out of my hands) SUCCESS in terms of what I could control. 2014 plan is to leave it in Ellen's capable hands unless and until she tells me otherwise.

Kahlotus Disposal Site: I sort of petered out on this. After Amy didn't have luck submitting and admitted she'd fallen out of love with it, I decided I needed a little time to think about it and haven't worked back up to it yet. My 2014 goal with it is really to decide where it fits in with my other stuff, as there is a YA PLAN *BUWAHAHAHAHAHA*

Begonia Bribe was successfully released and work prepping Keeping Mum is done. 2014, March 4, I release Keeping Mum (so need to do a marketing campaign).

Wrote Also Appearing for BuNoWriMo and unexpectedly wrote much of a teen armageddon one (Endangered) for what I dibbed March Madness. The FORMER is part of my 2014 YA plan, the LATTER I will release serially, but not until 2015.

And from there the rest of the 2013 plan went to heck because I INSTEAD decided to serially release Shot in the Light, which has been an INSANE adventure—tons of writing, editing, learning... It hasn't been a financial success, and it isn't DONE yet... I've released 5 of 12... it fits better at this point with my 2014 plan than my 2013 review, so lets change gears.

Shot In the Light: Episodes 6 and 7 to release in January, 8 in February, 9 in March, 10 and 11 in April and 12 in May... I am ALSO releasing them in paperback (bundled 4 at a time). 10-12 still need to be written, though there is a path for each character—closer to an outline than I normally do.

That, and the release of Keeping Mum, are big enough jobs that the only OTHER thing I plan to do in 1st quarter is this ABNA prep.

2nd Quarter: Finish Shot release until DONE. Revision of Also Appearing (see plan below), and Writing 2nd Artful Ales Book (BuNoWriMo)--It is my deep hope Ellen will be able to sell the Artful Ales series... I should KNOW by the end of 2nd quarter, but even if I don't KNOW, I am going to release them one way or another, and there will need to be at least 3, so I might as well keep writing.

3rd Quarter: I want to get my YA house in order. Kahlotus Disposal Site and Medium Wrong are both stand-alones that may just have to wait to see how the plan goes. Because I have decided Also Appearing will be the first in a series of 'place' YA books, each independent, but all connected to Lake Chatcolet,w here I spent much of my childhood... it is lake furthest south of one BIG lake that is actually Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, a place with tiny towns, an Indian Reservation, rustic summer cabins... and serious potential. I looked through my book ideas and at least 4 of my 'good ideas' in addition to Also Appearing, could ALSO be set there (or around there) and I think that strong, familiar set of place makes for stronger books. There are a lot of issues that can be hit—some spooky, some serious (there is an Aryan Nation headquarters to the north, so teens thinking about issues of race, there is an area known for 'Devil Worshippers' so good ghost story fodder... and then there is normal teen drama...) I'm excited, know which book will be next—for NaNoWriMo maybe (Summer Bones).

Some of you may not agree with me, and that's fine, but I still happen to think YA can be a lot bigger with a publishing house behind me, and I KNOW how much work self publishing is now. So I am at least going to attempt to make this plan go traditionally. I may change my mind. Querying is at least as painful as sorting all the publishing details. But at least with querying, you reach a time you can let somebody ELSE take over all those details. I will try Amy again, first—I loved working with her and think it was the BOOK that was the trouble, not the two of US. And if I end up with an agent to help with ALL my YA stuff, maybe she can also help sort what PLAN makes most sense (though I do think this series all set in the same place is the right idea).

What about all of you? Do you have a PLAN!? *BUWAHAHAHAHAHA*

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In Which Time Fails to Materialize

Wibbly Wobbly, it may be, but somehow the stuff fails to show up when I really need it. I'm really not sure what I was thinking... the PLAN, as it was, was madness...



The one where I format the paperback and load into all the other formats in plenty of time to be available for Christmas...


1)  I got behind on my timing of Book 5 in the serial, so was tangled in production when I should have been writing. This has set me back across the board. I THOUGHT I would be done writing 'all 10' by now... but I am NOT done with 10 and there actually will be 12...

2)  I had a couple beta readers hit obstacles for reading book 6, so that is running a bit behind, too.

3)  Formatting the paperback is more complicated than I thought.

