Rebuilding an Author Brand After an Absence

Norma Gail is an inspiration to me and I asked her to share her story. Perhaps you will be inspired to press forward toward your publishing dreams.

Rebuilding an author brand after an absence is as difficult as building your brand in the first place. It takes persistence to gain recognition of a tagline or phrase synonymous with what you write. Silence for a long time period causes name recognition to be lost.

 

My brand went silent from July 2018 through January of 2020. I had four major surgeries in the space of two years. The death of my mother, moving an elderly aunt and uncle to a care facility near me, my aunt’s death, and the sale of both homes along with changed family dynamics overwhelmed me.

 

These life-changing events destroyed all desire and motivation to promote my first book, Land of My Dreams, or maintain my blog schedule. At the same time, my husband moved his office home, our son moved in. As I began to gain recognition again, the COVID crisis led to my husband’s retirement and uncertain book sales. Life as I knew it ceased to exist.

 

My two brands, 2MefromHim Devotionals and Fiction to Refresh Your Spirit vanished from daily social media. There are seasons to be gentle with ourselves. I finished the blogs I had scheduled and walked away. What I write is written for God. What I become is up to God. What is important is to cling to God.

 

I discovered that to edit and rewrite my book in progress was therapeutic. The familiarity of my characters and their story ministered to my heart. God allowed my own fiction to refresh my spirit.

My social media presence consisted of shared scripture and memes that ministered to my heart. While my following on Facebook increased, my other social media accounts lay quiet.

That book was rejected. Challenges in my personal life damaged my confidence. However, someone believed in my story and offered to publish Within Golden Bands. With a miracle from God, I’m now a hybrid author. The royalties revert to me when the publisher is paid back. I learned from the criticism and rewrote entire sections. During a recent promotion, it remained in the top spot in three Amazon categories for three days.

 

The brand still suffers. COVID has changed everyone’s marketing and social media. I don’t receive the comments I did formerly on my blog. Land of My Dreams recovered well.

 

I have no secret to share. Look for opportunities. Trust God to create and recreate your brand. Make pleasing Him your aim. He is faithful.

 

© Norma Gail Holtman, June 26, 2020

Author bio:

Norma Gail’s debut novel, Land of My Dreams, won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award. Within Golden Bands releases May 19th. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals have appeared in several publications. She lives in New Mexico with her husband of 44 years. They have two adult children. To connect with her, you can follow her blog, or join her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, BookBub, or Amazon.

 

 

 

Book Links:

 

 

Thank you so much for this. Life does sidetrack us but He is faithful to get us back on track in His time.

 

 

Fiction outside the Box

I’m so excited to have Norma Gail here again to talk about her newest release Within Golden Bands. Could not put this wonderful books down.

Fiction Outside the Box

By Norma Gail

 

Fiction Outside the Box could be my tagline instead of Fiction to Refresh Your Spirit. My new release, Within Golden Bands follows the lead of my debut novel, Land of My Dreams in that it’s not a predictable “Hallmark Movie” scenario. I write Christian romance, and romantic suspense. However, if you don’t read romance because of worn and repetitive elements, you’ll find more than one twist in my books.

 

Set in contemporary times, American female protagonist, Bonny, moved to Scotland in Book One, where she met Kieran MacDonell, a Scottish sheep farmer. My second book, following the same characters, enters the realm of romantic suspense. Some elements edge toward women’s fiction, since the story explores infertility and adoption. Add in long-hidden family secrets and a crazed stalker who seeks to steal their livelihood and their lives. Kieran and Bonny, never have a dull moment.

Lest the term women’s fiction sound too heavy, throw in a blend of ingredients from happily-ever-after, to fast-moving suspense, with a dash of heartbreak. In a world where nothing goes as planned, fiction shouldn’t be predictable either. To borrow from one of my reviewers: anyone can write a love story where the couple falls in love and lives happily ever after. Within Golden Bands offers a tale of deep commitment, hardship, and loss, tied together by an abiding faith in Christ.

 

Abortion is a hot topic once again. As the adoptive mom of two adult children, I believe more people should see adoption as a positive option for an unplanned pregnancy. No spoilers, but fertility treatments can create tension in any marriage. This isn’t my story but Bonny and Kieran’s emotions are typical.

 

For added interest, tie in a desert-dweller’s adjustment to life in the rainiest part of Scotland. The comparison and contrast between New Mexico’s high desert mountains and misty Scottish Highlands create a backdrop for Bonny’s ping-pong ball emotions as a head-over-heels-in-love new wife to a frightened woman who longs for safety.

I invite you to hop over to my blog at NormaGail.org to read the free first chapters of both books under “Norma’s Book News.”  Here’s hoping that my books will be your cup of Scottish Breakfast tea!

 

Author Bio:

Norma Gail writes Fiction to Refresh Your Spirit. Her contemporary novels, Land of My Dreams, which won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award, and Within Golden Bands (released May 19, 2020), explore the theme of women whose faith triumphs over trials. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, Inspire a Fire, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Historical Writers of America, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 44 years. They have two adult children. To connect with her, you can follow her blog, or join her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, BookBub, or Amazon.

