Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kari's Kave: Back to School Means Back to Work!

One week from today my kids go back to school!

For someone like me, that means I get to go back to work. I work at home, so when the kids are on vacation, they think I am on vacation as well. It definitely affects the amount of work I get done. Which got me thinking about how much I realistically can produce.

I am a schedule type of woman.

So when I write, I have to sit down and make out a schedule. As of Sept 1st, I will have exactly 6 months to write Trouble in the Tarot which is due March 1st. For me, that requires making a schedule. Normally I write 4 pages an hour. When the kids are in school, I write from 9:30 until 11:30, then take a one hour lunch break, then work again from 12:30 until 2:30. Boys get home at 2:30 unless they have sports.

If all goes perfectly, that's 16 pages a day (sometimes it doesn't if I need to brainstorm, etc.) so all in all I realistically shoot for 10 to 15 pages a day, with evenings and weekends off. That's 50 to 75 pages a week. My books are roughly 320 pages long. That means I can write a book in 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 months...and yes I have written books in as little as 4 weeks, but that's so not pretty or healthy.

Then I build in a couple weeks for polishing, so realistically I can "finish" a book in 2 to 4 months. That is IF I stick to my schedule and not have to resort to the writing marathons I am known for. This time I am determined to "stick to my schedule" no matter what.

Another tip, build in vacations, etc, right on your calendar. I keep my calendar right on my desk and write down the pages I am supposed to hit on that day. I build in doctors apt's, no school days, etc. That way I know exactly what I have to do.

Sept 1st falls on a Thursday, so I am going to use that Thurs and Fri to finish plotting out book three, and then start writing on Monday Sept 5th. That means in a perfect world, even if I take the full 4 months, I should be able to turn in book three on January 2nd. Although with Christmas in there, let's build in two extra weeks and make it January 16th. That's a whole month and a half early, which is what I need, because we all know I just might fall off the writing wagon at some point during that time frame :-) Either way, there will be no excuse not to meet my deadline come March 1st.

Which I need because we all know what comes after March 1st. 3 months of preparation for book two's launch in June! And trust me, people, there is no writing during promotion!

So wish me luck and keep me on track...I need it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Anita's Attic: Guest Post by Dana Rodgers - No Room for Doubt

I'm having computer problems, so my wonderful critique partner, Dana Rodgers, who writes historical and comtemporary romance, agreed to step in for me and re-run a post she did a few weeks ago on her Waterworld Mermaids blog, about the self doubt we all have as writers. And I mean WE ALL have, as you'll see. Take it away, Dana.


~~~~~~~
Do you ever spend hours, days, weeks pouring your heart and soul into your writing only to go back, read it and think, “Oh my God, what was I thinking? This is crap. I have no talent. No one will ever want to read this.”

Well, guess what? You’re not the only one!

I love to write. I love the creative process and making the story come alive on the page. For me it is not just the destination (the finished story), but also the journey getting there (developing characters, and hammering all of those twists and turns into place). But I often find, especially during my editing process that doubt creeps in. I start wondering what the heck I’m doing. Wondering why I ever thought that I could write a book.

Recently, while going through one of these moments, a friend introduced me to a new type of encouragement in the form of John Steinbeck.


John Steinbeck? Maybe, the Pulitzer Prize winning The Grapes of Wrath will ring a bell… or Of Mice and Men or East of Eden or The Winter of Our Discontent or Cannery Row…

John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962, and even he harbored doubts concerning his ability to effectively bring the written word to the page. While working on The Grapes of Wrath, he composed letters and wrote in a journal. Some of this material was later published in Working Days: The Journals of the Grapes of Wrath 1938-1941. Throughout this journal John Steinbeck writes about his struggles, worries and self-doubt.

The following are a few quotes from Working Days: The Journals of the Grapes of Wrath 1938-1941:


June 14, 1938–”Yesterday was a bust. I could have forced the work out but I’d lost the flow of the book and it would have been a weak spot.”


June 18, 1938–“If only I could do this book properly it would be one of the really fine books and a truly American book. But I am assailed with my own ignorance and inability.”


