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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 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 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.

Introducing Adeline and Louie the Leprechaun

19 Feb

louie kindleToday is a big day for me. My first book is now available for purchase on Amazon. I have dreamed of being a writer my whole life, but chose the “safer” career path of business. I have written privately and on my blog for years, just waiting to come up with the perfect idea for the Great American Novel.

But then last year, my daughter came home with the assignment to build a leprechaun trap. She decided she was going to build a “cozy home” so that the leprechaun would want to stay awhile. When I asked her what she’d do if she caught a leprechaun, she didn’t hesitate in answering, “I’d wish for fairies.”

That is when it hit me. I can still write that Great American Novel one day, but right now, I am immersed in children’s literature every day, and my kids have amazingly fertile imaginations. I realized that my ideas for stories could come from my kids, and that I could use my love for writing to make their ideas come alive in books.

Today, thanks to my friend Aspen Kuhlman, who published her own book last year and inspired me and provided her awesome cover design and publishing skills, my dream of becoming a published author has come true. Sure, it’s not how I imagined it all these years, but it is still a very happy moment for me.

Louie the Leprechaun is available for purchase here.

The second book in this series, Adeline and the Tooth Fairy, should be available for purchase next week.

I’d also like to thank my editor, Tracy Beck, and my BFF, Amber Isselhard, for encouraging me to pursue this dream for the past 20 years.