Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of Year Reflections and a Really Big Change

One reason I love blogging is feeling connected to a larger community of writers. Exactly why I started this blog 4 years ago, and why I titled it "Coming Down the Mountain."

As writers, we must seclude ourselves for long lengths of time to get the work done. To me, it's like being on a high mountain away from people. And then it's time to come down to re-enter life, because after all, life fuels the writing.

The past year I've felt the desire to "get back on that mountain." Not just with the writing itself but by providing myself with an environment to better support my creative nature. I craved such an environment.

If my fondest dream were granted, it would be to live in the south of France or an Italian cottage and write full-time. To get out of the Western suburbs where we've been for so long-- a wonderful place to raise a family but too full of distractions to suit my current needs.

Of course, I knew it was an impossible dream. My husband and I raised a large family on one income--his-- and now we run a publishing company: neither of which point the way to wealth and prosperity.  No way could we escape to the south of France.

But if there's one thing I've learn it's that dreams do come true. Sometimes they're tweaked a bit to fit the circumstances-- in which case they often turn out better than imagined.

In January, my husband and I will be moving to Panajachel, Guatemala, where our daughter and son-in-law are preparing to open a small resort hotel. Bruce and I will continue to operate WiDo with the assistance of our staff in Salt Lake City and Houston. And we will become part of the vast expat population migrating to Central America from the US and Europe, seeking a simpler lifestyle where one can live well on less.

Most of all, I am excited to leave behind the traffic and noise and shopping centers and constant coming and going of the suburbs where we now live, and get back to that "mountain." We won't even have a car. We won't own a home. I may not have a dishwasher. Or a cell phone. There's no Costco.

We will, however, have the Internet. Thankfully. WiFi allows us to continue working for WiDo and to stay connected online and to Skype with family members, while we live on a third of what it costs us to manage in the States.

And giving up so much will give me what I really want: the kind of environment and schedule I crave to write more books. A year ago when I mapped out my year and wrote out my New Year Resolutions, I never imagined all this was in store for 2014.

My new goals will be very much like they were last year (lose weight, exercise more, eat less sugar, write another novel, be nicer to people) only set in a different locale, even a different country, with one stand-out addition: Become fluent in Spanish.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Transitions

Our parents loved to take photos of their four daughters, especially at Christmastime. The traditional Christmas photo in front of the tree is scattered in our old picture collections.

In this one, I got to hold the new baby, our youngest sister. I remember feeling so special that I was the one to hold her for this picture. You can see a much bigger smile on my face than usual. Normally I just stared at the camera with big eyes as though to say, "Huh? Really?"

Here we are as teens/young adults. My sister set the picture in front of a pie made especially for our recent Christmas gathering. Can you guess which one is me?

And so this weekend when we all gathered in Minnesota for a sister reunion, we of course had to recreate the Jones Girl Christmas photo:

Leaving to go home is tough. I sure love my sisters! And I'll miss them until next time we can all get together again.

Merry Christmas to all of you, my dear blogging friends, as you celebrate the season with your loved ones. I will see you all next year!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Writing about Writing....Ho Hum

I've been writing about writing way too much. Not sure why I went on the topic for so long but I'm quite tired of it. Soon I'll take my holiday blog break, which is a good thing because I've bored myself with all these posts about writing.

When I get back, I'm not sure what subjects will welcome in my new year. But I'm definitely up for a change of pace. I am so over posts about writing and publishing and marketing. Since it's what I do for a living, I really don't care to read and write blogs about it as well. I'm ready for a fresh new look and makeover.

What are you over in regard to blogging? Do you ever want to do a complete makeover on your site, including design, theme, post topics, etc? January is the month for makeovers and do-overs, and I am up for it. How about you?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Just write what people want to read

 Connecting writers and readers has never been simple. Yet because of social media, there's the mistaken idea that it's now a done deal. If only authors put enough information out there about themselves and their books, readers will find them. And buy them. And love them.

Twitter, Facebook, blog, Google +, Pinterest-- whatever it is, get on and promote your book! Anyone getting tired of this merry go round yet?

Especially when it doesn't work to sell books?

No, it does not. Seriously. Now don't get me wrong--once the book is out, you've got to give it a fighting chance by letting your potential audience know about it. But what happens if you've done all the social media over and over and over, and the book just isn't taking off?

Then it's not a book people want to read. Doing more social media won't change that. I'm not saying it's a bad book, it's simply not connecting with an audience. It may sound harsh but truth is, not everything flowing from our pens is golden.

What next then? Keep pounding away on yet another social media site trying to connect with that elusive audience? NO.

You've got to write another book, and maybe this time it'll be one readers connect with. It's been this way throughout the history of writing and publishing books. Nobody really knows what readers want. Who could have predicted Harry Potter, Twilight or the shades of gray phenomenon? Each of those authors just wrote what they wanted and struck gold.

The stupidest thing is to publish a couple books then quit writing and market like crazy trying to sell them. A better idea is to quit marketing and write like crazy.

