Through the Everglades, From Pompano Beach, Florida to Tampa, Florida

Now that Thanksgiving 2020 was over, we were excited for our next trip. The drive, from Pompano Beach, Florida to Tampa, Florida would take us through the Everglades. Years ago we had taken a fun airboat ride through the Everglades and I loved seeing the wildlife. This time we would be driving our 2010 Allegro Tiffin bus through the Everglades on land. Would we see any gators? Other wildlife? I was hopeful.

My view from the passenger seat.
Mike’s view

One thing about riding in this big bus is, we sit up fairly high, so we have a better view than we would have sitting lower down in a car. That combined with great big windows up front made this trip memorable.

There were many little white birds by the side of the road, fishing in the water, or drinking. I tried to capture them in a picture, but most flew off the moment before, eluding me. This is the only picture I have which captured one. Still, one of my favorite memories of this drive was watching those birds. They have a slender white elegance I am unable to fully capture in a photo.

The original airboat tour. Years ago we took a fun airboat ride through the Everglades. I don’t remember the name of the company we hired.

We stepped to fix lunch meat sandwiches at Big Cypress National Preserve visitor center and got out to walk around. We had the place pretty much to ourselves, as you can see. There were no X’s to stand on, marking a six feet apart rule, or masks. Just us and a sprinkling of raindrops.

On the wooden walk in front of the building as we walked across we looked down into the foliage and there we saw my gator. Can you see him?

Can you see the gator hiding?

This gator was sleeping or hiding. I wonder if he was dreaming of his next meal, as he did not move. It began to rain again so we dashed back to the bus to get inside out of the chilly air and rain and back on the road again.

There were signs that said panther crossing, next five miles, though we didn’t see any. We passed an Indian reservation, and Ten Thousand Island National Refuge.

This was a fun trip. Our next journey would be to Tampa, but that is another post.

I’ll be back with more of our story and our travels soon, so stay tuned and remember that every day we are alive is a beautiful day!

With love,

Debra Parmley, your Beautiful Day Traveler

For Debra’s RV travels follow this blog! https://beautifuldaytraveler.wordpress.com/

For Debra’s RV videos follow https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC27hTWse4gLJxTETQw6i7xw/

For more about Debra and her books go to www.debraparmley.com

FB page https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

FB fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/debraparmley/

FB fan page: https://www.facebook.com/authordebraparmley/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-parmley

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/debraparmley

Newsletter sign up: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/w9s9h0

Cover Model Corner blog: https://covermodelcorner.wordpress.com/

Medium where Debra posts articles: https://medium.com/@debraparmley1

Kof-fi page: Where Debra posts her poems: https://ko-fi.com/debraparmley

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Parmley/e/B002BM9H4A%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Preparing Our Motorhome for Our First Trip and Our First Trip

We had much to do before we moved into the motorhome and took it on our first trip. Our plan was to take it to Florida for Thanksgiving. The first of many stops to see family members.

One thing I did before loading our belongings into the RV was to line many of the drawers and cabinets in the RV with shelf paper from the Dollar Tree store. The shelf paper has a bit of no skid to help prevent things from sliding around as we go down the road.

I was excited to find this pattern and color which matched the countertops very well. And I found them at the Dollar Tree so they were easy on the budget.

The first ride I took in the motorhome was to ride along with my husband Mike to fill her up. Our 2010 Tiffin Allegro bus has a very large tank and she takes diesel. This was our first time to fill her up. Not all gas stations sell diesel and not all stations have room for a 43 foot diesel bus. My husband uses an app called Gas Buddy to find prices and places to get gas.

Mike filling the motorhome’s gas tank with diesel.

One of the new treasures in our new home is this beautiful journal. My husband bought it in New Orleans when we went there for Heather Grahams Writers for New Orleans event in 2019. He went shopping while I was at author events during the day and surprised me with it later. I just love this journal, and I am enjoying keeping a “captains log” of our travels in the RV.

First travel journal for the RV, a surprise gift from my husband, one I treasure.
Day one …
The new chapter in our lives begins…

The trailer behind the RV pulls my convertible. The front wheels go on the trailer and the back wheels stay on the road. The RV is 43 feet long so towing the car adds to that making it even longer. We need to find sites that have a pull through for our size when we are looking for our next place to stay.

Our first trip was down to Florida for Thanksgiving. The first of many trips planned to see family.

