Monday, December 31, 2012

What a Year It's Been!

As we close the doors on 2012 and open a new one for 2013, I can only shake my head in wonder at everything that's happened in the last year. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how 2012 would unfold.

I have been writing for thirty years. I started with a ballpoint pen and spiral notebook, graduating to a typewriter, then a giant computer and irritatingly noisy printer to finally getting a laptop that comes with me wherever I go. I have always been horrible at math, can't tell north from south and never loved the idea of getting dressed in a business suit and attending meetings. What was I going to do with my life?

Well, I became a teacher and for 15 years, I loved the constant laughter in my classrooms and teaching my students where to put a preposition and what the hell the present perfect is. But, I knew that the next phase of my life needed to be different, scary and full of risk because life is way too short not to follow our dreams. So, in 2010, I quit a stable job working with people who are like family to me and started my own writing/editing business: Perfect Pen Communications. I created something that filled me with excitement and passion and now get to spend every day doing what I love. But, the one thing that eluded me was publishing my novel.

Finally, this year, I published Finding Lucas, and it has been the wildest ride of my life. Just formatting and uploading my novel to Amazon was incredible, but the fact that people want to and do read it still astounds me. I worked for months to put my debut novel in paperback, and when I held it in my hands for the first time, I cried like I'd given birth to another child. Having a dream become reality is an indescribable feeling that has made 2012 one of the most exciting years of my life.

I could never have done any of it without the love and support of my family and friends. They read everything I write and stand by me through the highs and lows of life as an author. But, as much as they want to understand what it takes to publish and promote a novel, it is impossible unless you're going through it yourself. The authors I have met this year have become friends, confidantes and are a huge support. I would be lost without them. Incredible writers, they inspire me to write every day. Reading their books makes me a better writer, and I thank all of them.

Finding Lucas would be nowhere without the bloggers, reviewers and readers who have helped promote my novel, recommended it, shared and tweeted it. They make not a single cent to help us writers and do it for the love of books.

2012 was a year unlike any other in my life. I learned that it is possible to make dreams come true and that being an author is more than simply putting words on a page. I have no idea what 2013 holds for me. A second novel to be published, for sure, but who I will meet, the things I will learn and the places I will go are all unknown. And for someone who doesn't like surprises or change, I'm pretty shocked that it doesn't scare me.

Bring it on, 2013!

Happy New Year! May all of you find what you're looking for!

Monday, December 3, 2012

8 Holiday Questions for 8 Chick Lit Authors

In anticipation of the upcoming holidays and to celebrate Season's Readings, 8 chick lit authors are answering fun holiday questions. Do we have lurid dreams about Santa? How we would dress up our personal snowman? Read below to find out! And be sure to check the blog schedule at the bottom of the post for the hilarious answers soon to come from 7 other popular chick lit authors!

And follow us as we are featured on some of the most awesome book blogs!

What is your best (or worst) holiday memory?
This is an easy one that is a bit sad to remember. Growing up, we always celebrated Chanukah with my grandparents who we were very close to. They have long since passed away, and this question makes me long for them. When I was maybe seven, I opened my shiny gift-wrapped box to find a doll that walked, talked and I think even peed. I don't know if I'd ever been as excited about anything. I always loved dolls and taking care of them (I used to sit in my mom's car and pretend to drive carpool!), and I spent hours with that doll!
What's the most embarrassing/most disappointing gift you ever received?
I definitely have a most embarrassing gift! I have been friends with my two brothers-in-law for as long as I've known my husband. They love to tease me because I am the sister they never had. So, on my first Christmas with their family, they presented me with a HUGE gift-wrapped box. I tore open the wrapping only to find...another box. And another. And yup, another. I must have unwrapped ten boxes to finally get to a teeny box. Jewellery? Cosmetics? I was intrigued. And then completely mortified as I held in my hands a black g-string thong that I had to show to everyone in the room. Luckily, it was a really nice thong so I wore it, but I have definitely gotten them back for that one!
Favorite holiday beverage?
Eggnog! With a serious helping of rum. But, a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks is a close second.
What would you add to a snowman to personalize it?
Is it completely horrible that I always want to add an appropriate appendage?
What are three things you can't survive the holidays without?
My family, sleep and some amazing books.
Santa - sexy or let's just be friends?
I have not stopped laughing since I read this question. Okay, let's be honest here. The whole "Come and sit on my lap" thing is a little titillating and I've always loved a man with long hair. But though I don't think of myself as superficial, the red velvet leisure suit screams just friends.
Favorite holiday song, album or movie?
Love Actually is my all time favorite holiday movie. The scenes with the flashcards and the little boy on the drums get me every time.
It's midnight New Year's Eve - you can kiss any celebrity, living or dead. Who's it going to be?
Agh! I have to choose just one? There is something so sexy about Bradley Cooper. He's hilarious, smart and talented. And that gorgeous face with just a hint of stubble and those pierecing blue eyes always makes my stomach drop a bit.
What is your worst/funniest holiday travel tale?
Oh, a "vacation" I'll never forget. For my dad's 70th birthday, my parents took my entire family on a cruise. I'd never been on a cruise because I'd always been a backpack traveller, but my son was eighteen months old at the time so being in one place sounded ideal. Ha! He loved the swimming and the one kids' activity the ship had, but he threw up every single day of the trip. The grand finale was at a fancy dinner for my dad's birthday. We were all dressed in our finest at the nicest restaurant, and my son puked all over me, my husband, the beautifully laid table and the elegant (and thick) carpet. Needless to say, we have never gone on a cruise again!
Be sure to visit these amazing authors as they share their holiday highlights!

