I’m writing this article on February 22nd. It’s a beautiful Southern California day with temperatures expected to hit the low eighties. I can tell you that February 22, 2011, was also a beautiful day. The sun was shining and there was a light breeze in the air.
Now you’re probably wondering if I’m a living almanac. I’m not. On this date last year, it was a Tuesday and my last day of working for the LAPD. My co-workers threw me a fabulous BBQ. My retirement wasn’t official until February 26th, but that BBQ was my last day at Devonshire Station. Oh, I snuck back in and did my last Basic Car meeting on Wednesday, but I was in plain clothes and it was more of a party than a meeting.
If I had to describe my retirement in one word, I’d say: hectic.
One of the main reasons I retired was because my mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I spent most of March taking Mom to various doctors for various issues. I’ve been driving over 70 miles three times a week to spend time with her.
I also needed to catch up on my own periodic doctor appointments. Some of those doctor visits were in relation to the back injury I’d suffered in an on-duty traffic collision.
In addition, I began to get phone calls from friends who all wanted to have lunch, since I had ‘nothing but time on my hands.’ I didn’t want to burst their bubble about what retirement is all about, so I went.
I’d already made my decision to self-publish my debut novel and was working with a cover designer to get the cover ready. I also took an online class to learn how to make a book trailer (much like a movie trailer) for my book. I also tried to learn how to format my manuscript for e-reading devices (Kindle, Nook, etc.) I joined two other writing groups and started reading up on how to promote my book and myself.
June was a huge month for me. I launched my book on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. My second career had begun! But it wasn’t just the book launch that made the month special. I also had been approved for an epidural shot to help ease the pain in my back. I had that procedure done in mid-June.
The month of July was a blur to me. I spent as long hours at my computer self-promoting my book by requesting reviews from book reviewers and book bloggers. I attended the Public Safety Writer’s Association yearly conference in Las Vegas as a speaker. The only problem was, that I’d arrived a few days early and, by the time the conference rolled around I was seriously ill and had to go home. What a way to make a good impression. Thankfully, to my knowledge, no one else got sick.
In August, my book ‘took off’ on the Barnes and Noble website and I was in their Top 100 of all their books being sold. It wasn’t long and I hit the Top 100 at Amazon as well. This was another month of heavy book promotion. You have no idea how many book-related websites there are on the Internet!
However, August was also a sad month too. Over the few months I’d been stopping in three times a week to care for Mom, I’d come to realize that Mom’s condition was way more advanced than either my sister or I realized. We came to the conclusion Mom would have to go into an assisted living facility.
The arrangements were made to get Mom moved and comfortable in her new place. I spent the first two days with her to help her get oriented and continue to visit her three times a week. None-the-less, it was one of the hardest decisions my sister and I had ever made.
In September, I taught an online writing class. It was also time for Mom’s scheduled visits to her doctors and I was still seeing a group of doctors regarding my back. Oh, and have I said that during this whole time I was revising my second book, A Deadly Blessing?
October found me teaching another on-line writing class and taking Saturday’s to go cheer at my granddaughter’s soccer games. I was still revising my next book and began working with new website designers to give my website a facelift.
I was still spending about six hours a day self-promoting my book in November. I guess I should clarify here that when I say self-promoting, I was also reading the tons of articles to keep abreast of the vast changes in the writing scene. I also ‘ran away’ for a few days to a hotel where I could lay out the 300+ pages of my revised book and see how it all was flowing.
I don’t really need to say anything about December. It was the holiday season, filled with more events, obligations and merriment than usual.
The first of this year has been spent revising and editing A Deadly Blessing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed it comes out in March. The manuscript is in the hands of beta readers right now.
But what about my former life? My life as a cop. What about that? It doesn’t happen often, (mostly because I dot have time to think about it), But sometimes I ache to be driving the black and white and wearing my uniform and badge. I’ll see LAPD officers on a traffic stop, but now, instead of being their back-up, I’m a typical rubbernecker. Driving to where my mom lives for a visit, I’ll see the LAPD helicopter racing to a call somewhere or orbiting over a ‘hot’ call. I want so badly to know what’s going on and to be ‘in’ on the action.
I wanted to find a way to cope with those feelings. So, when I see police activity that tugs at my memories, I try to think of possible circumstances of the incident that I can turn into a scene in a future book. Admittedly, it doesn’t always cure the melancholy, but it leads to some really interesting pages on my computer.
Until next time,
Yesterday, I made my bi-monthly pilgrimage to Costco to stock up on paper towels, toilet paper, and impulse items I wouldn’t normally have bought – in this case, imitation fur-lined gloves and a paper shredder.