Or better yet find a nice balance. But keep writing.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I am just DYING to link my blog to Google+

Blogger is owned by Google. Google is relentlessly and shamelessly pushing their social media site Google+ on all of us Blogger people. I see the little icons beckoning me to link it up. I can hardly resist anything new but really hesitate linking my blog and G+ profile. I know once done, it can't be undone.

Comments will then go through one's G+ profile, if I understand correctly. Also, the Blogger profile will disappear forever, to be replaced with my G+ profile.

When I comment somewhere I want it to link back to my Blogger profile, not my Google + page. Or at least I think that's what I want...

I enjoy Google+ I really do, but it's nothing special. The home page is what we get everywhere else-- links to blog posts, informational sites, book promos, cover reveals and launch parties, etc etc etc.

But oooh that shiny G+ profile invitation! Not sure how long I can resist.

Get more from Blogger with Google+
Connect your blog to Google+ to reach more readers in new ways. It's quick and free.
Expand your audience
Share to Google+ with one click whenever you publish something new. You'll get a Google+ sharebox pre-loaded with your post, ready to help you reach new readers.
Manage comments in one place
Turn on Google+ Comments to bring comments on your posts together in one place, including posts about your content on Google+.
Find out which of your posts really pop
The +1 counter in your blog's dashboard shows you which posts are popular. You can also see how your Google+ posts are shared with Ripples.
Start conversations with Google+ mentions
Add Google+ mentions to your posts to get someone's attention. Your mention will link to their Google+ page or profile, and you can notify them when you share to Google+.

See what I mean???? It's so new and enticing! Those enthusiastic about Google+ say DO IT, it'll bring more page views, comments, visibility, and all that. But I'm just not sure.

What do you think? Have you linked your blog to your Google+ profile yet? Results, regrets? 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Are we there yet?

I recently came across an award-winning writer I'd not previously heard of, who had written a dozen books or so, and who was published with a variety of reputable book publishers. Add to that being a professor at an Eastern college and you'd figure this author had arrived, right?

Well, why not, with a literary reputation and a position in acadamia. Back in the day before I worked in publishing, I'd have been envious of his accomplishments.

Since viewing Kindle rankings is an everyday activity of mine in my work with WiDo, I'll often check out author or publisher Kindle rankings, to see how their books compare in sales tours. Some of my own books' Kindle rankings aren't that great-- but compared to this particular author's, they were absolutely impressive.

What's the definition of writerly glory these days? It's definitely changed from when literary accolades and a scholarly resume were part of the formula. Clearly money enters into the equation. I imagine bestselling novelists like Danielle Steele and Stephen King, or self-published success stories like Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey, make more in one month's royalties than my anonymous writer/professor here will get in a lifetime of book sales.

But surely it's not just about money or fame or Kindle rankings.

Success is ever-changing, depending on where one is in the journey. When you get a publishing contract and/or an agent or even just finish the darn book: this definitely feels like success. I'm a fan of celebrating every step along the way. A finished manuscript. A contract. A launch. A positive review. Whatever it is, celebrate!

I use a pattern of personal goal-setting and forward movement to avoid envy, vanity, frustration, discouragement and such discomfort that comes with comparing oneself to others. It helps keep me on an even keel with my writing career. So wherever I am at the moment can feel perfectly okay, while continuing to work toward what's next.

As a writer, do you feel like a success yet? If not, what would need to change to make it happen?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Are Privacy Issues Online an Issue?

In the years before Facebook, and even earlier-- like in the 1990's--back when we saw the Internet as a creepy place of chat rooms and stalkers, parents were warned not to let their kids sign in unsupervised. "Only to do homework, and that under watchful eyes."

Now those same kids are grown up parents of darling little kids, and they are online posting photos, names and ages of their children. Everyone is doing it, and yet it was really not so long ago that we were all worried about privacy issues. What happened that made these concerns go away?

And can we really trust Facebook, or Google (ha!) or any other online site with their spotty guarantees and frequently changing policies to guard our privacy for us? Of course not. Mainly since they're all in the business of collecting and sharing and selling information about their major product, which is us. Us and our kids.

I have to admit, I've not previously been concerned about privacy. My job was to get information out about my books, and to do that you've got to share a lot about yourself, not just as an author but as a person. Blogging itself opens numerous doors to one's personal world. Maybe at first one is careful but as time goes by, and online seems like such a nice safe and cozy little world, the guard comes down. More information is shared. Pretty much anything anyone wants to find out about a person is there.

What do you think? Should we be concerned? More careful about what we post and share? And if you've got any stories to tell about this topic one way or the other, please let us know. Because there's a little voice in the back of my head right now that's warning me to just watch it.

Here's an example and something that bothers me on so many levels:

My address is posted on the "white pages" or various other directories when you Google WiDo.  I've never given out my home address as WiDo's business address, yet every PO box my husband or I have rented for any purpose (some even before we were involved with WiDo) shows up as WiDo's "address" on Google. When we moved houses our new address showed up as WiDo's "address."

