Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tis the Season

Christmas time is one of my favorite times of year, its full of tradition, miracles, and the promise of a new beginning.  It's also the time of stress, shopping, and reflection at the year behind us.  I'm feeling warm and fuzzy tonight, bundled up in my hot pink robe with a large mug of hot chocolate and nothing but the Christmas lights shining throughout the house. I love this kind of peacefulness.

One of my favorite things about Christmas when I was growing up was listening to Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Christmas cassette.  Yes, I said cassette, but I think at that time we still had some 8-tracks in the house too.  Even today when I put up the tree and decorations, Dolly and Kenny are with us, only this time it's an MP3 file on the laptop. 

Some of the old traditions I grew up with have not happened in years.  Christmas caroling was a favorite, attending the annual church Christmas party where the story of the nativity was read, visiting my paternal grandparents and singing all the Christmas songs in the old hymnal as my Grandmother lead the sing-along. But all of these time-honored events have been lost to me.  You can't carol door-to-door any longer because you want to be politically correct and not offend anyone. I haven't attended a church party (let along a regular Sunday service) in over 7 years and my grandmother stopped leading song service when my Grandfather passed away 16 years ago. Now she sings along to the Gaither specials on cable and we reminiscence about making Christmas candy together.  

To say I am feeling nostalgic is an understatement.  It lets me escape my worries of today and recall a simpler time, a time when loved ones were still among us, and nothing seemed to terrible that a hug or kiss couldn't fix.  I could be feeling this because Kenny and Dolly are singing about 'Christmas without You'.    Damn song always did get me teary, guess it's time to change the track.

So today times are different, life is different and it's to be expected.  After all, I'll be 34 years old in about 6 weeks. Now instead of waiting for Santa to surprise me, I AM Santa.  Luckily I was able to convince my son years ago that Santa really loved Coca-Cola, I mean he's on the bottles so it MUST be his favorite.  I slip a splash of rum in after he's gone to bed. lol  My son knows the truth about my alter Santa ego and he takes no mercy in letting 'Santa' know all the cool, expensive things on his list.  Of course, the one thing on his list this year (10 times in fact) that he REALLY wants... beef jerky.  lmao.  I'm pretty sure I can handle that one, even ten times!

Anyways, presents are bought and will be wrapped in the coming days.  Holiday candy IS going to be made but this time it's me, my son, and two of my nieces and my nephew (we'll send Grandma a box of goodies). And I'm looking forward to the year ahead.  It should be a great one.  I'm a fan of even numbers, so the fact that it's 2012 AND I'm going to be 34 ... well how much better can it get?!?!

For the moment, I'm struggling with how much will be 'new' in the New Year.  Though this year has been amazing, I realize there are some adjustments to be made in order to continue on this upswing. I have internal and external changes to make.  New understanding to grasp, new opportunities to pursue, and new challenges to overcome.  It's exciting, it's scary, it's a whole lot to take in.  But at the end of next year, I hope I will be sitting in this peaceful quiet again, grateful for the blessings another year gave and hopeful for what lay ahead. And as always, Kenny and Dolly will be there.  

Happy Holidays to all of you.  If I don't blog again until the New Year, I hope you find time to enjoy your family, smile at your blessings, and share you gifts with the world.   Tis the season of giving, what a better gift than love - love for yourself, love for others, and love for life.

Blessings, Love, and Light,

Amy O

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Choosing my path

People ask me 'when did you know you wanted to be a writer?' and for me the answer is always the same: I honestly can't remember a time I wasn't writing or storytelling in some capacity.  Whether it was being a chatty child full of tales or creating stories in my mind of places anywhere but where I was at the time.  Bringing stories to life has always been with me.

Now, being a writer - at least for me - comes very naturally in that I can sit down and just start typing.  Like this blog, 5 minutes ago I thought maybe it was time for another posting, but I had no clue what it would be on.  I still don't actually,  but I'm willing to keep typing if you are willing to keep reading.

Anyway, the writing, creating, of it all is the easy part for me.  But people really can't understand all that publishing involves, especially everything with self-publishing.  The editing, cover design, and marketing are just the tip of the iceberg.  I also have to find the balance on what is overkill in promoting and when it's not enough.  I have to know when I need to do more research and when I need to just go with my gut.