Francine LaSala – Tues, December 4

Libby Mercer – Wed, December 5
Jackie Bouchard – Thur, December 6
Tracie Banister – Fri, December 7
Cat Lavoie – Mon, December 10
Lucie Simone – Tues, December 11
Meredith Schorr – Wed, December 12

Friday, November 30, 2012

Season's Readings!



In the spirit of coming together for the holidays, eight popular Chick Lit authors are "partying it up" with a shared promotion for book lovers! That means eight fun and fizzy e-books, each priced at $3.99 or less, that are packed with plenty of laughs and romance to keep you entertained on those long winter nights! And if you'd like to gift one of these books to a Chick Lit fan, we've got you covered with your choice of paperbacks!
Which books are featured in this festive promo?
Finding Lucas by Samantha Stroh Bailey - Daytime talk show producer Jamie Ross is beyond fed up with her toxic bad boy turned metrosexual boyfriend. Spurred on by her gang of quirky friends, she goes on a hilarious, at-times disastrous, and totally life-changing hunt to track down the "one who got away." But are some loves best left behind? E-book and paperback available on Amazon.
In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister - Handling the problems of hysterical hypochondriacs, lovelorn neurotics, and compulsive man whores is all in a day's work for super-shrink Pilar Alvarez. But can she deal with her crazy Cuban family, a trio of unsuitable suitors, and a threat to her practice without ending up on the couch herself? E-book available on Amazon and Barnes& Noble; paperback available on Amazon.
What the Dog Ate by Jackie Bouchard - Discovering what her dog ate turns Maggie Baxter’s world upside down. With her chocolate Lab, Kona, as her guide, can Maggie forego her overly analytical ways to find a new life filled with tail-wagging joy? E-book available on Amazon, Barnes& Noble, and iTunes; paperback available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
The Girl, the Gold Tooth, & Everything by Francine LaSala - Suburban housewife Mina, beaten-down and struggling with amnesia, starts getting her memory and her mojo back. But she soon learns everything has a price in this fast-paced, richly layered, and darkly humorous satire! E-book and paperback available on Amazon and Barnes& Noble.
Breaking the Rules by Cat Lavoie - When Roxy Rule shares a passionate kiss with her lifelong best friend, she must come to terms with her feelings for him while dealing with two sisters in full crisis mode, a boss who makes her want to stab herself with a letter opener and a fiancé who can't wait to walk down the aisle. Can she keep it together--or will she break under the pressure? E-book available on Amazon,Kobo, and Barnes& Noble; paperback available on Amazon.
Fashioning a Romance by Libby Mercer- Devastatingly handsome and deliciously weird, John Harrington is the man of Caitlyn Taylor's dreams… and her nightmares. She has no use for a womanizer like him, and dodges his advances like a pro. But when they end up inParis together, Caitlyn feels her resolve begin to slip. How will she ever be able to resist the irresistible in the most romantic city in the world? E-book available on Amazon,Barnes& Noble, and Kobo.
A State of Jane by Meredith Schorr - Jane Frank is newly single after nine years and looking for a second chance at love. But when she dives head first into the NYC dating scene and finds it infested with flakes who are interested today and gone tomorrow, it may be time for Jane to turn the tables! E-book available on Amazon, Barnes& Noble, and iTunes; paperback available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Picture Perfect by Lucie Simone- Lauren Tate's perfectly planned life quickly unravels at the seams when a smear campaign threatens her career as a top TV executive, but she learns just how cutthroat showbiz can truly be when the hottest scandal in Tinsel Town turns deadly and the Hollywood hunk who's stolen her heart goes missing. E-book available on Amazon; paperback available on Amazon and Barnes& Noble.
Thank you to all of the amazing bloggers who will be hosting us through the month of December! Check them out!