4)  The DAY job has remained SWAMPED. Normally I sneak a few things in on any given day because WORD (which I have at work and not home) plays more nicely with all those uploading programs (I have tried to upload books from home twice now and Kindle doesn't like my home computer. And with no time to steal at work, I haven't managed to do that other formatting, partially for this reason.


1)  I DID manage to do my final cleanup of What Ales Me and sent it to Ellen.

2)  I page-proofed Keeping Mum.

3)  I edited Book 6 for 2nd readers.

4)  I DID format the paperback. It is books 1-4 of the serial and available HERE

5)  And Joris created the BEAUTEOUS full cover (front/back, spine... did you know dimension of spine changes with page number? I know that now)

6)  And I've written almost all of book 9, started book 10 and plotted a couple character strands of 11... so getting there.

7)  Got my proof copies (and ordered some promotional ones) (I will take a picture, but not probably until this weekend... I'm not sure where the camera is)

Still To Do

1)  Shop, send Christmas presents and a couple gifts... (I know. Not a writing exercise)
2)  Finish formatting for various OTHER formats (can you format for formats?).
3)  Finish 9 and 10 THIS month (plot 11 and 12)
4)  First Edit of book 8
5)  2nd edit of book 7
6)  3rd edit of book 6
7)  If POSSIBLE (which I don't think it is) Publish book 6—this will PROBABLY be early January rather than December.)

So There... It feels an awful lot like I'm making a lot of excuses these days... hopefully my TWO WEEK vacation, which begins at 4 on Friday, will give me the time I need to finish up.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Little Christmas Love

I have not one... not two... but THREE friends with Christmas romance novellas recently released, so I wanted to share them with you today, in case you wanna fall in love this week!!!

Last Christmas by Talli Roland

You guys ALL know Talli, right? One of our longtime blog friends!  I haven't read this one, but Talli does a fabulous job with romantic comedy, so I'm sure this one will deliver, too!

Here is the blurb: For Lucy, the best Christmas present is forgetting the past.

Eager to banish the ghost of Christmas past - when her boyfriend dumped her on the streets of Paris - Lucy is determined to make this the best Christmas ever. She rallies friends and family for an epic celebration that just happens to fall on the same day as her ex's festive wedding. Furious at how she's been treated, Lucy can't help relishing the party v wedding smackdown.

But when the wedding is threatened and only Lucy can help, can she find the spirit inside to save the day, or will this Christmas be even more disastrous than the last?

Meet Me Half Way by Amber T. Smith

Amber is actually part of my writing group and I've been friends with her several years. (She is secretly Tara, who was my first reader clear back when I was writing fan fiction) Meet me halfway is a heart wrenching tale of a couple who lost their baby and in their grief have managed to become estranged. I'm about 2/3 done reading this one and it is a tear-jerker so far!

Here is the official blurb: Beth can't forgive her husband for cheating on her just after they lost their son during childbirth. Struggling to come to terms with his infidelity, Beth decides to push Mark out of her life for good, and books herself on a prolonged cruise just as the anniversary of their son's death approaches.

Mark is still devastated at Beth's complete lack of trust in him, and has given up trying to reconcile with his wife. When he learns of her cruise plans, it shakes him out of his stupor, and fills him with a renewed determination to woo her back.

With the cruise booked to depart in just a few short days, and with Christmas just around the corner, Mark has no choice but to re-open old wounds, with the hope of convincing his wife that they should never have parted.

But Beth has secrets of her own. If they are to reunite, she'll need to forgive not only her husband, but herself, too...

Starting From Scratch by Stacy Gail 

I had the fortune to be a beta reader on this one... Stacy had one of her manic sprints last spring—a story that absolutely wouldn't let her be, and I promise, if you read it, you will be able to tell why. Stacy and I have been friends and critique partners many years, and I always love Stacy's writing—she has the true emotion, well developed characters and always includes a bit of the humor that can often be absent in romances. It's a fabulous balance.

Here is the blurb: Christmas is the perfect time to start from scratch.

Lieutenant Sully Jax saved his unit during an IED attack, but he couldn't save his marriage. He can't even remember it. Recovered from his injuries, he's come home to the family and friends he knows—and an ex-wife who's a stranger to him.

