Goal Review 2024

As a writer, setting goals each year will give you a path to follow. Each item you cross off your list will provide a sense of accomplishment. You might add new goals as you go along and find additional tasks to do.

Setting Goals for Writers

Each January, I set myself new creative and business-related writing goals. For 2024, since I have many business tasks to do, I’ve separated my goals into monthly projects.

January 2024
Upload revised editions of Books 1-3 in my series – DONE
Update Box Set One, my Book Sampler and audio covers – DONE
Publish Box Set Six on Jan. 23, 2024 – DONE
Do blog post and newsletter for new release and reissues – DONE
Promote new release on social media – ONGOING
Revise Murder at Your Service version 3 – ONGOING 

February
Set the price on Permed to Death to Permafree to attract new readers – IN PROGRESS
Schedule a promo stack and other ads.
Announce sale on social media sites, blog and newsletter.
Apply for distributor promotions.

March/April
Continue Above Projects.
Consider a BHD short story for newsletter subscribers.
Consider a newsletter automation sequence.

May/June
Initiate audiobook production of Writing the Cozy Mystery.
Plan the Launch.

Fall
Finish current WIP. Send to Editor.
Plot a new BHD holiday mystery novella.

File Management – Mindless tasks for spare time.
Improve SEO on older blog posts.
Sort through photos to clear storage space.
Delete old files.

Of course, the best laid plans often go awry. Who knows what the universe has in store for us? We just have to go with the flow and get as much done as we can. This is why I like being an indie author. No deadlines and no pressure to attend distant conferences. I can stay home and work at my own pace.

Have you set your goals for this year?

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Bad Hair Day Box Set Six Release Day

The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume Six: Books 16-18 is now available!

I am excited to announce the release of my latest box set in the Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. This collection includes Easter Hair Hunt, Styled for Murder and Star Tangled Murder.

Digital ISBN: 978-1-952886-35-5
Published by Orange Grove Press
Cover Design by The Killion Group, Inc
Interior Design by Formatting4u.com

BOX SET SIX

A deadly Easter egg hunt, a remodeling project gone awry, and a Fourth of July murder at a living history village make for a sparkling cozy mystery collection.

EASTER HAIR HUNT

An Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor leads hairstylist Marla Vail to discover more than just dyed eggs. The dead man in the bunny suit is definitely not having a good hare day. Marla’s husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail, knows she finds solving mysteries to be irresistible, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can Marla use her eggcellent sleuthing skills to crack the case?

Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner

“This story will fill your reading basket with entertainment, charming characters, plot twists, tasty recipes, and a cozy murder mystery to solve.” Thoughts in Progress

STYLED FOR MURDER

When salon owner, Marla Vail, gets a frantic call from her mother that there’s a dead body in her shower, Marla realizes this wasn’t part of the home remodel plans. The victim turns out to be the project manager, who had a shady reputation in town. Disgruntled customers, unpaid suppliers, and the design company’s staff are among the suspects, but Marla is more concerned about her stepfather’s connection to the victim. Can she flush out the clues and nail the killer before he strikes again?

Suspense Magazine “Best Cozy Mystery”
Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner

“A charmingly funny whodunit!” Woman’s World Magazine

STAR TANGLED MURDER

Hairstylist Marla Vail and her detective husband Dalton are having a blast visiting a Florida living history village over Fourth of July weekend. But when a battle reenactment turns up a dead body, it sets off fireworks among the villagers. One of the cast members has gone off script to murder the town marshal. Soon it become apparent that every one of the villagers is a suspect. Instead of spending the holiday chilling and grilling, somebody’s mind is on killing. Marla needs to find the culprit before she becomes the next victim.

FAPA President’s Book Awards Silver Medal Winner

Star Tangled Murder shines with excellent plotting, lots of twists and turns, and a satisfying ending. Highly recommended.” Suspense Magazine

Play the Jigsaw Puzzle for Box Set Six

Download Now – Get Three Books for the Price of Two!

Amazon Kindle
Apple Books
BN Nook
Kobo
Google Play
Books2Read

 

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Refreshing Your Backlist Titles – Cover Reveal

Swapping an outdated cover for a new, fresh look can help to improve sales for a backlist title. It’s also a good opportunity to update the interior file if needed. Your book description might need an overhaul as well. These are all things you can do to revive sales on earlier books.

As an indie author whose books are available “wide” (meaning beyond Kindle Unlimited), I have taken the time to update the first 3 books in my 18 book Bad Hair Day mystery series.

New readers always want to start with book one, unless they’ve won a later book in a contest, bought one on sale, or picked up a review copy of your upcoming release.

It’s ironic that you have to hook them with the first book in your series, because this was your starter title and you may have written it years ago. It’s been 25 years since Permed to Death was first published in 1999. Reviews can reflect those early renditions if you’ve linked editions.

My original mysteries were published by Kensington. Then they were digitally published by eReads in the days when e-books were fairly new and books had to be scanned in to get a digital file. Scanning mistakes abounded because my subsidiary publisher did not appear to have proofread their versions (see my article HERE on scanning).

Unfortunately, some older Amazon reviews mention these errors, but there’s nothing I can do about them. This is why we need reviews on our latest versions to encourage new readers to take a chance on the book. If you reissue your backlist title as a new edition with a new ISBN and don’t link the issues, then you’ll lose all those early reviews, good and bad.

