Sunday, December 21, 2014

What I've Learned as an Indie Author

This upcoming year (actually, it won't be until October of 2015) will mark my 4th year as an indie author. To say it's been exciting is an understatement! I'm thrilled to have made it through all these years, which I have to say are the best years since I began writing professionally. Besides having been a great ride, it's also been an awesome learning experience.

So here's my list, in no particular order, detailing what I've learned since becoming an indie author:

1. I don't need validation from publishers or editors anymore. HALLELUJAH! Back in my newbie writer days, my opinion of my work and of myself as an writer highly depended on responses from publishing houses or editors. You sent me a rejection? I must be the. Worst. Writer. Ever! Oh, so, the book IS "right for your list?" Yes! My work has to be worth something, right?!?!

Not anymore. Full disclosure: I DO still work with a few publishers (mostly smaller ebook publishers) that I will continue to work with, but that's because I enjoy writing for them and we have a great professional relationship. But I don't need validation anymore, and that's freed me mentally to be able to concentrate on honing my craft as an author. Being an indie--taking the reins in all areas, from writing to editing to promo--has also increased my confidence in my abilities. That's a very liberating feeling. That means you spend less energy rebuilding your faith in your own work and more in areas where your energy is put to better use, i.e. working on your WIP.

2. My journey isn't someone else's journey. Neither should I allow anyone to dictate how I should measure my own success. Some of my books do better than others; I write each book as if it is my all-time favorite  project. I doubt I'll ever make it rich. Doesn't matter. I'm already a success because I am still here, still productive, and still getting paid for my work. Best of all, I can honestly say that I am writing the books that I have always wanted to write, under each of my pen names. If my work brings joy or encouragement or just entertainment to someone else, that's more than I could have ever asked for, and I give the Lord the glory for that.

3. Publisher lines have come and gone. Heck, publishers have come and gone. But we writers are still here.

4. Knowing a book is definitely going to be published (as opposed to hoping and wishing some editor finds it "right for our list") is great motivation to finish a book.

5. Knowing a book is definitely going be published (as opposed to hoping and wishing some editor finds it "right for our list") is motivation to start planning promotion and causing some kind of stir before it's even out there.

6. There's been a lot of talk in the past couple of years about how giving books for free is not the great promotional tool it once was. I have to agree with that, though I will continue to offer the occasional perma-free book, as well as special promotions. I still have readers who have read GREETINGS FROM MY SANDY DREAMS or UNCONDITIONAL for free, then decide they want to buy one or more of my other books. Simply put, that rocks. Ultimately, it's not about individual sales anyway, but about building a readership that enjoys your work and looks forward to the new titles coming out.

7. Even as an un-techy, 50ish grandmother, I CAN learn how to create an ebook, a book cover, a paperback version, and seek out promotional opportunities. If I can at this age, so can any writer with the passion to get his/her work out there.

8. I've learned I'm having more fun as an indie author, and I also have more opportunities open to me, than I ever did when I wrote for traditional publishers. The world has changed since the mid- 1990s, when I first began writing professionally. I was never a "favorite" of the traditional publishers, so I wasn't trusted with the types of projects that I now entrust myself to work on. Neither were certain promotional opportunities open to me; now, in the age of ebooks and technology in general, there are marketing opportunities that have leveled the playing field for authors. As a bonus, those opportunities have provided me with the chance to meet and befriend other authors.

9. It takes an adventurous spirit to become an indie author.

10. Indie publishing is NOT for the fainthearted, the lazy, or the impatient. I guarantee you: There WILL be disappointing days.You WILL be taking on more responsibility and work (including editing, unless you hire an indie editor). If you put out ONE book, only one, with the expectation of seeing it on the bestseller list, you may become discouraged. I'm a person who happens to believe that nothing is impossible, but this doesn't happen to everyone.

I've learned it's better to have the attitude that you are basically starting your own small business. How would it be to open up your own restaurant? Besides working on developing an enticing menu, hiring the best chefs and wait staff you can afford, and decorating the place so it's welcoming to the public, you'd be concerned with building up the restaurant's clientele. That takes time and patience unless you're already a big name chef.

That's not very different from becoming an indie author. These are YOUR babies you're writing and sending out into the world. Treat them with respect, be gentle with them, pour your whole heart into them. Remember that there's a reader--a human being--on the other end of it. Make it worth the hard-earned money they put out for it. Expect the occasional disappointment and the bad review, and soldier on with as much passion, curiosity and enthusiasm as the day you jumped into the indie pool headfirst.

and finally,

11. What doesn't kill you really DOES make you stronger. It's not just a song by Kelly Clarkson!


My Goodreads Giveaway is finally here!

Three little copies of my latest Christian novel are available. Drawing is January 25, 2015--but get in on this soon. Click on the widget in my sidebar.