December 1
Novel Escapes

December 3

December 4

December 5

December 6

December 7

December 8

December 10
Reading Renee

December 11

December 12

December 13
December 14
December 17
December 18
December 20

December 27

Stay tuned for some hilarious holiday Q's and A's from the authors!

Samantha Stroh Bailey – Mon, Dec 3
Francine LaSala – Tues, Dec 4
Libby Mercer – Wed, Dec 5
Jackie Bouchard – Thur, Dec 6
Tracie Banister – Fri, Dec 7
Cat Lavoie – Mon, Dec 10 
Lucie Simone – Tues, Dec 11
Meredith Schorr – Wed, Dec 12

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Finding Lucas Paperback Cover Reveal!

I really like my ebook cover of Finding Lucas, but the more I read and the more I learned about self-publishing, I knew that my cover needed an overhaul for the paperback version. So, after 6 months of enthusiastic sparring with Carlo Carosi, my incredible paperback designer, we finally came up with a version we're so excited to reveal. I wanted fun, flirty and a cover that truly captured the essence of Jamie and her frenzied hunt to track Lucas down. Here is the paperback version of Finding Lucas that will be available on Amazon on December 3rd!

I hope my readers love it as much as I do, and I can't wait for it to finally be available after months of hard work.

Stay tuned for more news!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Liebster Award

Thanks to Isabella Louise Anderson, the supreme founder of the Chick Lit Goddesses, for nominating me for the Liebster award.

Nominees need to do the following:

  •  When one receives the award, one posts 11 random facts about oneself and answers the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (while making sure one notifies the blogger that one nominated them!)
  • One writes up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees.
  • One is not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated one’s own blog!
  • One pastes the award picture into ones blog. (You can Google the image, there are plenty of them!)
Random Facts about Me!

1.  I wrote my first manuscript at the age of 10. It was rejected. But I tried!

2. I can write in a roomful of strangers, but not if people I know are in the same room.

3. I only recently got a Facebook and Twitter account because I was terrified of computers.

4.   I write and edit for a living with my freelance business, Perfect Pen Communications.
5. I am only five feet tall. Well, almost. I have a lot of hair.

6. Until a few years ago, I actually wrote with a pen on paper.

7. Judy Blume is the reason I got through puberty.

8. I have no filter and am known to make very inappropriate comments.

9. I have no sense of direction.

10. I don't like eating bread unless it's crunchy and is a sandwich stuffed with meat.

11. I love the heat, but oddly, I live in Canada.

Here are the questions from the lovely (and creative!) Isabella Louise and Anderson:

If you could stay at the same age for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would be 39, the age I am now, because my life is exactly how I've always imagined it. Writing and editing fulltime and surrounded by so much love.
Did you have a high school sweetheart?

Um, not a sweetheart, per so, but a "friend with benefits," yes.
What's your favorite smell?

Fresh cut grass.
What is your favorite drink?

Gin and tonic.

Which would you rather be, the First Lady or the Queen of England?

Neither. I'd never want to live with that much pressure.
What are you favorite pizza toppings?

Spicy Italian sausage, black olives and gorgonzola cheese. Now I'm hungry!
How old were you when you you knew what you wanted to be?

I was ten. But, it took me almost thirty years to actually do it. :)
Coffee or tea?

Coffee, coffee, coffee.
Date night in, or date night out?

I have two kids so I'd have to say a date night out is perfect.
If you could be any actress, who would it be?