My basket was overflowing with my bounty, and being it was a weekend, I stood in line with all the other delusional people who thought they too were saving money by purchasing items in bulk, conveniently forgetting the items in their carts selected on a whim.
I picked my checkout line with care. I didn’t want to get behind the family with four kids and four times the amount of items I had in my own cart. I didn’t want to get in the line where the checker had no ‘box’ person to reload the cart with my purchases.
Assessing the checkers, I wanted one who seemed to be moving efficiently with not a lot of chatter. I found my line and started unloading the cart.
When the clerk reached out for my card, I also proudly handed him the three coupons for my fabric softener sheets, mouthwash, and Kleenex tissues. With his little barcode gun, he immediately went to work on the heavy items I’d left in the basket. This is where everything started to fall apart.
The checker moved like a whirling dervish. There were only five heavy items in my cart, but he must have scanned each item three times. He came back to the register and advanced the tape several times, counting items. He was in such a frenzy, he couldn’t figure out which of the five items wasn’t scanning. Eventually, he figured out it was the paper shredder…the reason it wasn’t scanning was because there was a ten dollar manufacturer discount that needed to be taken at the register. I don’t normally go over my receipts before I leave a store, but I made a mental note to do so this time.
Once he got the heavy items out of the way, he scanned the barcodes on my smaller items like a mad man. My order was done quite quickly. He finished with a flourish and announced my total. I asked him if he’d applied my coupons to the total. He quicuckly glanced at the register receipt and said yes. Then he scooped up my coupons, crumpled them up and put them under the counter.
I was suspicious. I hadn’t seen him scan my coupons. So, when I got my receipt I moved out of the flow of basket traffic and reviewed my purchases. I immediately realized he had NOT applied my coupons to my order. I wondered why someone would be so blatantly stupid to lie to me in that manner. I was transported back to my cop days when I’d caught someone in the act of criminal activity and the stupid lies they’d spin to try to convince me of their innocence.
I slogged my cart over to the customer service desk and relayed my experiences. I told the representative I wasn’t upset the clerk had missed the coupons. I was upset he’d transparently lied about it. I also relayed the fact I thought the checker was working very hard but maybe too fast. Eventually, I got my $8.00 in coupon savings applied back to my credit card and I left the store placated.
But it got me to thinking about my own habits. With my penchant for over-committing, I too am often moving faster than I’d like. It makes me worry about things I might have missed in haste.
Not wanting to dwell on my own possible shortcomings too much, I got to thinking about other writers. I wondered about writers who announce they’ve just finished their debut novel and are going to start the sequel – but that’s after they finish the novella they’ve had in the back of their mind. After they finish the sequel to their novel, they’ll try their hand at branching out to another genre, and then do a novella in that style as well. Oh, and they hope to get all these books and novellas written before summer ‘beach-read’ buying season.
Can a writer do so much writing a matter of months? Sure. Will it be good writing? I’m not sure.
I know I can’t turn out multiple quality stories in that amount of time. I suspect there are few writers who can. Do I think there are authors out there who are shooting themselves in the foot with their whirling dervish writing style? I’ll just say such writers may be hurting themselves by working hard…but maybe too fast.
Regardless of a writer’s speed in turning out the next book or novella, is there a customer service desk where readers can go when they feel they didn’t get what they were entitled to? Yep, it’s called one and two star book reviews. Oh, and don’t forget the ‘coupons’ also known as returns.
Until next time,
So you’ve got your new Kindle and loaded it up with lots of books. You’re bound to have hours and hours of reading pleasure from some of your favorite authors and probably some newly published authors as well. Have I got exciting news for you!
For many people who buy books traditionally, one of the customary experiences is to have an author autograph and personalize the book for them. But now that you own a Kindle, how do you get the author to ‘sign’ your copy of their book?
The answer is Kindlegraph. I’m no techno-wizard, so I’ll include a link to the Kindlegraph website in a minute. But I want you to understand the process to get an author’s autograph sent to your Kindle is very easy.
The first thing you’ll have to do is sign up for a Twitter account because you use your Twitter sign-in to access Kindlegraph. I don’t know why you have to do this, but don’t let it scare you. Just because you sign up for a Twitter account doesn’t mean you have to use it. I have a friend who signed up for Twitter and has never used her account except to sign up for Kindlegraph. If you’ve already got a Twitter account you’re all set for Kindlegraph.
So, you’ve signed up for Twitter, then the next thing you’ll want to do is go to the Kindlegraph website. I’m about to include the link, but I’m not sending you to the home page. I’m going to send you to a page where there is a brief video that shows exactly how Kindlegraph works. The video was made by Kindlegraph’s creator, Evan Jacobs. Once you’ve seen the video you’ll see how it works and how simple it is.