Lucy Crabtree was heartbroken last Christmas when Sully announced his plan to go on one last tour of duty, and devastated when he asked for a divorce after he awoke in the hospital with no memory of her. She's finally moving on from her hurt and from losing the man she loved more than anything, and her cookie-baking business is taking off just in time for the holidays. But now Sully's back, and she can't deny she still loves him. But how can she trust her heart to someone who breaks it every time she sees him?

Sully might not remember Lucy, but something inside won't let her go. With every bite of her cookies, he finds a new love for Lucy, and he soon realizes he wants to rebuild his life…with her by his side.

So there you have it... three shortish love stories to get you in the mood for the holiday! Interesting that two of them have heroines named Lucy and themes around forgetting, but they sound very different.

You should go get them! Because who DOESN'T need a little more love at Christmas?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Publishing and Money

Second Wednesday is for Indie Author stuffs...

I ran across an article last week that was a fabulous dose of reality about which kind of authors made how much money. Not that money is the be all and end all, but it is nice to know what we are in for...


See here is my thing...

I have a day job. I will HAVE TO have a day job until I make enough writing to make up for NOT having said day job... because my retirement and insurance are really good, this is quite a LOT of writing income I have to make, or I really CAN'T quit... And not just once, but a good guess it will continue in the foreseeable future. That means I really need to be in that LAST, six-figure group to quit the day job. (not my income, but my income plus insurance for my family plus retirement put me very close—close enough that when I start TAXING the money that buys insurance, it would push the need over)

[now I LOVE my dayjob in a lot of ways, I'd just really prefer to do it maybe half time—the content is great, the people are great, the cause is great... but it just ISN'T writing fiction to my heart...]

So I need to keep the income in mind... do I write a little and not worry about it, or do I try to write enough to cross over and be a WRITER?

That's why I'm talking about the money.

See, the OTHER thing about the money (and time and jobs)... When I have so little writing time, I REALLY only have WRITING time... and I have some projects I'd like to commit to as an INDIE publisher... An Indie person needs to be a jack of all trades, but with a JOB, I just don't have time for that—not even to DO it, but REALLY not to LEARN IT. Does that make sense?

I didn't really get it until I started publishing my serial, which I can only do Indie, there being no formal serial mechanism annallat... but there is a LOT of time involved (and money)--covers and editing—I am paying for these, but it means thus far I've lost money. I KNOW this will be worth it—to not have a sub-par product out there, but time and money... time and money... time and money... neither of which I have.

So back to the graph... did you know I am a number nerd by day?

These are all percentages, so it gets a little hard to know what is what in real numbers... I assume there are MANY more aspiring writers than published writers, though self-publishing makes crossing that bridge a lot easier... so N for aspiring is biggest, followed by self... but I have NO CLUE how traditional and hybrid categories compare.

Comes out March 4--my 3rd Cozy
What I KNOW is I fell into the $1-$4,999 category this year... and last year... and the year before that. In 2010 I was the next category up because a three book contract with an advance meant I got a portion (40% of the advance for all three books) at signing. But in 2011 and 2012, I would have fallen in that 'traditional' $1-$4,999 category... this year I became purple... me and my $30 of Indie income *rolls eyes * Actually I've lost money on that so far, because I am paying for covers and editing, but I have hopes now that I am bundling it will get better, and once it is DONE, it will improve even more.

What gives me HOPE though, is that distribution of purple... hybids. That's me.

I sent a book that would be first in a second cozy series to my agent this week. I think it will sell. I'd frankly like to ALWAYS have a traditional series going. It gets me invited places. (is that shallow?) I think breaking out is easier with an icebreaker... and my personality just is NOT charming enough to break out otherwise. I am awkward.

And while hybrids have about 26% of us sitting here where I am ($1-$4,999) the next bump is at the $20K-$40K slot and 14% of us are making over $100K... I can be top 14%!

I will believe forever that publishing route should be a match of goals, genre and personality, but I am SO RELIEVED to see I am not dooming myself going about this sort of willy-nilly as I am... I'd felt very uncommitted...but I'm NOT uncommitted! I am a THING! A HYBRID!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Graham Parke: A Month to Charity...

My buddy Graham Parke is donating all his writing income this month to an international children's helpline and asked me if I'd help him spread the word... it sounded like it was a great cause, so I agreed... but I'll let HIM tell you about it.

Welcome Graham!

