Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In search of productivity

Recently I've had a problem that I'm sure most writers have from time to time. That problem is productivity, meaning writing productivity which translates to words on the virtual page. I sit down to write, fully intending to write, but for some reason I can't help looking at email, checking my Facebook page, or doing pretty much anything but actually writing.

I've decided this has gone on long enough. Starting today, I'm going to actually work on my WIP rather than say I'm going to work on it and then end up playing solitaire instead.

I'm a sucker for software products that are supposed to help with this kind of thing, so I've just installed a program on my computer called "Vitamin-R" which was part of a MacHeist software bundle I purchased today. It came with several other programs that I might look into later, but it was the Vitamin R that sold me on the bundle.

The program is running now as I write this blog post, having hidden all my other programs so I'm not distracted. Every minute or so it ticks and at intervals announces how long I've got left on the time slice I allotted to write this. Kind of cool, actually.

I have only five minutes left... I know because it just told me.

So maybe this is just a toy that I'll soon get bored with, but there is something to be said for positive reinforcement, even if it is just a computer program ticking in the background.

Anyone have any other tips for creating productivity?

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

Monday, July 14, 2014

CRUISING by Rolynn Anderson

You'll be reading this blog entry when I'm on my way through Rocky Pass and El Capitan in Southwest Alaska, two tricky passages we'll traverse for the first time on our way to Dixon Entrance.  Not only are these routes serpentine and narrow, but they are shallow and we'll need to watch out for strong currents in some places.  So you might ask why we don't take a less tricky route on our way south.  Good question.  One reason is this is a shorter 'road' to Dixon Entrance.  Better: other boaters tell us the scenery is gorgeous.  My husband would add this reason: this is a challenge for us and a new experience.

We've enjoyed returning to familiar places on this, our last trip to Alaska by boat, but we've taken pleasure in new experiences as well.  Take a look at our journey in our blog:  and follow our 'bread crumbs' on our SPOT GPS (you'll find the site on our blog).

Happy summer to you all.  Forgive me if I don't respond to comments...I won't have access to the internet for all of July.  Rolynn

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Self-imposed deadlines and why they're good

I've discovered that if I set a deadline to finish a book, then lo and behold, the book gets done. I set a very tight deadline for myself for the latest book. I started it on April 17 and I wanted it done by July 1.

Well, I didn't hit July 1. I hit July 7. But I was traveling for 2 weeks in there, and we had 2 trees land on our house during a tornado, so I was a bit distracted. I counted up my writing days, and it took me 62 days from start to finish.

Not bad.

I think deadlines are critical because otherwise it's way too easy to procrastinate, or wander while you're writing. If I have a firm deadline, I'll stay on task and keep my story in check. It's sort of amazing to me that after 7 years in this business, I'm still learning what works and what doesn't.

So on to the next deadline -- I haven't set it yet, but give me a week or so to relax, then I'll be itching to write again.

(summer book out just waiting to be read!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Unknown benefits of conferences

I just got back from a very good conference (Rom Con) in Denver. I had a good time, met a lot of readers, and re-connected with some friends I met last year.

Some conferences can be real drains on energy (RWA, for example) and some are real boosts. This is a Boost conference because I have a chance to kick back, relax, and connect with readers. I played all sorts of silly games, some with big name authors (Heather Graham, Cherry Adair) and some with readers. It was a lot of fun and here's the benefit of conferences like this:

Readers are why I write, and sometimes it's easy to forget that. But when I saw how excited people were about my current book (below) and new books coming out, I was excited, too. I forgot about the work it takes to get it there. It's all about the book and the reader, and I am the connection between the two.

I plan to savor that memory when I'm on deadline to get a book done.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Weddings on Main Street

WEDDINGS ON MAIN STREET, our Main Street’s second book, has just been released. last week. It is now offered at 99cents for a limited time only. Incredible bargain for a box set that should have cost over $30 if you had to buy the individual books.

Perfect timing for all the June weddings! And who doesn’t love a wedding? That happy couple represents so much love and hope for the future.

All the stories were written just for the set. Each is complete and each is a full novella length. Some are sweet and some are sexy. They are all perfect for Main Street!