The information is not only wrong-- WiDo's address is clearly posted on its website and has never changed in six years-- yet if my husband and I move or rent a PO Box, these addresses are what random online directories post for WiDo Publishing. I'd not only like to get the correct information out there, I'd like to know how to keep our private lives private!

What do you think? How can we blog and be involved on social media, oftentimes as part of our business marketing plans, and still maintain our personal privacy? Is it even possible? I don't think it is, but if anyone knows otherwise please share!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Darkest Hour

I am so thrilled to be the last stop on Paul Anthony Shortt's blog tour for Silent Oath, which is #2 in Paul's Locked Within Trilogy. Let's hear what Paul has to say about writing this exciting urban fantasy thriller:

Happy Halloween! Here we are, at the end of the Silent Oath Blog Tour. I’m delighted to be here with Karen, who hosted the final post for last year’s blog tour, and was instrumental in the series being published to begin with.

It’s a tricky thing, writing the middle-part of a trilogy. In many cases, the middle-book/movie is seen as the weaker installment, filler just there to set things up for the finalĂ©. It’s understandable. When we think of trilogies, they often fit into the 3-act structure. The beginning and end have solid, reliable purpose. But the 2nd act of a story is typically there to serve as character development and for the introduction of complications that will be resolved in the 3rd act. It can be difficult to turn that 2nd act into a story in its own right.

But one element of the 2nd act that can help define a trilogy’s mid-point, and make it stand out in the reader’s mind, is the Darkest Hour.

The Darkest Hour is the moment where all seems lost for the heroes. They’ve had their greatest weakness exposed and the villain is at the height of their power, in story terms. The reader knows, deep down, that the hero will rise and overcome, but for now, just for a moment, all seems lost.

What a time to end a book.

I love when the hero is set up to fall like this. Knowing that I get to have a whole movie or book where the hero struggles back from defeat and finally defeats the villain is a thrill like no other. All too often, I’ve seen villains defeated with little tension or effort on the part of the hero. It leaves me feeling completely let down. I want to see the struggle, the hardship. To feel every wound and emotion.

As many of you may already know, Silent Oath ends on a low point for Nathan. He suffers through things that make his experiences in Locked Within seem like a trip to Disneyland. Enemies are gathering against him, and even his allies’ faith may be shaken by what’s to come.

Of course, the Darkest Hour has one thing that cannot be overlooked.


No matter how bad things get for the hero, the reader will want to believe that there’s still a chance to set things right. They may not have any idea how, but they need to know that the hero is ready to keep fighting. Silent Oath ends with pain and loss, but it also ends with hope. Because there are still people to fight for New York, whatever the cost.

I said it once, and I’ll say it again.

With the fate of the world in the balance, and the forces of the Council, Athamar, and the goddess Morrigan united against him, Nathan Shepherd will return for one final battle.

About Paul Anthony Shortt:
A child at heart who turned to writing and roleplaying games when there simply weren't enough action figures to play out the stories he wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life. Growing up surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use. When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and regular meet-ups with his gaming group.

Paul lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love and joy into their lives and those of their friends. The following year, Jen gave birth to twins, Amy and Erica, and is now expecting their fourth child.
Paul's first novel, Locked Within, was released on November 6th, 2012, by WiDo Publishing. Silent Oath is the second book in this urban fantasy trilogy.

Hope has returned to New York City. Nathan Shepherd leads a small band of dedicated fighters against the Council of Chains and the city's supernatural masters. But it's not enough. Because from the shadows of Nathan's former lives comes an old enemy, one who knows terrible secrets that Nathan has not yet remembered, secrets that could undo everything he has fought for.

Nathan's only chance to uncover the memories of his previous existence, and to conquer these new forces of evil, lies in Elena DeSantis. A woman he has fought beside in past lifetimes. A woman he has loved.
Together, Nathan and Elena are the only future the city has.

Twitter: @PAShortt

Friday, October 25, 2013

Watch Your Money: A Warning to the Self-published

It is happening. The sharks are coming thick and furious to infest the red ocean.

With the self-publishing boom, more people than ever before are writing and publishing books. And the red ocean is full of hopeful writers, new books, not so new books . . . and sharks, those looking to make a fast buck off anyone floundering at sea. Those who are lost or confused or innocent, or unsure where to go. This is when the sharks eat freely and get fat.

At first it's not too bad, even exhilarating, as you embark on the self-publishing adventure. There are the expected costs of editing, formatting, design, and printing. Savvy self-publishers are careful to watch what they spend for these production expenditures. Because of all the warnings about scam "publishers" who charge exorbitant prices for what you can do yourself for less, most are careful to watch for sharks at this point.

