Archive | March, 2013

Think Kindness

20 Mar

I have been making my way through the TEDx videos from the event that took place at the University of Nevada, Reno back in January. When I saw the video by Brian Williams of Think Kindness, I just knew that I wanted to support his cause.

I have been working with some executive coaches through my job, and they have been helping me to define my vision and goals for my life. I have written my vision statement (for my personal and professional life) as follows:

I am an inspiration to the people in my life, modeling how to make a noticeable, positive impact in this world.

I have so many facets of what that means, with goals on achieving that vision in my career, family and friendships, health, community and with my creativity.

One of my goals was to find an organization that I wanted to support both financially and with my volunteer hours. I believe I have found that match.

I met Brian and his assistant during lunch yesterday, and had a very exciting conversation. Think Kindness is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring measurable acts of Kindness in schools and communities around the world.

We had a long conversation, as Brian told me about the work they do to improve the lives of students and children locally, but also in Kenya. As he talked, I thought of so many ways I could get involved. The most exciting program for me is where his organization goes into schools and creates a “Kindness Takeover”, challenging kids to do as many random acts of kindness as they can.

He also has a way to measure the impact of a single act of kindness, through Kindness Cards. Each card has a tracking code, and if you receive an act of kindness with the card, you are asked to go to their website, put in your code and say what act of kindness was done for you. And then you pass it on.

What I learned last week is that it fuels my energy when I am volunteering in the local schools and giving back. This program is the perfect vehicle for me to make a positive impact while doing what I love.

I’m such a believer in Random Acts of Kindness that I even put up a category on this blog a while ago, and I had intended to do acts of kindness to document here. But alas, I got side tracked. I did numerous acts, but never got them up here. I am so happy that Think Kindness has provided me with a structure around these acts, and I am happily buying up the cards to start my own little kindness revolution.

You know what else is exciting? I pitched the idea to Brian that I could write a book about kindness for children, and partner with him to take the kindness message into schools through book readings. He loved it. Now I just need to write that book.

You know what I’ve found this year? Working with the executive coaches and getting a crisp vision on what I want out of life, and what goals I need to achieve to get there, is working. I’m making progress, and you know what? I’m happy. And to me, that the key definition of success.

This is Meant to Be

19 Mar

Ever since I went public with my pursuit of becoming an author, people in my life are coming out of the woodworks to ask me what the process was like, and telling me it is their dream as well to write and publish books.

We live in such a great time to be an author.  No longer is being an author about doing endless pitches to publishing houses, and licking your wounded ego over rejection letters.  For people like me, I can make it a hobby of sorts, testing the waters by publishing my own book, and doing my own marketing to achieve sales.  Yes, I’d love to turn this into a full time job, but until then, I get a lot of energy from pursuing my passion of writing and marketing in my free time.

The number one question I received from kids last week when I read to them was, “do you have any pictures?”  My original intent was not to have pictures, and to use such descriptive wording that the images come alive in the children’s imagination.  But pictures would be nice.  I knew of a friend of a friend who has her own business making custom cards, and I always liked her style.  This weekend, I reached out to her asking if she’d be interested in being my illustrator.  Her response?

“I have always dreamed of illustrating children’s books.”

My editor was a similar situation…  My publisher hooked me up with her, and when we met, she told me that it was her dream to become a professional editor.

It is experiences like these that are making me think this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing in life.  If I can help enable other people to pursue their dreams and feel the joy I have felt over the past few months, I believe that is making the kind of positive impact on this world that I strive for.

Yesterday, I received this story in an email from Kindle Direct Publishing.  This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about when I say it is a great time to be an author!

I think every day about the editor who uttered the nine words that changed my life, “No one wants to read about a super model.” Back in the summer of 2010, this latest rejection—resulting from what was supposed to have been a Marie Forceslam-dunk sale to a Big Six publisher—was devastating. It was also a catalyst. After hundreds of rejections, lots of “the writing is brilliant, but this is not for us” responses, it was time to try something new. I’d had four traditionally published romances do fairly well. I had readers clamoring for more and numerous books ready to go. Enter Kindle Direct Publishing. Just over two years ago, I self-published for the first time. True North is a contemporary romance featuring a down-on-her-luck super model who has everything except the one thing she wants more than anything—true love. Since then, True North has sold more than 33,000 copies via KDP. But that was only the beginning.

I’d written the first two books in a series set on a fictional version of my favorite place in the world, Block Island, Rhode Island. The McCarthys of Gansett Island features a family of five siblings and a tight circle of friends. Self-publishing allowed me the opportunity to try something I’d always wanted to do: a back-to-back-to-back release of a trilogy. Maid for Love, Fool for Love and Ready for Love were released in April, May and June of 2011, launching a series that has been a runaway success. Incidentally, Maid for Love was rejected by every romance publisher in the business. Thank goodness for that lucky break!

Last month, I self-published my 16th title—the eighth McCarthy book and have sold well over half a million books via KDP in just over two years. I left a sixteen-year management job at the end of 2011 to write full time, bought a dream home for my family, know how I’m going to put my kids through college and have hired a full-time assistant. To say that KDP has changed my life is putting it mildly! KDP has helped to give me the life I always dreamed of, that of a full-time writer making a wonderful living doing what I most love to do. The best part of my journey has been the many thousands of new readers who have found my books thanks to Amazon’s amazing marketing machine. I’ve also had great success with free offerings. Maid for Love has been free since June with more than 400,000 Kindle downloads, leading to many hundreds of thousands of sales for the other six books in the series. The offering has landed me scores of new readers who never would’ve found me without the freebie.

