The good, the bad and the amazing of 2014

As the final hours of 2014 tick down, I take a few minutes to reflect on the good, the bad and the amazing of this year.

The good.
I published two books this year via my small press, Baskethound Books. The first, Bone Girl, is a middle-grade novel that tells the story of a young girl and a rescued stallion who together, save their world. The other, A Year with Geno, is a contemporary romance about two single parents who find romance amidst the chaos of single-parenthood.
Both books have sold tens of copies. I haven’t broken even financially, but I still have the delicious pleasure of going to my local library and seeing my books are available to be borrowed, but are checked out.
Also, much to my delight, both stories found their voice: they are available as audiobooks via Audible. Many thanks to Darryl Hughes Kurylo Darryl Hughes Kurylo Audible 2014for narrating Bone Girl and Julie KerrJulie Kerr for her tireless efforts on A Year with Geno. You are both amazing. Thank you.

The bad.
My relationship with the publisher of my debut novel, Celebration House, continued to deteriorate. My plan: buy back the rights to my novel, wish those folks well, and continue on my journey. Enough said.
As part of those plans, I launched a Kickstarter campaign. My goal was $2,500; pledges totaled $135. Wildly unsuccessful. But I learned how to make a promotional video, started a YouTube channel and began to brainstorm about promotional swag. Coffee, anyone?BHB mug

The amazing.
Rowan2Earlier this month, I spoke on e-publishing at my county library. During my talk, one of the attendees asked if I was comfortable making myself so public, so vulnerable to readers. I can’t remember my exact words, but I hope I conveyed this sentiment: “I LOVE hearing from readers.”
In May, a young girl reached out to me to ask a question about the setting of Bone Girl for a school book report. I wrote back and told her about Bennett Springs, Missouri. We made a deal. I would send her a Bone Girl T-shirt if she would send me a copy of her book report. Receiving this photo of her was the high point of my year.
A few days before Thanksgiving, A Year with Geno was spotlighted on Romancing the Book, a well-known blog for romance novels. I had all of my ducks in a row, sort of. I hadn’t made the time to promote the promotion. So, I turned to fellow authors who I had featured in my Author Spotlight on my blog and asked them to help me spread the word. Of the 20 or so authors I queried, nearly all said yes. They told their readers about my meager $25 Amazon gift card giveaway and about my book. Thanks, guys.
What’s next in 2015? I don’t know. My first novella, A Beautiful Day in Alaska, premiers on Feb. 1st. I’m working on the creation of a print and audiobook version of my picture-book manuscript, The Carwash Dragon. And I have aspirations of publishing the two sequels to Celebration House, but there’s a teensy problem: I’m spending most of my writing time on my cozy mystery, Death Comes to the Ogallala County Fair. I can’t help it. It’s so much fun.
Hands and arms inside the cart. Next: the mystery of writing a good mystery.

Sprechen sie Deutsch? No. I’m afraid I don’t.

Last month, feeling far bolder than I perhaps should have, I reached out to a German editor and we talked about the possibility of Bone Girl being translated into German or perhaps made into a German audiobook. I was beside myself with excitement! I couldn’t believe it. My humble book would be available to readers in Germany. My mother, Louise OBERMEIER Drake, would have probably been just as excited as I was, God rest her soul.
So, I sent the manuscript to the would-be translator, and I waited. And waited.
Meanwhile, riding the excitement of this possible translation, I put together a Kickstarter campaign to reclaim the rights to my debut novel, Celebration House, and bring to fruition what many readers have been clamoring for: a print version of my debut novel. With the $2,500 I hoped to raise, I would pay off the Irish publisher, hire a professional proofreader and cover designer, and before the end of the year, Celebration House would be rebuilt.
But the writing journey is a long one, and this time, I encountered a few obstacles I could not go around.
My Kickstarter campaign ended last week, and I’m sorry to report that I did not meet my goal of $2,500. I didn’t even come close. I raised $135.
And today, I learned that to have Bone Girl translated into German would cost far more than I can afford. It’s not likely to happen soon.
Okay. So these are ideas that did not bear fruit. Got it.
But there’s always a silver lining, right? Always a lesson to be learned? I kind of think so.
Let’s start with the Kickstarter campaign. It’s the first time I put together a public project like this. I borrowed a video camera from my local library and turned a spare bedroom into a studio. Because my basset hound is my mascot, Eeyore was in the video with me. Note: hounds love hot dogs and rabbits. Both were used to entice him to focus on the camera. It was fun! Also, because we made a video, actually several, I put together a YouTube channel, where I posted a few of our out takes. Dare I say mistakes?
Part of the project was to offer prizes for those who backed my project. I dreamt up the idea of a cell phone ringtone of my hound’s magnificent bay. In fact, I found a local studio which will record it and convert it into a downloadable file. That may yet happen.
I also put together what I am calling Baskethound Boutique. It’s an online store on my website where I sell my books and merchandise, like T-shirts and coffee mugs, for those who might choose to support my small business. Yesterday, a girlfriend in Alaska reached out to me and said she wanted to buy three copies of Bone Girl. Which distributor would pay me the most? I sent her to Baskethound Boutique.
As for my German translation, I’m not giving up. I’m convinced that when Bone Girl finds an advocate in Hollywood and takes to the big screen, the German translation will happen. That’s called hope. For now, it’s enough.
Hands and arms inside the cart: Next, remembering why I write.

I go kickstarting…

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were listening to the radio and heard a story about two young men who had checked into a for-rent-by-owner condominium and after 30 days, refused to move out. The owner had to navigate the legal process of evicting them. And, the story went on, they had also been given funds from Kickstarter to develop a new computer game, which they had not delivered.

Kickstarter, huh? I first learned of this group in 2013 when I was trying to promote my debut novel, Celebration House. I had the crazy idea of traveling from library to library to give lectures about the wonders of e-readers. I hoped to apply for Kickstarter funds to cover my travel expenses and offer attendees a chance to win a free device. When I reached out to the staff at Kickstarter, I was told this project wasn’t quite what they were looking for. Okay. Fair enough.

Now, as I listened to the story, a thought occurred to me: maybe I should rethink my Kickstarter campaign. What if I could raise, say, a couple thousand dollars? I could buy back my rights to Celebration House, have the manuscript professionally edited and proofread, and then publish it via my small press, Baskethound Books.

I wondered, how much money would I need? I made a spreadsheet, then I queried Wendy Janes, the editor who works with Joanna Penn, one of my indie-author heroines. I also asked the cover artist who designed A Year with Geno if she would make a new cover for Celebration House. Both women said yes. They would be part of the team to relaunch my debut novel. Publishing it myself, I could produce an e-book, an audiobook, and what most people have asked for time and time again, a print book.

My next step was to peruse different projects on Kickstarter, taking a look at those which had successfully raised the funds they asked for and those that did not. One thing I noticed: the importance of a video, explaining to backers why they should support the project.

Harvey the rabbit was used to keep Eeyore's attention on the camera. No creatures were harmed in the making of this video.

Harvey the rabbit was used to keep Eeyore’s attention on the camera. No creatures were harmed in the making of this video.

So, using the video camera I borrowed from the local library, my four-legged business partner, Eeyore, and I made a short trailer. I completed the application, editing it probably one too many times, and submitted it. The campaign launched today!

Here’s the link:

Please take a look and consider supporting Baskethound Books. Every bit as important, share the link with your friends and family. Get the word out! That helps me every bit as much as your financial support. Now, if I can just figure out how to record a ring tone…

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: Sprechen sie Deutsch?