Our route from Memphis, for our first trip, along with stops was:

From Memphis to Frog Hollow RV Park in Grenada, MS for one night. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g43801-d258451-Reviews-Frog_Hollow_Campground_and_RV_Park-Grenada_Mississippi.html

Lunch in the Talladega Forest, AL at the rest stop, and then one night at the Triple C RV Park in Chattahoochie, FL http://cccscampground.com/

Then on to Highland Woods RV Park in Pompano Beach where we stayed for five nights Thanksgiving week.

https://www.rvonthego.com/florida/highland-woods-rv-resort/?utm_source=yext&utm_medium=directory&utm_campaign=Yext+Directory+Listing?utm_source=yext&utm_medium=directory&utm_campaign=Yext+Directory+Listing

Highland Woods RV Park in Pompano Beach, Florida

After visiting Mike’s mother in Deerfield Beach and having dinner with his cousins who live in Ft. Lauderdale, we went over to Tampa for the next trip. But that is a post for another day.

I’ll list sites we’ve stayed in for other RV travelers and for my readers and family when I post.

I’ll be back with more of our story and our travels soon, so stay tuned and remember that every day we are alive is a beautiful day!

With love,

Debra Parmley, your Beautiful Day Traveler

For Debra’s RV travels follow this blog! https://beautifuldaytraveler.wordpress.com/

For Debra’s RV videos follow https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC27hTWse4gLJxTETQw6i7xw/

For more about Debra and her books go to www.debraparmley.com

FB page https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

FB fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/debraparmley/

FB fan page: https://www.facebook.com/authordebraparmley/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-parmley

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/debraparmley

Newsletter sign up: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/w9s9h0

Cover Model Corner blog: https://covermodelcorner.wordpress.com/

Medium where Debra posts articles: https://medium.com/@debraparmley1

Kof-fi page: Where Debra posts her poems: https://ko-fi.com/debraparmley

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Parmley/e/B002BM9H4A%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

The Big Downsize: Moving From Our House to a Motorhome

I’ll always remember this move as the big downsize, when we sold our 1,100 square foot house and 40 foot by 50 foot garage on 1.4 acres in Bartlett, TN and moved into our first RV, a 2010 Tiffin Allegro bus/motorhome.

I’d been downsizing for a long time and thought I would be ready, but I was still surprised by how many things we had squirreled away in the spaces we’d lived in for 23 years, and I was still trying to sort through things as we were moving out.

Our sons came to stay with us and they worked on the house before we listed it and then helped us move things into the store and lock, and I really do not know what we would have done without all their help. We would not have been ready.

The backyard always had deer in the evening.

The house sold six days after we listed it and we had two buyers bidding. On Monday, Nov. 23rd we closed on the house and the buyers took immediate possession, so we had to have everything out and ready to go before then. That would have been a lot even if there were nothing else added on.

40 x 50 garage which housed my husband’s business.

But as the ads on television say, “But wait! There’s more!” My husband also housed his business, Whistle Clean Incorporated, in that big garage, so there was an office to dismantle and a business to move out of that garage, everything from office furniture and files to business equipment and chemicals.

Our new 2010 Tiffin Allegro Bus beside our old garage.

The guys worked on Friday the 20th, a regular work day to finish the work, then they collected their last paychecks, and the business closed for any more work. I listed office furniture and equipment for sale and my husband moved everything Whistle Clean into a store and lock. This would be our second store and lock as I already had one for our household things. I am keeping things that mean something to me, antiques and momentos. No, I will not be a person who “gets rid of everything” but in each case these are things I would want around me as I get older and want to be surrounded by my memory things. The question I asked myself was, “If there’d been a house fire, would I be upset at the loss of this?” Having lived through a house fire, I had a pretty good idea of what I’d be upset about and what I wouldn’t. So the decisions were easy for me, and my treasured things are in a temperature controlled storage unit.

Downsizing from this house and garage into this motorhome. “The big downsize.”

So, now we had two store and locks. Whistle Clean was officially done cleaning houses and my husband had retired. He had previously tried to sell the business with no luck (guys wanted to run it but didn’t want to work, or sweat and that is not the way a pressure cleaning service company works) and then he had planned to keep the business going, running it from the road while he retired from doing the heavy work, but that was not to be. One employee had a heart attack the week before we closed and the other announced he was going to Mexico for two months. There would be no one left in Memphis to do the work. The doors would have to close. It wasn’t the optimal way to end, but the signs were clear that it was time to move on. We had a new lifestyle to begin and we were both ready to get on with it.

Everything in the garage had to go, from office furniture and files, a van, a truck, pressure wash equipment, tools, etc..