Good luck & happy reading!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December in Pictures

Joining my granddaughter for the town's Christmas parade, celebrating her 6th birthday, a visit from our older son Joey (that was November, but posting here) and Lassie gets warmed up during winter!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Now in Paperback: Crystal Waves

Yet another post for December! It's a busy month in general, but also a busy news-on-the-writing-front month, as well.

I'm very happy to announce that CRYSTAL WAVES, besides being in ebook form, is now out in paperback. To purchase, just click on the cover to the right.

We're not finished with this yet, though. More news is coming out this week, as well as that character interview that I promised earlier this week.

And just a quick note, the topic totally unrelated to this new release: See those links to other pages right under my blog's heading? Bio, Series, Vintage, etc.? I will soon be creating one dedicated to the books that I'll be writing as Consuelo Vazquez, but this page will not include older works written under that pen name. Most of those books are now out-of-print and difficult to find--and besides, out with the old, in with the new! In other words, that page will be listing SEA SIREN (which is my only reprint from the past) and only BRAND NEW titles under Consuelo Vazquez. Just wanted to clarify that.

Hope that your month is also busy & happy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


It's hard to believe that 24 years--over two decades!--have passed since I first told my husband, "I'm going to finally try to do it: I'm going to try to become a published author."

At the time I was 30 years old, a young wife, and the mother of a 5 1/2-year-old and a 2-year old, plus a secretary at a brokerage house. We were living in Union City, New Jersey. Total newby, I didn't have any idea what I was doing, only that I'd loved to write and tell stories since I was a kid, and I really wanted to share my work with readers. I proudly bought my first copy of THE WRITER'S MARKET and used it daily.

For the first five years I sold nothing. Nada. Kept writing, collected oodles of rejection letters, some very impressive, cried a lot, got to know (and stalked) our wonderful mailman, Joe. I wanted to quit just about every other day, but by God's grace, I just kept going.

Then, in 1995, I sold my first story to True Confessions magazine. A sale to True Love followed. The writing bug really bit me then, and in total the magazines published somewhere over 100 of my short stories. I was later hired by one of the editors and became the Associate Editor of True Romance magazine, a job I loved and that ultimately prepared me for the day when I would become--well, getting ahead of myself.

In 1997, I got "The Call" from Avalon Books, which published my first book, RUMOR HAS IT. Two years later I sold AND THEN CAME YOU to Kensington Publishing's Bouquet line. The book was nominated for the 1999 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Bouquet. I also was one of the first authors for Kensington's Encanto, their Latina romance line, as Consuelo Vazquez. SALSA KISS, the first of my Encantos, was serialized on SEA SIREN, which I have obtained the rights to and republished, was among my Encanto books, as well as LEADING LADY, SECOND CHANCE FIANCE and IN YOUR ARMS.

Along the way, I also became a YA author--seeing the publication of THE GHOST OF LITTLE BAY, a middle-grade ghost mystery, and SUBURBAN VAMPIRES, a romantic comedy with teenaged vampires. New Concepts Publishing published THE COP & THE MERMAID and other romances, and I also have had the pleasure of working with Melange Books.

Then, in 2011, I self-published GLIMMERS OF HEAVEN, my first Christian/inspirational romance. That was a turning point for me, the year I became an indie author/publisher. Since then, I have written and published 'TWAS THE SPY BEFORE CHRISTMAS, THE LARKSPUR VALLEY SERIES, CHAMPAGNE TASTE, ONE SWEET DAY and several other novels and novellas. With a lot more to come, too.

I look back at this journey that I began 24 years ago, at how much publishing has changed since I submitted my first story, and all the doors of possibility that indie publishing has opened to me, and I count myself as being very blessed to be a writer in this time in history. In retrospect, I wouldn't change one day of it, and I give the Lord the glory for bringing me this far. Looking very forward to writing and publishing much, much more, continuing to grow in my craft as an author, and hopefully bringing much reading pleasure to my readers!

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Paperback, Almost There, Plus Revisions

Happy to report, we're almost there with the paperback version of CRYSTAL WAVES.

It took a little longer because I also ended up revising the ebook version of my new novel. The updated ebook version has now been uploaded and is ready for purchase on Amazon. Waiting for the all-clear on the paperback, too, before announcing my Goodreads giveaway.

Speaking of Goodreads, click on over to this page, where you'll find an excerpt from CRYSTAL WAVES.

Would you believe there's more news, too? Drop by later this week--maybe even tomorrow--for a sneak peek at the cover for STEALING THUNDER, the first romantic novella by Consuelo Vazquez.

Sweet dreams!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What's Going On This Busy Christmas Season

My apologies! I'd hoped to have the paperback version of CRYSTAL WAVES out by Christmas, but it looks like that will be delayed by a week or two. The paperback is now in the final proof stages, so it should be available soon, to give as a gift to a friend, to your church library, or for yourself, of course!

Besides working on the paperback, I'm editing a book written under another pen name and preparing to bring back my pen name of Consuelo Vazquez in 2015. I *believe* I announced that a while back, but now I'm actually ready to do that, now that I'm clear as to a direction.

