My name is M.L. Bullock, (that's short for Monica Leigh) and I am an indie author. I am a full time author--it is all I do now and I love every minute of it! The only regret I have is waiting so long to get started but I'm getting ahead of myself here. Here's my story.
My journey into self publishing or independent publishing, whichever you prefer, really began in 2008. It was a total fluke. While searching for work, I stumbled upon an online conversation about getting paid for writing. I thought that was "novel" idea, pardon the bad pun and began to do more research. Like you all, I'd seen the scams, "Work at home. Become a millionaire." But there was nothing scammy about what I saw. People were writing all sorts of things, books, blog posts, articles, you name it. And although it was my heart's desire to write a book, I didn't have the confidence to do that yet.
You see, I'd heavily invested in my own skin care and cosmetic business, had a notable level of success but then lost it all when I failed to meet a quota. It was financially and emotionally devastating. I never wanted to be there again. And although they called us "Independent Sales Directors" we were anything but. As a director in this Fortune 500 company, your success depended largely on the success of others in your unit. I spent my time constantly recruiting women to build up my team. I invested in others (which I don't regret) but no matter how hard I tried, I could not maintain the momentum. I felt like such a loser. The economic downturn killed my business and I couldn't fix it. It was a hard lesson to learn.
Soon I found some content companies (Yahoo, Demand Studios) that needed writers so I applied, wrote blog posts and articles for them, worked crazy hours and scratched out a small income for myself. It was labor intensive work but I wrote whatever they needed and felt confident that I'd done the right thing. Until they closed their doors after the great Panda fiasco. (It's an algo thing.) But after the disappointment and crying I realized that I was walking away from that relationship a better writer and I really loved writing (but not enough to write for myself yet) so I took the only avenue I believed was open to me--ghost writing.
After writing six books for other people and watching those books climb up the Amazon lists I gave myself a reality check. I could do this! I was doing this! But what to write? After visiting a local plantation one afternoon and immersing myself in local folklore I knew the story I wanted to tell. This would be my story! Seven Sisters! I loved every minute of the process and to bring my hometown to readers was a joy! With so many local ghost stories I had plenty of inspiration and the story seemed to write itself. I finished that series with six books!
Having seen other authors/clients achieve so much with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) I went there first. The process was simple and after help from a freelance editor (who has become a dear friend) I published Seven Sisters in September of 2014. That seems so long ago now, although its only been a couple of years. After the publication of my third book everything changed. In so many wonderful ways! I didn't have to depend on anyone else to earn a good living. A few more books and change that "good living" to an excellent living.
I can't imagine doing anything else. In fact, I never will. I love telling my stories and because I'm an indie author (Yep, #PoweredByIndie) I can write what I want when I want. I am so grateful for that kind of freedom. I love waking up, grabbing coffee and sauntering to my desk. I love that I don't have to depend on the skills of others to succeed now. I love that nobody can throw me out of the writers club. I love it all. Even the editing. I love this life.
I broke my ankle recently. Not because I landed wrong during a skydiving descent, or because I took a wrong step while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Nope. I broke my ankle walking down the steps at the local park while hunting Pokemon with my sixteen-year old son. Can you believe that? Oh the things we Moms do to stay connected to our kids.
When I explained to the ER nurse how it all happened, (Stepped wrong. Fell on my own ankle. Broke ankle.) he was less than impressed. In fact, my injury was so humorous--and boring--that a few other nurses piped in to offer their suggestions for a "better story." Some of the suggestions were, "I tied up with Rhonda Rousey," and "I miscalculated during my black belt test," just to name a few. They had a good laugh. I had a good laugh but naturally, it got me thinking. And not just about my broken ankle.
My nurses were great but they were completely wrong. I don't need a better story. I like my story. I like that I "took one for the team." Of course, I'd rather not have a broken ankle but at least I earned it doing something I love--spending time with my kids. It was worth it. No, I'm not sailing around the world or getting lost on some tropical island with a coconut drink in my hand but I like where I am now. I like who I am. So although I'm all for a better story, when it comes to writing at least, I like the life I have now. I am very grateful for it. Wouldn't trade it for the world.
It's going to take me a while to heal. I'm told a total of twelve weeks (we'll see about that) but I have my keyboard. I'll get some writing done. I'll let my family wait on me hand and foot. (Yeah, right.) I won't do much Pokemon hunting but at least I have Snorlax now.