August 1, 1938–”I didn’t work then [July 25] or all week. …Hope to lose some of the frantic quality in my mind now. It’s just like slipping behind at Stanford. Panic sets in. Can’t organize. … I’m jumpy. …Don’t know who will publish my book. Don’t know at all. No reason to let it slide though. Must keep at it. … Wish I could control the jumping jitters though.”


August 30, 1938–”I’m having a hell of a time concentrating with so many things going on. … I hope this book is some good, but I have less and less hope for it.”


September 26,1938–”This book has become a misery to me because of my inadequacy.”


So the next time you doubt yourself, remember, there are other incredibly accomplished authors out there who have also acknowledged uncertainty when it comes to submitting their work. When you start to question yourself just remember:


1. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Your voice is your own and it is unique. Why do we have so many different types of writers? So many different genres? Because there are so many different types of readers!


2. In the words of Nora Roberts, “Write the damn book!” Forget about everything else and just get your ideas down on the page because you can’t edit what doesn’t exist. You can always cast off what doesn’t work later.


3. Trust you instincts. Everyone worries about breaking the rules. Ignore the rules because they are intimidating, and that can lead to insecurity. Instead focus on telling a great story. Once the story is on the page you can obsess over comma usage and dangling participles.


4. Make time for yourself. I know it sounds difficult, and it is, because life gets in the way, but consistently setting time aside for yourself and scheduling around that time will help you to put words on the page.


5. You are not alone. Believe in yourself. Everyone has experienced moments of self-doubt or insecurity, even someone as accomplished as John Steinbeck. If he can do it, so can you… So keep writing!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Liz's Lair: Promoting Your Book Without Breaking the Bank

There are exactly 5 weeks before my first book, LIVER LET DIE, releases. I'm waiting to hear what my editor thinks about Book 2 and currently writing Book 3. I don’t know what scares me more – worrying that Book Three won’t be as good as Book One and Book Two or worrying that Book One isn’t as good as I thought it was, and the reviewers will rip me a new one. I lay awake at night thinking up all kinds of scenarios from making the NY Times Best Sellers List to totally bombing.(Remember how insecure I am??) Hopefully, I’ll fall somewhere in between.

In the meantime, I have scheduled a crazy October with guest bloggings, signings, and even a radio appearance, all in the name of promotion. There are some days I will be in two places at once, and not all the blogs cater to writers. So, I’ve had to come up with topics that will interest readers as well as writers, who are basically readers who write. I was thinking of ways to get the best bang for my buck, and I came up with the top ten ways to promote my book – with as little money as possible. Here they are:

1. Get a decent website. I have one where people can get to know me as well as find out release dates for my books. That wasn’t free, but finding a professional, Rae Monet, who designed it and maintains it didn’t break the bank. I have two recipes from my book there and plan on posting several more as well as contests for readers. I am giving away a really neat Pandigital Kitchen Technology Center as a promotion for LIVER LET DIE. It’s so cool. It has an actual HD TV, internet access, a built-in in digital recipe center and more. There will be more details later on this.

2. Blog. I’m already part of a group blog and spend a lot of time trying to get my name out there. That and a little paying it forward to other writers. I have recently committed to a group blog, The Plotting Princesses, with a group of writer friends with whom I plot. Today, Kat Baldwin is blogging about about brainstorming, and Thursday is Temptation Thursday where we all post a snippet from our current wip. That’s always fun. On the negative side of blogging, it was reported at the Bouchercon (mystery conference) last year that blogging is way down the list of successful things to do to market your book. Okay, maybe spending all this time really isn’t worth it career wise, but I love kibitzing with other writers. I look at it as writer’s therapy!! And I have been asked to blog with several reviewers. That means I get to talk about me instead of how to get the best out of inner conflict, etc.


3. Get any kind of free promo you can.
This includes guest blogging, commenting on other blogs using your signature line with your book title and release date, and using FaceBook and Twitter. Pass out business cards with your info wherever you go. The great JA Konrath said he puts a bookmark in every piece of mail he sends – utility bills, phone bills, correspondence with anyone, etc. How smart is that?


