What started off as childhood animosity eventually developed into an adulthood attraction. Just when Alexa and William start to explore these newfound feelings, tragedy strikes. And then it strikes again. And again. Aaaaand again.
So I did it!
I cast the net out further into the ocean (so to speak).
A few years ago, after finishing my first novel, I considered publishing it traditionally and was quickly disenchanted. As a fledgling author still learning the craft, the odds of getting noticed by an agent or publisher were against me. I’d spend months, if not years trying to get a foot in the door, only to have my toes crushed. After 40 years in the business world, I had become a staunch realist and knew this would be the case.
Not one to stand still when faced with a challenge, I decided to explore self-publishing. I read the debates and reviewed the pros and cons, and for where I was as an author, it made sense. Would I ever consider going the traditional route if the stars aligned? Of course, I would. But this way, I could test the waters and get my stories out there, knowing it would be entirely up to me. I would get what I put into it.
As I got the process going, I could not believe how much the self-publishing ecosystem had grown, especially with the advent of ease-of-use technology. There was a multitude of tools and support mechanisms to get your book in front of potential customers. These readers would be the ones to decide if your book was good enough, and I appreciated that.
After investigating the details of each self-publishing option, I decided on Kindle Direct. And why not? It was the fastest-growing platform out there and part of the Amazon family. How could I go wrong? I signed up with KD and went full speed ahead.
I’ve been nothing but impressed with the ease of their publishing and marketing tools (Kindle Create is fantastic!). And the support from Amazon/Kindle has been phenomenal. I will continue to use Kindle, which I see as a must for any indie author.
I’ve sold my books in 14 countries, which I had not expected as a first-time indie author. (All pretty cool, I must say.) Still, it was a break-even endeavor given the marketing required.
Despite the sales I did get, I had still not created the following that would give me airtime with traditional publishers. The next step would be to expand my reach and to do this, I needed to consider other platforms like Apple Books, Barnes and Noble Press, and Kobo. Would they be as easy as Kindle, and would they be worth it in the end? It was time to find out.
One of the benefits that lured me to Kindle Direct in the first place, was the ability to enroll my novel in KDP Select. This option gives you access to exclusive promotional tools such as Kindle Countdown Deal and Free Book offers. You are also included in the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. With KU, customers don’t purchase your book. Instead, they buy a monthly subscription, which allows them to read any book they want, so long as it was enrolled with KU. Authors get paid on a page-read basis, which can be very lucrative if your book becomes popular.
But here’s the catch – if you decide to go the KDP Select route, your book must be exclusive to Kindle. You have some smart cookies at Amazon, who know this will control the market. But in all fairness, this is business, and you do get something for this exclusivity. In some cases, my royalties from the pages read were higher than those from my book sales.
So, why would I want to consider other platforms if I’m so happy with Kindle, you ask?
On Kindle, there are millions of books – millions. You are a guppy in a vast ocean. Because of this, you need to work hard and have an impressive social media presence (as well as loyal readers) to make it out of oblivion. Search engines, keywords, algorithms, these can all be daunting at times. I wondered if the competition for readers would be as fierce on other platforms. The end game is to build a following, then they talk to two friends and so on and so on.
This was why I decided to test the waters with my fourth book. Although I did publish with Kindle, I didn’t enroll this book in KDP Select. Without exclusivity limitation, I was able to published it on the three other leading platforms (Apple, B & N, and Kobo) in addition to Kindle. The jury is out, but I will keep you posted on my experiences with each.
As a start, I could not believe how easy it was to self-publish a book on those other platforms. I had not expected this. Formating, uploading, account sign-ups were all quite intuitive, and responses from each company when questions arose were excellent. I was pretty impressed with how, like Kindle, they supported the indie author. And this was all done with zero upfront costs on my part.
There’s no doubt publishing on various platforms takes more time. You need to use multiple sites and an array of programs to prep and submit your books. But in the end, the process wasn’t onerous. In fact, I had fun doing it.