Whatever that is.
Book Six of the Seven Sisters series, The Sun Rises Over Seven Sisters is now available on all platforms! Here's the Kindle preview!
Hey y'all! Just a quick note to let you know that Book 3 of the Desert Queen series, THE KINGDOM OF NEFERTITI is now available for download on Amazon Kindle! It is also available for preorder on Apple, B&N and Kobo (Release date for those sites is May 26.) Here's the description:
When Nefret, the mekhma of the Meshwesh, leads her people back to their homeland of Zerzura, everything changes. Forced to make a deal with the determined Queen Tiye, Nefret abandons her tribe and the man she loves to obey the queen’s command. As she takes her place at the Egyptian court at Thebes, she quickly realizes that fate is not through with her yet. A new enemy with a beautiful face is revealed, and Nefret--now Nefertiti--must fight again to keep her place at Amenhotep’s side.
I know many of you are waiting on Seven Sisters Book 6 - THE SUN RISES OVER SEVEN SISTERS. It's well on its way! I will finish this book by the end of the week and then it goes to the editor. So it should be soon, y'all!
I'm also working on a new series called The Sugar Hill series and you can get a sneak peek of the new cover on my Facebook page.
Here's a link to THE KINGDOM OF NEFERTITI. Please leave a review! It helps so much!
I have been a bit sentimental lately. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that my 16-year-old is a 16-year-old. And nothing to do with my approaching 49th birthday or the various other life changes that I have experienced in the past few months. Maybe I’m sentimental because I’m Southern. Maybe it has something to do with my complete obsession with old houses and antiques. I don’t know, but I do not find sentimentalism to be the negative experience some people consider it.
No. I believe lost in the fog of sentimentality are wonderful stories, common and all-too-forgotten stories but all worth the telling. And I do plan on telling more.
As you might know, I recently completed The Kingdom of Nefertiti, the third book in The Desert Queen series. Now, I have turned my attention back to the last book in the Seven Sisters series, The Sun Rises over Seven Sisters. I know many of you are anxious to tie up the loose ends, to find out what happened to our favorite characters (and our not so favorite characters). But I want the story to end with more than a feeling of satisfaction that you know what happens on the next page. I want to bring to you an ending that leaves you feeling like you experienced something special — something you will never forget.
Because you, Dear Reader, are always on my mind.
I don’t know how much you know about writing or the writing process but for this humble author it is all about the storytelling. For right or wrong, some authors are motivated by making a bestseller list, or earning a certain dollar amount, or perhaps achieving some type of prestige within their circle of friends. It’s true that achieving any of those things is commendable but in all honesty those are not motivators for me. My motivation is a bit different. I have an innate need to entertain.
Yes, absolutely. And in that regard I am a straight up weirdo but it is the absolute truth. I love the fact that you want to know Bette’s recipes. I love that you are familiar with Cottonwood and Beaumont family trees. And the reason why I love those things is because that it shows me, no it proves that my storytelling matters to you.
And that’s probably why I’m sentimental today because as the Seven Sisters series ends I know that many of you will probably say goodbye to me. Sure, I have other works to read like the books in my Desert Queen series. (Those include The Tale of Nefret, The Falcon Rises and The Kingdom of Nefertiti.) And I am sure that you know all about my upcoming Sugar Hill series but I know that life gets in the way and we don’t all finish our various journeys together. You’ll move on to other authors or return to some classics. It’s the circle of life. I’m okay with that.
So to those of you listeners and readers that will say goodbye to me at the end of Book Six, The Sun Rises Over Seven Sisters, I say, “Thank you!”
Thank you for the reviews, the many comments, the likes. Thank you for the emails, the visits during my book signings and for the occasional letters I receive in my old country mailbox. Thank you for loving Carrie Jo and Calpurnia. Thank you for loving Muncie and Christine. Thank you for exploring an old house with me and strolling down the paths of the Moonlight Garden. Thank you for allowing me to entertain you even if only for a little while. It has been my delight and honor to scare the be-jeezus out of you and make you remember that you once believed in such things as ghosts. That you once dreamed of exploring an old plantation…
And to those of you who might stick around long enough to check out the first book in the Sugar Hill series, The Wife of the Left Hand, thank you in advance. I promise to entertain you with tales of lost loves, haunted plantations and lingering ghosts. The best is yet to come!
