The agony of profile pictures…or if I hadn’t bit that little boy…

I often have my characters flashing smiles. Perhaps I use that phrase because I’d love to have the ability to flash a smile. Not just any smile, but one of those natural smiles brimming with sincerity. My daughter can do it. With ease she takes great selfies—great photographs in general. She has straight white teeth, a beautiful smile and big brown eyes. 

As for me….meh on all three.

I used to think I had good teeth. I never needed braces. But we live in an era when people can whiten their teeth, and white teeth do brighten a smile and makes a person look younger. I suspect that’s one reason my mom at almost 92 can pass as a much younger woman. She’s always taken good care of her teeth,  and she whitened them some twenty years ago, before it became fashionable.

No teeth whitening for me. My two lower, front teeth are caps. When I was in grade school I was playing tag with a little boy. He caught me and wouldn’t let me go. I did the only thing I could in the situation—I bit him. Pissed him off, and he picked me up and threw me to the ground. I landed on my face, on the only patch of dirt and rock in the school playground. Knocked my two front-lower-teeth out.

So now, I have caps. And unless I want to go to the expense of replacing those two caps (which have already been replaced at least once) I can’t really whiten my teeth. Another issue, my upper teeth have worn down some with age. These are the reasons I simply can’t smile at will for a photograph. I am too self-conscious.

As for my eyes. When I was younger people said I had nice eyes. But I am sixty-five now, so I suppose the healthy thing would be to embrace all those wrinkles and imperfections that show up so clearly in my photographs.

In general I am not a vain person. Not until I need to take a picture for my social media accounts. Being an author, I have a number of social media accounts that need profile pictures. I’ve been trying to take one that I don’t hate.

Above is a sampling of some of my profile pictures I’ve used over the last eight years.

The bottom row: The photo of the far right, me reading, that’s the oldest, one taken over twenty-five years ago. It was back when I was in my voracious romance reading phase. I use that for my Anna J. McIntyre profile picture. It just seems fitting, considering the contents of the McIntyre books.

The other photo on the bottom, me on our boat with the London Bridge in the background, was taken within the last five years. Until recently, I used that photo on my Twitter account. I rather like it only because the smile is genuine. And even though my teeth are not sparkling white in it, I look happy.

The most current photo is the one on the upper far right. That one was taken today. It’s the one I will be using for all my social media accounts for now.

The one right next to it was taken two years ago. We were on our boat that day.

The two upper photos on the far left were taken about eight years ago. That is just a guess. But I am pretty sure the one on the end was taken at a house our daughter lived in at one time and the other was taken in front of our house, and my granddaughter, who turns ten in May, was just a little tyke at the time, looking out the window when the picture was taken.

I suppose the professional thing to do would be to hire a photographer and get a professional business head shot. One day. Maybe. Probably not.

It should have been obvious…

Last night I had an epiphany: I have always been a writer. While other children might have dreams to be actors, singers, doctors, firemen…I always wanted to be a writer.

The storyteller in me first showed itself during play. Perhaps that is one reason I loved my Barbie dolls—the dolls were my story’s characters and I could write their script. Even when playing outside, and climbing the oak trees in our rural neighborhood, I orchestrated elaborate story backdrops for our play—we were pioneers or cowboys, or whatever I might imagine.

At age eleven I wrote our class play. Age fourteen I wrote my first book. During my senior year of high school I was the co-editor of our school newspaper. At twenty I wrote a screen play in college. The next year I wrote and produced a documentary that aired on a school district channel in Southern California.

After college I married and a few years later started my family. I didn’t stop writing. I spent my twenties writing a cookbook, my first romance novel, and a television script for a children’s program, along with poetry and short stories. None of those were ever published, aside from the cookbook, which I self-published for family.

At thirty-one I started a community newspaper, which I published once a month. For it I wrote and research countless non-fiction articles, many historical in nature. I also published an annual full-color magazine, twice. Income came from advertising revenue.

By my late thirties we moved to Lake Havasu to help my parents run the family business, Havasu Palms, when my father became ill. I had sold my paper, and while my new job didn’t include writing, I continued to write.

At age 41 I wrote and self-published Where the Road Ends, Havasu Palms Recipes and Remembrances. Today it is sold at our local museum and at Amazon. 

The next year I wrote Lessons, which would become the first book of fiction I would publish on Amazon, some fifteen years later. (Today it is Coulson’s Lessons, book three in the Coulson Family Saga, under my pen name Anna J. McIntyre.)

By my 45th birthday we were no longer at Havasu Palms and had foolishly started a restaurant. During this time I also started a website—which in many ways was like the community newspaper I had once owned, yet this one was online. Initially I used it to help promote our restaurant. But this was 1999 and business websites were still a novelty.

After we lost our restaurant, my husband and I went into real estate. I was now in my late forties, starting a new career. I was active in real estate for seven years or so, yet writing was still part of my life.

That online magazine I had set up when we had the restaurant, was now promoting our real estate business. In those days, when one searched online for Havasu Real Estate, my website came up first. In fact, if you searched just about anything Havasu, my website was on the top of the list.

When I reached my mid-fifties the big real estate crash happened. While my husband and I had been doing a good job of rebuilding our lives after losing our restaurant (and all of our money) we realized it would no longer be feasible for us both to continue working on commission, now that commissions were so scarce.

The job market was not terrific in Havasu, so I looked to the internet for generating income. I landed a gig with the online content provider, Demand Studios, and worked for them for about three years. The money was not terrific, but it was steady, and I was doing something I loved—from home.

As I approached my 57th birthday, writing opportunities with Demand Studios was dwindling, plus I was burning out. This was in 2011. Several years earlier I had dabbled with Amazon’s eBook publishing platform (KDP) when I had uploaded the file to the second family recipe book I had written. I had uploaded and forgotten about it. (I think I made about $13 on the eBook while I had it live on Amazon.)

I decided to publish Lessons on Amazon, but first, I had my daughter, who had graduated from the Art Institute in graphic design, design a book cover, and I had an editor I had met at Demand Studios, edit the book.

That was nine years ago. Today I have some thirty-five books published on Amazon, and other venues, like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Google, and iTunes. Twenty-two books in my Haunting Danielle series are on audiobook, and the Coulson Family Saga will be on audiobook by the end of the year. Unlike my eBooks and paperbacks, my audiobooks are trade published.

I’m blessed. I am making a good living doing what I love—what I have always loved. And the icing on the cake? Email I receive from readers who tell me they love my stories.

Updating Book Videos

I thought it long overdue to update the two book videos  I have over at YouTube. Some people call these book trailers, but the last time I checked, that is a trademarked term. It is like calling all tissues Kleenex, even if the brand you are using is not Kleenex.

But I digress…

The book video for Coulson’s Lessons (written under my Anna J. McIntyre pen name) was made so long ago, it had its original title, Lessons. But I have long since rebranded that book—and instead of a standalone, it is now book 3 in the Coulson Family Saga series. Of course, it can still be read as a standalone.

The other video I updated was Haunting Danielle, adding the most recent titles to the video. It wont be necessary to remake the video at a future date to add more titles, as the credits rolling at the end of the film let viewers know there are probably more titles than the ones listed.

If you have time to check them out, I would appreciate a thumbs up if you like them—and I hope you consider subscribing to my channel. I am still pondering doing more over there.

But for now, off to work on The Ghost and the Silver Scream.