I’m writing this on December 17th and just today Mike finished emptying the Whistle Clean store and lock. Part of the delay has been the first trip we took, down to Florida to see his mother for Thanksgiving as she was alone there and we hadn’t taken a trip in the motorhome anywhere yet! I’ll write about that in another post, as this one is just for the big downsize.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Tomorrow we get on the road from Memphis to Kentucky. He will drive the motorhome, pulling my car while I drive his truck full of tools and equipment he is keeping to Kentucky, where he will store them along with woodworking equipment and wood for his projects. While we will be living in the motorhome full time, we do have things we are keeping, here and there.

Towing my convertible behind the motorhome.

Once we unload his things in KY, the downsizing will be officially done and then we can head for the warm sunshine and our next adventure. And that, I suspect, will feel awesome.

I’ll be back with more of our story and our travels soon, so stay tuned and remember that every day we are alive is a beautiful day!

With love,

Debra Parmley, your Beautiful Day Traveler

For Debra’s RV travels follow this blog!  Debra’s Beautiful Day Traveler travel & writing blog https://beautifuldaytraveler.wordpress.com/

RV travel pics will also go up on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debraparmley/

For videos of Debra’s RV travels follow Debra’s Beautiful Day YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC27hTWse4gLJxTETQw6i7xw/

For more about Debra and her books go to www.debraparmley.com

FB page https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

FB fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/debraparmley/

FB fan page: https://www.facebook.com/authordebraparmley/

To Catch an Elf: Debra Parmley’s Creepy Shelf Elf Group! 12 days of creepy elf party https://www.facebook.com/groups/793115644206381/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-parmley

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/debraparmley

Newsletter sign up: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/w9s9h0

Cover Model Corner blog: https://covermodelcorner.wordpress.com/

Medium where Debra posts articles: https://medium.com/@debraparmley1

Kof-fi page: Where Debra posts her poems: https://ko-fi.com/debraparmley

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Parmley/e/B002BM9H4A%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Holidays in the Motorhome – Decorating for Halloween 2020

I have always loved Halloween; from the time I was small and dad would take me out trick or treating. I loved very girly costumes, though one year I had a Batman mask and even a batman lunchbox. Dad loved Halloween too and I have great memories of him taking me and my best friend Ginny through haunted houses. In his later years he wore his skeleton costume and passed out candy to neighborhood children. For me, Halloween will always bring memories of my dad.

Shifting into the RV/motorhome lifestyle, one of the things I must do is make sure the decorations fit into our new 2010 Tiffin Allegro bus as we are going on the road fulltime.

Everything in the RV must earn its place, holidays are no exception. We will celebrate holidays on the road, whether visiting family or seeing beautiful spots in the U.S. The challenge while downsizing is to keep decorations that will fit into our newly downsized lifestyle. I have decorated the motorhome for Halloween and here is how she looks all trick-or-treated out.

Captain Jack, my favorite Jack-O-Lantern, thinks he is the captain of this earth-based ship, and we will just let him think that until captain Michael takes over. Then he can duke it out with co-captain Debra for the passenger seat. (I think I can take him. He is more a lover than a fighter, likes hugs and his little sword is not sharp.)

Snoopy, who I love, does the Snoopy dance it you press his foot and sitting with him is his little buddy, named Batty. They are listening to the talking candle flame that lights up.

If you hang around with me you will learn that I love polka dotted things, so I had to have this witch hat with pink polka dots. (Next to Snoopy and Batty.) Yes, there are other polka dotted things in my must keep these things basket. lol

 What is Halloween without a black cat? Since I’m trying to lose weight, I have a tiny trick or treat basket, a miniature Frankenstein’s head. Not sure where the rest of him has wandered off to. Maybe in search of the candy I shouldn’t be eating?

This little spider is stowing away on the motorhome but I am keeping all the other spiders out.

These are the little things that brighten up our new motorhome and make it feel homier to me.  It’s fun sharing them with you. What little things brighten up your Halloween? Are they new things things this year or traditional? If you are in an RV, how do you decorate?

Below are all my links. Soon you will see other posts on my pages as we get on the road. Closing on our house is Nov. 20th so, just 24 days to go! It’s going to be a busy week here but I will still celebrate Halloween. Wishing you a Happy Halloween!