Here is the link for the Kindlegraph video: http://www.Kindlegraph.com/about
Here is the link for Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com
Naturally, I’m hoping you’ll buy my book, A Dozen Deadly Roses, and ask me to sign it for you on your Kindle. If that sounds good to you, here’s is a link to my book at Amazon:
Oh, and for Nook owners…Evan Jacobs is working on a version for Nook as well!
If this is your first visit to my blog I hope you’ll come back again. Take a look around my website and I’ll see you soon.
Until next time,
When a person is employed, usually the employer has some format in place to assess the performance of the employee. For most of my career with the LAPD I received a yearly Performance Evaluation Report. A few years ago, they scrubbed the old format and came up with the Standards Based Assessment.
It doesn’t matter what the department calls them – the officers just call it a rating report. When the rating reports were changed to the Standard Based Assessment, the idea was the report would more accurately document the individual officer’s performance…without any subjectivity. There were, basically, three levels of evaluation an evaluator could choose for the various categories of job performance: Needs Improvement, Meets or Sometimes Exceeds Standards, and Greatly Exceeds Standards.
But the problem is, no matter how many check boxes you put on a form, the person who is ‘checking’ those boxes is using their subjective opinion. There is a section where the rater can add comments and usually, those comments reflect the rating of the officer.
Frankly, I wasn’t too concerned about my Performance Evaluations (or my Standard Based Assessments either). I worked as hard as I could and did the best job that I could – no matter what my assignment was. I hoped that my supervisors and commanding officers recognized how hard I was working, but the truth was I knew I was doing a good job and I was able to collect my paycheck without reservation. (There were people I knew who should have been paying the city <g>).
But now I’ve started this new career as an author. There isn’t anyone who will be giving me a written evaluation of my work product. Basically, I have to rely on my sales…and reviews. But for those of you not in the ‘writing arena’, you would be shocked at how few readers actually write a review for a book. Currently, I stand about tied between book reviews and fan letters I’ve received. I love to interact with my readers (so keep those e-mails coming). But I’d also like to know how to generate more reviews from people who’ve purchased and read my book.
I’m not alone. Many writers sing the same song…How do I get my readers to leave reviews? And what we mean is, if you bought your book via Amazon, leave a review on the book’s Amazon page. Same goes for Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords, or whatever retailer you purchased your book.
You might also be surprised to know that authors don’t necessarily expect you to gush about their book. They’d rather have the truth than some overblown piece loaded with dozens of adjectives. Of course, if you hated the book, you can say that – but even if that’s the truth, usually, you can find at least one thing to mention that the author did well.
So, if you are mainly a reader: Do you write reviews for books you’ve read? If not, why not? Do you write fan letters to the author?
If you are mainly a writer: Do you solicit reviews from readers? Do you like getting fan mail? Dumb question I know – but I have found some authors who don’t like interacting with their readers.
One thing I can tell you. My work ethic hasn’t changed from one career to the other. As a writer I still work as hard as I can and do the best job I can – no matter what aspect of writing I’m doing. I hope my readers and peers recognize how hard I work, but the truth is I know I’m working hard and writing the best stories I can, so I’m able to collect my payment without reservation.
Until next time,
As a former police officer, I’ve been in countless situations where my heart beat out of my chest whether it was from fear, excitement, or adrenaline.
When I chose to retire, I kind of thought those days were behind me. In fact, I looked forward to spending my days writing my books and trying to snare the one agent and publisher who would make my dreams of being a published author come true.
About the same time as my retirement, I also began to hear tales of self-publishing and how some writers were making a go of it. I investigated the process and for various reasons (mostly due to having control of the process) I chose to self-publish my book, a romantic suspense, A Dozen Deadly Roses. In fact, having control of the whole publishing process was very appealing to me.
So, in June 2011, I made my book available on Smashwords, Kindle, and Nook. Then I let my friends, family, and all my blog followers, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers know that I was now a published author.
Every morning I went to my account sections of my various retailers to see how my sales were doing. I was quite pleased to discover that it seemed my sales were going better than average. Of course it was impossible to know for sure, but I felt I was doing pretty good. I can remember saying to my husband, ‘I just hope I can maintain ten sales a day’. Then something wild happened.
This past week my Nook numbers spiked. I sold double-digits in one day on Nook – where I’d previously been selling one or two books a week. I was thrilled and had no idea what caused the jump. I knew something was up, so I searched the Barnes and Noble site and found that I was on the list of the Top 100 Barnes and Noble Nookbook (e-book) Police Stories. I was giddy with excitement! This was like winning the lottery. My heart was beating like a machine gun. Immediately I got online and spread the word about this stroke of luck.