 

I am excited to announce that anyone who comments on my blog will be put in a drawing for a chance to win a copy of Within Golden Bands. The winner can choose either e-book format or paperback ( US only).

 

Returning to Writing After Life Interrupts and a Giveaway

During this time when life threw us a curveball. I think this guest blog by Norma Gail is very timely.  The time gap between her first novel and its sequel is a lesson for all of us Thank you for joining us, Norma.

In the midst of building your writing career what put the skids on it for a season?

The first book came too easy. I received a contract following my second writer’s conference. The second was to take six years. My debut novel, Land of My Dreams, released in April of 2014. Two years later, the sequel was written, but it was rejected. I set it aside and concentrated on promoting the book I had, fearing more rejection. Sure enough, when I got up the courage to pitch it again, the editor rejected it. Then life got complicated.

About four years ago, I began to make a five-hour trip about every 2-3 months to help my childless aunt and uncle in their 90’s. My mom died halfway through that time period, shortly after my second knee replacement. Within two months, my cousins and I moved our aunt and uncle to assisted living near me. I helped clean out both houses. My aunt died several months after their move, and I had two ablations for atrial fibrillation. I still care for my uncle.

Throughout these experiences, there has been a lot of pain and struggle. I couldn’t write a sentence that didn’t sound hurt and angry. That’s not a heart attitude that allows you to share your words with others.

I understand that feeling. But you did begin again.

When did you know it was time to resume writing and how did you go about restarting?

When you fall off a bicycle, you get back on and try again. Twenty-five percent of the reviews for Land of My Dreams ask for another book. I felt a responsibility to give them one. I also knew that God had given me the story for the sequel, one very dear to me. I started slow, just re-reading the manuscript, which had been edited. Reading it reminded me of how much I loved the characters and the story. I wanted it to be read. I began to write again, and things just flowed. The editor loved it more than the first book.

Add a comment for a chance to win a copy.

I couldn’t blog or write anything after my mom died, exhausted from surgery and emotion. A year later, I attended another writer’s conference and pitched my sequel again. I felt this story was truly what God wanted me to write. A publisher who knew the first book, and believed there was a market for the second one, offered to publish it for me. The result is Within Golden Bands, the story of my heart.

How did it feel to finally get words on paper again?

I had let Within Golden Bands go, but the book wouldn’t let go of me. As I regained strength, the desire to write returned. After I knew it would finally be published, I began blogging again. I’m not doing as much as I did before, that will come with time, but I am writing again. I’ve been through a lot. Sitting down and writing is good therapy. It helps me heal and it’s a good escape.

 I admire your determination. What lessons did you learn during this time?

The biggest lesson is that it’s a mistake to quit writing completely. If all you can do is journal, then journal every day, but never stop putting words on paper like I did. That hurt more than anything else. To not write created a hole in my heart. If I had written, I would have healed faster. Two deaths, four surgeries, and all the family dynamics that surround such major life changes needed an outlet.

Writing is a gift, and God calls us to use the gifts He has given us. After leading women’s Bible studies for over 21 years, I knew better than to ignore a call from the Lord. I also felt the need to minister to someone out of all the things I experienced. Both writing fiction and the devotionals for my blog stem from what the Lord has done in my life, lessons learned from walking with Him for many years. Once I began to write, all the hurt from my difficult experiences began to heal.

Fiction speaks to people who will never attend a Bible study. My feelings come out through the experiences of my characters. Writing allows me to share how the Lord has worked in my own life, even it’s not my personal story. I see writing as a ministry, the same as leading Bible studies. I must write.

About Land of My Dreams:

Alone and betrayed by a former fiancé, American professor Bonny Bryant accepts a position at a small college in Fort William, Scotland. But when she meets a fellow professor, Bonny discovers her wounds may be the scars of healing Kieran MacDonell needs to reach past his own grief. Land of My Dreams spans the distance between New Mexico’s high desert mountains and the misty Scottish Highlands with a timeless story of overwhelming grief, undying love, and compelling faith.

About Within Golden Bands:

Newly married Bonny MacDonell finds the transition from American college professor to Scottish sheep farmer’s wife more difficult than she expected. When her miracle pregnancy ends in a devastating miscarriage, she fears her husband’s reaction will hurt more than the loss of their child.

But Kieran never shows up at the hospital. When found, he is beaten and unconscious. The only memory of his attacker is the words, “Get off my land.” Reeling from the threat to her husband and the loss of their child, Bonny struggles to hold her marriage together. When faith in love is not enough, where do you turn?

Norma, your feelings do truly come out in your words and many women will be touched by them. Thank you for coming. I look forward to having you visit a few more times as the release of Within Golded Bands draws near.

Giveaway:

While we wait were going to have a drawing for the first book in the series: Land of My Dreams.

Tell us about any struggles you are having trying to get words on paper or just say I’d love a copy of the book in the comment section below.