Case in point - I recently purchased an eBook from a self-published genius who has sold MILLIONS of eBooks.  My goal was to learn the tips, tricks, and hidden handshakes of what it takes to make it (and stay) at the top of the best sellers list.  Here is what I learned:
  • Most of the marketing things I have tried so far (press releases, radio, newspapers, etc.) will not do much
  •  Knowing your audience makes the world of difference when crafting to a select group of readers
  •  Even the people looking to help you improve your sales (i.e. the self-published writer of aforementioned book) wants you to improve THEIR sales even more by buying more of their books

Now, here is what else I learned:
  • I had already realized by time I read the book what does/doesn't work for me.  I also know I will continue to learn this lesson as I sell more books
  • I have a pretty good idea who my readers are - they are the traditional romance lovers who are mothers, housewives, career women, etc. who want to escape from their life for a little time here and there and love to get lost in a steamy romance story.  They don't need vampires, werewolves or shape-shifters.  They want a man who is classy enough to not leave a love bite, has hardworking values, is solid both in character AND physique, and gives them something to fantasize about while carpooling, cleaning, selling, or sleeping.  They can handle a few curse words and have an active enough imagination that I don't have to get too graphic to turn the heat up a few notches
  • And even though people may want you to buy their other books, no matter what fee they charge - at the end of the day if you already HATE the character they have, don't bother wasting your time or money on the book

And a few more things I am learning:
  • In your face or behind the scenes, I have to be true to who I am as a person.  I won't cram my books down your throat.  I want people reading my books because they want too, not because they want me to shut up about them! 
  • I also won't 'disappear' to make you think I am searching for 'true love' for the next year, at the end of which I reemerge with a new novel and a new hope for the future.  Some have advised that I act like the greats and hide myself away, become almost a recluse who is on a quest for the next great American novel.  But the problem is - I have ZERO desire to write a great saga.  I write steamy, spontaneous, funny, sarcastic romances that make even ME blush when someone reads them out loud!

At the end of the day, when I lay in bed and try to stop the revolving doors around my plots, I have to be happy with where I am and where I am headed.  This self-publishing road is hard, there are A LOT of people with all kinds of advice for me.  I will listen to some and disregard others.  I will learn the hard way and there will be times I will be lucky enough to enjoy easy success.  Like Sinatra sang 'I did it my way'. I do it my way, even if it's the wrong way.

I know somewhere down the road I will simultaneously kick myself and pat myself on the back for the choices I have made (in my writing and in life overall).  It is the joy of the journey, the discovering of one's true self.  All I know in this moment is that I, Amy Michelle Miller-Sivil-Miller-O'Neill-TBD, can say one thing for sure ... I am a writer, always have been, always will be.

Happy reading!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Amy's now on TWITTER!!!


 I'm taking flight onto Twitter.  You can now follow me there via @amyoneillonline. I'm pretty green in this arena so bear with me as I learn the ropes!

Don't forget to LIKE my author's page on FACEBOOK too!!! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Opportunities Are Knocking...

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic and this week had several great opportunities for me to promote Finding Home.  I still can't believe that it was only 6 weeks ago that I still had to hang the word 'aspiring' in front of author.  

So, back when this ball got rolling I posted photos of a book signing held at my work.  Through that event I was able to sell 60 books all on my own!  Not only that, but I paired the signing with the staff's American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Making Strides Team.  A percentage of the proceeds went to their walk and I was able to raise $125 for a great cause.  

Nearly three weeks ago I had my first non-work related book signing at a coffee shop near the office.  It was on a Tuesday afternoon and I saw a total of 3 people walk through the door.  Nobody purchased a book, but I still consider it a success.  Why?  Because no matter if I sell zero books or 100 books, I am doing what I love.  In truth, I was able to outline a new book concept (#13) I thought up the day before.  Now how could that be a bad things? Yeah, I don't think it was either!

Two weeks ago I attended my first entrepreneurial business expo.  It was held by a local women's group at the area mall. It was an all day event and I was able to sell a few books, visit with some old friends, and make new connections.  