A few notes about my CV books:

* Since most of my Connie Keenan books have been Christian mainstream/Christian historical/ Christian women's fiction/ inspirational and/or sweet romance, I've decided to keep it that way. Books written under Consuelo Vazquez will be sweet romance, historical, women's fiction, fantasy, with often Hispanic characters/heroines.

* Consuelo Vazquez was the name I wrote under for Kensington's Encanto romance line, but she's all mine now!

* SEA SIREN, originally published by Encanto (the rights of the English version, which have now reverted to me), is the only previously published title. If you haven't already helped yourself to a copy, please do so! It is my gift to you, a perma-free title. Please note that SEA SIREN is a sensuous romance (tame by today's standards) and deals with adult topics. All titles to be published from here forward will be brand new, never-before-published books under the Consuelo Vazquez name.

* Kicking off CV's books will be that novella that I mentioned here previously. Please note: It WILL be sweet, so you can still share it with your daughter, granddaughter, niece, or other special young person.

* There IS a Consuelo Vazquez blog which I started up 4 years ago (!), and you can find it here. However, in the interest of keepin' it simple, I'll be making announcements for the books here, differentiating between CV and my inspirational works. Life is complicated enough without having two separate blogs, don't you agree?

* More news on Consuelo Vazquez books are on the way!

Though I'm planning on writing and publishing 2 titles for CV in 2015 , the majority of books to be published next year will be Christian/inspirational under Connie Keenan. I'm planning to begin writing the CV novella this week, in between editing another novella and preparing the CRYSTAL WAVES paperback. CRYSTAL WAVES will be my last book for 2014, and CV will kick off 2015.

The third and final book of the JOYFUL NOISE series will follow the novella (more news on that later, too), and I'm also planning to do a historical Christian romance with a mail order bride.

And that's all in between preparations for Christmas, which we love in this family.

Hope your Christmas is special, happy & blessed!

Monday, December 8, 2014


Most writers will tell you there's always a story behind the story. That's no less true with my newest Christian mainstream, the tale about a Jersey shore town where very strange and yet amazing things start to happen!

Here are a few fun facts, the story behind this particular story.

1. CRYSTAL WAVES was actually the first full-length novel that I wrote right before launching my career as first a freelance fiction author, and then a romance and YA novelist. This Christian novel was then never published, forgotten by me, and now that I've come full circle--once more writing Christian/inspirational fiction--it has finally been published, over a decade later.

2. The town is loosely patterned after Ocean Grove, NJ.

3. The movie theater where the character of Jessica "Jessi" Tipton works, the Cinema, is named after the movie theater in Union City where I would go faithfully to see movies as a teenager, often with my best friend, Linda. The Cinema is no longer there, so this was an affectionate namesake.

4. The character of Carissa Brilhart was renamed after my niece, Carissa. The reporter's original name was Cory.

5. I had no access to the original manuscript, and I believe it was lost during one of our moves, either from North Bergen to Union City or from Union City to here, in North Carolina. Here is an earlier entry I wrote regarding the rewrite.

6. In the original version, the character of Katie was named Cecilia, and she worked as a radio DJ in the town rather than a waitress at the local diner. There was a male reporter in the original who fell in love with Cecilia. Her radio station was at the top of a lighthouse, which never made an appearance in the new version.

7. The character of Marilyn is also named after a personal friend.

8. One of the miracles is based on a dream that I had some years ago; this same dream worked its way also into ONE SWEET DAY, my book about the rapture.

9. The JOYFUL NOISE SERIES was interrupted to rewrite and publish CRYSTAL WAVES.

10. It's not mentioned at all in the book, but the name of the town, Crystal Waves, is taken from a scripture: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. - Revelation 22:1

11. The character of Pastor Lou DePalma is patterned after the late and beloved Pastor Nunzio Leggio of West New York Assembly.

12. The novel begins on July 8, 1972...the 8th of July being my late dad's birthday.

It's HERE!

I'm very excited to announce that CRYSTAL WAVES, my newest Christian mainstream novel, is available NOW!

For a limited time, this book will only be available on Amazon. Please do bookmark this blog, as I'll be announcing special offers on KDP Select.

Also coming soon: An excerpt AND a brand new character interview!

Want to know a little more information? Here goes:

Up until the summer of 1972, Crystal Waves had been just another Jersey shore town. A place to spend a day or a weeklong vacation, a place to raise a family. A town with its own beach, a boardwalk, an amusement pier, and the music of the ocean.

But then things begin to happen—events that some are calling modern-day miracles. The town’s most beloved pastor claims that what’s happening is an answer to long-ago prayers. Reporter Carissa Brilhart believes she’s there to investigate, discovering there’s even more to the story than meets the eye. The same, too, can be said of Katie Howard, the mysterious young waitress who works at the diner on the pier. Locals try to make sense of it all, asking if there is a logical explanation for what is happening to Crystal Waves. Or is it, in fact, a town that has received a rare and divine touch from Heaven?