Your name will be entered in a drawing. The winner may choose either a Kindle or a paperback version.

About Norma Gail:

Norma Gail writes Fiction to Refresh Your Spirit. Her contemporary novels, Land of My Dreams, which won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award, and Within Golden Bands (releasing May 19, 2020), explore the theme of women whose faith triumphs over trials. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, Inspire a Fire, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Historical Writers of America, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 44 years. They have two adult children. To connect with her, you can follow her blog, or join her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, or Amazon.

Follow her on social media:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNormaGail/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Norma_Gail

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/norma-gail-holtman-3b271a42/

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/normagailth/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/normagailwrites/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7874459.Norma_Gail

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Norma-Gail/e/B00ILHXBAK/

Order her books:

Land of My Dreamshttps://www.amazon.com/Land-My-Dreams-Norma-Gail-ebook/dp/B01ENKEL02/

Within Golden Bands – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084TSQ432/

 

Before I sign off, don’t forget to comment below for a chance to win Land of My Dreams.

 

Researching a Contemporary Novel in a Foreign Setting

Norma 2017 2

I am thrilled to have Author Norma Gail as my guest today. After reading her novel Land of My Dreams I fell in love with Scotland. She’s agreed to share how she did her research to make her setting so believable. By the way, Land of My Dreams just received the Bookvana Award. Way to go Norma. I’ve got my notebook out and my pen is ready.

LoMD Bookvana cover

Accuracy is a challenge faced by every writer, no matter what your genre. A contemporary setting can be just as challenging as a historical one. When I decided to set my debut novel, Land of My Dreams, in Scotland, there was quite a learning curve. During a two-week vacation, I barely glimpsed the top of the ben (mountain) when it came to understanding the language and culture necessary to portray Scottish life with accuracy.

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Photo provided by Norma. Sheep farm in Scotland.

 

More than just the northern part of Great Britain, Scotland is a unique and unusual place. Everyone knows about kilts, bagpipes, and castles, but little else. I’m from New Mexico, and as one of my main characters remarks, “Scotland and New Mexico are as different as water and dust.” So what can you do when your setting is unfamiliar? The internet is wonderful, but some things are hard to understand if you haven’t been there.

If you can travel to your setting, stay in small hotels, get out among people, and make opportunities to talk with them. Develop the art of observing small details. Take photos of everything, but also make notes about things that strike you as different, food, architecture, speech, and music are easy. I created a file of over 400 photos, some from our trip, but most from various websites about the area around Fort William, and Loch Garry. I set it up as a screensaver on my laptop. Now, whenever I walk through the room, I catch a glimpse of scenes that trigger thoughts of what might take place in such a setting. Watch YouTube videos where people describe the countryside or talk about some local event.

A selection of pictures Norma took of Scotland for her research.

A Scottish accent either confuses the daylights out of Americans or makes them swoon. I love their unique English, peppered with Scots, a Germanic language, and Scottish Gaelic, a native Celtic language. Fun words such as bubbly jock for turkey, tattyboggle for scarecrow, and clishamaclaver for chatter or idle talk make me giggle. Pesty insects are wee beasties, and they might refer to a disturbance to as a stramash or kerfuffle. The first time we ordered water with a meal, the waiter asked if we preferred “still or sparkling”.

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Highland Games

Scots might be among the toughest people on earth, plans continuing in spite of the weather. While we layered shirts, sweaters, and rain jackets for the Highland Games, children sported shorts and sleeveless shirts. A dapper, elderly couple, him in his kilt and her in a tartan skirt, eating ice cream cones in the chilly weather, declared it a “Lovely day!” It was August, after all.

Determined to eat what the Scots eat, I ordered their national dish, haggis, a “pudding” made from the heart, lungs, and liver of sheep, minced fine and mixed with spices and oats. Imagine this mixture, resembling dark, coarse sawdust, sewn into the stomach of a sheep and boiled. It wasn’t bad. We ate in small local restaurants so we got a real sense of local flavor.

I have a playlist of Scottish music on my phone. Yes, I love bagpipes, but much is traditional and some is contemporary. I listen as I drive and remember the images that spring to mind. I read Scottish news from time to time. It’s necessary to know what kinds of issues affect the lives of your characters, like the recent referendum on Scottish independence and Brexit.

I met Scottish editor through ACFW who combs through my manuscripts to make certain things are accurate. She suggests words, customs, or a change of scene that might work better.118 D&N Old Town Weaving Co 5x7(1)

The time you spend creating your story world is never wasted. Above all, strive for accuracy. Readers will never go for a book that doesn’t ring true to life and believable.

© Copyright Norma Gail Holtman, June 12, 2017

 

Thanks for the great information, Norma.

Here’s how to follow Norma:

www.normagail.org      

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNormaGai

http://pinterest.com/normagailth/boards/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7874459

https://twitter.com/Norma_Gail

https://www.instagram.com/normagailwrites/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Land-My-Dreams-Norma-Gail/dp/1941103170

Do you have any questions for Norma about research? Post in the comments.

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