Each day I’d get up and check my numbers; and while the other retailers remained static, my Nook numbers were soaring. A day or two later, I then discovered I was in the Top 100 Barnes and Noble Nookbooks! I was beside myself. I couldn’t believe it. I got online and put out that announcement too. I think for two days I was really really happy.
But then pressure began to mount. First of all, I had no idea what had caused my rapid assent to the tops of these lists. I certainly wasn’t controlling my sales. I was beside myself with worry that I didn’t have a follow-up book for readers to buy. I was afraid that I’d reached the pinnacle of my writing career after just a month and a half of being published. I wasn’t reveling in the fact I was up on the shelf next to James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, Michael Connelly, or Tom Clancy…to name a few.
But today, I finally realized something. I can’t control how many books I sell. I can’t control if I make it on one list or another. All I can control is writing the best books I can. Writing as many books as I can, and nurturing the relationship I have with my friends, family and readers.
So this is my promise to you. I will do everything I can to write a book that entertains you, makes your heart beat with excitement, and gives you characters to root for and care about. I will be there for you as family, friends and readers. I hope you’ll come visit me at my website, or on Facebook or on Twitter. www.KathyBennett.com, www.Facebook.com/Kathywriteslapd, www.Twitter.com/Kathywriteslapd
That’s all I can control. Where I land in my sales is out of my hands…and in yours.
Until next time,
Well, now you can be – and be in no danger of going to jail. This is my way to announce my debut novel, A Dozen Deadly Roses is now available as an e-book for Kindle here: http://tinyurl.com/3rqlr9t and, as an e-book at Smashwords.com for other formats here: http://tinyurl.com/42gcyjo. If you don’t have an e-reader, you can read the book on your computer. Go to Smashwords.com and purchase the HTML version. The Nook and other e-book readers will be added within the next couple of weeks so you can purchase them at their respective websites – and don’t worry, I’ll let you know when those formats are available.
Now about that crook business…The larceny comes in with the fact you can own this book for only $.99! That’s less than your favorite beverage at Starbucks. Heck, that’s less than most anything you can buy.
Here’s a hint of what the book is about:
Los Angeles Police Officer Jade Donovan is being hunted. There’s the lieutenant who’s out to get her, the psycho who’s stalking her and leaving dead roses at her door, but most frightening of all, she’s been assigned to partner with her son’s father, Mac Stryker. Mac doesn’t know he’s Donnie’s dad, and Jade will stop at nothing to prevent him from finding out and possibly taking away her son. She will protect and defend him at all costs.
Mac Stryker is a cop with something to prove. Five years ago, he’d been forced to resign the police department in disgrace when he was too drunk to take action during a shooting. Now, Mac is sober, back on the force and back working with Jade Donovan, the rookie who’d saved his life. Worse, he finds himself attracted to Jade and her precocious son, Donnie. But Mac is through with love. The violent death of his wife and daughter turned him into an alcoholic, and he won’t put his job or his heart at risk again. He will protect and defend them both at all costs.
But when the deadline looms on Jade’s dozen deadly roses stalker, will the two partners manage to put aside their differences in order to save their son?
It’s taken me many years (too many to mention) to make my dream of being a published author a reality. I KNOW A Dozen Deadly Roses is worth the buck. So, if you’re a reader, please take a chance on me and give the book a try. And if you aren’t reader – tell your friends who are.
If you DO like the book, please leave a quick review at the site where you purchased the book. Those reviews are more valuable than gold to a writer.
Until next time,
Since I’ve been home with a duty-related injury, I’ve had the opportunity to re-discover my love for reading. I have no shortage of material to read. My ‘to-be-read’ pile is overflowing on my shelf. But often, what happens is that I forego my current stash of books and get books from my favorite authors. But every once in a while, I pick up a book from a new (to me) author. If the book is really good, I inwardly moan because now I have another favorite to try to fit into my reading schedule.
Sometimes, when I’m online and looking at books, I will read the reviews that go with that book – and yes, those reviews do impact some of my decisions.
Not too long ago, my daughter introduced me to Goodreads.com, a book review site. I’ve critiqued some novels there and will probably do more. Of course, I’ve left a few reviews on Amazon.com, and I’ve heard of Shelfari but haven’t gotten too involved with that site. As someone who started out writing romance novels; I’ve read reviews in Romantic Times Magazine.
My question to you – especially if you are a writer/author: Do you visit book review sites? If so, do those sites influence your buying decisions? Which sites do you utilize? If you’re published, have you looked up reviews on your own books? How did you react to negative feedback (if there was any)? If you received negative feedback on your work, did you continue to return to see what other readers had to say?
Until next time,