Meryl Streep because she's beautiful, smart and hasn't fallen into the Hollywood scandal trap. I love her simple elegance and grace.
What movie can you watch over and over?

Love Actually. That scene with the flashcards gets me every time.

Here are my wonderful nominees: Kathleen Kole, Josephine Thomas, Jen Tucker, Emma Kaufmann, Jami Wann DeiseLA Cadieux, Lucie Simone, Francince LaSala, Jackie Bouchard, Meredith Schorr and Libby Mercer.

If I haven't added your name, it's because I know someone else nominated you first!
And now for my 11 questions for my nominees:

1. What is the best costume you've ever worn?

2. What's the best gift you've ever given?

3. If you could be invisible for a day, where would you go and what would you do?

4. Who's your Hollywood crush?

5. What movie always makes you cry?

5. What book can you read again and again?

6. If you could live in the home of any television series, which would it be?

7. What is something you have always wanted to try?

8. What's your favorite food?

9. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?

10. What's your favorite song?

11. Describe yourself with one adjective.

Who will be nominated next?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


It's giveaway time again! The wonderful Isabella Louise Anderson, founder of The Chick Lit Goddesses is hosting The Thankful Goddess Giveaway. Being Canadian, my Thanksgiving has passed, but I can always be thankful for the incredible year I've had. I've been so lucky to live my dream this year--publishing Finding Lucas, meeting a group of amazing authors, bloggers and readers, and having the most supportive family and friends in my life.

I'm giving away a copy of Finding Lucas, and by stopping by The Thankful Godddess Giveaway from November 21st to November 30th, you can enter to win some awesome prizes: books, bookmarks, pens, trading cards, gloves and chocolate are just some of the goodies.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Second Time Around: Samantha March

To say I'm excited to have Samantha March here, chatting about her second novel, The Green Ticket, is a major understatement. Not only is Samantha an amazing author (her first novel, Destined to Fail, is a must read), but she is also the founder of Chick Lit Plus, a very popular book blog that offers reviews, celebrity gossip, fashion, health and fitness tips. Samantha ran my first ever blog tour for Finding Lucas, and I highly recommend CLP Blog Tours if you're looking for great exposure for your novel. Oh yeah, she's also an editor and runs the publishing company, Marching Ink, which released Cat Lavoie's fantastic novel, Breaking the Rules. Samantha is also one of the kindest people I know. Thank you, Samantha, for joining us!

I was so excited to write my second novel, The Green Ticket. It was such a different story from my debut, Destined to Fail, and I went about everything in different style, which just simply made for a unique experience. With my first book, I really just wrote as things came to me. I didn’t have a real specific plot plan or even solid characters carved out. How did that treat me? It was…interesting. I rewrote the book three times – and I don’t mean changing a scene or two here, I mean literally rewriting the majority of the book, adding in plot points, deleting and adding characters, the works. It was fairly exhausting, but worth it in the end to me.

With The Green Ticket, I didn’t want to do all that re-writing again but…so I had everything planned out. Plot, characters; I was ready to go. I wrote the book and it didn’t take me nearly as long as Destined but when I was reading through the first draft, something just felt…off. Dani and Allie’s characters seemed to be missing something, lacking something. So what did I do? Did a major rewrite! I remember laughing (manically, while throwing papers in the air) because I thought I did such a good job with my planning and plotting and structure, but it just goes to show – you can plot out the best you book you can think of on paper, but when you get to the reading part of the story, you might find a lot of changes to make the book even better. In the end, I’m much happier with Dani and Allie, and all my Green Ticket friends.