In the interim of those events, I've been busy setting up additional signings at craft shows (Blissfield Yuletide Craft Show and Sand Creek Fall Craft Show).  I am also waiting to hear from the local library system about speaking engagements in the communities where I grew up.

Like I mentioned early, this week has been very active as well.  It started on Sunday when my mother contacted me to let me know that the local paper had a write up about me.  I emailed my press release to them the week before and they posted an exert from it promoting my upcoming book signings/talks in town.  I couldn't get to the store fast enough to get a few copies of that week's edition.  I hugged the paper to me the entire time I walked around the store.  My secret is out now, no turning back - not that there was a chance anyways!

Also on Sunday, a new blogger named Krazy Book Lady posted her review of Finding Home on her blog.  She was also very kind in letting me do a guest blog posting and she interviewed me about writing.  This was my first on so many levels: review, guest spot, AND interview. Krazy Lady was really wonderful to work with and I look forward to getting a chance to have her review the next book!  I also had a guest blog spot on another website the following day.  KT Grant, a fellow romance writer, also allowed me to write a guest spot on self-publishing.  It's really awesome that I have been able to find others who are so supportive of other writers.

Monday morning, bright and early, I was at Adrian 7/8 Middle School building to spend all day with the 8th grade English classes.  I greatly appreciate Mrs. Bahlau for inviting me and I have to give a shout out to my brother-in-law (Ruben) for helping us get connected to make the talks happen.  It was a great opportunity for me to share with the 160 students the reality of what it takes to write a book, how publishing/self-publishing work, and to hopefully inspire one of them to follow their own dreams (whatever they may be).  From that day, I found out I had spoken to a student who's mother is also a teacher and I am working with her to set up a time when I can talk to her students as well!!

This week ends with my book signing on Saturday at Cakes N Shakes in beautiful downtown Blissfield. I am really looking forward to this event.  I know some of my family will be coming to it and for me I am really emotional over that part.  These people I love so much get to see me doing what I love so much.  They get to see me living out my dream and I am so blessed to have their support.  

Next Thursday's book talk at the Schultz-Holmes Library is at 7pm.  I'm going to talk a little bit about self-publishing and my journey with it, give a reading from my upcoming release (Taking Chances), and hopefully sign a few copies of Finding Home while I'm at it.  ;)

After a weekend off, or as off as I can be when trying to self-promote as much as I can, I will be doing the craft shows one Saturday after another.  An then ... THANKSGIVING!! And boy do I have SO much extra to be thankful for this year!  

Toward the middle of November is also the time when I will pull back from promoting this book and focus my efforts on the next release.  I'm gonna be super busy typing away if I want to release it by end of December!!

I have probably said this before and I think it multiple times a day, but, it is so amazing to me to finally be living the life I have always envisioned for myself; even if I can only do it part-time for now.  The opportunities my writing has given me to really show my talents is surpassed by the ability to give back, both financially and in teaching/inspiring young writers to follow their hearts.  

My grandfather, a dearly missed preacher, always said that when God gives you gifts to never squander them or hold them to yourself selfishly.  God blesses us most when we give back to the world in our own ways.  I pray my writing is a gift, even to just one person.  The opportunity to transform a life, my own or another's, through my writing is the greatest opportunity I could ask for.

Friday, October 14, 2011

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hitting the Pavement...

I have become a one-woman machine.  This is a good and bad thing.   I create all my own fliers, I book all my own events (up to 6 and counting), and I peddle my books from the trunk of my car.  It seems like a lot but I have never felt so good.  To walk out of a store and know people will see my books there, they will come to see me there specifically, well that's an awesome thing.  And my calendar is filling up fast.  So far almost every weekend until Thanksgiving has some signing or talk booked.  Not to mention a date in December and some dates in the spring.  

Oh and did I mention as I am ordering supplies and fine tuning my skills, I will also be preparing teasers for the next book TAKING CHANCES to promote it's Winter release.  I love all this business of busyness.  And I am gaining more foot soldiers.  My friend in Alaska (hey Amanda!) who was the first to join my blog and share my links, my co-workers who like my posts on Facebook to help get the word out.  And now, I hope, the book bloggers will like the book enough to promote it.  