But what about once the book is out and you want sales? Or maybe you had sales some years ago when ebooks were fresh and new and people were downloading en masse on their new Kindles. But the market has slowed and money is tight. You've written more stuff and need increasing funds to pay expenses and still meet your bottom line.
This is when I say watch your money. The sharks come in disguise as "publishing companies", "literary agencies", "marketing and SEO specialists," "publicists"-- all those nice respectable labels that used to mean something.

Beware, however, of the wolves in sheep clothing. Or to stick to the metaphor, sharks dressed like helpful professionals. Big promises, fast talkers, the hard sell: "There's a million ebooks out now. If your book is to stand out in the crowd, you've got to do more than the other guy. Pay me and here's what I'll do to make it happen."

It's deceptive since some of it is true, but then comes the part about "pay me." Remember this one key fact about being a self-published author: You are first and foremost a business. If more cash is going out than coming in, the business will soon be broke. Do the sharks care? Not at all. They took your money and are busily zeroing in on their next victims.

Or you can learn how to make Greek yogurt. I finally mastered it! Instructions are on my website. Because when I'm frustrated and annoyed by all the greedy opportunists out there, I go to my kitchen and make something. Or maybe I clean out a closet while ignoring everybody.

Meanwhile, you've been warned: sharks are infesting the crowded waters of the self-publishing  ocean. And so, my writer friends, please watch your money.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Interview with Spunk on a Stick!

Today I'm over at L. Diane Wolf's Spunk on a Stick talking about WiDo Publishing. How it got started, what it's like running a small press in today's publishing world, how changes in the market have affected WiDo.

This weekend our family had a reunion up in Ogden Canyon, a week from today our youngest returns from his two-year mission and three weeks after that my husband goes in for knee replacement surgery. That's what happens when you have a baby at age 43-- he turns 22 and you go in to have your knees replaced.

Anyway, more news to come. The Gowen family is planning some big changes in the very near future!

 Fun pic from our reunion

Monday, October 7, 2013

What Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writers about Success

Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference and Outliers: The Story of Success, among other books, was recently interviewed in Costco Magazine.

Having just re-read The Tipping Point and Outliers for the third time, I was thrilled to see that Gladwell has a new book out. It's called David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants. Wow, sounds great! Especially knowing how Gladwell takes a subject and analyzes it inside and out, writing about it in a way that makes me think of new things in new ways.

But what I really appreciated about the Costco article is how Gladwell seems to epitomize what to me is the ideal attitude for a writer's success and productivity.

What does Malcolm Gladwell know?

He knows his audience.

"I write for people who are curious and who don't mind having their beliefs challenged. If you think going to a library is an exciting event, you will probably enjoy my books."

He knows how to write what he loves.

"People sense that I'm doing things out of pure enjoyment. I'm not pandering to an audience or following a formula. I'm just writing about cool stuff that interests me, and people respond to that."

Despite his astounding success, he knows there is so much more to learn.

"The more I write these books, the less convinced I am of my own inherent wisdom. I've convinced myself that I'm pretty bad at making sense of the world and need a lot of help."

He knows that money and acclaim isn't what it's all about. He never set out to write a bestseller.

"I never had any great desire to be well-known or to sell a lot of books. I've only ever wanted to do my own thing. and all of this happened just as an accident."

He knows where he came from, who he is, and it is all just fine with him.

"Canada is a deeply unpretentious place. You can't grow up in Canada and have all kinds of airs."

Regardless of where any of us are in our writing journeys, I'd say we can all learn a lot about success from Malcolm Gladwell.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Managing an Author Goodreads Account

I have my ups and downs with Goodreads, but overall it's a helpful site for anyone who loves books. I've been on it for awhile as an author and learned a few tips to pass along:

1. When you sign up as a Goodreads member, don't use your best email

 Because you WILL get junk mail. Lots and lots of it. Many authors now use Goodreads to promote to their friend list, and it all goes straight to your email inbox. Unlike Facebook, where the promotions go on a news feed that you can ignore.

Best to use a "junk email" address for Goodreads membership. If you are fed up with the constant stream of promotions clogging your inbox, consider changing your sign-in email to a little-used one rather than cancelling your Goodreads account. Although now that Gmail has divided their inbox into "promotional" and "social" that may just solve the problem.

2. Watch out for friend requests from people who have tons of friends but very few books. I don't get these people. Isn't Goodreads about the books? Well, yes, I do get them. They're on to push their books (see #1 above) rather than to read and review books. I used to accept friend requests from anyone who sent one but lately I've ignored these types. I don't need more pushy people trying to sell me their books, or inviting me to events I'll never go to.

3. Add a nice photo to your author profile, link to your blog, completely fill out the biographical information. People like to learn about authors, especially if they read your book and enjoyed it. Make your author profile page as complete as possible. It's not so important to have hundreds of friends-- you'll see popular authors with none at all actually, but their fan list is large. Sign out of Goodreads to view your profile page objectively and see what you think!

