Planning the Rest of the Year

My biggest 2020 events have now passed…The publication of my 6th Casey Holland mystery, retirement from the day job, and the birth of my first grandchild. As far as I know, nothing major’s coming along over the next four and a half months, which means this is a good time to start making plans for the rest of the year and into 2021.

The problem with this idea is that our COVID world is only a few months old and not likely to disappear soon. Uncertainties are everywhere and planning is trickier than usual. Under normal circumstances, my fall craft fairs would be booked and paid for by now. These days, such events are up in the air. One of the fairs is planning to host their event online and it will be interesting to see how that goes. One was cancelled and I’m still waiting to hear on another.

As far as my casual job goes, which is to facilitate Port Moody Recreation’s creative writing workshops, the rec center is still trying to figure out how to make it work. Registration normally starts in July, so I and my three co-facilitators usually know what our schedules will be by now but we don’t.

So, I’m going to focus on what I can arrange, which mainly involves more writing and promotion work. As mentioned in last week’s blog, I have idea for a new series that requires a great deal of thought and note making before I write the first word. And there are always household projects waiting for attention.

At some point, the cold rainy weather will set in and the yardwork will stop and I’ll switch to indoor sorting. I have bins filled with the kids’ old schoolwork that needs to be sorted and some of it recycled. I’ve also started collecting new recipes which will be fun to try.

On some levels, I’m also preparing for a COVID relapse in case things go south in our area. In late May, we bought a freezer for the first time in my life. It’s not huge but should I or the people I live with get sick, we want to be able to feed ourselves or provide food and meals for family members, should they became ill. I’ve also stocked up on hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, which are plentiful in the stores these days.

I’m thinking about starting Christmas shopping early. My mother used to have her shopping done by the end of August and wrapped by the end of September, but that was before the dementia took hold. I used to think she was nuts to do everything so early, but retirement and COVID is changing my perspective.

I’d prefer not to shop online, so maybe I’ll start while the weather’s good and everyone else is outside. Needless to say, there’s lots to plan for. Who knows what the next four and half months will bring, but I’m going to hope for the best and plan for the worst.

What are you all doing to plan for the fall, personally or professionally? Do you find it difficult to make plans right now, or are you looking ahead as well? Meanwhile, here’s the latest baby Ellie photo. I’m blown away by the changes in just a few days.

Baby Ellie, 8 days old.

The Fun and Challenges of Guest Blogging

KEEP-CALM-BLOG-ON[1]After releasing a new novel, one of my ongoing promotion tasks is to write guest blogs and find bloggers who are willing to host me. I remember asking you all for advice about whether to try a blog tour and the majority of responses advised against it. The reasoning was that the amount of time it takes to write twenty to thirty blogs doesn’t pay off in subsequent sales, especially when you factor in the cost of hiring someone to arrange a tour. Sure, you could organize a big tour yourself, but it takes a great deal of effort to find willing hosts, keep track of posting deadlines, and stay engaged in the process.

So, I’m preparing just a few blogs, at my own pace. I thought it would be challenging, but once I started thinking about topics, ideas began to flow. Some of the blogs are specific to The Blade Man and others are about writing in general. It’s actually been fun to reflect back on my career, the things I’ve learned, and acknowledging the people who inspired me.

To date I have three lined up for June, which I’ll repost when the time comes, and I’ll be searching for more opportunities as we move into July. I’m not planning to appear more than once a week, which is plenty for me.

All in all, I’m off to a good start, but I’m looking for more hosts, so if you’re interesting in hosting me, please let me know at debra_kong@telus.net.

And I’m always open to hosting authors in all genres, as we can all learn something from one another.

Release Day Aftermath

Deb & books, Feb. 12, 2020Book release day has come and gone, and a huge thank you to those who ventured out to Western Sky Books last night to be part of the The Blade Man’s launch. The release of a new book is a rare and special event for authors, often filled with pre-launch nervousness, doubt, and worry. It’s also exhilarating, but once the event is over, it’s also a great relief. Of course, there’s also the realization that there’s still a great deal of promo work to do.

Publication of The Blade Man has been a long journey. I’ve never been one to work on only one manuscript at a time. It’s common for me to tackle three or four manuscripts, two of which are usually percolating between drafts. The downside to this is that it can take years to actually complete a book, and such was the case with this one. I think I first began working on this sixth Casey Holland mystery in 2014.

My usual routine is to work on one book in the morning, then leave for the day job before switching to another manuscript in the afternoon and evening. When preparing for a new book release, a conference, or a public speaking engagement, though, all of my attention is diverts to the task at hand.