Permed to Death

I’d already changed my indie cover for Permed to Death, #1 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, from its original design that I used after I got my rights back. There is one glaring review on Amazon that shows this older design. I tend to agree that it’s way too busy with too many colors, but this criticism no longer applies. You can see my changes here. The current cover is on the right. This design is by Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica.

             Permed to Death

 

I am just now updating the covers for Hair Raiser and Murder by Manicure (Books #2 & #3). These new designs are by Kim Killion from The Killion Group. I chose images this time to depict the story elements more accurately.

Hair Raiser

In Hair Raiser, my original indie cover was overly busy with the pool in the background. I wanted to keep the chef, but we couldn’t find a good illustration for an update that would work. Kim found this image and I loved the expression on the chef’s face. It perfectly suits the opening in the story where Chef Pierre’s rum-soaked Bananas Foster blows up in his face. I can’t help smiling when I look at this cover.

Hair Raiser           Hair Raiser High Resolution


Murder by Manicure

For Murder by Manicure, I felt the spa scene on my original indie cover was too vague, even though I like the colors. The image did depict the story where a woman drowns in the whirlpool at a sports club, but my new cover is more distinctive. It’s clearly identifiable as a story that involves a manicure. Maybe it’s my opinion, but the nail tech seems to have a devious expression on her face and the customer doesn’t look happy. Makes you wonder what’s going on between those two, yes?

Murder by Manicure           


Interior Files

I took this opportunity to do another round of light revisions on Permed to Death since book #1 is so critical in attracting new readers. Hair Raiser gained some smoothing out as well while Murder by Manicure hardly had any changes at all.

I’m hoping Amazon will offer updates to its verified purchasers of these titles but there’s no guarantee. If you check (Go to Accounts & Lists, then Content Library, then Books), see if the title says Update Available in your list of digital books. If not, please let me know. Maybe there’s some way I can enable this feature. I’m rolling out these changes now so keep watch for them.

Book Description

Any new change necessitates reuploading your books to the different distributors. In addition to Amazon, Apple, BN, Kobo, Google Play, Draft2Digital and Ingramspark, these may include MyIdentifyers.com, BookFunnel, and your own Website. And don’t forget the audio editions if you have new metadata. It’s also a good time to improve your Book Description. See if you can make it sparkle and drop in key words when possible.

Let’s not forget the Box Set including these three titles. Box Set Volume One: Books 1-3, plus my Book Sampler for newsletter subscribers, will both need to be updated as well.

In Conclusion

It’s a brave step to go back to your earlier books and make changes. You’re not sure if it’s worth the time, effort and expense, but at least you can be proud to know you’ve put your best work out there. Again. As they say, revisions are never done.

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I would love to hear what you think about these new changes.

Get Cooking – Cool Weather Recipes

These are some good recipes to make during the cooler winter temperatures. They’re fairly simple to prepare and make a hearty meal for your family.

 

GARLIC CHEESE PUFFS 

These can be prepared ahead and refrigerated on the cookie sheet until ready for baking. They are best served warm. You can substitute fresh minced garlic for the powdered garlic if desired. 

Garlic Cheese Puffs Recipe

Ingredients

(2) 12 oz. tubes refrigerated biscuits, 10 count each
8 oz. mozzarella cheese brick
1/4 cup salted butter, melted
1.25 oz. package dry Ranch seasoning mix
2 tsp. garlic powder 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

Cut cheese brick into bite-size cubes. Open tube of biscuits and place one at a time on a cutting board. Put one cube of cheese in the middle of each biscuit. Pinch seams to seal the cheese inside. Place balls on baking sheet about two inches apart.

Mix melted butter with garlic powder and 2 tsp. Ranch seasoning. Brush balls with butter. Bake cheese puffs for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 20 servings.


SLOW COOKER CHICKEN STEW
 

This recipe calls for creativity. You can use any vegetables you have at home, including fresh potatoes instead of canned. It’s a good dish for a chilly day. A side salad makes a nice accompaniment.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Stew Recipe

Ingredients

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion, sliced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups sliced zucchini
5 oz. can whole white potatoes, drained
½ cup dry red wine
14.5 oz. can chicken broth
1 tsp. poultry seasoning

Optional:
15.5 oz. can Cannellini beans
14.5 oz. can peas or lima beans
11 oz. can corn kernels

Directions

Spray inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Place chicken at bottom. Spread vegetables on top. Add red wine, chicken broth, and poultry seasoning. Cook on High for 4 hours. Serves 4-6.

SPIRITED ORANGE CAKE

This makes for a tempting dessert presentation to please your guests. For added color, serve with fresh berries.

Spirited Orange Cake Recipe

Ingredients

1 box orange cake mix
3-3/4 oz. box instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
4 oz. Cointreau
4 oz. orange juice

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. Cointreau
1-2 Tbsp. orange juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake mix and pudding in a large bowl. Add eggs, oil, 4 oz. Cointreau, and 4 oz. orange juice. Blend until smooth and thickened. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Mix together ingredients for glaze until smooth. Drizzle over cake while still warm. Slice and serve.

What recipes do you like to make in the winter months?