4. Add quotable quotes. I came across a feature recently which I think is very cool, and really makes the profile page look professional and complete. If you scroll down toward the end of the page there is a place to add quotes. On mine (here) I added quotes that readers had frequently highlighted in the Kindle versions of my books. If you look to the right side of the page it will say "add a quote." Quotes can be added by anyone, not just the author.

5. Professional review etiquette means that when you write a review, be honest without being rude and hurtful. When you read a review on your own book, please refrain from adding a comment. Even if it's an amazing review and you want to say thank you, don't! And if it's a poor review and you want to defend your book or respond, don't! It is entirely unprofessional for authors to respond in any way to Goodreads reviews.

Okay, these are my Top Five Goodreads tips. I'd love to hear yours. There is so much more to be said! Can authors maximize Goodreads and still be professional about it?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

After 4 Years, a Blogger Streamline was Past Due

I recently posted on how to change your email address on your Blogger blog. Here's an update in case anyone wonders whether or not to do it themselves. I couldn't be happier with the results. Why?

Convenience of having both blogs under one email. Even though I rarely use From the Shadows to the Page, it's still a live blog that I may utilize more in the future. This way I can administer both blogs without having to sign in and out of different gmail accounts.

Streamlined following list. I started Coming Down the Mountain four years ago, and in that time followed a LOT of blogs. Many of them are no longer active, with some even taken over by weirdness like how to choose auto insurance rates. Change of email addresses made that all go away. Yay!

Besties. I now only follow blogs I'm truly interested in and who are truly interested in me. If I still haven't followed you with my new address, please let me know in the comments. You can tell because it's a different photo :)
Nothing disappeared. My new posts still show up on peoples' sidebars and readers. Neither me nor my blog disappeared from view at all. It was a seamless transition. Win win win.

Blogs change so much in four years. Changing the email address was a super easy way for me to update my blog and my following history, without adversely affecting this blog I've grown quite fond of.  Cheers!

But everything has their pros and cons, and one element of this change is that I'm not getting the visibility I did before I changed emails.  That could be a pro if I'm wanting to lessen the power blogging has over me-- or it could be a con if I want to continue building the visibility of this blog.

Which is a very tough question. But right now I feel like keeping things a bit more toned-down blog-wise is what I'm after.

Where are you in your blogging-- building, maintaining and settling in, or wanting to cut back?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Characters Who Jump Off the Page

Today I am visiting Wendy Ewurum over at Fabulosity Reads, talking about writing characters who come alive.

Wendy's blog is a real treasure for both writers and readers. She does guest posts, interviews with authors, book reviews, and more. She is so willing to help out with a book release. Her reviews are thoughtful, in-depth and always contain quotable blurb gems.

If you're looking for someone to help with an upcoming release-- or to review your book that's already out-- please consider asking Wendy. Her Fabulosity Reads blog is truly fabulous!

See you over there!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Traveler’ Asdvisory Warning: This is not parenting advice

Yesterday Bruce crossed over the Mexican border with our son in law JC, driving a loaded truck and trailer filled with equipment– tools, mountain bikes, paddle surf boards– for JC’s tourist hotel on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

I knew traveling in Mexico would be tricky.  As recently as July, 2013, the U.S. issued a traveler safety alert for Mexico; not even U.S. officials and their families drive in certain areas. So there’s Bruce and JC, having to cross at a different border station than originally planned due to complications at the Brownsville station. And to get back on the toll road, they had to travel 90 miles on an off road.

(Read the rest of the post here.)

Friday, September 6, 2013

An Inside Look at WiDo Publishing

Today I'm over at Angela Jackson-Brown's blog, where she interviews me about my books, and a whole lot more about WiDo Publishing. WiDo is publishing Angela's debut novel Drinking from a Bitter Cup, scheduled to release January, 2014.

You'll find answers to this question:

Your son William Gowen, is the CEO of WiDo Publishing, and your husband Bruce is the business manager, while you are managing editor. What is it like to work with your family? 
And this one:
What are some of your dreams for the future of the publishing house?
And this one:
What sort of authors is WiDo seeking? 
So if you don't get enough of me here, dear people, or if you want to know more about WiDo Publishing, head on over to Angela's . I'll see you there!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Changing a Blog's Email Address on Blogger

I began this blog under an old gmail address I didn't want to use anymore for blogging. I thought I was stuck with it but guess what I finally found out how to change the email address!

Under settings, you just invite yourself under the new email identity to be an administrator of the blog. Once you go to that email and "accept the invitation" you can then make this new identity an administrator and you can delete the old email identity.

Easy, right? I was so thrilled that I'd finally figured it out and now have both my blogs under the same email identity. Only guess what-- all the lovely blogs I was following under my old email on Coming Down the Mountain no longer come up on my Reader when I sign in.

Drat! The good news is that I'll happily follow you again under this email. But finding you is going to be tedious unless you make a comment here. If your comment is connected to your blog, I will find you!  (movie quote, who's got it?)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Passion, Priorities and Promises

Someone emailed me awhile back with a question: How do you keep the enthusiasm going for your writing?

