Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Story of an Author

You know, I don’t usually think of myself as a sham.  Lately, I keep hearing adults say they don’t have their crap together and they feel like they’re fooling everyone by pretending to be a responsible adult.  I do not feel this way. I feel like a responsible adult who has her crap together. It’s not that hard. You just pick the things you’re going to concern yourself with, keep your list modest, and get it done.  After that, anything else that happens to get done is just cream. 

But when I think of myself as an author, I think I’m a scammer.  I don’t go around announcing that I’m a
novelist. Over the Christmas break, I was at a party where a really fabulous woman asked me what I did. 
The gal next to her put an elbow in the other woman’s ribs and said, “She’s a mom,” like that was more
than an explanation. However, I have been trying to teach myself to be what I am, so I explained that I’m
an indie novelist, but added that it was super embarrassing to admit it.  She replied with, “I used to work
in publishing and you’re the first writer I’ve ever met who is embarrassed by it.”

The problem is, as I have explained before, it is pretty much impossible to make a perfect product
without a company working with you (a lot of errors sneak through even if you are working with one),
but I feel like cringing for a week every time I find a mistake in my already published work.  And I wonder
why my brain doesn’t catch them. I have edited my books a dozen times, read them aloud multiple times
to find mistakes, given them to beta readers, allowed editors to work on them, and they still aren’t
without fault. It is maddening. Why can’t my human brain find all the screwups?

The second problem is that people seem to expect success to be within reach if you manage to get a
book published.  Self-publishing is a great thing and a terrible thing in the same breath. People who
don’t know anything about writing can hit ‘publish’ whenever they want and I’m lumped in with them.  I
say I’m a novelist, and I am one, but people seem to think that means something more than I know how
to write a novel and I’m trying to see how it can work out if I just keep at it until all the books on my
harddrive are published.  

I have to admit, it’s a pretty good feeling when I hold my four printed books in my hands (you do almost
need two hands).  If I were a teenager coming home from the library, I would be ecstatic to have such
great things to read. If I were a teenager, I’d think the author of the books I was reading had all her crap
together as a novelist as well as an adult.  I’d hold those books and think Man, this woman has it
together!  That’s the reward… I impress my teenage self who doesn't know any better.

And the woman from the Christmas party says, “I’m sure you’re being too hard on yourself.”  Hearing
someone fabulous like that say those words almost made me think it could be true. Surely, she has
it together!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

How to Support your Author Buddy

I am your author buddy.  
I was just going to write a blog about how to support your author buddy, but I have to make it clear; I am your author buddy.  It's me.  Chances are if you have any other author buddies, they probably want to be supported in the same way.

Okay, so let's talk about that.

First thing - Amazon reviews.  An Amazon review is invaluable.  A lot of promotional services won't even talk to you unless you have five reviews on Amazon.  

Second thing - A three-star review is not helpful.  If you can't give a four or five-star review (because it wasn't good enough in your mind) then say nothing.  

Third thing - Self-published authors have typos.  If your problem with the manuscript was that it had a few typos, then your expectations are too high.  Do not mention typos in your review!  Self-published authors cannot afford editors, because editors charge thousands of dollars for the kind of triple editing services that ensure the absence of typos (hopefully, but even these guys fall on their faces regularly).  A self-published author is not going to make thousands of dollars off their novel; thus, they can't afford editorial services.  And it might seem crazy, but after awhile the author can't see the errors.  Their brain automatically corrects the work so that it looks right to them even if it isn't.  It's science.  It happens to editors too.

Fourth thing - Goodreads reviews.  That is the second-best place to leave reviews.  Sometimes Amazon gets cranky and deletes reviews off Amazon.com or Amazon.ca, but Goodreads is more flexible. It's also a place a lot of people go to look for something to read.  Following me on Goodreads is also supremely helpful!