4. Take advantage of free book reviews. For the cost of an ARC, there are many sites that will review your blog without a charge. I am fortunate because my publisher sends out copies for me, but even if they didn’t, I would look into getting more ARCS or sending my manuscript in a Word document. Some quick review sites: My http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifBookish Ways, Dollycas's Thoughts, The Book Resort, Dru's Book Musings, Socrates' Book Review, and way too many more to mention. Now, if I only knew a surefire way to get them to give me a good review!!

5. Give a free reading at a local library.
I was just asked to be on a panel for one. Unfortunately, my book wasn’t out yet, so it wasn’t beneficial for me. But you can bet I’m going to check this one out. I’m thinking there’s a whole gang of people out there who might not know about my book and coincidentally, they’re looking for a Christmas present for Aunt Suzie who loves mysteries! I am one of two authors presenting a program with Reading Radio Resource. It’s a non profit organization for the visually or physically challenged. It will really be a way to get my name out there plus do something just because it’s a good thing to do.


6. See if any of the local book clubs would like to review your book.
I have two already scheduled. All are friends who are really excited about this. Hopefully, every member will run out and buy the book, especially if I'm there to sign them...which brings me to reason number 7.


7. Schedule book signings.
I planned on going the local route plus a few out of town spots, like my hometown in Bridgeport, Ohio, in Columbus, Ohio where all my family now resides and at Lake Kiowa where I used to live. I’ve had to cancel the Ohio trip because the only bookstore there was a Borders and we all know what happened. I am scheduled to sign with the fabulous “Don’t Mess With Christie” Craig on October 22nd from 1-4 at a really cool place that has a wonderful restaurant with a from-scratch bakery. Since Christie is debuting her YA series and I am just debuting, there will be a chocolate cake and sangria. If you’re local, come help us celebrate. I’m also one of 18 authors at Buns and Roses Tea for Literacy on October 9th. It's a charitable event sponsored by the Richardson Literacy Program. I will have my own author table with nine readers. How cool is that? My books will be there to sign also.


8. Visit your local bookstores and sign copies.
Leave bookmarks in the books and at the counter if the manager allows it. I’ve heard more than once to take goodies for the employees on signing day. A doughnut softens anyone up.

9. Send a press release to your local newspapers.
I intend to send mine to Ohio and Lake Kiowa. Surely, someone will think I’m interesting enough to do an interview or a write up on my release. A chapter mate, Wendy Lyn Watson, was on the local morning show when her first book released. She writes mysteries about an ice cream parlor and whipped up a batch on the show. How much free publicity was that?? Of course, I would probably need Valium to do that, but still, it’s a thought.


10. And last but not least, make your next book great, so that after you snag all those new fans with all these hints, you won’t lose them with a crappy sequel.

And there, my friends, lies the stuff that keeps me awake at night!!

So, now I’ve told you what I think about promotion. I’m ready to hear new ways to get more readers. The confident me wants to believe if I can get them hooked on LIVER LET DIE, then BEEF-STOLEN OFF and MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT will be shoe-ins!!

I’d better close before the Insecure Lizzy takes over!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Barbie Jo's Bunkhouse: Those Darn Characters


Once again this week I didn't get much of my own work done. Frustrating to say the least. I made a couple feeble attempts, but it had been so long since I'd looked at the piece, I had to go back quite a few pages to get myself back into the story (and you all know how THAT goes). Now, I have the rest of this story plotted out. This should be easy, right? All I have to do is basically follow my notes. I'm probably 20-30 pages away from "then end". So what, pray tell is my problem?

It's those darn characters, that's what!

I love them, but they have decided to stop talking. Why? because I plotted their ending? If they'd give me a chance to write it, they might like it, and they know I'm totally open to a shift or two if that's how they want to roll. But no, they serioiusly put on the brakes. I've been wondering if it isn't my hero's teenage daughter. I ended up bringing her in a bit more than intented (this thought came to me as I tossed and turned around 4a.m.). I don't feel like she's taking over the story at all because what's going on with her father is very dramatic for a teen. I'm oh-so-sorry Mr. Hero if the spotlight isn't on you. Then again, the story is in my heroine's point of view so I'm sure this is all her doing and he's just supporting her as a good hero should! They have such chemistry together!