I can answer in three words:




Only now I need more words to elaborate so here we go:

By Passion, I mean one's talent, dreams, goals, desires. And like most writers, mine was to write and be published. That happened early on. My first story sold when I was 25, and I had articles published in a local newspaper. Then my Passion became to write a novel and get it published. Guess what, that never happened until nearly 40 years later, due to Priorities. My novel House of Diamonds is about a writer who must postpone her passion due to her priorities, and yes it is autobiographical.

Priorities -- those things that one is responsible for based on choices made. Like children in my case. My husband and I had ten children, and little did my clueless self realize how much time, attention, and energy they'd take for many years to come. I absolutely was not able to focus on writing a book while I was in this child-nurturing phase. Some women may be able to do it. I couldn't. So I wrote short pieces, and journaled, and sold a couple more stories.

Promises to oneself go deep and never really go away, even when they may not happen until years later. When I was a child I promised myself I'd be a writer. I never lost the Passion. I put it on hold due to Priorities. And now I am keeping that Promise.

But there is one more P word which can derail all of it. Can you guess what that is?


It's one thing to postpone the work because another Priority takes precedence. Oh my this post is just full of P words! But when your time is now and still you procrastinate for no really good reason, well then just stop it! Because you owe it to yourself to keep your promises. (And this is what I tell myself on a regular basis.)

This is me with two of my Priorities who grew up to help me realize my Passion. The little boy (Billy #5) edited Farm Girl and the little girl (Liesel #6) has edited all my other books.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Social Media Disconnect or How Will Our Marriage Ever Survive This??

I like Facebook. My husband on the other hand, takes no part in it. He deleted his Facebook page some years ago when neighborhood kids, friends of our younger sons, wanted to be his "friend." It creeped him out, and he decided to de-activate his account. He didn't want to be that old guy who Facebook friended all the girls and boys in the neighborhood.

So we have this conversation the other day about a post I put up on Facebook in honor of our wedding anniversary:

Me: Did you see what I posted on Facebook about our anniversary?

Him: No. I never go on Facebook. Facebook and me don't get along.

Me: Well you should at least look at my page.

Him: I don't even know how to get to your page.

Me: You click on my author website, find the "F" icon on the sidebar, click it and it will take you right to my personal page.

Him: (saying nothing but looking puzzled and distressed)

Me: That way you can see what I'm up to.

Him: I'd rather just walk into the other room and see what you're up to.

This is what you call social media disconnect, or a failure to communicate through social media. It must be a good thing, since we've lasted 43 years without talking to each other on Facebook. I guess we won't start now. Especially since there's no way he will activate his account.

On our wedding day, August 13, 1970:
(We were not really as young as we look here, like about 14 don't you think? We were actually both 22, felt like we were so grown up and knew everything.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Writing for the Internet and other Insecure Writer Options

I saw this exchange somewhere: I'm a writer. What kind? An Internet writer.

First time I've ever seen that term "Internet writer" but I like it. Sounds so much more professional than "blogger." I'm a writer.  What kind? A blogger. Ohh--kay.

I mean, I regularly post status updates on the Facebook pages I manage. These lead to sales. That makes me an Internet writer. Someone who makes money by writing on the Internet. How cool is that?

I write clever tweets that bring me followers on Twitter. Which may lead to something like sales. So look at that, I'm an Internet writer.

Well, I'm also a novelist. And a blogger. Basically, I'm a social media addict. And an Internet writer. Whoo ah!

Are you a writer? If so, what kind? (Besides being an insecure one haha.) And come on, when people ask what you do, how easy is it to say I'm a writer. For me, it's not easy at all.

Five books published and I still find it impossible to say "I'm a writer" to someone's face, without grimacing. Personally, I think it's because of the money factor.

If I paid my rent and bought food every week with income from my writing it would be a different story. Otherwise, it's like telling people "I'm a gardener" or "I write in my journal" or "I decorate the house." These are all things I do but I don't earn a living at it anymore than I earn a living at writing novels. And saying "I'm a writer" isn't going to change that fact. What might change it is writing and selling more books, which of course is an ongoing process.

Do you say you're a writer when someone asks what you do?

Bonus for those of you who made it to the end of this rambling post: My cookbook Farm Girl Country Cooking: Hearty Meals for the Active Family is free this week on Kindle. Click here to download yours.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Team Facebook

Lately I'm found more often lurking on Facebook instead of Blogger. It takes less time, posts are shorter, comments quick and easy. Or no comment at all if there's nothing to say. Just click Like. No captcha or scrolling up and down or trying to make a comment sound intelligent or clever or insightful when all I feel at that moment is dumb and dumber.

WiDo's marketing director plays on Team Google Plus. I enjoyed G+ when it first started, until they kept changing formats faster than a girl changing outfits for a big date. So I went back to play on Team Facebook.