Fifth thing - Chances are, if your author has their work up on Amazon, they also have their work up in about a hundred other places on the internet.  My work is available on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, KOBO, OBOOKO, Free E-Books.net, Apple Books, Overdrive, and so many other places that it will get crazy if I start listing all of them.  Where ever you are reading, I am probably writing (except Google Play), and there are mechanisms for leaving reviews and posting star ratings on lots of those.  You can also follow me on various sites so it looks like I have lots of followers, even if I am only your author buddy.  

Sixth thing - There is nothing stopping you from posting reviews in more than one place.  Lots of people are not going to look up reviews for a book on multiple sites, so if you feel so inclined, post happy reviews everywhere!

Seventh thing - Thank you!  Thank you a lot!  Thank you so much I could cry!  

BONUS BLOG!

The picture above was taken at my very first book signing.  That is me signing a book.  I want to thank everyone who came and picked up a book.  It was a long night.  I did readings from four of my books.  Special thank you to the gals who helped me organize it!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Volume One

Today was a pretty big day for me as an independent author.  One of the most common questions I get asked is whether or not someone can buy my books at a bookstore.  For the last eight years, I would shrug and say that it would have to be an online bookstore where people were peddling ebooks.

Well, not anymore.  Starting today, my books will be on the shelves of Volume One.  It's this really cute, cool, incredible, independent book store in downtown Duncan, BC.  If you've never been to Duncan, you're really missing out.  The downtown core is like Whyte Avenue in Edmonton but with way more totem poles.  The indie scene there is amazing!

Here's the link to their bookstore.

https://www.bookmanager.com/1676881/

This morning, as I went to have a meeting with their manager, Dana, I passed through the tents housing the temporary vendors of the Saturday market.  There are such delicious things to buy there!  So many artists selling things you could never find elsewhere.  I saw the most ornate woodwork, locally made soap and my personal favorite, locally grown produce.  It was misting, meaning that the mountains that loom over Duncan had sheets of fog rising out from between the layers of trees.  This place never stops being green.  It felt very green today, even though it's already November and the Christmas boom is beginning.  Trust me, it felt amazing to get my books on the shelf when I saw how many book lovers swarmed Volume One.

Almost optimistic.

I should also say at this point that my books are available through KOBO, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Obooko, Apple Books, and pretty much every other place ebooks are sold.  What can I say, I've been a busy girl.  If you're not a fan of Amazon, please check out pretty much anywhere else (except Google Books) and you'll probably find a title by me.  Happy reading!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Nobody told her Escorts Snagged the Best Men!