“I'm very polite by nature, even the voices in my head let each other finish their sentences.” – from Completely Flappable

Don’t you just hate it when you have a thousand little thoughts rattling around your brain, good for nothing but keeping you up at night? Ideas, worries, mental reminders for the next day? My voices can get pretty insistent, and mostly this is a nuisance, but sometimes it’s okay, when there’s a story idea or two among the ramblings. And rarely, very rarely, I get what I think is a really good idea, but one that I don't know what to do with.

For instance, a while ago it occurred to me that it’s probably not governments or big corporations that wield the world’s greatest financial power. I think it’s us. All the little people together. Then I started wondering what could happen if we all decided to set 1 month of our incomes aside towards fixing this place up a bit. How many of the world’s problems could we actually solve permanently? Half of them, maybe? All of them? That's a pretty cool picture.

But I’m a pretty dim light when it comes to implementing even small ideas, never mind the big ones. So I’m not sure how to get that ball rolling (heck, I'm not even sure where we keep the balls). But I can certainly start with myself. That’s easy enough (I’ve been in close contact with myself for years; I didn't have much trouble convincing myself.)

So, this December, all proceeds of all my novels will go to Child Helpline International. The CHI is pretty cool because they support toll-free child helplines worldwide and they help highlight gaps in child protection systems. They do all this on donations (click the image below for more information.)

But what does all this have to do with you? Well, I'm raffling off some prizes and giving out some freebees to boost the donation (expenses out of my own pocket, not the donation :P )

So what's in it for you, besides that warm, fuzzy feeling you'll get knowing the Xmas presents you’re buying include an automatic donation? Well, how about I give you the new edition to the award winning No Hope for Gomez saga completely free?
And how about a Kindle Fire HD raffle ticket with every purchase while we’re at it?
Simply forward your receipt emails to nohopeforgomez@gmail.com to participate.

And now, on to the pitch. This is the bit where I try to convince you, using only my words, that my novels don’t suck (or at least, not too much.) That they won’t only tickle your brain, but they’ll actually make your life better, if only marginally. That they are, in fact, worthy donation material. Here goes (fingers crossed)...

Paper: $6.08
(uk paper, kindle)

No Hope for Gomez!

Winner of the Forewords Book of the Year Awards, featured on Kirkus Best Indie List 2011, IBA and USA Book News Award nominee.
It's the age-old tale:

  Boy meets girl.
  Boy stalks girl.
  Girl already has a stalker.
  Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.

We've seen it all before, many times, but this time it's different. If only slightly.
"Extremely witty writing containing keen insights into human nature." --California Chronicle
"Challenges the way we think about, and interact with, the world around us." --Kirkus Discoveries
"The antics in this book will leave the reader laughing. Graham Parke is a genius."--Reader's Favorite

Unspent Time

Warning: reading this novel may make you more attractive and elevate your random luck by about 9.332%*
(*These statements have not been evaluated by anyone of consequence)
Permeating the cracks between the past and the present is the realm of Unspent Time. Time that was allotted but never spent. In this realm we find the stories that could have been true. Such as the story of the designer of the color scheme used inside your shoe, or the story of Goki Feng Ho: the Chinese art of decoding the secret meaning of car license plates.

Paper: $6.08
ePub : $2.99
(uk paper, kindle)
“Captivating. Each story fired up my imagination.” – Alan H. Jordan, author.
"Delightfully mad. Graham's vibrant characters shine from the first page." --Tahlia Newland, author.

Free with this event

Completely Flappable

“He’s completely flappable!”
“Don’t you mean he’s unflappable?”
“Not really. He can very easily be flapped.”
Gomez has never been on a date. In his 27 years on the planet he’s never been able to quite close the deal. For some reason, circumstances always conspire to make his meet-ups with women less than official dates. But now a blond German girl with freckles has moved into his building and he decides it’s time to get his act together.

If you've read this far, you're already my hero ;)
I hope you like my idea enough to join me in this fun adventure. Let's see how much we can raise this Xmas ;)

Kind regards,

Graham Parke

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IWSG: What's Your Flavor?

Welcome to first Wednesday, our typical Support Group Meeting Date for Insecure Writers!

I'm Hart, and I'm insecure.

[Hi Hart]

You know what I like?
Peanut butter and dill pickles on toasted whole wheat with a big glass of skim milk.

You know who else likes this?
In my life I've met maybe half a dozen, one of them I gave birth to, another gave birth to me. Far more think I'm really strange.