The down side to all this book blitz is that as much as I want to finish the second book, I seem to have to put it on hold.  The upside on that though is that book is almost half way done and with a little rewriting and a few more chapters it will be done and can join the media madness.  And this release will go much smoother since I know more than I did just a month ago.

Needless to say, life is hectic in our house.  I'm sure my man and my son would love to go a night without hearing about this or that event or edit changes. But I know in the end they will be the first in line to celebrate the rewards.  Of course my son gets happy every time I sell a book because he thinks Christmas is gonna be super sweet this year! Hopefully he won't be too disappointed when it's a regular ol' Christmas with the same amount of gifts from the same old stores (Wal-mart is our friend).   

Even if things take off and I am swimming in the moolah I don't foresee changing much.  Maybe paying off a few things, or ordering more books.  In the end I'll still be in my small-town, being my goofy self, and knowing no matter how famous I don't become, I will always matter to those that matter the most.

I have a little time tonight to get back to TAKING CHANCES.  I'm excited to let the creative juices flow again.  For now I'm back to work, I'll see you at a book signing/talk near you soon!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dream come true ...

The last few weeks since the launch of FINDING HOME have been a whirlwind.  I am still in shock that I am finally published, that all that hard work really was for something.  Today I got a large shipment of books, for the purpose of book signings or prizes in contests or whatever.  It was the first time I've seen the completed copy.  With the exception of one error (Chapter Eighteen doesn't start on a new page), I am over the moon with it.  My father laughed off the error saying Patricia Cornwell does the same thing and so did the Bible. I guess if it's ok in either of those then people can forgive me for the booboo. 

Holding the final copy in my hands, seeing my face on the back cover, well it finally sunk in for me that I had reached my goal.  Of course I won't stop at just one book.  I have over a dozen more to write and then some once I am through with those.  But for this moment, I am in awe of my accomplishment.  The Virginia Slims slogan is true, "I've come a long way, Baby!"

These characters have almost become real to me.  I can see them so vividly and relate to them so much.  Maybe it helps that when I was writing  I tried picturing the story as an ABC Family/Lifetime style movie.  The contemporary romantic comedy that makes you laugh at the funny moments and tugs at your heart in the difficult ones.  The story that gives you hope to trust and love.  And it gives those single women a chance to fantasize about someone like Damien coming into their lives.  Of course when I picture Damien I see Denny from Grey's Anatomy, which really helps the visualizing ;).

For now I am moving onto the next book (TAKING CHANCES), but my time with Avery and Damien on the beaches of La Jolla isn't over just yet.  In the coming year I will return to help my favorite Latin Lothario (Officer Trent Torres) find his own flame.  And a year after that the tough loving lawyer (Mitch) will find his own happiness.   All these men fall for Mid-western girls starting anew on the West Coast, hence the name of this book series California Dreaming.

I hope you enjoy FINDING HOME and stay with me on this journey as this is not the end but just another day to live my dreams and make them come true!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

FINDING HOME now available in paperback!!!

You know it's meant to be when things fall right in place.  The paperback proof arrived 5 days early and after a few tweaks I can finally say it is ready!

You can purchase FINDING HOME HERE at Createspace.  It will be available for sale on Amazon within the next 5-7 days.  Though Amazon is great (and it's where I do all my Christmas shopping) I highly encourage you to check out Createspace since they are the company that actually prints the book - it will get to you faster!
Remember, FINDING HOME is also available on Amazon for Kindle and can be purchased for other e-readers HERE on Smashwords.

Thanks again for all your support!  Time to get back to writing book #2 - Taking Chances.  I'm hoping for a December release date!  Now that I'm on a roll I don't see me stopping any time soon!

Monday, September 19, 2011


FINDING HOME is now available on Amazon for Kindle users! 

And paperback lovers - it should be available on Amazon for sale starting next week as well!


Friday, September 16, 2011

FINDING HOME Now Available in Limited Capacity


I am overjoyed and near tears to announce that FINDING HOME is now available through some outlets!!

Click on the link below to see if its available for your e-reader today!  In the coming days it will be released to more outlets so if you don’t see it yet please be patient.

I am still working on (and deciding if I will even pursue) paperback publishing.  Stay posted.

Thank you again to everyone who has supported me through this, I can’t thank you enough!!