Christina popped her purple bubblegum and tried to work out some of the tension in her back. It was the dreaded night—New Year’s Eve. Rats! She was dressed like two billion dollars. Her dress was deep red, the color of the season, and she was wearing a long black coat with fur trimming Mindy had loaned her for the occasion. All her clothes were borrowed from Mindy, except for the inserts in her bra (those were a gift). To complete her look, Christina wore long dangling earrings with rhinestones inset in them and a choker to match. The wrap she would wear once the coat was hung up was black with deep red blossoms scattered across it in a gorgeous array. Christina thought it was prettier than the dress. The wig she wore that night was sandy blonde with bangs that fell slightly into her eyes.
That night she was supposed to meet Mr. Mark Lewis in the lobby of the Grand Morton Hotel—downtown—uptown—a really good part of town. There was a party there in one of the ballrooms and she was his insurance that he wouldn’t be going stag to the biggest party of the year. 
She pushed through the revolving doors just before eight o’clock hoping she’d find him quickly. She was supposed to wait by the courtesy phone in the lobby. Phase one of the date wasn’t a big deal. She’d been meeting men that way all along. Even though it had barely been a month, she felt like a seasoned professional. The reason sweat was forming in the space between her shoulder blades was that she couldn’t stop thinking about the cold fact that she was going to have to kiss her date. Of course, Mindy was right. Having someone to kiss at the stroke of midnight was the whole purpose of hiring an escort on New Year’s Eve. It was socially embarrassing to have no one to kiss. Christina just needed to pull herself together. She’d been kissed before. Lots of times… she thought.
She rolled her eyes and looked around for a place to spit her gum before her date got there. But she was so nervous she accidentally started to blow another bubble.
“Looking for something?” a deep male voice said coolly.
Christina’s gum bubble deflated as her eyes met those of one of the most handsome men she had ever seen. Christina didn’t even get a chance to examine him closely when she realized he was holding a silver dust bin in his hand, poised to catch her gum. 
Christina reached into her pocket and quickly pulled out a tissue. There was no way that guy was her date, but her date was probably in the lobby (if he was on time) and she didn’t want him to see her spit a wad of purple bubble gum directly into a waste bin. She already felt like she’d tripped up by being majorly outclassed in the fancy hotel. She rolled her gum up in the Kleenex and dropped it into the bin. 
“Thank you,” she said, trying to cool her cheeks and manage some sort of composure. Then she moved away and stood closer to the courtesy phone. She leaned against the pillar and tried to look for her date.
But the guy with the trash can wasn’t leaving. He set the bin down near a chair, came around, and leaned against the pillar beside her. “Was your gum grape or raisin flavored?”
“Those are the same,” Christina said, still scanning the room and not looking at the man next to her. “It just depends on whether or not the French side of the package is showing.”
He laughed. “Are you waiting for somebody?” he asked, flirting.
“I have a date.” 
“Is he handsome?” 
“Who?”
“Your date,” he answered, chuckling. 
Christina looked around nervously. She had never seen the man. How was she supposed to answer? The stranger was clearly playing with her. If she said her date was gorgeous, she’d be in trouble when the short, bald guy rolled in. After scrambling for a moment, she answered, “I like the way he looks.”
“Hmm,” the brown-eyed stranger said, as he suddenly turned around the corner and put his arm by her shoulder, nearly pinning her against the pillar. “And you’re friendly with him no doubt?”
She nodded and said testily, “That’s why you shouldn’t be putting the moves on me.”
“Mark!” someone suddenly called from the other end of the lobby. It was a silver tinkling voice, exactly like the sound of Christmas ornaments jingling. 
Christina turned her head to see who had called her date’s first name, when suddenly the stranger in front of her closed in and whispered, “Sorry for the late introduction. I’m Mark and I’m guessing you’re my date. Tina? Am I right?”
“Yeah,” Christina breathed, very much aware of his cologne. Breathing it in was a new sensation. What on earth was he wearing? But Christina still had the presence of mind to say, “But you’re not behaving very well. Do you have to stand that close to me?”
“I need you to help me with a little problem,” he said, taking her hand in his and leading her toward the woman who had called to him. He held onto her hand and introduced her to a ravishing blonde. 
Her name was Laura. It was only necessary to take one look at her to learn that she was eating her heart out for Christina’s date. 
“Don’t you ever go out with the same woman twice?” Laura asked poisonously when Mark slipped his arm around Christina’s waist. 
Christina smiled and looked at him. Yeah, he definitely looked like the heart-breaker type. She was smiling though, because she was happy he had turned out to be her partner for the night. She couldn’t help it. So far, none of her dates had been with men that were above an average on an attractive-o-meter. Mark was undoubtedly a ten on any woman’s rating chart. At least she wouldn’t have to kiss someone at the end of the night she was not attracted to. So, she was smiling and enjoying the fun of being with a man who was obviously popular. Mindy had already prepared her for being a tool to make another woman jealous.
“Don’t scare Tina,” Mark said to Laura sternly. 
“But I know how you like to give your flings the idea that it’s not just a fling,” she said, looking particularly wounded. “Someone needs to warn the poor girl.”
Christina smiled and answered before Mark had a chance to say anything. “Thanks for the warning, but I’m too young to settle down. You should just enjoy the moment. Don’t you think?" Even Christina thought her cheerful eyes and ringing voice were irritating as she said those words. Saying a line like that irked her conscience, even as she said it. She didn’t believe it at all. She wanted a steady boyfriend who wouldn’t just use her for a fling, but for a long life of deep, lasting love. However, Mark was paying her to be on his side, so she said what she had to without choking on her own tongue.
Christina knew she was successful when Laura gave her a disgusted look and then beckoned for someone across the room to join them. “He’ll make you sorry, even if you have that attitude,” she said crossly as she took the arm of a young man. He was tall and blond and Christina might have been mistaken, but she thought Laura's date looked at her a trifle longer than was necessary.
 Christina flashed a smile back at him. It was all part of leading her secret life. Smiling sweetly at strangers was all part of being Tina. Well, she wouldn’t have to do it for much longer. New Year's was going to be the last night. Afterward, she’d have to make up the difference washing dishes in the back of the pub again. Maybe then she could relax because no one would ever find out what she’d been doing.
Mark led her over to the coat check and politely helped her remove her coat. “You really riled her up,” he said as he offered her an arm and led her down the stairs to the ballroom. 
“Is she your ex-girlfriend?” Christina asked, trying to get a grasp of the situation. Maybe he would tell her.
“Not exactly. More like a hopeful girlfriend,” he explained.
Man alive! He had excellent posture. Christina pushed her shoulders back and tried to walk with half as much dignity as him. Having to match a guy like him was daunting, but she’d do her best. “And this is your way of letting her down easy?” Christina asked.
“Sort of,” Mark agreed, turning his dark eyes toward her. 
“Did you have a fling with her?” 
Mark looked annoyed, but it didn’t make him look like an ogre. With features like that, he couldn’t stop being gorgeous even with a scowl on his face. Even his arm was solid.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business,” he finally replied. “I said I need you to help me with something tonight and it wasn’t her. I assure you, I can take care of that situation myself. There's something else. Last year, at the New Year’s party, I had some… unpleasantness at midnight. You’re going to keep me out of trouble. All right?”