A lot of other things came easier to me the second time around – I had a better idea of what I wanted my cover to look like, I already knew which vendors I wanted to go with when it came to publishing my novel, and I had a good marketing plan in mind, much better than my first time around. I am not in throes of planning out my third novel, and I am so exciting to get cracking on that book!
Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things health, fitness, fashion, and celebrity related. In 2011 she launched her independent publishing company Marching Ink and her debut novel Destined to Fail. When she isn’t reading, writing, or blogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers.
College junior Alex Abrams scores her dream job at the ripe age of twenty – manager to a successful salon and spa. Thrilled to finally have a real adult job, Alex enthusiastically jumps into the world of schedules, conference calls, and getting a massage when interviewing prospective employees. What she doesn’t expect are the very grown-up issues that comes with a demanding boss. Kevin Dohlman quickly becomes Alex’s worse nightmare – covering up his affairs, dealing with his enormous ego, and trying to protect her female staff from him becomes a full-time job in its own right. Alex has also befriended Kevin’s wife and co-owner, Dani, and is trying to keep Kevin’s secrets hidden from her.
While struggling to keep her wits and stay happy with her new grown-up job, Alex is juggling college courses, a new love interest, and keeping up with her close group of girlfriends. When her roommate and best friend Lila gets offered an opportunity to move to Los Angeles and sign with an agent Alex realizes her life truly is changing, and everyone around her – including herself ­­–– is growing up. Knowing she is faced with some hard decisions ahead, Alex struggles with keeping her job at Blissful. But does she really want to throw away what she dreamed of as a career – or will the secret-keeping for Kevin become too much to handle? The Green Ticket is a story about morals versus money, and how one young woman navigates the shaky line between the two.
Buy Destined to Fail!
Connect with Samantha!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Second Time Around: Libby Mercer

Libby Mercer's first novel, Fashioning a Romance, has fashion, food and love--everything you need for a fun and fabulous chick lit/romance. I'm in the middle of reading it, and I'm finding it hard to put down! I can't wait to read Libby's second novel, Unmasking Maya, and I'm excited to have Libby here today. Welcome, Libby!

Thanks so much for having me here today, Sam! Publishing my first novel and publishing my second novel have been wildly different experiences. This stands to reason, though, because I had a publisher for the first one, and the second one I’m doing on my own. Fashioning a Romance was released earlier this year by Musa Publishing. After I got The Call (which was actually The Email) and signed the contract, it was probably about four months or so before we really got down to business.

I had a fabulous editor, and the manuscript went through a couple of rounds of edits which mostly entailed changing the British spellings to American ones. You see, Fashioning is a romantic novel told in the third-person, and I flip back and forth from the perspectives of my couple. She’s American and he’s British, so (being a bit OCD) I wrote her parts in American English and his parts in British English. My editor wisely suggested sticking to one nationality’s spellings, so we gave it an all-American makeover.

Apart from that, there was the issue of the cover. Musa welcomes input from authors on their cover art. In fact, they ask a whole slew of questions about what we want, what we don’t want, what our characters look like, what settings are important, etc. I knew I wanted a cover that was both romance-y and chick lit-ish, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.

Musa hands the responsibility of coming up with the tag line, the blurb and choosing an excerpt over to the authors. I went through a few different options with the tag line and the blurb and ran them past as many people as possible before I settled on the ones I now have. For the excerpt, I must confess: I asked my editor what section she thought I should pick, and I took her suggestion without a moment’s hesitation.

I chose to publish my second novel, Unmasking Maya, on my own. Like with Fashioning, I went through a couple of rounds of edits after finishing Maya and then sent it off to my beta readers. When I got their feedback, I edited it some more. The only difference was that I didn’t send it off to the publisher after I’d finished.

When Maya was completed and polished, I put it away and focused on the other tasks at hand. I researched cover designers and arranged to have the fabulously talented Laura Morrigan design mine. I converted the manuscript into PDF, .mobi and ePub formats. I wrote my tagline and my blurb. And I embarked upon the tedious, endless and soul-destroying task of searching Google for every review blog under the sun. (Sorry for the drama queen outburst!) As I added to my list of review bloggers, I started sending out requests. I’ve gotten a very good response, so there will be quite a few reviews out for Maya come December. Here’s hoping they’re favorable!

And that pretty much brings me to today. I still have a lot left to do. I need to choose an excerpt, work on my acknowledgements page, put the manuscript through one last round of edits, set up a Shelfari account, get the final cover art, send it out to my review bloggers, create a blog tour button, finish my guest blogs and interviews, send them all out, create Maya’s Goodreads page, upload the book to Amazon, pray that I’ve got everything in order and then click to publish. Phew!

It will be interesting to see how Maya fares in comparison to Fashioning. On the one hand, I have high hopes because I think it’s going to get close to a hundred times the amount of exposure that Fashioning did. And this is not an exaggeration. On the other hand, I’m terrified about the idea of releasing this book without having gone through a publisher. Lots of exposure doesn’t guarantee favorable exposure, of course. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see. And keep my fingers crossed!