I will need to market and promote my book, but that is a must regardless of the platform you use. I’m not as good as others at this, but I plan to focus on this aspect of the business in 2021.
I would enjoy responding to any questions you might have on this topic. I won’t say I’m an expert at it, but given I’m now published on multiple sites, I do have some (moderate) experience.
If you’ve ever thought of writing and publishing, don’t let the fears of jumping in stop you. The water is nice once you get used to it. 😊
Check out my new book – In the Shadow of the Hawthorn. Available where most other indie books are sold.
In the last year, I’ve been quiet but not idle. My husband and I have settled blissfully into retirement, became grandparents, and faced unprecedented times like everyone else. We made the best of things, as always, looking for the silver lining.
I saw an anonymous quote regarding the pandemic that I loved.
This too shall pass,
It will feel like a kidney stone, but it will pass.
The author of this quote could not have been more right.
During our seclusion, I’ve written two more novels (finalizing both now) and reviewed my previously published ones. It is said that authors never really finish their books, and I certainly saw that as I was correcting and modifying a few things.
As I worked on my second novel, I recalled a blog I had written over a year ago. I read it over and smiled as it was as accurate today as it was back then.
Here it is again, in case you missed it…
While working on my second novel, I was emotionally touched by a very powerful scene I was developing. As I typed, tears streamed down my face. Although still in rough draft, this segment will be crucial in the book, and I am pleased with it even though it will be tough to read.
Indeed, other writers must feel this level of emotion when they write. And I’m convinced that, like me, these words will become their most cherished.
Author Manoj Arora had a brilliant response to the question of how a writer feels when they write, and I had to share:
“It’s chaos. And from that chaos, an idea appears. And you have to see it, you have to feel it. I’m not being abstract. It actually happens; you try to visualize everything, you try to talk and walk and think like your characters do, and you put yourself in the situations where your characters are just to see exactly how it feels…”
She was so right.
It’s when we get this absorbed that we create our best work. Writing is not a chore; it’s an extension of life, and the emotions and feelings we feel are what make the novel worth reading.
I know this is a time of confusion, worry, and dismay. We are all feeling it.
With many confined to their homes, I thought to offer my latest novel for free over the next few days. My hope is that some of you may get lost in the story, at least for a while.
Stay safe and wash your hands.
When I woke up this morning, there were only 33 days, 785 hours, and 47,147 minutes to my retirement, but hey, who’s counting. Truthfully, I have been dreaming of this for months now. Although I enjoyed my career, reaching heights not thought possible when I was a fledgling accountant, I’ve eagerly looked forward to this next stage of my life. It would be a time of family, of doing the things on my own schedule, and, of course, a time to write.
I have dreamt of sitting outside, a nice glass of merlot close at hand, in our beautiful gazebo, where I would let the words flow from my fingers. It would be heaven on earth. But I’ve now learned, it could be more than that.
I did a bit of research (seems I do a lot of that lately) and found that writing in retirement is, in fact, therapeutic for the mind. Here I was, thinking I was going to do it for fun.
Science says I have been using the left side of my brain, the logical side, during my 35 years as an accountant. By switching to the right side of my brain, the creative side, I can continue to develop my mind, which can stem such diseases as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and others. With a grandfather who passed away from Alzheimer’s and many friends speaking of dementia in their family, writing could be a tonic for me (if it wasn’t already).
I see these benefits as bonuses given I planned to write anyway. I get lost in my stories and love where the words take me. All I can say is that these 33 days will not go fast enough…
To celebrate the launch of my final chapter in the Taylor Series, Taken From Love, I’m giving away the first in the series, Here and Then After, so that you can start your journey.
Here’s what people are saying:
“I can’t recommend book 1 enough. I have definitely fallen in love with this family, and this manor. Can’t wait to see what comes next in book 2!” – Review from Romance Novels for the Beach
“As I started reading this book I was surprised at how each of the characters were interesting in their own way. I couldn’t put this book down til the end. I hope there’s another one following this one. You will enjoy it.” – Kindle Customer
I hope you enjoy it too!