Christina smiled and promised she’d do a good job.

I do hope all of you enjoyed that excerpt from Whenever You Want.

Here's a link to where you can download it for free from Smashwords. It's also for free at Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, and Overdrive, but I'll only include the Smashwords link. If you have an e-reader on your phone, Smashwords is a ridiculously easy place to get it from.


If you're more of the print type of person, you can get it on any Amazon. I'll post links for Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. Check it out!


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Whenever You Want

This is an especially proud day for me.  I wrote this book in 2006-2007, and it had a very nice run as a free book.  Finally, it's in paperback and ebook on Amazon and everyone can enjoy the magic.  It's especially wonderful because it's a book about an escort and one of the tags for the book is 'clean and wholesome'.  I know.  How did I accomplish that?  Well, there is only one way to find out.

Normally, this first introductory post would be about the synopsis on the back or an excerpt from inside, but not this time around.  This time I'd like to talk about the cover.

I always do my own cover design, but I do not create the piece of art I use as the central focus.  Instead, I check out various artists' work and choose something that has already been created that suits my purposes.  I pay them and feel pretty awesome about the whole transaction because I love supporting starving artists. 

For the cover of Whenever You Want I started doing just that.  I found myself particularly drawn to images that were gold and black, but most of the pictures I gathered lacked a much-desired depth to them.  Not only that, but they failed at being complex images.  They were images that focused on hair or eyelashes that didn't translate into an atmosphere.  I started thinking that I should contact a more experienced graphic designer than myself when my brain suddenly clicked.  I do know someone who is a better graphic designer than me.  She had over a thousand followers on Sketch before they shut it down!  So, I called her up.  By 'called her up', I mean that I asked her to come upstairs from the living room.  I drew a little pencil drawing of the basic idea of what I wanted and then I told her to do it her way.  This was the image she brought back to me.

Needless to say, my daughter, Kait, is an awesome graphic designer.  She's still in junior high!  I am so proud.  This is not her usual style.  Her flexibility in making an image to suit a brief stunned me.  And before you ask, yes I paid her.  In hats, but also in money.

Because this has been free for 13 years, an ebook of it is still free.  Here's the link to download your free copy.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/987116

For those of you who prefer paperbacks, here's a link for where you can order one if you live in Canada, and right after is the link for where you can order one if you live in the USA.  Remember, Christmas is coming!