Faced with a man so smooth he can charm the clouds from the sky, will Caitlyn be able to stick to her strict No Players policy? Dedicated American fashion girl, Caitlyn Taylor, can't stand players, and has successfully dodged them like enemy fire all her life. And then she meets fun-loving British CEO, John Harrington. Not only is he her boss's brother, he's the charismatic kind of womanizer that nightmares are made of. Worse still: he's exactly Caitlyn's type. As if his being the Superman of sex appeal isn’t enough, he's also got that quirky something-something that she adores. Not that she's even considering falling prey to his methods. No way.
John can’t fathom how Caitlyn can be impervious to his charms, given the extraordinary chemistry between them. The more she resists, the more determined he is to break down the walls she’s built up to keep him out. Forced to get creative, he orchestrates a “surprise” weekend in Paris for the two of them. Game on!


Defamed, disgraced and displaced...Fresh from a career-killing scandal, New York fashion girl, Maya Kirkwood, arrives in San Francisco to reinvent herself as a fine artist. She's offered the opportunity to create an installation at the Silicon Valley headquarters of a hot new tech company. Fabulous, right?
Not so much. She can't stand Derek Whitley - wunderkind software genius and CEO of the company. Hot as he may be on the outside, inside the man is a cold, unemotional, robotic type. Way too left-brained for her right-brained self. As Maya and Derek get to know each other, however, their facades begin to crack. She catches her first glimpse of the man behind the superhuman tech prodigy, and he starts to see her as the woman she used to be. But is this a good thing? Once that last secret is revealed, will it bring them closer together or will it tear them apart?

Born and raised in the Midwest, Libby Mercer’s adventurous spirit kicked in after graduating from high school, and she’s since lived in Boston, NYC and London. San Francisco is the city that she currently calls home. For several years, Libby worked in fashion – first as a journalist and then as a shopkeeper. She also dabbled in design for a while. Even through the crazy fashion years, Libby never let go of her dream of being a published author, and has since developed her signature writing style, crafting quirky chick lit/romance hybrids. Fashioning a Romance was her first published novel, and Unmasking Maya will be her second. Libby has a third novel, The Karmic Connection, scheduled for release in 2013.

Buy the Book!


Connect with Libby!



Monday, November 5, 2012

Second Time Around: Susan Buchanan

Susan Buchanan is a formidable writer. Her first novel, Sign of the Times, has an amazing 12 characters, each with their own intriguing story. I loved Susan's first novel, and I can't wait to read her newly released second book, The Dating Game. Thanks, Susan, for joining us today!

Well, thanks Samantha for this opportunity to come on your blog.

So, what did I do differently this time from writing book one to writing book two. Hmm, where to start?
Well, first of all, I didn’t take 6 years to write it and 4 years to publish it, as I did with Sign of the Times. I took a year off work in 2008 to finish that. With The Dating Game, I wrote the first draft of the first 3 chapters in 2009 and then started writing back in April this year, full-time. I had finished my previous job in Feb.  It took me just over 6 months to write and do the redrafts, but I was seriously working my butt off!

I used the same editor, an old uni friend, but whereas I had written half of the book last time around before she saw any of it, this time she got it almost chapter by chapter. I am not sure that was necessarily a good thing, although she certainly pointed out loads of issues along the way, which helped me going forward.  As I worked my way through the second half of the book, she received the chapters in tranches.  Next time I might go the whole hog and not let my editor see it until I’ve finished it!  I realise this is the more orthodox approach.

I have learned so many things in the past eight months.  On 17th March, my other half sat for an hour or so and made me a book cover. It was far better than I could do and with it, I managed to take Sign of the Times to number 1 on the Amazon free chart back in May. However, I should have listened early on when other authors were talking about having a professional cover done, and so, a few months later, my new cover designer created the current design for Sign of the Times. I had discussed with him that I wanted a brand and an image I could carry forward to future covers. I think he has pulled this off nicely with my new release, The Dating Game.
Another huge difference this time around is the way I proofread and edited the book myself. I had learned of so many foibles that I had, that even my editor didn’t pick up on, or that she was too close to, to notice either. So I did specific edits just for those.  I have a huge list of things, which I have kept for the future, of items I need to edit for - whether it’s repetition of certain phrases, repetition of similar words within the same paragraph, the list goes on!