With love,

Debra Parmley, your Beautiful Day Traveler

For Debra’s RV travels follow this blog!  Debra’s Beautiful Day Traveler travel & writing blog https://beautifuldaytraveler.wordpress.com/

RV travel pics will also go up on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debraparmley/

For videos of Debra’s RV travels follow Debra’s Beautiful Day YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC27hTWse4gLJxTETQw6i7xw/

For more about Debra and her books go to www.debraparmley.com

FB page https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

FB fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/debraparmley/

FB fan page: https://www.facebook.com/authordebraparmley/

To Catch an Elf: Debra Parmley’s Creepy Shelf Elf Group! 12 days of creepy elf party https://www.facebook.com/groups/793115644206381/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-parmley

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/debraparmley

Newsletter sign up: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/w9s9h0

Cover Model Corner blog: https://covermodelcorner.wordpress.com/

Medium where Debra posts articles: https://medium.com/@debraparmley1

Kof-fi page: Where Debra posts her poems: https://ko-fi.com/debraparmley

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Parmley/e/B002BM9H4A%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Celebrating Ten Years as a Published Author and a New Box Set

I am celebrating! This year marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of my first novel in print, A Desperate Journey.

debra_and_friends_3_20090828_1040220591

This is me, holding the first copy of my first book, A Desperate Journey, which came out in March 2009. – Photo by Monica Parks. This was the original book cover.

My western historical romances have been described as “gritty.” The west could be a rough place for a woman, or a man, and I started out writing my first novel, A Desperate Journey, as a western. It started with a challenge. I was attending the Ozark Creative Writers weekend and Dusty Richards, a well-known western author, issued this challenge. “Write your first novel, make it a western and if it wins my contest, my agent will read the full manuscript.” I’d been writing short stories and poetry up to that point, never a full novel and that challenge was too good to pass up.

I sometimes will take a challenge or a bet and when I do, it can be life changing. For instance, I asked my husband out on a date, on a five-dollar bet, back in high school, but that is a story for another day.

Well I wrote that western, set it along the old Chisholm Trail in 1867, and along the way, as I wrote, the story turned into a romance. A Desperate Journey is a blend of romance and western. If you pulled the romance out, there would still be a lot of story. It’s interesting to me that men enjoy reading the story and I think that is one reason.

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This is the new book cover.

Now you might wonder what happened with Dusty’s challenge and the contest. I finished the book by the following year and entered it in the contest. By then Dusty no longer had an agent, but he sat with me and went over the first chapters, giving me advice. I will always be thankful for his advice and his challenge. I revised the book and entered it the next year in a contest that western romance author Bobbi Smith held at the Romantic Times Book Lovers convention in St. Louis, where it won third place. Bobbi sat with me afterward and said, “Debra start your story in chapter three.” (I was giving too much back story and not getting to the action soon enough.) I rewrote the story and the next year entered it in the American Title II contest, where it was a finalist. During that contest I signed with an agent and a year later he sold my first book to Samhain Publishing. A Desperate Journey would be in e-book in 2018 and 6 months later be in print in March 2019.

After Samhain published A Desperate Journey, my editor invited me to write a novella. Another western historical romance for a new anthology to follow the first book was a good idea and to meet that call, I wrote Dangerous Ties. This one starts out with the heroine strung up over a mineshaft and the rope is breaking. I’d paid attention to my mentors and started my next story with action. Jumping right in. I thought this would be the first of many westerns with my publisher. But then my new editor turned it down and wanted me to write erotic romance instead. A third book, a contemporary romance I’d written right after I finished A Desperate Journey was turned down next. In the seven years I was with Samhain, I had five editors, but later editors were not as enthusiastic abut my work as my first two, who I’d enjoyed working with.

Dangerous Ties went on to be published by a different publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing. But now, writing a third book to connect the two books was going to be impossible. Because different publishing houses held the rights to the two books. So you can imagine how thrilled I am to have those rights back, and to have republished both books through Belo Dia Publishing Inc. It has also enabled me to be able to publish a third book to tie them all together. My readers deserve that and it’s exciting to be able to do it the same year I am celebrating of ten years of publishing.

I am celebrating the tenth anniversary with the release of a box set of the three westerns. A new book, Deadly Adversaries brings together the daughter from A Desperate Journey and a son of the couple from Dangerous Ties. The box set, Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection is available now on Amazon.

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Dangerous Ties is also on sale for 99 cents for the e-book up through June 15th. That’s the breaking rope after the mineshaft one, if you just want a nibble of one of my westerns to see if you like them. It’s a quick novella. It is also available in audiobook and in print.

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Deadly Adversaries, the newest of the three westerns is up for pre-order and releases Tuesday May 7th.

DeadlyAdversaries_Web72

I hope you will join me in celebrating my tenth year. To my readers, thank you for your support and for your love. It has been a wonderful ten years and I look forward to many more and can’t wait to share new books with you.

Over on my Debra’s Beautiful Day YouTube channel you will find my First Chapter Reads playlist where I read from the first chapters of my books, and I have many other things there as well. I am always adding new content there. You’ll find the link to that site and many more below.