I spent a couple days this week reading and critiquing for a friend (so I was doing writing related work, just not my own!). She gets so deep into character and I love it! I want to be like her and I have no idea why characterization is so hard for me. I've read it, I know it, but I swear sometimes I just don't accomplish what I need to. I'm hoping that this can be a learned skill and that the more I have to go over my work for this same issue...it's going to stick. Don't get me wrong, I think I do well with my characters, but I know I can do more and make them better. We've all heard "writing is re-writing", which is 100% true.

I'm beginning to think I need to write some kind of thriller/mystery with a psychiatrist so I can research and do a case study on myself! LOL.

What tricks do YOU have for getting deep into character? How do you make them "tick" and come alive? Are there any classes you've taken you found helpful or a website you particularly liked or found informative?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cassy’s Corner- What is the Craziest Thing You Have Done for a Story or Want to Do?

We’ve talked about research on this blog. We’ve talked about how we approach our stories—plotters, pansters, somewhere in between. We’ve talked about where some of our story ideas come from. But, one of the things I’m interested in learning is what have you done to get the story right? I want the laugh-out-loud or the oh-my-gosh tales about what you’ve gone through to make sure you understood the disasters you’ve put your characters endure. How near to the story have you been?

One writer I have corresponded with tells of wanting to know if a woman could tie herself to a chair with duct tape. It was a critical part of her plot. So, she sat in an upright chair and first bound her legs to the chair. Next came her hands. Of course it’s hard to wrap the tape when you are capturing your arms and hands, so she used her mouth. Well done! Yup, except she did such a good job she couldn’t get out of the strapping. She had to sit there in bondage until her teenage son came home from school. He found his mom strapped to the chair and totally freaked out thinking she had been attacked and molested. It took her longer to talk him down from the ceiling than it took her to learn one-handed duct tape usage.

Another writer colleague tells of riding along with EMTs to learn about what they really do. This was in an urban setting and the night was filled with a few gun shot victims, an over dose, and a frightened child who had been attacked. The writer pretty much stayed out of the way so the EMTs could do their work, that was until he realized the child only spoke French. He leaned forward and translated for the medical team. The child relaxed enough to tell his story then refused to enter the emergency room without the writer holding his hand. It was a much longer night than had originally been planned.

I know of folks who have done ride-along’s with the police, attended civilian police academies, spent time in a variety of workplaces to really have a sense of the “flavor” of the job.

My experiences are meager. I have run down the streets of Rome at full speed to see how long it took to escape my bad guy (I actually scared myself with this as I got too much into the role).

I have played with recipes to see just how bad some things taste. I haven't intentionally poisoned anyone, but the ideas have been there.

Not very exciting stuff.

My list of what I’d like to do?

There is a gun club nearby and the owner has already told me he’d teach me to shoot. I don’t want to shoot anything but a paper target, but I do want to know what it feels like. My only prior shooting experience gave me a bruise the size of Alaska on the inside of my arm. For weeks after I was wearing long sleeves in the heat for it was too much to have to explain.

I’m not a great swimmer. I get by, but my husband tells stories of, “remember when Cassy tried to….” You get the picture. So, I’d love to spend time with someone who was really an expert in water survival. I’d listen and watch, not sure if I’d swim.

I’ve never been in a helicopter. I’ve been told by many, including my husband, that’s it is a fantastic experience. I love planes, even the really small ones. So I might, just might, have to put this on my list of things to sign up for.

My dogs are pretty well trained, well most of the time they behave. But, wouldn’t it be cool to join a search and rescue team and see how the big guys really do it?

An article in the New York Times a few years ago was written by a man who spent one weekend in the kitchen of a top-notch restaurant in New York. Piece of cake he thought. After burning his arms many times, being yelled at constantly, ruining the appetizers deemed his job, he wrote that he would never never never think about the glamour of that position again. The article was great for he was a good enough writer to bring it all to life. He wouldn’t have been that good if he hadn’t been there.

So, I’m starting my list. What are the things I really know about and can write with some confidence? Then, what do I need to learn? Learn not on the Internet, not from sitting around a table and hearing a tale--but, really learn.