When I started on this journey a few years ago, the thought that I could publish a book, let alone three, was a dream at best. Despite the challenges, I started to write and the words just flowed. I had a story to tell, and couldn’t wait to share it.
Fast-forward two years and here I am, looking at my three-book series published on Amazon. I am nowhere near done learning, and that excites me.
As I look to retirement in the next few months, I’m giddy like a child, knowing I’ll be able to spend even more time, improving my writing and further developing my style. I can’t wait to see where my next stories will take me.
In celebration of this newest release, I am gearing up for a Free Promotional Event where, starting on Friday, October 25th, you will be able to download my first book in the series, Here and Then After, as a gift.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it.
(Trumpets sounding in the background, and confetti everywhere!)
Yes, it’s finally here – the last release of the Taylor Series.
Taken From Love, tells the story of Gabriella Taylor, daughter of Sam and Beth from Here and Then After. A spirited girl, Gabriella needed adventure and got a boatload of it, pirates included. This, along with finding love, was certainly more than she expected.
I will admit; it was bittersweet to finish this novel as it meant the end of the series.
I enjoyed the characters and the world I had created and didn’t want it to end. It had provided me with a release I so needed at times. It was going to be sad to let it go.
I learned a great deal while writing these books, most importantly, that I had so much more to learn (like how to use commas properly – argh!), but I look forward to continuing to improve and grow as an author.
I’m currently working on my next book, which is intended to be a standalone historical romance.
Who knows, perhaps one day I will revisit the Taylors. They have, after all, meant so much to me along this fabulous journey. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this newest release.
My third and final book of the Taylor Series is almost ready!
I think its the most exciting of the three. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
Release date : Mid-September 2019
Recently, I received a note from a good friend of mine who was taking a well-deserved vacation. As a tax expert and executive, her mind is always reeling. She was much in need of some time away. I gave her my book “When Hearts Break” for her to (hopefully) enjoy during this break.
Her note back to me, reminded me of why I love storytelling.
“Ola my dear friend, I hope you are doing well. I wanted to send you a quick note to tell you how much I adored reading your book. It was truly the highlight of my trip and transported me into a different world. I could live through your beautiful story telling and could envision the story unfolding in front of me as if it was a movie. I finished the book already and have felt lost the past couple of days as I missed the special world it created for me, away from all my surroundings. Your story will forever be associated with my trip and much needed rest.
You have a special gift and please keep writing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing with me your special book.”
Yes, I will keep writing.
This book essentially takes place in three phases. Phase one reintroduces us to the characters from the first novel and highlights how their love is just as strong now as it was all those years ago. We also see an introduction to this couple’s son, William, and the initial animosity between him and his sister’s best childhood friend, Alexa. Flash forward a few years and we see these two brush aside their childhood annoyances to instead timidly lay the groundwork for a possible relationship. The real focus though of this first phase surrounded Alexa’s mother, Celia. As you can see, there are quite a number of different characters presented here. Celia has always been a devoted wife and mother, but a mystery illness has plagued her for years. Just as Alexa and William start their own flirtations, we simultaneously see Celia in pursuit of her own happiness after being trapped in a loveless marriage for so long.
Now, I always try to keep my reviews free of spoilers, but in my humble opinion, the synopsis of the book should have come with a spoiler alert warning! It’s not hard to guess how Celia’s illness coming to the forefront might play into the synopsis’ reference to “painful losses” and Alexa being “thrown into unfathomable misery.” It made it so much easier to see where the story was going before we even got there. There were also numerous insinuations and hints that tragedy loomed closer with every turn of the page. And this brings us to phase two of the book, which is definitely an emotional downer. Gone are the seemingly carefree days of buying dresses and spontaneous flirtations with William. We see Alexa fall into a dark depression, and we feel every painful moment and heartache right along with her. Finally, we arrive at phase three, where we hope and pray that Alexa and William will finally find their way back to each other. Which they kind of do before conniving characters and calamitous circumstances rip them apart. This final phase is full of suspense, as well as the feeling that nothing is ever going to go right for our characters. This is when you’ll start to bite your nails wondering if Alexa and William will ever manage to find a happily ever after.