Check out my books on these book sales pages and read a sample:

Debra’s books on Amazon

Debra’s books on Barnes and Noble

Debra’s Audiobooks on Audible

Debra’s ebooks and audiobooks on itunes

Debra’s books on Kobo

Debra on the web:  www.debraparmley.com

And on social media:

Facebook fan page

Facebook group

Facebook personal page

Goodreads page

Debra on Instagram

Debra on Pinterest

Debra’s Cover Model Corner blog – interviews

Debra Parmley’s Beautiful Day YouTube Channel

Debra Parmley on Book Bub

Audiobooks are an Expensive Gamble for the Indie Author

Audiobooks are an expensive gamble for the Indie Author.

Here is what goes into the making of an audiobook if you go through ACX.

First you’ll need to set up your account. You’ll need to decide if you are going to pay a flat fee for the narrator, or if you are going to do a 50/50 royalty split. If hiring a SAG narrator, the minimum is $100 per finished hour with a 50/50 split. This was the option I chose for my first two audiobooks, Check Out, and Trapping the Butterfly. I hired professional SAG narrators to do my first two audiobooks.

CheckOutuseAudio

You also have to decide whether to go exclusive through ACX or non-exclusive. With exclusive your audiobooks are available through Audible, Amazon and iBooks. A non-exclusive contract allows you to distribute your audiobooks through any vendor you choose.

Trapping the ButterflyRevAudio.jpg

I chose to go non-exclusive for my second two audiobooks, Dangerous Ties, and Aboard the Wishing Star, and I hired a narrator who is also a musician who could  add music to the audiobooks, which I felt was a nice touch. He charged a flat fee with no royalty split and he can advise me on putting the books onto CD’s or other media so I can sell them at book signings. The options are wide open.

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The process of listening carefully to each tape which is sent, chapter by chapter and making sure the audio matches the words on the page is a slow and time consuming one. It is also a slow process for your narrator to narrate the book. Then when everything is done for the narration, you will need an audiobook cover, so that can be an additional expense if your cover artist charges extra for that form which is a square and changes your cover some.

Aboardthewishingstar5_audio.jpg

So you have your audiobook done and now it’s time to promote it. ACX will give you 25 free download codes to send to reviewers. But be careful how you use them as those codes can be used for any audiobook in the store, not just yours. In the wrong hands and you won’t even see any reviews. Vet your reviewers.

Things were going well, I had the new audiobooks finished and out there, sales were coming in slowly, reviews were coming in, and then Audible came out with their romance package. Similar to Kindle Unlimited, this allows readers/listeners to listen to audiobooks if they pay for the romance package. Instead of royalties on a sale, authors would get paid when the books were listened to.

Neither KU or this romance package are in favor of authors, if you look closely at them. This is akin to …let’s say, you are a peach seller, selling cans of peaches. But you only get paid when someone opens the can and eats them. Cans of peaches can sit on someone’s shelf a long time. So can an ebook or an audiobook. The one who benefits the most is the seller of the KU program or the seller of the romance package. Authors, not so much. Like that can of peaches, the book may be a good purchase, a yummy purchase. But until someone opens it and takes that first bite, we don’t get paid one dime. And they have to eat all the peaches or read all the pages for you to be paid in full for your book. I doubt we could get any sellers of canned peaches talked into this kind of a deal. But authors went for it.

Initially I’d said yes to the romance package and tried it for a year. My audiobook sales plummeted. People are busy. They might “buy” your audiobook but that doesn’t mean they have time to read/listen to it. People are busy. This is not a good situation for the author.

After trying the ACX romance package, I sent ACX a letter and pulled my books out of the program. You’d think sales would then have picked up. Enter the next problem.

Pirates. Yes, audiobooks are pirated too and some pirates are so bold they’ll even post Youtube Videos telling readers where to get those books for free. So now we’re not even getting paid for page reads or page listens. Now we are getting zip. Zero. Nada.

Readers keep asking me when I am going to put out a new audiobook. I’m giving a straight answer to this. I’m not. Not until these four audiobooks earn out the costs of producing them. Until that day, I can’t afford to put another one out there. Publishers need to be profitable to stay in business. This is true of Indie authors and Indie publishers. When my audiobook sales pick up, then you will see more of my audiobooks.

Here’s some straight talk, JA Konrath style: I have $1,810.00 invested in the production of these four audiobooks. The shortest one was $310.00 to narrate. I’ve sold a total of 128 audiobooks since 2016 when I put the first one out and brought in $236.57 so far. Not even enough to cover the cost of producing the smallest audiobook.