During a recent update to my earlier eBooks, I added a dedication to True North: “To the editor who famously said, ‘No one wants to read about a super model,’ thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. A million times over, thank you.” It’s the best time ever to be an author, and I’m thrilled to be in business with KDP and Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Living the Dream

14 Mar

I’ve wanted to be a write my entire life.  I have notebooks full of short stories and poems that I wrote when I was in middle school and high school.

I briefly thought about majoring in English, but my family encouraged me to choose a career path with better outlook for a solid career.  Which was great advice.  But as I climb this ladder in a business career, it seems to take me more and more away from the creative writing that just comes naturally to me and makes me happy.

This time last year, a good friend of mine self published a children’s book.  Just around that time, my daughter built a leprechaun trap that was really a  “cozy home”.  When I asked her what she’d do if she caught a leprechaun, she said “I’d wish for fairies” without hesitation.

That is when it hit me — I am living with these kids with awesome imaginations, and instead of struggling to write the next great American novel, I could start writing children’s books.  That is where Louie the Leprechaun was born.

I found that I would write, get stuck, and then read it to my daughter and her friends, asking them what should happen next.  They’d give me a few nuggets, and I would use their inspiration to complete the story.

The entire time I have been writing this past year, I have felt energized and just plain excited.  I get visions of what future books could be, and love talking it over with kids to get their ideas.

This week has been exciting and a bit terrifying for me.  I’ve been doing a book tour of local elementary schools, and also sent out press releases to the local newspaper, and there was an announcement about my books made at work.  It has felt a bit like walking around in my day to day life naked.

I don’t know why I’ve always felt so private about this dream.  When my closest friend in Reno got my email announcing the books were published, she wrote back and said, “I never knew you wanted to be an author.”

But what I’m learning is the more people I tell about this little venture, the more I feel accountable to make it happen.  I’m also learning that there is a heck of a lot more to the whole process than just publishing a book…  Anyone can get a book up on Amazon, but it takes a lot of effort and creativity to actually sell the books.

At this point, I’m just trying to break even on my little venture, but I see so much potential.  Reading at the schools has been so rewarding…  The kids treat you like a rock star, and have been so excited by the story of Louie the Leprechaun.

Even if this little effort of mine doesn’t amount to much, I think it is setting such a valuable example for my daughter (my son is just a bit too young right now to fully understand what is going on).  She has been a part of the process from the beginning — hearing my drafts, giving me ideas, and now she gets to see me promote the books, and tomorrow I’m doing readings at her school to up to eighty (yes 80!!!!) kids at a time.

I like to think I’m teaching her to follow her passions and her dreams, and to do everything she can to make those dreams a reality.  I’m teaching her how to make a little business — a bit about marketing, and how there are costs at starting this up.  When she saw that an order form had been sent home to every student at her school, she said, “Mom, you’re going to be rich!”

I took that opportunity to explain to her that these books surely won’t make me rich, but we’re trying to sell as many as possible to cover my costs, and then donate some of our proceeds to charity.  The rest of the proceeds will be put towards the making of future books.

I was invited to an open house at an elementary school on Tuesday, and since it was in the evening, I packed up my kiddos.  We set up a table (using her leprechaun house, the books and bookmarks to decorate), and the kids helped me hand out bookmarks and talk to people about the books.

Who needs Girl Scouts to teach business skills?!  Instead of having my daughter sell highly processed cookies that practically everyone feels obliged to buy anyway, I’m teaching her how to pitch someone on something they’ve never heard about, and giving her the confidence to go up and approach people about our books — something we are very proud of.

At least that is my plan.  Anyway, it has been a great, yet an exhausting week.  For the first part of the week, I was deathly afraid that I’d be stuck with the $500 of hard copy books I ordered.  But you know what?  Things are picking up speed…  I think I may just sell all of those books.  And that is a good thing.  A really GOOD thing!

Visit www.adelinesmagicalmoments.com to read more about my books.

Here is a picture of Little Miss helping me sell books and handing out bookmarks.

selling books

Louie the Leprechaun Book Tour

11 Mar

I’m spending my lunch hours this week visiting five local elementary schools. Today, I read to five classes at Caughlin Ranch Elementary School. I had so much fun sharing the book Louie the Leprechaun with kids ages Kindergarten through Grade 3. It was fun to see the kids squirming with excitement as Johnny caught the Leprechaun in his hands and gave him a ride in his remote controlled car.

Here are some pics from my readings today. Thank you to my friend Maya Oliver for arranging these readings for me today!

I’ll be starting a similar book tour in Reno next month for Adeline and the Tooth Fairy. Email me at info@adelinesmagicalmoments.com to book a date!

Haven’t read the book yet? Available online here or order hard copies now!

caughlin - reading 1caughlin - reading 2

caughlin - reading 3

Adeline and the Tooth Fairy is Available Now!

7 Mar

tooth fairyI am thrilled to announce the second book in the Adeline’s Magical Moments Collection, Adeline and the Tooth Fairy, went live on Amazon over the weekend. Hard copies of this book will be available starting this week, and you can submit your order here.

Adeline and the Tooth Fairy tells the story of what happens when Adeline catches the Tooth Fairy trying to get her tooth from under her pillow. Adeline makes friends with the Tooth Fairy and discovers some of her secrets. Do you know what the tooth fairy does with all of those teeth? Do you know what happens if a child loses their lost tooth? This book will answer many of those questions that children ask about the tooth fairy.