Know what else I like?

Know who else likes pizza?
Pretty much everybody who isn't lactose intolerant. I mean SURE we all have different toppings preferences (don't you DARE put pineapple on my pizza!) (and really REALLY don't you dare not put ANYTHING but cheese... pizza is all ABOUT toppings.) But see that is the thing... pretty much EVERYONE likes SOME sort of pizza.

So let's just say genres are food. And there is interesting exotic food that some people really love and other people really hate. (historic fiction or fantasy maybe)

And there are genres MANY like, but MANY do not... call it hamburgers... Genre fiction... food for the masses, unpalatable to some, but a regular meal for many...

There are foods like fois gras for the very refined palate... call it poetry... and grilled cheese that EVERYBODY likes some of, though some people (mostly young) like almost exclusively (Dr. Seuss)...

But the REAL point is MOST people like to mix it up SOME, but prefer one TYPE over OTHER types and dislike a few...

I will eat (and read) most stuff, though some of it in certain ways... I loved a lot of sweets as a kid... now I prefer they have some bitterness, zest, nuts or something else to mix them up... just like how I like romance... with some bitterness, zest or nuts to mix it up...

And what we WRITE also follows these rules... maybe we like to bake, or make soups (I am a one pot meal gal with a little of everything all at once... like those complicated books I like to write)

But at any given time, on the bestseller list, 6 of 10 are usually THRILLERS... I think Thrillers are our pizza. And just like with pizza, they always seem a lot better when made by a pro at a high end place. I REALLY REALLY want to be able to make the BEST pizza... Maybe that garlic sauce vegetarian one Papa Murphy's sells that everyone looks at funny and then says “OHMYGAWD that's the best pizza I ever had!” And try and try as I do to get it right, it just isn't quite the same. I can't get past the Boboli version... it has enough cheese and great toppings, but it's still... you know... not quite authentic.

So what food are YOUR books?
Do you like to stick to mostly one type, or mix it up?
Anything you avoid?
Anything you really WISH you could make?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Done and Undone

So there is a little less than one month left in this year, right? So I figured it was time to inventory what I really still needed to do. This year has had some wacky twists to it and I'm not at all sure I've met my goals, though I've accomplished quite a bit. But THAT assessment is something I do the last few days of the month. THIS one is more an “I think I can still manage” thing.

Gorgeous, eh!?
First news... I pressed publish on Book 5 last night and TODAY I will get sent the copies for people who have won subscriptions or have reviewed #4. (Note: I am doing this for ALL of them—the first 10 reviewers get the next book free, and thus far, only book 1 has more than 10 reviews—IFF I don't have your email and you want that freebie, you need to send it to me: hartjohnson23(at)gmail(dot)com.

So HERE'S what ima do in December...

A Shot in the Light Progress

1)  Edit Book 6 for 2nd readers
2)  Format the first SET (Books 1-4) for paperback and other eVersions.
3)  Finish writing Book 9 and write Book 10 (though I now know there will be two more AFTER that)
4)  Edit Book 6 for copy editor and publish it at the end of the month
5)  Edit book 7 for 2nd readers
6)  Edit book 8 for 1st readers

Add caption
Other Writing/Publishing

1)  PAGE PROOFS for Keeping Mum
2)  Polish What Ales Me for Ellen to see if she thinks it will sell (I think it will)
3)  Organize book ideas (I have a bunch of notebooks with scattered ideas and I try about twice a year to put them in a spreadsheet so they are all together.
4)  Make my 2014 plan for writing and editing
5)  Decide on what I am entering for ABNA and figure out what needs to be done
6)  Blog twice a week until the last week when I can do a little more, as I'm off work (see below for reason).

If only we can avoid this...

1)  I have a brand new office and a much bigger (pretty exciting) job. Sadly this means some limiting of my blogging because I don't have time during the day to visit others—I figure if I blog twice a week, then I can take a few days to do those reciprocal visits.


1)  HWMNBMOTI started a new job last month, so I have some extra home commitments... feeding my children now and then... things like that.
2)  It is ALSO December, so I need to do a little holiday prep—shopping, decorating, baking.
3)  Oh, to avoid holiday weight gain... it won't happen, but I can try to limit it some.

Any of the rest of you desperately trying to salvage your year's productivity?