This morning I spent time sending take down notices on pirated copies of all four audiobooks. Pirates suck. They just do. And if you are a reader/listener who downloads from pirated sites, then you are in receipt of stolen merchandise. You might as well be holding up banks and liquor stores, or fencing stolen property, all of that is theft and helping people steal and you suck. I don’t want to hear your excuses, because no excuse changes the fact that you are a thief. I hope the karma bus comes fast and hits you hard with what you deserve.

Newer authors often ask me about putting their books into audio. Well, here are the facts as I have experienced them so far with my audiobooks. Two of those books were RONE award nominated ebooks and that’s a reader vote. In case anyone was thinking my books might suck. It’s not my books that are the problem and I have those reader votes to back me up. What sucks are the pirates and the systems of paying authors and narrators for their work. Remember on a 50/50 royalty split, the narrator is getting screwed by these pirates too.

I’d like to end on a positive note, so I will take this time now to say I am truly, eternally grateful for my readers and reviewers who have purchased my books and left reviews. You are why I continue to write and put my books out there. You are the treasures in this pirate filled world and I thank God for you.

Legitimate places to get Debra’s audiobooks:

Itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/author/debra-parmley/id411082477?mt=11

Audible:

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_pd_Romanc_c2_1_auth?searchAuthor=Debra+Parmley

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Parmley/e/B002BM9H4A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1509300092&sr=8-1

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For more about Debra visit: debraparmley.com

My Joy Jar

JOY. Such a simple three letter word, and yet, joy is no small thing. In fact it is large and up-lifting. It can raise your spirit and raise your vibrational energy.

Each year I choose a word for the year and that becomes my theme. My word for 2019 is JOY. I chose my word for the year and not long afterward saw on Pinterest where someone was making a joy jar. I loved the idea and had to make one.

What is a JOY Jar? It’s a jar where you collect joys for each day of the year. Here is my JOY Jar.

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Making a Joy Jar easy to do. Take a jar. Decorate it if you wish, any way you wish. Write down one of your joys onto a paper and place it in the jar. Do this every day. At the end of the year, open the jar and read all the joys you collected in the Joy Jar in that year.

I headed to meet one of my best friends for a Joy Jar making, 2019 planner day. I’d been looking for stickers which said “Joy” and couldn’t find one in any of the stores I searched. I was on the search for joy and was surprised it wasn’t easier to find. When I arrived at my  best friend’s house and told her I couldn’t find Joy stickers anywhere, she went into the other room and came back holding a red heart she’d knitted for me. Synchronicity. A gift of a joy heart made with love. The perfect thing to glue onto the front of my Joy Jar.

You know how when you buy a new car suddenly you are seeing cars just like it everywhere? Well that is how it has been with me with the word joy. The more I look for joy, the more I find it. The word joy has been popping up at the most unusual times and I’m more aware of my joys each day. What we focus on often increases.

My challenge to you is, make a Joy Jar and start adding to it. See how it enriches your life and keep your eyes and ears on the lookout for joy.

One of my joys is writing. I’ve got seventeen books out now in various genres of romance and will be writing many more to share with my readers. If you follow me this year, you are going to be hearing the word Joy a lot. And if you make a Joy Jar I’d love to see it and hear about your experiences with joy.

Debra Parmley’s Links:

Website: www.debrapamley.com

FB fan page: https://www.facebook.com/authordebraparmley/

FB personal page: https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

FB fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/debraparmley/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/DebraParmley

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraParmley

Indie Marketing Tip #1, part 2 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot – Glamour Shots vs. Author Headshots

Branding is – always being yourself.

Remember when I said in Indie Marketing Tip #101 how you could sum up branding by figuring out exactly who you are and then acting like it? Well, it’s a good thing if you look like it too. This was my first professional author head shot and it was taken by Studio at an RWA convention in 2006, not long after my first manuscript, A Desperate Journey, was in the American Title II competition. We all had to have a website before we even had books out and the first photo I had up on my site was a quick photo my husband had taken in the kitchen on our little camera. That first photo didn’t have the clarity a professional shot had and it was a bit fuzzy when picked up by my hometown newspaper for an article they ran, so I, along with many other authors at the convention, signed up and paid for professional photos.

For the photo shoot we were to bring a couple outfits to get some different looks, so I picked three of the outfits I’d packed and did my makeup, basically got all dolled up. The shoot proceeded with lots of shots, three outfits which meant some quick changing, and a lot of posing here and bending there to get the angles the photographer wanted. He was a great photographer and he was creative. He was also used to shooting models. In this shot he moved the lighting to go for “something different.” He liked the way it turned out and called it his “fire shot.”