All my best,
Monica Leigh Bullock a.k.a. ML Bullock
Hi! My name is Monica Leigh Bullock (aka M.L. Bullock) and I live a writerly life. I am a self-published author, wife, mom, sister and daughter and to say my life requires a bit of negotiation to keep on top of things is an understatement. But I am not complaining because I am living my dream and I am loving every minute of it! That is no exaggeration! This is what I am mean to do. I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning!
Welcome to my blog where I plan to get real with you and show you what a writerly life really looks like. When some people think about writers and how they work their craft they might drum up images of some creative person like Stephen King banging on a keyboard in some gorgeous studio overlooking an ocean or a forest of trees. Oh, but if that were the case!
While I would never do anything else but write--because I love it so much, the truth is it is messy. My walls are covered with dry erase boards, I have endless stacks of notes and research everywhere and bookcases full of “research” books. It can be confusing. And where I live I don’t often have the luxury of locking myself in a room and crafting the next bestseller. I live on a farm in southern Mississippi and yay, we have an open floor plan.
We moved here about a year ago and things are still quite new. We have a lot of wooded acreage and plenty of places to walk which is a plus and there is such beauty all around me. I feel blessed to have this lovely natural space to work in but I’m not a natural born country girl although I’m adapting to it. The truth is I’ve always been near the ocean. Born on island and have lived near an island for quite some time. I miss the ocean but sometimes when I’m sitting on my screened in porch overlooking the acres of wooded land behind our home I can almost hear the ocean when the wind blows through the treetops. And besides the water is only about an hour away so don’t feel sorry for me.
So what does the writerly life look like? Well, for me it starts pretty early in the morning. After I get my teenage son to school I come back to my front room/office drink my coffee and began answering emails and posting on my social media sites. This usually takes me an hour or two but I love connecting with fans. I’m not complaining. Then my goal is to write about 3000 words before noon. It might sound pretty impressive but I use a very detailed outline so there’s not a lot of guesswork left in my writing time. As I always have another book pending I never run out of things to write.
After my writing session, I may do one or two things. (Drink more coffee.) Go back and edit what I wrote or spend more time working on a new outline or doing some research for a future projects. I plan to go into more detail on these tasks sometime in the future. Just to help along any aspiring writers that might be out there. (Hello? Are you there or am I just talking to myself?)
As a self-published author all of the responsibilities of marketing all on my shoulders. If I went the traditionally-published route I would’ve had someone do this for me but from what I hear, that’s not always the case. Unlike some authors I have no problem with marketing. I’ve been publishing books since 2014 but I’ve been writing content for various websites since 2008. One thing I learned along the way was if you don’t promote your articles/reports/books no one will find you. Way back in my Yahoo days, (don’t hate) promotion was a big part of my job. Not only did I have to sell Yahoo on my ideas but after they accepted them (sometimes they did!) I had to promote them. The better the promotion the more eyes read my article, the more money I was paid. And although I don’t write novels with dollar signs in my eyes or little sticky notes all over my desk covered with dollar signs this is how I make a living and how I support my family and my farm so I have to be mindful about marketing. (Did I mention I have over 50 baby chicks to support?) So I have to be very deliberate and market my books constantly. That takes up a lot of time.
Being a writer has changed so many things for me. It has given me confidence in my own writing abilities of course but it is improved to me in other ways too. I am a for-real introvert and it takes a lot of energy for me to share space with real actual people. However, as a writer, I found an online community of like-minded people online I feel stronger because I belong to this larger group. Being a writer is kind of like being a wolf. You spend a lot of time alone but once in a while you join the pack just to see what’s happening. (At least that’s my take on wolves.)
So if you’re reading this and you’re not just a fan but an aspiring writer I encourage you to do what it is you love to do. A writerly life is a good life and although none of us do things exactly the same we are creatives and that in itself is an amazing thing.
Hi Blog! Carrie Jo Jardine here. I am sorry I have been so neglectful of late. I promise to do a better job of sharing my day with you. If for no other reason than to clear my head.
Today has been so exciting! What a dream come true--walking the halls of Seven Sisters, exploring boxes and sifting through old papers. I love it! I am sure many people would find my job horribly boring but I can't help but feel like the luckiest girl on the planet. I wish Mia could at least act excited for me. She's the one that told me about this gig and now she acts like she hates me because I actually landed it.