In addition to  having an editor, I also had a proofreader this time.  Invaluable.   As the author, you are so close to the work that it simply isn’t possible for you to notice every error, no matter how careful you are.  Plus I am a great believer in two heads, or in this case, two pairs of eyes being better than one!  I also did several final checks on my Kindle, something I didn’t do last time around, when I did it all from the laptop. Somehow missing closed quotes,  letters, and periods, jump out at you on the Kindle.
The other major change, and I am much indebted to them, is that I decided to have beta readers. A lot of writers are precious about having people critique their work and quite frankly, although I am not precious,  I am not one for critique groups.

However, I chose a select group of fellow authors and a reader, (some had read and enjoyed my first book) then I asked them for their honest opinion, and gave them a list of questions to answer. I am so glad I did!! They enjoyed it, but one actually pointed out that my withholding of information in a certain key area might make the readers want  a different ending. I hadn’t wanted to give too much away, preferring to build up the suspense. I mulled it over and decided that, actually, including an extra couple of paragraphs wouldn’t give away the ending, and made the book so much more powerful, as well as giving the readers the ending I believe they want.
As regards the actual writing,  I tend to write and just keep writing, but I am more conscious of word count and do a chapter plan at the beginning.  That said, about 15 chapters into The Dating Game,  I realised I had deviated from the path somewhat. I wasn’t too fussed about that, as I like to have a plan, but I also like spontaneity. Often my characters tell me what’s going to happen!  So I redrafted the chapter plan and apart from cutting a chapter later on, as I figured I had enough story, I adhered to the rest of the plan.  I flesh out my characters at the start and build up profiles for them in Word. I also have a spreadsheet now with all the characters names, including the very minor ones. It wouldn’t be the first time I have unwittingly called two minor characters 20 chapters apart by the same name in a draft! 

Third time around will be different yet again. I will start writing my third book in about 2 weeks time - or rather the character plan and the chapter plan.  The good thing is, we, as writers, are always learning. I like to focus on the cliffhangers I am going to have. Readers want  to be propelled along, unable to put the book down, anxious to find out what happens next and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a good cliffhanger?!

Susan has a long-standing love affair with Italy, travelling, reading and languages. She has a Masters degree in French and Hispanic Studies and when not injured, loves running.
She lives in Central Scotland, with her partner Tony and is on this crazy writing rollercoaster now, unable to get off. She already has a further six books planned.

Twelve people. Twelve star signs.

Sagittarius - Holly, a travel writer, visits Tuscany to research her next book. Seeking help when her car breaks down, she gets more than assistance when Dario, a vineyard owner, puts temptation in her path. Disappearing without explanation, he proves elusive. Bruised, Holly tries to put it behind her until a chance encounter brings her feelings to the surface again.

Capricorn – Holly’s fiancĂ©, Tom misses her while she is in Italy and turns to an internet chat room for solace. His construction business is under threat, but could foul play be at work?

Gemini - Holly’s sister, Lucy, a serial man-eater finally meets her match, which puts her long-term relationship and career in jeopardy. Cheating she discovers, can have devastating consequences.

Libra - Holly’s uncle Jack, an eminent prosecutor, juggles a difficult teenage son with his high profile career and finds himself lacking. When his son’s school work starts slipping, he decides he needs to take control, but it’s not long before the balls all come tumbling down and Jack finds his family on the wrong side of the law.

One event binds them all…
Workaholic recruitment consultant, Gill McFadden, is sick of her friends trying to match-make for her.  Up until now her love life has been a disaster and she’s going through a drier spell than the Sahara desert. 
She realises she has to act, as work keeps piling up and at this rate she will have retired before she has time for a relationship.
Seeing an ad on a bus one day, she decides to visit Happy Ever After dating agency.  She quickly discovers men are like buses. They all come along at once. Unsure what her type is, Gill decides to keep her options open.  Soon she has problems juggling her social life as well as her work diary. Will she ever strike the right balance?
Before long she is experiencing laughs, lust and… could it be love?  But like everything in Gill’s life, nothing is straightforward and she ends up wondering exactly who she can trust.
Buy the Books!
Sign of the Times
The Dating Game
Connect with Susan!
Twitter: susan_buchanan