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The photographer called this his “fire shot” and it was used in their marketing. 

While it was very cool, the photo pulled attention to my hair and the light behind it which lit up. The photo was also touched up in the same way photographs are touched up for fashion magazines. Notice, not one freckle showing. So while it is me, it’s just like the photos you see in fashion magazines – touched up. I don’t believe my skin ever looked that flawless. This photo was used in some of their marketing materials, people would tell me about it even when I wasn’t at an event and so this photo was around for a while, which was quite flattering, but – did it help me sell books? I suspect it mostly helped sell photography services.

For years, when my husband would hand out my bookmarks, people would say, “Is that your wife?” Yes, that’s probably a compliment. But maybe, the ones who had met me were thinking – she didn’t look like that when I met her. The idea here is to sell books, not sell my face, since I’m not a fashion model. The idea is not to sell my hair in a fire shot, cool as it is. Eventually I caught onto the fact that people weren’t recognizing me at large book signings with many authors and I knew I needed to use a different photo.

Of course we want to look our best, but remember, your reader needs to recognize who you are in the photo and who you are at a signing or anywhere else you’re appearing so that you aren’t lost in the crowd. If your photo doesn’t match your regular appearance, they might have a little more trouble recognizing you. Yes, it is your image, your face, but let’s think for a minute about what you are selling. Try to keep your hair, makeup, clothing, etc. close to your usual style – this is not a glamour shot, it’s a professional author head shot, so no fancy makeup or hair is needed.

Watch out for that author ego. We all have one. Not enough of one and you’d never put a book out there. But don’t let it take the wheel and go veering off in a different direction. Would it be tempting to use a glamour shot? Sure. Would it be tempting to use a picture from 2006 instead of 2018 because I was twelve years younger? (And who doesn’t look better in younger pics – most do.) Sure. But that choice would not be the best one.

When you choose a head shot, try to select one that looks like you do now so your readers can find you. And if you change your look drastically as we sometimes do, it might be time for a new head shot.

– Debra Parmley

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Indie Marketing Tip #1 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot

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Indie marketing tip #1 – “Keep your profile pics/head shot out there. If they don’t know who you are, they won’t read your work.” – tip from Mike Pettit Your face should be recognizable. Imagine being at a signing event of 350 authors. I bet if you read romance you could pick out the big names, like Nora Roberts. Friends and fans love this pic which was taken of me with my first book by Monica Parks. I love it too, it’s fun and is a good memory for me. But, guess what it doesn’t do? Boost my brand. You need a full head shot to do that. Branding – it’s important. I’ve listened to a lot of people give talks on branding and have read about it. I’m going to sum up branding as simply as I can, to cut through some of that for new Indie authors. Your brand. How do you brand yourself? New authors often ask me that question. Here is the answer I always give. Branding: “To brand yourself first you must know who you are and then act like it.” – Debra Parmley So there are two steps. Do you know who you are? Ego comes up in this topic. And what is ego? It’s our personality, the things that make us who we are. We came down here to earth to be somebody. Remember that. Living small does not serve you well. There is nothing wrong with having an ego. Not enough and you’d never put yourself out there. You’d hide in your author cave. Too much and you’d be insufferable to be around. But you are in control of that. So know who you are. The more you figure that out, the better your branding will be. And guess what the experts who will charge you money to brand you are going to ask? The same questions you have to ask yourself to figure this one out. So you figure that out and then, step #2, you act like it. Be true to yourself. There is only one you. And readers want to get to know you. Every social media site out there is going to want a profile picture. Because that is step one of people getting to know you. So… profile pic = head shot. And as Mike Pettit says, you need to post new ones to keep your brand, your face out there. I’m going to take my own advice here and will be changing my profile pic once a week. Will call it Brand Boost. Cause I have to boost my brand. There are thousands of authors out there and we have to keep boosting our brand if we want to be remembered.

Adapting and Adjusting is an Author’s Life: Mine Might be Titled “Survivor”

If there was one skill set or one set of tools I would recommend every author carry in their author tool box, it is the ability to adapt and adjust.

I would go so far as to say it is the one set of tools every person needs to survive and to succeed in life. I am blessed to have acquired these abilities or skills and very thankful for them.

If there is one constant in the author world today, or in our modern world today, it is that things change and they often change fast and unexpectedly.

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As an author I’ve survived more things than I can count. I’ll attempt to list the major ones.

I’ve survived many rejection letters, and competing for a publishing contract with a major publishing house (Dorchester Publishing) during the American Title II contest. Similar to American Idol, readers voted online and each month two authors were kicked off the island. During that contest, my husband flatlined for three minutes. They were to put a stint in (a simple surgery they said) and he reacted to the dye. I nearly lost him. Three minutes is a long time to flatline. Seeing him on total life support in the operating room (the Dr took me inside without having me gown or wash my hands – the first shock of that before seeing him – and then the nurse saying ‘You can touch him if you want to’) shook my world. Split it in two.

My world split into the before, and the after. When this happened during the contest and my focus moved to sitting by his side in the hospital, instead of asking for votes, my writing world shifted. I had made it to the second round of the contest but was soon “voted off the island.” With all the other authors pushing for votes, I suspect I had very little chance of winning at that point. The before and after of my life pushed my writing career into the background. When life happens we do what we have to do.

This period of time in my life is part sharp focus and part blur. Somewhere during that time I obtained an agent who had been enthusiastically pursing several of us who were competing. Three of us signed with him.

The agent sold my book to Samhain and I survived receiving “the call” for the sale of my first book, while looking at the letter on my desk which would sever the contract with my agent. The list of reasons to split from him had grown too long to ignore. I later learned from my editor that she had never received the last chapter of the book. They bought A Desperate Journey though it was missing the last chapter. They must have liked my writing enough to take a chance on me. I’m still surprised by that. This experience made me gun shy of agents and I didn’t pitch my books to any others. It’s true that no agent is better than a bad agent. The least they can do is submit the full manuscript for you.

I then survived what I call the editor revolving door, as I was passed to five different editors at that house and the house sitting on two of my books before being orphaned at my publishing house. Being orphaned is hard because you no longer have an advocate in house and communications slow til you don’t know what is going on at your publishing house. With no agent, I also had no advocate anywhere. I was going it alone and that is no easy road.

I’ve survived firing two PR people, one after my father passed after eight months on hospice. They had done nothing to promote my new book launch. My new book came out, it was release day, and there was no promo beyond what could be done that day at the last minute after my frantic messages.  When I asked where my promo was, I was told my PR person had left the company. She’d left and no one had told me. Though the company tried to make it up to me, the lack of promo did hurt sales. I decided no PR company was better than one who didn’t do what you paid them for. Once again I was going it alone.

I survived being with five publishing houses, juggling deadlines. Not wanting to put all my eggs in one basket so as not to be orphaned with no books coming out again, I tried writing for too many houses. It was a lot to keep up with. It also meant I had many different kinds of stories out there and would not be branding with just one type of romance. I could write what I wanted, and at one house was able to sell on proposal. My publisher said she would publish anything I wrote. That was a far cry from being turned down more than once at my first house as editors revolved. I was riding the roller coaster author life up and down. I learned to adapt and adjust quickly and to write fast to meet deadlines. I often met them by missing sleep. (Not something I advise doing as it will affect your health.)  I was proud of never missing a deadline, a carry over from working at the Collierville Herald newspaper.

Of those five presses, three are no longer in business and one discontinued the line I was writing in. In some cases I was never paid my royalties. I never received my advance from the first house. Though the royalties covered that advance, so it’s not like they robbed me, the advance would have helped.

I’ve survived internet trolls and bad reviews, slings and arrows, things people fling at you when they want to pull you down. I refuse to be pulled down and focus on staying up and staying positive.

Through it all, I survive. Beyond that I am determined to thrive. To succeed. To do what I love and to share my stories with the world. I write because I love to write and I love stories. I protect my writing with a ferocity few realize and which has even surprised my husband at times.

Recent news reminded me it was time to adapt and adjust again. And that is exactly how I see it. Kindle Worlds is closing. We just got the word this week and my email came while I was in the hospital with pancreatitis. Boy, talk about timing. I had three more books scheduled to come out in two different Kindle Worlds. This affects my writing and publishing schedule for 2018. It affects my today and my tomorrow. The next book was to be out in June. I’m now readjusting my planner and turning to work on a different story.

This is what authors must do if we are not only to survive, but to thrive. Not just on a financial level but on an emotional level as well, for our happiness as writers.

Happiness is important and life is short.

Minutes matter.

How much time do you spend on the negative curve that has just been thrown your way?

Change can propel you to better things or it can bog you down. Don’t let it. Adapt and adjust as quickly as you can. The past is the past and needs to remain there. You are in charge of your tomorrows. Make them good ones.

Today I am working on book three which will be in this box set, tying my first two westerns together. Tying them together and wrapping up the past into the future where good things can and will happen. Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection containing A Desperate Journey, Dangerous Ties, and Deadly Adversaries. Look for it soon.

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