Her attitude is really starting to bug me! Like that! She just rolled her eyes at me because I asked her a question.
That’s Mia Reed for you. Irreverently funny, sometimes sweet but always unpredictable and not always nice. At least she was out of her vampire phase which was totally scary. Between tasks today I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to determine that one moment when everything went wrong between us. I had to admit that of all the relationships I have ever had, the one I had with Mia was the one I depended on the most. She was like my only family and now she was being a total jerk.
What had I done? Was it because I bailed on her when she wanted to get matching dream catcher tattoos a few months ago? Maybe the animosity came from the fact that I briefly dated William Bettencourt — a guy I was sure she wanted. It did no good to ask . I gave up on that. She would never tell me much less admit that anything was wrong in the first place.
Well, she’ll have to suck it up. Hollis Matthews hired me — not Mia to lead this restoration and I plan on doing just that! I was sure she come around eventually. Especially after she sees this collection of antique hand mirrors I found at the Ramsey estate sale this morning.
There were three in the set and each had something unique about it. I think my favorite was a keyhole shaped example that was at least as old as this house. I flipped it over and was surprised to see the letters EP engraved in the dingy silver. Yep, a bit of polishing and this would be gorgeous to display in one of the bedrooms.
I stared at my bleary image in the mirror. The glass was faded or at least the lead behind them was--that was only a small detail though. But just think, someone once loved these mirrors and used them every day.
Mia murmured under her breath as she banged on her computer. I could’ve told her she was wasting her time flirting with Ashland. As inexperienced as I was I knew someone like him would not like that kind of approach. At first I felt bad for her but honestly she brought it all herself.
I returned the hand mirrors to their box and put the box on her desk. She was after all supposed to be cataloging all these things. “Look at these, Mia. I picked them up this morning. They must belong to the same person or did. If mirrors could talk, right?"
“Such a romantic, CJ. That will get you into trouble one day.” She finally smiled and the day seemed a tiny bit brighter.
“What do you think?”
“I don’t know yet.” She picked them up and stared into one. With a gasp she threw the mirror back in the box, “Is that some sort of sick joke?”
“What? What is it?” I picked up the mirror and stared into it. “What are you freaking out about?”
“Didn’t you see it?”
“See what? What am I looking for?” I looked again turning it over my hands confused. "Oh my God! Is it a spider?" I put the mirror down and checked my hands for creepy bugs. I hated spiders!
“Get rid of it? I don’t want it in here!”
"Fine! I’ll put it over here.” I walked back to my desk and plopped the box down.
Feeling confused I picked up the mirror. What the heck just happened? I heard a voice behind me and spun around to see the perfectly dressed Hollis Matthews.
“Ah, I know those. These were in Ginny Beale Ramsey collection. What a wonderful find!"
"What can you tell me about these? There was no paperwork with them," I asked curiously.
"I can tell you something about them but it might just be town gossip. I never put much stock in that sort of thing."
This was one of those weeks that seemed to fly by. So naturally, it was a good one even though I did not get to take that beach trip. I still had some wonderful moments with my family and everyone was healthy and happy. Before I dive into some exciting news here are my numbers for the week.
As I mentioned, I'm 10k plus words into The Falcon Rises and I'm waiting for the cover. I'll share it when I have it. Scout's honor! I'm writing another series, Siren's Gate too. This one is a paranormal romance about a sexy siren and a group of immortals who threaten the human world. Book One The Mermaid's Gift is shaping up to be awesome! Here is a sneak peek!
I expect to have this in your hands some time in March or April. I'll post more about it on FB the closer to the date.
So what else? Oh, yes! Amazon has my book The Tale of Nefret free for a few days. If you haven't gotten it yet, now is the time! Also, the amazing Lynda Dickson at Books Direct has been kind enough to feature that book on Feb 8th. If you aren't already using this free service you should be. It's a great way to stay in the loop on great new books. (And not just mine. ;)Click on the banner below to check it out.
That's about it. It's a beautiful Sunday. The sun is shining and I've got my walking boots on. I'm heading out for a long walk, hopefully three miles and I am going to attempt to use my Dragon Anywhere app to get some dictation in. If that fails, I always have Joanna Penn's The Creative Penn podcast to listen to.
Anyway, I hope this blog post finds you well, safe and happy.
All my best,
Monica Leigh Bullock
Good Morning, People of the Blog!