And you? What’s your list of 1) what you have done for your story, and 2) what would you like to do for the next book?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kari's Kave: Featuring Mystery Author Patricia Deuson























Today we have an exciting treat for you...Mystery Author Patrica Deuson. She's here to tell us about her road to publication, and her fabulous new mystery SUPERIOR LONGING. Take it away Patricia :-)

Queries from Africa

My path to publication began in Africa. While I began writing sporadically after our return stateside from Cairo, Egypt, I had no thoughts about where it could lead, I just did it. On our second post in Africa, this time to Niamey, Niger, I continued to write, still with no thought that my writing should be anywhere but on my computer. By the time we moved to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, I had written an entire book and decided I wanted to be published.

So I sent a lot of queries across the ocean to all parts of the US. I didn’t get a lot of answers back, but the few I did get turned me down flat. Just wanting to be published wasn’t enough. I didn’t really find this discouraging, but took it as a bit of a challenge and continued to write and query as we moved to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. More rejections followed than ever before! Was this a good sign? By the time we got back to the states again, I’d written the second book in the series. I thought it might be easier to market because I knew more about writing and because I was now living where the action was. But no.

Then I happened upon the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. I entered and made it to the second cut. This really didn’t mean much, but it meant something to me.

I took that second book, edited it six ways from Sunday and rewrote, rewrote, rewrote and polished and polished. I also redid my query letter. I wasn’t very good at querying and knew it, so I worked hard on that. Then I began to send it around. It would be nice to say that there were no more rejections, but there were. Lots. However, I did get 2 offers, almost simultaneously. One was for a print book and one was for an e-book. Since this was a little more than a year ago, ebooks weren’t quite the market force they are now, but even then I knew I wanted an ebook. I went with Echelon Press. Superior Longing is the second in the Neva Moore mystery series. I’m working on the 3rd now and have done quite a bit of work on the 4th.

Here’s a synopsis:

Life is what happens when you're looking elsewhere. In the mystery, SUPERIOR LONGING, looking elsewhere is also dangerous. Sierra Nevada Moore is administrator/accountant/instructor/renovator-in-residence at Cooks' Inn, a cooking school newly relocated to the central Californian coast, and ready to open its doors. But will it? Not if her boss, Linnea Addams, keeps getting in the way of the perfectly fine opening Neva has planned. It’s not like they can afford a delay, as Neva, who keeps the books, knows too well. So it’s a kitchen face-off. Until Neva gets a call that changes everything.

Paul Beeton, her uncle and only relative, has drowned. The uncle to whom she owes everything. She will go to Michigan, to the shores of Lake Superior, to see him to his grave, no matter the consequence. Neva cobbles together a plan that is almost bound to fail and leaves, intending to return quickly. But as the details of Paul's death twist and turn, her pursuit of the truth weaves thru small town politics, smuggling, and superstition as she hunts Paul's killer to where it all began, back in the family and another death in an icy lake.

Look for Superior Longing, available 9/15/11, at these fine places: OmniLit.com, Smashwords, Kindle, Nook. Neva can be found at:

Her Blog

Her Facebook page

Thanks for stopping by, Patricia! Okay, folks, let's show her the love and bring on your comments and questions.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Anita's Attic: Awaken Makes the USA Today Best Seller List

I was headed to Cracker Barrel Thursday morning to meet my CP, Dana Rodgers for our monthly--or weekly--brainstorming over Momma's Pancake Breakfast, when my phone rang. I couldn't get it in time, so I checked voice mail and my editor said to call her back, she had good news to share. I was excited, thinking I must have made a list somewhere, but I was totally blown away when she told I'd made the NY Times Best Seller list. I almost had a cow. Hold on blog reader...as I found out later, my editor made a teensy mistake. In the meantime, I called my mom and my hubby, then I met Dana, who did a happy dance for me right there on the Cracker Barrel porch. I'd left a message for Christine, my agent, and when she called back she said she'd been told it was USA Today, not NY Times. Oops!

I called Sourcebooks, since my editor had called me while she was on vacation, and they confirmed that it was USA Today. Well darn and hallelujah at the same time. I called hubby to correct, and unfortunately he'd already posted it on Facebook and called everyone he knew. My mom had called her sisters. So we had to make some corrections, but still, I'm so thrilled. The book has only been out about three and a half months, so I'm amazed that it hit such a prominate list, even at #130. It was just above Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and just below Erik Larson and Stephanie Meyer. Whoo Hoo!!