If you're on Faceback, you can friend me here. I'll friend you back. I don't have an author page but if you have one I'll be happy to like it. With spending less time in Blogland I don't want to lose touch.

Which teams are you playing on most often these days?

Team Facebook?

Team G+?

Team Twitter?

Team Blogger?

Or one of the many other sites out there? Like Pinterest, which is hugely successful and highly addictive. Such pretty pictures!

Whichever way you play, I say THREE CHEERS for social media!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Maria McKenzie shares Marketing Tips for Writers

Karen, thanks so much for hosting me here at Coming Down the Mountain! I’m blog touring to promote my new book, Masquerade: Part Two of the Unchained Trilogy:
Celebrated actress Lavinia Hargraves lives life as a masquerade. She hides her Negro ancestry to pursue her dream of becoming the world’s greatest actress.  She elopes with Vernon Hargraves, the owner of New York’s premier theater troupe, to acquire all that she could ever want: a new life as white, stardom on the stage, and an abundant supply of money. The secret of her mother's slave-girl past could easily destroy the life she has constructed.

Masquerade is now available at Amazon.  In my opinion, writing the novel was the easy part.  Now comes the hard part—marketing and promotion!  Whether you are traditionally published or self-published, the majority of the marketing will fall on your shoulders.  I am by no means a marketing guru, but I’m happy to share a few tips I’ve learned to help you!

There is no magic formula for promoting your work—at least not one that I’ve stumbled upon—but I have found that writing more books and connecting with readers are two ways to increase your sales.  Let’s take a look at each of these areas:

Monday, July 1, 2013

My Life as a Celebrity

I used to be one of those private people who didn't want anyone to know her business. That was before I got published and became a celebrity.

Now anyone who wants to know anything about me or my personal life can either a) read my books  b) follow my blog  c) stalk me on Facebook and Twitter. And don't forget Goodreads. I'm there too!

And occasionally I update my website, just in case there's not enough of the goings on of Karen Jones Gowen at the other venues.

All news about me written by me.

Thanks to social media everyone can be a celebrity like me. Here's how: Just get the ball rolling on two or more social media sites, ask your friends to join in, and create a media blitz on your very own time frame about your very own self. Or something like that.

My laptop knows I'm famous. I only need to type in the first letter of my name and all the url's relating to me and my online activities show up. Clearly I'm the most talked about person in the universe.

Thank you, dear Internet. Because of you, I can open my computer each morning and see that everyone knows my name, breathlessly awaiting to hear what I'll say next. It's so awesome being a celebrity.

Monday, June 24, 2013

When a Favorite Author Writes a Bad Book

There's this bestselling author-- award-winning, Oprah interviewed-- whose writing I adore. Except the last book of hers I read was truly vomit-worthy. It was slapdash, thrown together, lame and really awful, especially compared to all the other brilliance with her name on it. That was my opinion, at least, and I reviewed it on Goodreads like I do every book I read. I gave it one star and a critical review. Not mean though, and many other reviewers had similar complaints to mine.

And I feel guilty about it. Not sure why. Out of the thousands of reader reviews on her books it's not likely she'd read mine. And if she did, what would her reaction be? "Oh my goodness, how could this person trash my work like this? It's petty and mean. What does she know anyway? I'll never write again!" Haha, not likely. I imagine she's secure enough in her own writing that she lets bad reviews slide right past if she notices them at all.

Successful authors get criticized just like everyone else if not more, but it doesn't stop them. Even poor sales and a new book not getting picked up by the publisher doesn't stop them. They keep right on doing what they love--writing books.

Like Tom Cruise, how he got so much criticism in the media awhile back. All of a sudden it was the in thing to hate Tom Cruise and make fun of him. What did he do? Just kept on making movies. He's putting out one or two films a year, and making more money than ever playing the incredibly attractive rebel action hero.

I find it inspiring to read one-star reviews on popular bestsellers. I figure if it happens to them then so what if it happens to me. Absolutely nothing should stop a determined writer. And there's no way to please everyone. That same book I could barely tolerate got plenty of 5 star reviews. People like what they like and they don't like what they don't like, and there's no accounting for taste. How could anyone not like Tom Cruise? He's gorgeous and a fantastic actor. The last two movies he did, Jack Reacher and Oblivion were awesome! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

On Never Giving Up

The experts say that persistence is more essential than talent for the writer to have success. I really believe that. I'm still working on it. There are days I just want to give up. Writing a rough draft can be tortuous. Getting published at times seems impossible. Getting the lousy review when someone trashes your creative work can kill the spirit.

I'm motivated by others who keep going no matter what. One of those writers is Kerri Cuevas. I first got to know her through blogging. She submitted a manuscript to WiDo through one of my submission contests and the acquisitions editor took an interest in it.

Her book Deadly Kisses (WiDo Publishing, 2013) took awhile to get published-- first a rewrite and resubmit, then a long time in editing when her assigned editor left the company part way through, finally to be released in March of this year.