It's been a great week here on the farm. As you can see, we have a bunch of baby biddies and a very curious Blue Russian cat who's volunteered to be their babysitter. I am happy to report that at this juncture, all chickens are present and accounted for and Bruno is sticking to his Little Friskies menu.
The wind is blowing here, smells of bacon linger in the kitchen and the front door slammed shut on its own volition. Even though I know it is the wind, it is always a bit disconcerting, isn't it? I can hear the sound of J.W.'s chainsaw running in the back sixteen acres. He's determined to clear some pastureland for cattle. My husband loves country living--so do I but I am looking forward to a beach trip that I have planned next week. Dauphin Island is about an hour away and I want to sit and watch the waves. I am and always will be an Island Girl.
At the beginning of the year I promised to make myself accountable to you so here is this week's report. As of this afternoon, I am finished with The Stars We Walked Upon! There was so much story here and I had a hard time finding a stopping point. It's easily the longest book in this series. I hope you love it!
After my beach trip, I will begin writing The Falcon Rises, Book Two in the Desert Queen Series. I am very excited about the idea of working on a new project although it's always a little sad to leave Seven Sisters, even for a little while. I also have plans to write a siren/mermaid series this summer! It will have some supernatural stuff, a steamy romance and lots of mythology. Set in Bermuda, it will be the perfect beach read.
I made my goal of walking ten miles this week. I ended at 10.5. I am stoked about that! I continue to muddle through my dictation, I am determined to master it so I can bring my fans books faster!
Let's see... what else...
I moved my books from Smashwords to Draft2Digital. I apologize to all of you who purchase books through Smashwords but I had to make the change. D2D has better reporting and are more responsive when I need technical help. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, this change won't affect you.
Well, January is down and I have one book finished. Only nine more to go this year. Think I can do it?
Monica Leigh Bullock
Good morning People of the Blog!
It's finally warming up here in southern Mississippi but I'm not complaining. Some of you are buried under several feet of snow so I'm not complaining. If that's you, I'm sending you lots of good wishes and prayers and promise to write as fast as I can to keep you entertained.
As I promised at the beginning of the year, I am providing you with a weekly update, a sort of snapshot of what's happening in my life as it relates to writing. If you are an aspiring writer perhaps my weekly updates will help you to see how exciting it is to be an author. As far as I'm concerned, the more the merrier! So on with the update.
Total words for the week: 12,000
Total words for the project: 39,886
Miles walked this week: 4
Miles walked goal for this week: 10
Total hours worked last week: 20
I'm getting better at dictating my novels but I won't lie and tell you that it's completely easy. There is a learning curve and I struggled to sound natural not stilted but I'm committed to using this new software for a couple of reasons.
First, I want to unchain myself from my desk and get outside more. You see, I have a big walking goal and sitting behind a desk is not helping me achieve that. Since there are only so many hours in a day, I really need to master the art of dictation so I can walk and talk or at least talk and go.
Secondly, I have an ambitious publishing calendar this year and there's no way I'm going to make my goal of writing nine books if I don't use dictation.
(Just as a fun aside, I've written this entire blog with dictation so you can see I'm a pretty big fan.)
Almost done with The Stars We Walked Upon and then it goes to my editor on Friday. After a few more days of reviewing, I'm taking a one-week writing break to begin plotting an upcoming YA supernatural romance series. I think you're going to love it and I'll share more details about it later.
After my week of plotting, I'm going back to Egypt to finish book 2 in The Desert Queen series, The Falcon Rises.
I'm also working on my French course and learning everything I can about screenwriting. As you know Amazon is after me to submit my series to them and I want to do my best work. Carrie Jo deserves my best representation.
One more thing. I had to say goodbye to my agent this past week. Such a nice person but we couldn't seem to get anything going together. I've decided that sometime in March I will begin production of my audiobooks so keep your fingers crossed.
Well I guess that's about it. It was a busy week and I don't see it slowing down anytime soon but I love this writing life.
All my best,
Monica Leigh Bullock
As a kid, I never wanted to be a superhero but I would have traded all my Barbies to be Nancy Drew. That love for mysteries and a total obsession with ghost stories is what led me to become a writer. I just love a mystery!
I'm a true blue Southern girl who loves living on the Gulf Coast. When I'm not playing the trumpet or hanging out with the people I love, I'm probably daydreaming.
It's really what I do best.