I think the book was selling well even before my publisher put the ebook versions on sale for .99 for a week. But after the other ebook versions went back to regular price, Amazon kept the Kindle version at .99, and I'm sure that price tag is what boosted sales so quickly. Still, as someone pointed out to me, the readers could've chosen tons of other books for .99, but they chose mine. I owe so many people for the success of this book, one of whom is our own Kari Lee Townsend, for recommending me to our agent, Christine. I will forever be grateful!!! And I can't wait until we're all hitting USA Today and NYT lists.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Liz's Lair: Guest Blogger Cindy Carroll Talking High Concept Versus Logline



Please help me welcome my friend from Canada, Cindy Carroll. She teaches an online class on how to think like a Hollywood screenwriter and improve your novel. Here's her bio:

Cindy Carroll joined RWA in 1992 and started out writing novels but turned to scripts when an idea for one of her favorite television shows wouldn’t leave her alone. That first attempt, and her second teleplay for the same show, garnered her honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest 76th Annual Writing Competition in the screenplay category. She graduated from Hal Croasmun’s screenwriting ProSeries intensive in June of 2008. Her interview with David Rambo, writer/producer for CSI appeared in the summer special edition of The Rewrit, the newsletter for Scriptscene, Romance Writers of America’s screenwriting chapter. Currently working on the rewrite of her second feature, Cindy is also developing two new television pilots.

Take it away, Cindy.


First, I wanted to say thanks to Liz for letting me blog with her today.

You’ve heard the term high concept. You’ve heard the term logline. There was a time when these terms were considered just screenplay terms. But not anymore. Now, more and more editors are asking for high concept and they want you to pitch them a logline of your story. Some people think these terms are interchangeable. They’re not.

You can put every high concept in a logline but not every logline is high concept. Clear as mud? A logline is the essence of your story in 25 words or less:

To stop A, character B must do C, but D happens.

When A happens, character B must take some action (C), but D happens.

Character A does something, then when A happens they must do C, but D happens.


But that doesn’t mean any of that will be high concept. High concept must have three things:

It must be unique. It must appeal to a wide audience. And it can be told in a single sentence and you can see the whole movie or book. So back to that logline. If it’s high concept you can convey the idea in a 25 word logline. But just because you can put the idea into one sentence doesn’t mean it’s high concept.

The logline for one of my works in progress is:

When an informant turns up dead, a by-the-book undercover cop models men's underwear to uncover the killer and stop a DVD pirating ring.

Not high concept by any means, but not all stories need to be high concept. They do have a better chance of selling but stories that aren’t high concept sell all the time.

Can you tell which of these movies are high concept and which are not? I’ll give you a hint there are three of each.

Star Wars

Head Over Heels


Liar Liar

Twilight

Little Miss Sunshine
The Blair Witch Project


I talk more in depth about loglines and high concept in my workshop Is That Hollywood Calling? - How Thinking Like a Screenwriter Can Improve Your Novel. Comment here to be entered to win a lecture packet. If you don’t win, don’t worry! There’s still time to register for the class at http://www.writersonlineclasses.com/?page_id=592.

Cindy

http://www.cindycarroll.com/blog
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCindyCarroll


Liz talking now: Practice your logline here, and we'll try to help. Remember, one commenter gets a free lecture packet.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Barbie Jo's Bunkhouse: Lola speaks

Hey cyber-friends! Lola here, and I’m blogging today because Barbie Jo is in a pre-end of summer-ready for some football-throw me a frickin’ bone and shut the front door meltdown! ( have you tried those new oreo creams, BTW? They are to die for!!)

I’ve put her through writing hell the past week or so, pushing her to finish her fabulous romantic comedy titled BET ON LOVE. Trust me when I say Barbie and I have worked well together and she’s just about done. Between me, the story, the family and her day job, Barbie Jo has been burning the candle at both ends leaving nothing but a puddle of melted keyboard (dirty dishes, over cooked meals aside) I’ve been very proud of her, even though at this moment she’s more fried than her hair after weeks in unseasonably high humidity! As the debut for BET ON LOVE gets closer we’ll be talking more about the characters and story. If you like romantic comedy, and who doesn’t enjoy that sweet twist of romance and laughter, then you’ll win big with this one! “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…until you bring her home to meet the family.” – and that’s all I’m sayin’.