Deadly Kisses, a YA paranormal romance, has gotten rave reviews, such as this one: "... the perfect combination of romance, action and just enough suspense to keep you wondering . . .A well-written YA story by an amazing author." --Reviewing in Chaos

Aiden Grant has a killer kiss. Literally. And it’s not every reaper who gets to work with the Sixteenth President. Sure, Honest Abe likes to throw out history lessons with reaping assignments, but when you’re favored by the ancients, grim reaper life is pretty sweet for a newly dead seventeen-year-old.

Then things get messy.

Aiden is assigned to reap the soul of Bee, the only girl he has ever loved. When Aiden’s kiss of death fails, intertwining their souls, she is still very much alive and they are both in trouble. The ancients want Bee, who has special powers of her own, and they’ll do anything to get her.

Some rules are meant to be broken, even if that means Aiden must bargain with his own soul to save Bee. Who knew the afterlife could get so complicated?

And now Kerri has submitted the sequel to Aiden and Bee's story, and is working on the third in the series. All while taking care of her New Hampshire home and family-- including 3 kids, rabbits, goats, large garden-- along with a super-supportive husband named Carlos. (I know about Carlos because he and Kerri talk to each other in Facebook comments, it's so cute!)

This is a committed writer who is going to make it no matter what. Kerri Cuevas inspires me, and I'm just proud to know her.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's Here! Just in Time for Dinner

I'm very excited to announce that Farm Girl Country Cooking: Hearty Meals for the Active Family (WiDo Publishing, June 2013) is now live on the Kindle!

And at the Friends & Family pre-release price of $1.99! If you enjoyed my recipes from A to Z in April, they're all included along with many more, here. (Print release will be June 18.)

Seriously, it was as difficult and time-consuming to write a cookbook as it ever was to write a novel, only in a different way. Revising involved testing recipes and tasting. Lots and lots of tasting. I gained 8 lbs LOL. (I can laugh about it now because I've since lost it. Ha!)

But it was fun, loads of fun and if it does well, I already have another one planned....


Although preparing regular family meals can be difficult, it is worth every effort. Dinner provides an opportunity to gather and refresh while spending time together around the table enjoying a meal.

The author has collected and tested the book's 100 recipes of main dishes, sides and desserts from years of experience cooking for a large family. Whether you are feeding a family on a budget or need ideas on menu planning, this cookbook is the perfect companion for the busy, working cook.

Hearty home-cooking using basic ingredients, plenty of fresh vegetables (and don't forget the bacon) you will return to these recipes again and again when planning dinners for your family or entertaining for company.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reading Reviews--aaurgh!

Welcome to Donna Hosie, author of Searching for Arthur, The Fire of Merlin and her latest of the trilogy, The Spirit of Nimue. Her post today addresses what every writer wonders the second they stumble across a negative review of their work.

Thank you for visiting Coming Down the Mountain today, Donna. Please share with us, what is your take on reader reviews of your books?

I don’t think it matters whether you are publishing with a small press, publishing as an indie, or have a seven figure deal from Random-Penguin-Harper-Thingy! At some point, you are going to get reviews.

So do you read them?

I know there are authors out there who say they don’t read reviews, but I wonder how honest they are being. It must take extraordinary willpower to not read what people are saying about your work. I remember feeling sick with nerves when SEARCHING FOR ARTHUR was first released last year. I was even worse when THE FIRE OF MERLIN came out in November. I honestly didn’t read the reviews for a week.

But eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I relented. And I’m so glad I did, because to see that readers were actually enjoying the books meant the world. Naturally there will always be people who don’t like your novels, or aspects of them. Remember the online mess that occurred last year when author Keira Cass and her agent, Elana Roth, reacted to bad reviews and got into a shit storm of an online backlash? Now I’m pretty fortunate in that I’ve never had a bad review, but the one that does stick in my head is someone who gave me three stars, and then ripped into the editing. I never had a go back - absolutely NEVER have a go back - but I thought the reviewer had a cheek. Firstly, the books are edited and several other reviewers had mentioned how good it was, and secondly, I knew that particular person had borrowed the ebook from a friend and didn’t even pay for the privilege of having a go!

But I stayed calm, and watched Sherlock...and drank some wine...and ate cake!

Seriously though, it is very hard putting yourself out there. I’ve written some harsh reviews in the past, and then gone back and edited or even deleted. My philosophy is that if someone has paid for the book, then they have earned the right to critique - just be constructive.

So with the release of THE SPIRIT OF NIMUE on the 31 May, I will be waiting for the reviews with bated breath. It is my absolute favourite in the trilogy, and I am very proud of it. I just hope others like it as much.

And yes, I will not hide from the reviews...but I will probably watch some Sherlock...and drink wine...and eat a lot of cake while I read!

Sherlock, wine and cake should definitely make reading any review more palatable. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit my blog, Donna. I wish you much success with your trilogy, and especially with the release of The Spirit of Nimue.

 To find out more about Donna Hosie and her books: