Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

First Audiobook Now Available

I’m super stoked to announce: I finally have an audiobook!

Sugar Pine Holiday is my first title to be published in listen-only mode with Google Play. I’ve used Google’s auto-narration by Madison, a medium tone, gentle voice I think reflects a better version of my book than me reading it myself on Anchor. (I’ve since pulled back from that and am reworking my audiobook game.)

My hope is to get a few more books set to wide in Sweet Romance and Sci-Fi.

The content turned out well with Sugar Pine Holiday, in my opinion. I had to correct a few things and work on pacing of the AI narrator a bit. But overall, I think the hours I put into it, and the quality is worth the small price of $4.99 as compared to other audio books.

Photo by Ju00c9SHOOTS on Pexels.com

I finally found a way to try out audiobook creation within my financial boundaries, which makes me very happy. I’ve had readers request audiobooks in the past, and suggested I do them myself. I would, but I live in an RV with thin walls right next to the highway. There isn’t a quiet place to record here. And Madison doesn’t make mistakes and have to reread chapters 3 or 5 times to get them right on Anchor! haha.

If you’re a writer interested in inexpensive audiobook creation, try out Google Play. Your book has to be in ebook form first before it can be auto-narrated. But so far, the process has been stellar. I totally recommend this!

Sugar Pine Holiday is the first sweet romance series I’m trying out as “widely” published on multiple platforms. It’s not on Amazon in ebook or audiobook, only paperback. It’s part of a new collection I’m calling Fireside Holidays, the second book of which, Wish Mountain Holiday, I’m working on right now.

I’m hoping to turn this into a nicely sized collection of 5 or more books. The second book stars a character from the first book, Lex. Each one will feature Search & Rescue studs.

Ready for a listen?

Check out Sugar Pine Holiday on Google Play

Buy eBook: Sugar Pine Holiday $0.99

Sign up for Sugar & Spice Newsletter to get it for free.

More about Sugar Pine Holiday:

A rushed work trip to a mountain resort sends Ava into the humble, strong arms of a search and rescue stud. Can he save her heart? And can she rescue him before her time is up?

Ava Williams doesn’t want anything to do with winter or the snowy mountains of Colorado after her sister’s death. When a resort coordinator calls the week before Christmas, requesting her dance classes as part of a holiday retreat for couples, Ava can’t turn down the opportunity. It could change the future of her studio’s business. 

But Ava plans to hide out in her room between classes, not ready to confront the memories of family vacations that used to bring her joy. She doesn’t expect to meet the handsome and extremely fit Cade, a member of the local search and rescue team. All he wants is one date. But Ava knows if she gives in, it could dismantle everything she’s worked so hard to create.

Cade Callahan is more than meets the eye, and Ava finds herself falling for him. Literally. He likes to play fair, and he’s desperate in a way only Ava can satisfy.

She has to keep her distance. How hard can it be for just one week?

A sweet holiday romance with a bit of suspense and mild language but no intimacy. 

Audio content information:

Author-adjusted auto-narration.

Voice: Madison

Speed: Relaxed

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Roger Stark, Historical Romance/ Biography/ Creative Non-fiction

Roger Stark

Historical Romance, WW2, Biography, Creative Non-fiction, 

Author of: They Called Him Marvin  

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:  Several years ago while working as an Addiction Counselor I wrote two how-to books on recovery. I ended up self publishing them and have had a modest amount of success with the first, “The Waterfall Concept”  has some success. That process gave me a functioning knowledge of the process but I really had no plans or desires to write another book, on any subject.

And then I became friends with Marv Sherman.

Marv and Judy (Marv’s wife) had invited my wife, Sue and I to dinner, it was a sort of thank you dinner for some assistance I gave them when they went on a temporary work assignment (Marv is a veterinarian) to Alaska. Marv and I engaged in a rather emotional conversation about his father that he had never met. His father, Dean, was a B29 Airplane Commander during WW2, shot down over Nagoya Japan, captured and ……..(you will have to read the story to learn the rest.)

Marv’s knowledge of his father was staggeringly incomplete and he openly wept as he told me the story. He had avoided learning about what had happened to his father to avoid the pain the knowledge would bring to him. I felt a compassion for my friend overcame me and I committed to helping him learn of his Dad. That turned into a request to write the story and It was on.  

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:  It took 8 years to write and publish TCHM. Much of that time was divided between research and re-writes. I knew little of the war and was shocked to learn the fates of B29 airman shot down over Japan, to say nothing of my shock at learning how the B29 were used against the Japanese people. During the Viet Nam War I was aware of vigorous condemnations of the use of napalm against the Viet Namese people. Turns out there was a good reason, they newly experience the horrors of fire bombing. Especially the fire bombing of urban areas without military targets. 

Marv had his parent’s letters from the war. Connie had kept everyone of Dean’s letters she received. The only letters from Connie he had were returned to her as undeliverable after he went MIA. Marv could not bring himself to even read the letters, he had attempted to transcribe them but that proved to be an emotional quagmire for him and he did not finish.  

What is your publishing process?

Author:  My process was certainly non-traditional. When I wrote “The Waterfall Concept” about 15 years ago I was a complete publishing novice. After finishing my manuscript I sent it to a few publishers for consideration, waiting for six months to hear back from them, I always got a similar reply, “Great manuscript, unfortunately, we are not interested.”

In my frustration, started to consider how to self publish. That is when I stumbled across Gorham Printing located just a few miles from me in Centraila, Wa. They specialize in helping self publishers, usually printing in small lots. I had to find my own editor and obtain an ISBN number, but they managed the formatting and printing process for me. I really cannot say enough good things about these people. They are incredible!

With several hundred copies of my book, I literally took off in the family car in search of a distributor. That trip did not go well. After lots of miles and lots of “No’s” I gave up and started for home. There was one more potential stop that I had written off because of all the other responses I had received. But a few miles north of Salt Lake City, I engaged in a rather lengthy sales conversation with the owner of Brigham Distributing. I could tell as the conversation wore on that the owner was weighing this opportunity in his mind, with it’s very low chance of much profitability. He startled me when he jumped up and said, “Sure we will distribute your book, do you have any copies with you?”

I could not unload the car fast enough, afraid he might change his mind. Brigham took care of creating the ebook, getting the Amazon listing, and getting bookstores know the book was available.

With all that in mind when I was finishing the “They Called Him Marvin” manuscript, I never considered anything but self publishing. I knew what hoops I had to jump through and it all seemed easier the third time through. 

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:     The secret sauce for me were the writing groups at the Writer’s Attic in Portland Or. Great comrades as we each worked on our individual projects, reading and critiquing each other’s work, we all grew as writers. Many of the key elements of TCHM were developed in the those groups sitting around the tables giving feedback to each other

Normally I don’t respond well to criticisms of my writing (a serious pride issue on my part) but somehow in those groups, my defenses dropped and I could hear what others were saying. Perhaps that speaks to the trust we developed in each other, it was a rather remarkable experience, making these new friends and growing to love them. We could, after all, see right into their hearts by reading their writings.

Marketing

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:   Reviews. They are quite the writers’s challenge when launching a work.  I thought I was being very aggressive about getting pre publication reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Being not very well connected in the writing world, I did not have a bevy of fellow writers to trade reviews with. I bought a few initially, used Netgalley, and some other like sources, gaining a few reviews but not in the quantity that I had hoped for. I turned to family (who cares that their last name is the same as mine) then friends, then in a desperation move, acquaintances, using a very loose definition of the word. A few friends talked their friends into helping out and by the publication date we had enough to launch.  

How do you promote your content?

Author: If you have any suggestions, I am all ears. This is where I made my biggest mistake in judgment.  I felt pretty good about marketing and promoting of my Addiction Recovery books . Well, what I learned back then, really didn’t apply to a book about a WW2 love story with a tragic ending. Suffice it to say I am still working on this part of my project. 

I did make a rather expensive mistake on Amazon advertising. In my inexperience I made a several thousand dollar blunder that netted me nothing, I still swear a little bit when I think about it.

I do like Book Tours obviously and feel they are well worth the money. Reduced price promotions of the ebook have raised awareness also. We have a constant Facebook presence and ad campaigns, Amazon ads are on the back burner for now. They have a place in my marketing plan, I am just not sure I know where that is yet. 

About Your Work

What do you want your readers to get out of your works? 

Author:      To remember and honor those that have given so much in our behalf. In TCHM Dean gave his all in service to his country, but it didn’t stop there, his wife and son went on giving the rest of their lives, deprived of a relationship with him. 

Marvin was a half orphan and struggled to figure out life. Some of his teenage exploits are both humorous and terrifying at the same time. He quit high school and in a moment of clarity realized that he needed some discipline that a place, like say the Army, might bring into his life. He was absolutely right about the Army and after his service he went onto college to become a licensed veterinarian. 

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:   My experience is that there are local writer’s groups all over this country and if there isn’t one in your area the internet can bring one to you. For me writing was the main thing that helped me improve my skills. I wrote for a recovery magazine for several years, my editor towards the end of that work made the comment, “Your writing skills have really improved.” That was news to me! I thought I was just writing like I always did, my own eyes could not see the improvements. That shows the importance of another pair of eyes looking at your work. You don’t need to believe everything you hear, as we say in recovery, “just take what you like and leave the rest.”

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:    I am a rewriter! I long ago lost count of the chapter ones for TCHM. My brain can just see a better way to phrase a passage when I look at a written presentation of it. Ann Lamott in an article on writing gave us all permission to write a shitty first draft. (Her word not mine) That advice has served me very well, when I stopped trying to write the perfect sentence the first time through, the quality and quantity of my writing increased dramatically.

After I was about one half way through my manuscript, Marv came to me with a family history Connie had penned that had been lost to the family. The facts she revealed did not agree with the creative non fiction account I had conjured up. Which meant I wasn’t half way through my manuscript at all.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:  SELF DOUBT. I will say no more on the subject.  

Fun Stuff 

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:   There were three things I  listened to as I wrote. (I am listening to one of them now as I write this.) Disturbed’s version of “Sounds of Silence,” The theme to “The Last of the Mohicans” and Boston’s “Third Stage” album. All were on continuous tape and played at a very high volume.    

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:    I am not sure of the food or snack but I know such breaks involved Dr Pepper!  

Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

New Sweet Romance Series: Farmers’ Market Sisters

This is a new series for 2022 featuring seven sisters of Sweet Springs Family Farm set in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. These sweet and clean romance books progress through a year of holidays from Valentine’s Day to New Year’s Eve. At long novella lengths, they’re quick weekend reads you can easily set aside and return to. They don’t have to be read in order, but are best served if they are.

Each sister has her own responsibility on the farm and their own stand at the local farmers’ market. They loves they find are perfectly matched, they just don’t know it yet. With every book ending with a happily ever after, you know this series is sure to delight and leave you with a smile.

Love in Bloom
Amber & Fynn

Amber doesn’t normally expect such a large bouquet request unless someone has been very bad.
Fynn isn’t her typical customer. When he returns to her farmers’ market stand, it isn’t for more flowers; it’s for a date with her.

Kiss Me for Luck
Rosemary & Kieran

Rosemary has always been the responsible older sister, looking after others and their family farm. Rosemary knows the chances she will meet another man are slim. Then one cold winter night, her family carried in a handsome, soaked stranger.

Sweet as Honey
Willow & Luca

Willow never expected to find love on the side of the road. But there was Luca Jacoby, hood up, steam billowing out of his truck. It was quite the Saint Patrick’s Day luck. A journalist for an agricultural magazine, Luca is visiting her family’s farm to write an article on sustainable farming. His surprise appearance has Willow clinging to his stories of other farms and the beautiful countryside across the states. She’s always wanted to travel. 

Cherries & Sparks
Sky & Camden

Sky has been waiting for Cam to come home from war. When he arrives but doesn’t call, she wants to know why.
Sky has always been faithful to her high school sweetheart. They’ve been together for years, since long before Cam decided to join the military. 

Be My Pumpkin
Sienna & Joel

Sienna has always been the farm’s marketing specialist. But when the pumpkin patch opens for the season, attendance is unexpectedly low. Joel Kirsch is only supposed to be there installing a security system, but he wants to help. Together, they plan a last-minute fall festival to bring in extra customers.

Decked with Love
Melody & Tucker

Every year, Melody donates Christmas trees from her farm to local families in need. Someone calls in a special, anonymous request, sending Melody on a new charity mission.

Tucker, the new school teacher in town, has discovered a family in need of a lot more than a tree.

Midnight Snow Ball
Azalea & Elias

Azalea’s baked goods have earned her a reputation among the locals, but so has her rough and wild attitude. A new Farrier arrives at the farm to care for the horses. He’s a hard, lonely man in need of some quality cooking. Azalea needs a date for the New Year’s party.

To keep up to date on the books and get FREE early copies before they’re available to the public, subscribe to Sugar & Spice Club and get a free book here.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Angela D Shelton, Christian/Young Adult

I’m currently writing under my true name, Angela D. Shelton in the Christian Fiction, Young Adult genres. In March, I published Collapse: The Death of Friendship with Two Oaks Publishing, LLC. The second book in the series, Collapse: The Death of Honor should be out by June.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      My grandmother was a writer who used her craft to help pay my aunt’s way through college. Though she died before I was able to have conversations with her about her writing, I’ve always wanted to follow in her footsteps. In my freshman year of college, I took a creative writing class as an elective and the professor tried to convince me to change my major to writing. At that time, I figured there was no money in writing for most people, so stayed on my track to becoming an accountant. Two years ago I decided it was time to try my hand at creating stories for the page, and I’ve found that I absolutely love it.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      My first book took about six months to write. Unfortunately, it was a learning experience. The result was so awful that my own sister didn’t even finish reading it. Fortunately, I found the American Christian Writers Association and Word Weavers who provided mentoring opportunities through critique groups. There are some amazing writers out there and those I’ve worked the closest with have indicated my work is pretty good now, so I’m excited to share my work with others. Even my sister read my first published book and loved it. She’s waiting impatiently for the second book to be published. Even my sisters don’t get to see it until then.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I am an independently published author. As an accountant, I understand the financial side of the business and could see very little benefit to traditional publishing other than the vanity aspects of it. I see that it will take a bit more time for my work to be recognized as an indie, but I’m patient.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      My critique group pointed me in the right direction. Because my protagonist is a young adult, it makes sense for me to sell to that audience; however, a number of my critique partners have indicated that adults would enjoy my book just as much as the younger set.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      Since I’m just starting out, I see success in every positive review that I obtain. Unfortunately, many more people tell me how much they enjoyed my book than those who take the time to write a review for me. I do encourage them to write, but folks are busy.

About Your Work

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      As a Christian, my goal is to share the joy I experience on a daily basis. So many people struggle in their lives, it’s hard to watch sometimes. If I can bring a positive message that helps even one person, it’s worth it. I don’t like heavy-handed preaching though. For the most part, Americans are aware of Christianity, and many have walked away from it for various reasons. Rarely do they walk away from it because of God. Usually, it’s over other Christians and how they’ve been treated. I get that. I’ve been there and “bought the t-shirt” as they say. But we were put on this earth to encourage each other and that’s my goal.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I’m a combination of pantsing and plotting. Using the Save the Cat method, I put together my basic outline of the story. But once I’m writing, I often find myself writing my way out of my outline and have to go back and re-outline because I prefer the direction the new story is going.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. Seriously, it drives me nuts when someone is talking when I’m writing. I live out on a farm, which is where I draw a lot of my inspiration from. So my favorite sounds are birds, chickens, cows, and sometimes my dogs who love to complain. Two huskies, Ricky and Lucy, usually sit nearby when I’m writing, and if I take too long without paying attention to them, they “talk” to me about it. If dogs could cuss, I’d swear they were at me some days.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      It all depends on the day and time. I like to sit at the kitchen island, in the early mornings at my desk, or if I’m on vacation, in the hotel room at the desk with the window open to the beach. Nature inspires me, so my favorite spots include the sounds of animals or the ocean. It’s almost always enhanced with a hot cup of chai latte though. That’s the one constant.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I can’t share the title yet, because I’m reading for a fellow author who hasn’t yet published it. It’s a really good read though, so watch my website for my review that will be out soon.