Love Amy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Speak to Me

We all have something that speaks to us, something that touches a place deep in our hearts and souls.  I have a lot of things that speak to me: The peacefulness of sitting on the shores of the lake while the wind blows through the trees, the tranquility speaks to me.  The pure laughter of children as they sing and dance to their favorite song on the radio, the joy speaks to me.

Something else that also speaks to me is seeing others express themselves.  Maybe it is the artistic creative side of me that is drawn or I think more so it is the humanitarian in me (all part of being an Aquarian).   

I have a work friend who is a huge supporter of artists in and around Detroit.  I have seen the different artists work and I can tell you that you can hear them speak through their lens and on their canvases. Some say Detroit has nothing to give, but for those who know better, that is the farthest from the truth.  To some it may seem like a shell of a city, but through their lens and on their canvases, one can see the beauty under the dimness. It would be like telling a diamond dealer that the lump of dirt is worthless when really it is a magnificent diamond in need of polish.

Sure there are those who try to polish by throwing on new paint, bringing in big business, and planting a few trees.  Others, those who come from a humanitarian perspective, know that the only way to really clean something up is to see it for what it truly is, to feel it so deeply that they can’t help but be moved to make a difference.  It is feeling the heartbreak, fear, determination, perseverance, and faith, among other things.  It is seeing Detroit (or any community) as a place of hidden opportunity, second chances, redemption, and pride. 

My friend told me about a new exhibit in Ferndale called The Face of Detroit.  You can click the link HERE for more information on the exhibit.  I hope you will take time to look at the pictures not only with your eyes but with your heart and mind.  Let them speak to you.  See that we are all small parts of something far greater than us.  We are all connected by the human spirit.  This spirit searches for tranquility, joy, and acceptance. 

I pray the images move you.  I hope that you will take time out today to connect with something that touches your soul. Find artists in your area that speak to you, become involved in a charity to give back, listen to the uplifting sounds that move, or delight in the joy of having the freedom to follow your heart.

Every day is a blessing and a chance to make a difference.  How will you speak to the world?

P.S. I highly recommend you check out this artist as well!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just a taste ...

For those who have been anxiously waiting for FINDING HOME to be released, well you have to wait just a bit longer.  But as a thank you for your patience, I have attached the first 8 pages!!  You also get a sneak peak at the unofficial book cover.

I am diligently working my way through the edits and putting the finishing touches on things.  Could I publish it as is right now? Probably – if I didn’t want to be taken seriously as a writer.  BUT … I DO want people to take me seriously.  I want people to see that I have put so much love into making this book (which has almost been a 2nd child to me).

I hope you enjoy the teaser and I PROMISE launch date is approaching.  It seems there are more technical details I have to fix before I can get it into the proper eBook formats.  And for those looking to purchase it in traditional paperback, your wait is still going to be awhile since that road is a little longer to navigate. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me along this journey. I truly appreciate all of you.  And I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate AMANDA BRUSSEAU on winning a FREE copy of FINDING HOME for being the first (and so far only) person to sign up as a member of my blog.  Much thanks!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Almost There

My momentum is picking up as of late.  I realized the other night that I am past the half way point in the final edits for FINDING HOME.  That means the end of this phase is near.  All I can say is FINALLY!!! It’s taken 2 ½ years to get here, but before I know it I can add the hat of “published romance writer” to my hat rack.

I find it kind of funny really.  So many times you think you will never “get there” only to find out how close ‘there’ really is.  Case in point, for the last few months I’ve been in a funk.  We’ve all been in them before (even the peppy people we just want to slap have been down before, otherwise they wouldn’t really know what being up is about).  Anyways, this funk of mine was the compiling kind.  I was feeling this, which made me think this, which then made me feel that – you get the picture.  Serenity seemed out of reach, at least for another few months.

Yet in one day I not only crawled out of the funk, I actually lept back on track.  Now my family will all vouch that I am not normal and like to do things considered ‘out of the box’.  But sometimes looking outside is just what is needed.  I found what I was looking for last week with a visit to this great place in Sylvania, Ohio called Harmony in Life.  That is where I received a reiki session and I have to say I feel healed, or at least on my way to healing.