Now back to the Barbie-licious meltdown. What happens when the whole cosmic universe seems to be working against you???? When no matter what you do, the pages just don’t come. I’m not talking writer’s block. I’m talking forces much stronger than that of our minds. I’m talking reality people!! And reality sucks. But raging storms, excessive heat and freezing cold will not stop a writer from doing what they love. Cranky spouses, hungry animals and no central air conditioning will not detour us from our ultimate goal of publication. Day jobs, sinusitis, tired achy bodies from a day spent at the local water park will not staunch the flow of creativity (at least that’s what my CP tells me when she escapes to my house with no A/C – but it’s working now…’somebody’ flipped the switch! grrr). Although, the sounds of our children crank calling Radio Disney might tend to put a damper on the evening. Seriously, WHO cranks Radio Disney??? (yes, I speak the truth. Those angelic little faces have been up to no good whilst we brainstorm, critique and formulate future endeavors). Oh no! is that a squad car out front??? whew! it's just Goofy. has it ever been confirmed what exactly Goofy is? dog, man, Mog, Dogma?

Alas, This is what Lola likes to call “The Writer’s Play-Cation” (not to be confused with placating) *LOL* pour me another one!! This is when, no matter what, you make the best of the situations around you, enjoying each and every crazy moment over your beverage of choice, and freaking run with it! Because you know what??? There’s a story in there somewhere. Or at least some damn good writing material if nothing else!!

I heard on the news the other morning that some no good, goody-goodies are on the lookout for hardworking parents and their “adult sippy cups” which they tote sporting events and children’s playdates. Well who died and left them in charge??? These people have NO idea what It’s like to try to keep your own sanity while you nurture, love and break up fights between your children! These people obviously don’t know the importance of adult interaction and what it means for the creativity of the adult writing mind when engaged in stimulating conversation over “beverages”, or to support their children’s activities and enjoy a choice beverage at the same time. These types of people will never “get it”, because they are not like us – the writer who wants to do it all and can!

So stand proud fellow writers! We WILL persevere through the crazy, the meltdowns (with or without A/C), the joys of sippy cups and water parks and various sporting events (child and adult variety). We will continue to produce the stories our fans-present and future will love for years to come. We ARE writers. It’s what we do.

**My name is Lola, and I approve this message.*

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cassy’s Corner- Dependency

It’s a little after 5 am and I’m writing today’s post. Well, I’m writing it in Word and hoping it will be online before too long. If this is late, I offer my apologies. My father was hospitalized over the weekend and I’ve been north to the family house since Monday. All is going as well as it can---- EXCEPT---- I got up early this morning to write my blog posting and there was no Internet connection. My parents are pretty darn savvy with their technology doings and usually there is no problem. But, it’s early in the morning and I can’t wake my mother to use her computer. Dad is in the hospital and not available until they turn the phones back on. Oh, and today is my birthday, so at the ripe old age I am, I’m sitting here waiting for my parents to help me out and figure why I can’t log onto the Internet and get this post off to all of you.

What does this mean? It got me thinking about dependency. What are the things we must have in our lives to feel as though the world rotates appropriately?

Some need coffee, not for me but I get it.

Some need chocolate, also not for me, but go for it.What do I need?

As of 5 am this morning, I panicked. I need the Internet. I poured some juice, took a deep breath and decided that I was okay. The Internet would return. And it has.

Tell me. What are the things that drive you nuts and you absolutely can’t do without? We all have our lists. What is yours?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kari's Kave: "I'm a National Bestselling Author!"

"I'm a National Bestselling Author!"

Those are the words my editor told me yesterday, and I am still in awe and shock and disbelief. Words we dream about, words we strive for, words we work our butts off to achieve....and then pray our efforts pay off. I simply never imaged those words would apply to me this soon.

This journey has been a long one for me. I wrote for 14 years before I sold, and 3 of which were with my agent. Just when I was about to give up, she landed me two 3-book deals at two different houses just 5 months apart.

But selling is just the beginning!