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1700538322/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/Whenever-You-Want-Stephanie-Orman/dp/1700538322/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=whenever+you+want+by+Stephanie+van+orman&qid=1572462673&sr=8-1
 


Friday, October 18, 2019

Trick Number One

Today is the last day for promoting A Little like Scarlett.  My, the time does fly.  Here's today's excerpt.

I used to get tricked into going on dates with guys I didn't like.  A guy, usually a guy who had a girlfriend, would call me up and ask me if I wanted to come on a group activity.  A bunch of kids were going to do something fun and I could come along with no date? Awesome! Except I'd show up and it was a single date or a double date and I was paired up with someone I never would have consented to go out with if Mr.  Matchmaker had been honest.

On this particular occasion, I was distinctly repelled by something about my date's mouth.  His name was Stephen and I was really not into Stephen's mouth. His lips were enormous in a way that just rubbed me all wrong.  

But I tolerated the rollerblading date and thought pleasantly that it would be over soon and I would no longer be around this guy I was actually repelled by.  He drove me home, by himself. We were alone in the car and I was not thrilled by that prospect. I didn't know him and I had not agreed to a single date with him.

We drove in silence.

“Isn't there anything you want to know about me?” he asked.

“Nothing's coming to mind,” I replied.

“Don't you even want to know my last name?”

I straightened.  Yeah, I did want to know his last name in case he attacked me and I needed to file a police report.  “Okay,” I said. “What's your last name?”

He told me.

And I immediately responded with, “What's your grandfather on your dad's side's first name?”

Again he told me, and I snorted.

“What?”

“We're cousins.”

He gawked.  “No, we're not.”

“Yes, we are.  Your grandfather and my grandmother are first cousins."  I started listing his first cousins, one of which was Wyatt and I suddenly made the connection.  The reason I didn't think he was attractive at all was that he actually had lips like two of my brothers.  Those really pronounced lips; my dad had them too.  

“We're third cousins,” I announced.  “Little too close for me to want to date you.”

He didn't believe me, but I didn't really care.  I sent him home to ask his daddy. It was a little weird when I got to the single adult ward after high school and I heard the ladies gushing over him.  Yeah, like he was my brother.

Here's the link for Amazon.ca
amazon.ca/Little-Like-Scarlett-Partial-Autobiography/dp/1694390489/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=a+little+like+scarlett&qid=1571422105&sr=8-2

Here's the link for Amazon.com

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Caught by a Chaperon

Today, and next week, I'll be posting clips of my new book A Little like Scarlett. It's a collection of my dating stories from when I was a teenager. Here's a link to my author page on Amazon.com. Let's jump right in, shall we?

I was at a dance once where I was slow dancing with this adorable boy named Wyatt.  We were laughing and flirting and suddenly he got this amazing expression on his face, and I thought that he wanted to kiss me, but there were at least half a dozen chaperons and so nothing special was going to happen.  

I looked up and questioned, “What were you about to say?” Pretending to be stupid.

He shook it off.  

And I was like, “Come on and tell me!”

We went out into the hall and I finally got him comfy enough to make his confession.  He couldn't look at me when he said it and missed all of my signals that he had to shut up.  There was a chaperon coming.  

Except he missed all my frantic hissing and said clear as day, “I just really wanted to kiss you.”

And the chaperon was right behind him and he said loudly, making Wyatt jump almost clear out of his seat, “You two should head back into the gym.”

I got up and started walking with him.  I said something about how it was too bad and cute little Wyatt executed a perfect wall slam against the church wall.  That's when a guy neatly pins you against the wall either with the purpose of kissing you or yelling at you. He was about a centimeter off laying that kiss on me when that chaperon was back with his booming voice, “You'd better head back into the gym!”

I just about leaped out of my skin and the moment was completely ruined.  I think both of us were too embarrassed by getting caught that second time to spend much more time together.  I got home and contemplated his last name. The next day I made a call. Yep, he was my cousin.  

Here's a link to my author page on Amazon.com.


And here's the link to the book page on Amazon.ca