The Property of Men
The precarious position of women in English society is definitely highlighted prominently in this second book. In the first novel, we saw a woman from the present day travel through time to 19th century England. While she definitely encountered difficulties as a woman that she hadn’t experienced in her own time, she also managed to push the boundaries when she knew it was an area where she could excel, even if it was one typically reserved for men. Thankfully she was able to find a man who appreciated her expertise in a “man’s world”. In this novel though, we see more of a focus on two women who were actually born and raised in this time.
Alexa is a young woman whose mobility and fate is heavily determined by her father. As for her mother, Celia, we see a woman whose very life is literally held in the hands of her husband. Her frequent bouts of chest pain and shortness of breath have been brushed aside as “women’s nonsense” by her husband for years, and we can’t help but feel that a terrible fate lies in wait around the corner. We see how these women can be trapped in life due to the very fact they are women. And yet, we also see how they reach a breaking point where they are determined to break free and take their lives into their own hands. They understand that life is short, and they’re no longer willing to push aside their wants, desires, and passions merely because of their gender. It might start off as a somewhat crushing read, but as time goes on we see these strong women become empowered to pursue love, life, and happiness. Before it all comes tumbling down around them of course.
A Point of Comparison
Alexa and William are surprisingly separated for a good portion of the book. We get a few scenes of them together as they explore their new feelings of attraction, but there’s seemingly so much more of a focus on Alexa’s mother in part 1, Alexa’s personal melancholy in part 2, and some scheming side characters in part 3. It sort of felt like we only saw a handful of scenes throughout the book with the two of them in the same room. Otherwise, it was either a focus on different characters, or we would see Alexa and William reminiscing and daydreaming about each other. When they do eventually come together, and we hope that things might finally be turning in a positive direction for the two of them, calamity upon calamity strikes which pulls them further apart.
I think it would have been particularly interesting if we saw more of what changed their negative childish opinions of each other. We see them reconnect after years apart, and they seem immediately taken with each other. Their childhood hatred has apparently been thrown by the wayside with a mere glance. There’s an obvious physical attraction that draws them together, but I would have liked if we spent more time with them developing an emotional connection. I couldn’t help but continuously compare Alexa and William to our couple from the first book. What made that couple so intriguing was that it was Beth’s mind, as well as her looks, which drew her and Samuel together. Seeing as Alexa and William spend so much of the book apart from one another, it feels like we don’t get a chance to see the added depth and strong foundation to their relationship. The most touching scene between them by far was the last scene of the novel, as it allowed us a glimpse into how affectionate and caring these two can be. I did appreciate that it was William who managed to pull Alexa out of her misery in phase 2, but I think the addition of just one more scene could have really tied together the entire progression of their relationship.
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Taylor, book 2. I can’t recommend book 1 enough, but I will say this sequel does an amazing job summarizing the events from the first installment. While you wouldn’t necessarily have to go back to book 1 to follow along with the plot of this story, it’s definitely a great one to pick up. I also can’t wait to see what’s in store for book 3!
Final Impressions: This is an emotionally intense read. Our characters seem to face more trials and tribulations than they do successes, and this is especially true when we see the introduction of two new characters in the final phase of the book. Let’s just say one particular female character manages to make the Evil Queen from Sleeping Beauty look like Oprah. Personally, I would have liked to see more scenes involving Alexa and William together, as well as a deeper exploration of how their initial childhood hatred turned to affection. Instead, we see their interactions restricted to a small handful of quick scenes which are constantly interrupted by tragedy and deception. They also have the tendency to try and protect the other as much as possible, to the point where they don’t confide in each other as much as they should, which of course results in more calamity. Kind of a vicious circle!
Smut Level: One delightful scene, but nothing too steamy or raunchy.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 365 Pages.