Available at Amazon

And here are the eleven books offered in Weddings on Main Street:

What a Cowgirl Wants by Tori Scott.
April Fool Bride by Joan Reeves.
Wedding Surprise by Mona Risk.
Small Town Glamour Girl Wedding by Stephanie Queen. USA TODAY Bestelling Author.
The Vow by Pepper Phillips.
The Reluctant Bride by Jill James.
Kiss the Bridesmaid by Susan R. Hughes.
Second Chance Wedding by Leigh Morgan.
Once Upon a Wedding by Kelly Rae.
Stuck with You by Kristy Tate.
I Thee Wed by E. Ayers.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Are conventions worth it?

Having returned last month from the RT Book Lovers convention in New Orleans, and finished entering my costs for the convention into my expense tracking software, I’m evaluating if and how much the convention has affected my sales.

The answer isn’t heartening.

I love conventions, particularly RT Book Lovers which is so much fun. I got to wear costumes, interact with readers, bond with my fellow authors, and in general have a great time. When you consider that I even missed one day of the convention due to illness (I picked up a nasty bug and ended up in bed all day Friday, only returning to the convention the next day for the book signing) and still consider the time I spent there a success in many ways.

But the cold hard facts are that going to a convention does not automatically result in the sale of additional books, at least not of books that have been released for some time.

I have a diagram here that demonstrates this:

This is hard data, the sales graph off of Kindle Digital Publishing for one of the titles that I promoted the most at the convention. About a third of the items I gave out had a business card of this book, and it's cover was the poster I used for my bin on promo lane which I suspect most of the attendees of the convention passed by at one time or another. So if any book should show a rise in sales due to exposure at the convention, it should be this one.

The convention period is shown as a rectangle placed over the graph. If conventioneers were so entranced by my cover or promotional material to buy the book you would expect to see a rise of sales during the convention or at least in the two to three weeks following... and it is true that Saturday was a pretty good day. But overall number of sales before and after the convention for that one title remains fairly flat. If my giveaways were generating additional sales, you would expect to see some change and there is none. The rest of my titles show the same thing... exposure at the convention shows no effect on sales.

Which is why I don’t look to this kind of convention to sell existing books. I might possibly do better by putting the money into Facebook ads where the immediacy of sales is possible. Viewer sees title, cover, and blurb that interest them... they click a button and the book downloads onto their phone. 
That’s the real way books sell these days.

So I don't really go to RT Book Lovers to sell books. I go because I have fun and if I didn’t when would I have a chance to wear a halo? And at these conventions I get a chance to interact with fellow authors in ways I rarely can online. People will tell you to your face things they won't say in an email and a lot of what I've learned has done me well later on.

As for sales? I do what I feel comfortable doing for give-aways and hope for the best. For those who went to the convention, did you see any rise in sales as a result? If so, what did you do at the convention that I didn't?


Saturday, June 14, 2014


My first book signing in a Petersburg, AK, bookstore was a smashing success!  Not only did I sell every LIE CATCHERS book I brought along (43) but I sold ten of my other three books!  53 is the final number of books sold! 

The day was magic.  KPLZ radio blasted my interview all day long and the weekly newspaper came out on Thursday morning with my picture and an interview in it.  Posters announcing the event were tacked on bulletin boards all over town for weeks, too.  And it was a sunny, no-wind day in beautiful Petersburg, Alaska.  Buyers were lined up to buy my book by 1:00 and I had a steady stream of people show up in the next two hours.  Enough people in town had read LIE CATCHERS and passed the word around it was a fun read, but many came to talk to me about the way I’d handled the 1932 cold case murder of Sing Lee.  People in Petersburg love their town and its rich history.  Earl added LIE CATCHERS to his library of 600 books on Alaska.  Nina, the town’s only Rhodes scholar, is a mystery buff, excited to read one rich with her city’s history.  Brenda, the owner of a local gift shop, came because she is a Tlingwegian (offspring of a Tlingit native and a Norwegian), the heritage of my heroine in LIE CATCHERS.  

We cruised away from this lovely town, warmed by memories of a dream book signing.  Petersburg has made me feel like an authentic author, giving me the impetus to write my next book!

If I don’t comment on this blog right away, it means I can’t get to an Internet during my time on the boat.  I’ll get back to you as soon as I reach civilization.  Happy Summer!  Rolynn