Signing at launch, Feb. 12, 2020It’s now time to figure out which project to continue next. A couple of books have been waiting in the wings a rather long time while I finish up the fourth draft of my 134,000 word urban fantasy, which has proven to be a whole other challenge.

The photos here were taken by author and Crime Writers of Canada board member Winona Kent, and a big thank you to her for that. I’m also grateful for the supportive writers in my community and to the wonderful independent store, Western Sky books who hosted the event. A big thank you as well to those who gave me input with the manuscript, the cover, and the title.

I’m taking a vacation day from the day job today, to take a breath and reflect on things. I need to prioritize upcoming tasks and relax a little. One of my writing colleagues surprised me with a bottle of red wine last night so I could celebrate when I got home. Relaxing with a glass red wine is always a good idea, and many thanks to A.J. Devlin for the thoughtful gift!

Books at lauch, Feb. 12, 2020

 

The Blade Man is available at:

Amazon: mybook.to/TheBladeMan

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-blade-man

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1495092401

UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LDre1

 

Book Launch Coming Up!

The Blade Man, front coverThis is the busiest January I’ve experienced in a while, (which is why I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks) but in a good way. I don’t know about you, but in my area there are more events and activities than normal this January…author readings, book launches, and festivals. It’s as if the world can’t wait to get this new decade started.

I’m still tallying sales results from my BookBub promo event on Dec. 31, and won’t know the complete January sales numbers for a while. The Draft2Digital distributor doesn’t report January sales until late February. Amazon is much faster, and I can tell you that The Opposite of Dark actually became #1 on Kindle ebook sales that night. Two or three days later it was still up there at #10, something I never expected. Nor did I expect the book reviews to jump from 7 to about 70 so far.

I don’t publish a book that often, and even though I keep a checklist, it’s still daunting to complete all the necessary tasks. First off, I’ve been formatting ebook versions of The Blade Man so they’ll be ready for the February 12th  launch. I’ve also been consulting with the printer who’s preparing the trade paperback version.

My BookBub profile, website and author page on Amazon’s Author Central have been updated. I also spent time playing around on Canva to design banners for the website and the Facebook evite.

For those who live in BC’s Lower Mainland and don’t pay much attention to Facebook, the event is at Western Sky Books, #2132-2850 Shaughnessy Street, Port Coquitlam (located in the Shaughnessy Mall) from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Tamara at Western Sky Books is a huge supporter of authors and artists and hosts many events there, for which I and other authors are very grateful.

By the way The Blade Man is now available for pre-order at:

Amazon: mybook.to/TheBladeMan

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-blade-man

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1495092401

UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LDre1

I still need to prepare a Goodreads giveaway and come up something interesting to say at the launch. Then there’s the food and drinks list to compile and purchase. It never ends, does it, but right now, I don’t want it to.

Keeping Up With Those Reading Lists!

Holidays-Card[1].png

Before sharing my favorite reads in 2019, I wanted to tell you that this will be my last blog until after Christmas. I and my family will be celebrating on the 24th and 25th, so I’ll probably be searching for the nearest gym on the 26th.

Also, production of my 6th Casey Holland mystery, The Blade Man, is nearly complete! The cover reveal will be on my January 8th blog. The designer’s done a fantastic job and I’ll be very happy to share it. The manuscript is formatted for the book printer, but I still have to get going on the ebook versions and set up pre-orders. The book will be officially launched on February 12th, but more on that in a few weeks.

As you many of you already know, this is the time of year when lists of recommended books are everywhere. There’s too many to name, so I’m just mentioning a small sampling that’s peaked my interest.

In my quest to read more nonfiction, I was interested to learn that investor Warren Buffet has a recommended reading list (see link HERE) as does Bill Gates (HERE). BookBub’s poll (HERE) has also come up with best books of the entire decade.

If that isn’t enough, Lithub presents a compilation of best reads taken from 37 different lists involving 749 books (HERE). Given how many books were published this year, I find it hard to believe that only 749 are noteworthy, but all lists are subjective, which leads five of my favorites of the 52 books I read this year. I was lucky to find many great reads this year, this time around I’ve chosen books that were compelling and thought-provoking. My top five are:

. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

. The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner (historical mystery)

. Becoming by Michelle Obama

. The Devil’s Half Mile by Paddy Hirsch (historical mystery)

. Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones (urban fantasy)

I kind of surprised myself with the historical mysteries. I chose these perhaps because I would find it extremely difficult to write a historical mystery, and am in awe of those who do it well. Having said that, If I had to review my list again tomorrow, I’d probably change it for different titles. That’s how subjective lists are.

Anyway, here’s to more great reads in 2020, and Happy Holidays everyone!!