For those who don’t know what reiki is, I strongly suggest you at least look into it.  It is energy work that helps unblock anything that could be holding you back – from a health standpoint or even a mental barrier.  I knew I was a bundle of gunk going in, but I came out feeling much better.  And you better believe I will be going for a tune-up more often than 7 years!

Reiki is one of my things.  What is yours?  What is that thing that helps you get back on track? To regain sight of your goals?  What gives you clarity?  For everyone it is different, that is the beauty of free will. 

I encourage anyone who reads this to find that special something that will help you stay the course long enough to finally “get there”.  Good luck along the way, I’ll see you around the bend!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I love that word. I love being and feeling tenacious.  Some choose to see the meaning as synonymous with stubbornness or being opinionated.  I see it as persistence and being tough enough to hang in there to reach a goal. 

I read this great article today that really hit home that when you know what you want, never settle, never give up.  Too many times in life I can see where I have abandoned my tenacity.   This is really a shame when you think about it.  I’ve let fear deter me from my course - or courses if you look at how many times I’ve changed my life.

I tell myself that fear is nothing more than false events appearing real.  It is nothing more than my overactive imagination expecting the worst. It doesn’t help that I’ve lived by that motto most of my life – hope for the best but expect the worst.  I think it’s safe to say the saying has done more harm than good.

Each day I don’t write, I allow fear to grow stronger.  However, if I were to sit and list the fears I would see how laughable most are.  At that point I would run out of excuses not to finish what I’ve started. 

A great case in point is the aforementioned article which tells how another writer was rejected 60 times before she found an agent who had faith in her writing.  Those 60 morons are probably kicking themselves now that she’s not only the best selling author of The Help but that the book is about to be released as a movie starring Emma Stone in theaters this weekend!

I have only been rejected once with my writing.  The second time doesn’t count because of a technicality.  It wasn’t my fault the publisher changed their submissions guidelines while my query letter was being sent! But then the Tenacious Amy came out and I thought, ‘why am I allowing someone else to decide if and when my book gets published?’ 

Hence the self-publishing route I am now on.  In my persistent drive I have not only cut out the middleman, but I have also cut away any safety net to catch me.  It’s me, standing alone, with my goal in sight at the other end of this tight rope.  One false move and I could lose it. Or I can take one step at a time and know every inch, as small and insignificant as it feels some times, is still leading me toward my desired destination.

So go ahead and call it stubbornness or even stupidity if you’d like.  Because really, what kind of living can you make off writing cheap romance novels for lonely women? 

To you, my friend, I say have a look at the numbers.  The romance genre is one of the industries to have actually GROWN during this recession.  People like to believe there is hope, even if it comes in fiction form.  So they are who I write for, they are who see themselves in my heroines.  The strong, vivacious, and tenacious women I create on paper may seem fake to some, but I know otherwise.  They reflect me, my family and my friends - my tenacious clan of women.

As The Foundation for a Better Life would sayTENACITY. Pass it on!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

And So It Begins...

Welcome to my first official blog post!  Now, I have blogged before, however I never told anyone my page or that I was doing it so my viewers equaled only myself!  But THIS blog I want people to see.  This is where I keep my readers (or future readers) informed on what's going on with my writing.

I must admit that the few hours spent writing and editing this page is the most writing I have done in several weeks, which is pretty counter-productive since there is a book I need to finish editing before I can publish it!  I have readily accepted throughout my life that I am a procrastinator, but that has suddenly become a bad thing when it is keeping me from being able to live out my dream as a full time writer.  The proverbial "someday" just isn't good enough for me anymore.  Why not now? What's so wrong with getting anything done today?

Before I go getting all philosophical or too long winded (which I've been known to do on a regular basis), I want to thank you for reading this first post and I hope you will come back again soon.

I think this blog will be a great way to call myself out.  Nobody likes it when people point out your flaws, it's even worse to do it to yourself to the entire web.  But if I have to face myself in order to get out of my own way and stop procrastinating then I will.  

For now I say good night.  I am off to sleep then on to the new day.  I'm going to sleep with the ambition that tomorrow will be productive and that I'll get more than a page or two done.

Thanks again and I look forward to many more posts!

Here is what you missed!