One Author’s Journey

I recently asked for my rights back to my first book, Lady in Waiting. The book had received four stars from Romantic Times reviewer Gerry Benninger, was a finalist for an EPPIE, and had been voted ‘Favorite Historical Romance’ at sim-gen.com.

What could I do with it?

C.J. Lyons who writes medical romances and Bella Andre who writes contemporary, recently spoke at my Romance Writers of America-San Diego chapter about self-publishing. Both of these authors are successful in self-publishing and encouraged authors to take this path.

Dare I take the plunge?

First of all, you have to put some money into the enterprise. There are fees for a beta-read, proofreading, cover design, cover art and formatting. Armed with a little capital and the belief that I had a good story, I decided to give self-publishing a try.

Happily, there are several free books ready to download on your Kindle or I-pad. I read all three.

Smashwords Style Guide

Smashwords Marketing Guide

Publish on Amazon Kindle

These books are filled with techno-speak and not for the timid, but they do give the reader a feel for what’s involved. Spoiler alert: Writing is creative and surprising and often difficult, requiring the writer to go out of her comfort zone.

So I polished the book and sent it to former teacher and no-nonsense beta reader Karen Lawson at: theproofisinthereading.wordpress.com. Karen gave me her honest impression of the story, pointed out some inconsistencies (the book is a time travel) and kept reminding me when the book strayed from the path of fulfilling the promise to the reader to tell a believable time travel with a satisfying and happy ending.

I addressed Karen’s concerns with a light rewrite and because the book had changed, I named the new, improved book Past Forgetting. Next I found Dreamstime.com and bought artwork for the cover. When my heroine leaves her stately home, she steps out into Edwardian England. I wanted to show that on the cover. Once I bought some artwork, I sent it to my web designer Shelley at Web Crafters. Bella Andre makes her own covers but I didn’t have the confidence to go out on that limb alone.

Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, has a list of recommended cover artists and format designers. Here’s the address to request the list: https:www.smashwords.com/list

Formatting the manuscript for publication can be done by the author using the Style Guide. I sent Past Imperfect to one of the names on Mark’s List, John Low at E-Book Launch to format the book which saved me time.

Once you have a formatted manuscript, a cover you love and a blurb, it’s time to fill out the form at Smashwords. They will assign you an ISBN number for booksellers to find the work or you can buy an ISBN number from Bowker.com. Convert your file to HTML and send to Amazon.com.

Pricing is up to the author and changing the pricing is easy using the author’s dashboard. Both Smashwords and Amazon have promotions which they will email you about so you can change your book price if you want.

Where am I now?

Still trekking. There’s plenty of marketing to do. Self-publishing was totally out of my wheelhouse, but quite frankly, I enjoyed creating something new out of something old!


Sarah Richmond



Blogging with Sarah

What I learned about heroes from Clint Eastwood

I saw the movie “Sully” recently, the story of the impossible water landing of an Airbus by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeff Skiles. The movie follows a classical hero saves the day plot, and these two pilots fit the bill.

I was struck by how their story and the definition of a hero are similar to the director Clint Eastwood’s fictional movies and the men he has portrayed.

Clint Eastwood has been likeable and unlikeable men in the movies. Some have been relatable, others fantastical. The qualities of heroism shine through in all his characters.

His heros are unassuming and modest men. They rise to an occasion with quiet confidence and they do the job required of them. Faced with injustice, Eastwood’s hero doesn’t back down. He’s quick to praise others. The Eastwood hero isn’t self-promoting and doesn’t brag about his accomplishments, and he makes no claims to perfection. Deep in his core, he is the protector of innocence and kindness.

The Man with No Name was a man of action and few words. He wasn’t perfect and made no claim to be. He was an ordinary man who found himself in extraordinary circumstances (The Civil War in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”)

In the “Outlaw and Josie Wales”, the hero sets out for revenge after his family is murdered. He’s a loner who takes a leadership role to protect innocent settlers.

William Munny in “Unforgiven” is a reluctant hero who must do what is necessary to take care of his family. He returns to his past self, a gunslinger, which doesn’t turn out well for those who oppose him.

The Preacher in “Pale Rider” protects a small town from a greedy villain. He provides the balance of the scales of justice when the scales are tipped unfairly for the bad guy.

Walt Kowalski in “Gran Torino” is not a pleasant man to be around. When he stands up to bullies, he protects those who need it.

Boxing trainer in “Million Dollar Baby” is another disagreeable type, grouchy and cynical. When asked to do the unthinkable, he makes a selfless choice.

The Romance Genre loves these kinds of heroes. The reader wants likable/relatable men who deserve the heroine. A man who is confident is very sexy. A man who thinks of others and fights the good fight is a man every woman yearns for.

In the romance genre, the hero/heroine are redeemed by love. A romance requires a ‘happily ever after’ ending which makes it different from other genres, but the requirements of what makes a hero are very similar to the action/adventure genre of Clint Eastwood.