Selling is hard enough, but staying sold is even harder! No matter how big or small your publisher is, you still have to work very hard to get the word out. I've learned that the hard way. Start early and make a plan, then put yourself out there and be "everywhere!" Especially as a new author.

I love cozy mysteries, but this was my first attempt at writing one. I knew my idea was fun and would probably be appealing, but pulling off an actual mystery is not easy. You never know what will do well and what won't.

So cheers to all of you for supporting me and following me on this crazy, insane journey. Hope to see you on the shelves soon :-)

Now I'm taking a break and taking my kids to a water park for the day for some much needed fun in the sun! It's 2 hours away so if I don't chime in, you'll know why :-) My kids need me, and my brain needs a break!

Happy reading and writing!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Anita's Attic: Weddings and Vacations

I'm writing this on the way back home from a week in the Adirondacks. We went for my husband's best friend's wedding which was held at their summer place there. We had no TV or email, and finding cell service reguired an elaborate phone dance, walking in zig zag patterns, hand raised in the air, then freezing mid-step when a bar appeared, only to fade as soon as the phone started to ring.

At first, I was thrilled to get away from email and blogs, until I realized that I may have inadvertantly sent my copy editor the wrong version of Embrace the Highland Warrior before I left. I wasn't able to call or email her to verify, so I had several hours of horror, imagining an old, error-riddled version of the book hitting the shelves. I was finally able to drive several miles into the nearest town so I could get a cell phone signal to call her. What a relief to know that the correct version was going to the printer. After that, I settled down and relaxed.

The place was beautiful, an old cabin on the Upper Seranac lake with a huge old boathouse, woods filled with white birch trees, pine needles, and moss. I have some strange obsessions. Moss and pine needles are two of them. There's something so magical about moss. It makes me think of elves and fairytales. Mirrors are another obsession. I only mention them because just before I started this blog, my dear husband of nearly fourteen years actually threatened to drive off and leave me at the TJ Maxx in Syracuse if I dared buy the mirror I was drooling over. We have a LOT of mirrors in our house. I love decorating, and I use mirrors where other people would use artwork, so an added bonus to this week was when after a random comment about how I'd love to have a couple hundred dollars to dress up the room in the boathouse where the bride and the bridesmaids would get ready, the groom's mother (who owns the place) asked if I was serious and handed me a wad of cash. Whoo Hoo! I got to shop and decorate on someone else's dime. And she sent some of my purchases home with me.

Even though I was helping get things ready for the wedding I found myslf so inspired to write. I would enthusiastically work on a scene, then rush off to clean or decorate a room, then rush back and write some more. I guess it was all that fresh air, or maybe the magical moss, but the ideas just started flowing. I fixed several plot points and had a moment of sheer bliss, when I was blindsided by one of those fantastic plot twists that sometimes hit when you least expect them.

I wish I could've spent several days there just writing. But vacations end,and so do lovely weddings. And this one was beautiful. Too much food, and we danced until our feet ached. I actually danced with my 13 year old son for the first time. It was so sweet. My 10 year old daughter was of course on the dance floor all night. Now, I'm back home, immersed in email and blogging and all the stuff that goes with writing. I found another pleasant surprise waiting. My mother, a true saint, had painted my kids bedrooms, a job I had been procrastinating for two years. I just hope I don't lose the inspiration I found there, so I can get this third book done. Yes, I decided I'd better leave the mirror in Syracuse...for now. But I'll find one here, hang it on the wall and see how long it takes hubby to notice.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Liz's Lair: Getting the Call



Anyone who has ever sent off a submission to an agent or a publisher dreams about getting the call. If you're like me, you assumed it would happen a few days after you'd sent in the submission, and the agent/editor would gush over your story and promise you a place on the bestsellers list in three months.

Seriously, I really believed that. I knew my writing didn't totally suck and the plot line of my story was decent. I looked up agents in Publisher’s Marketplace and decided on an agent from California.

Anyway, it seemed like I had been writing my Colombia story, SHATTERED DREAMS forever, and I wondered if I really knew how to finish a book. So, I tried my hand at a much shorter YA titled NEXT DOOR TO AN ANGEL? Because it involved an undercover cop in a small-town high school, it was rejected all over New York.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I printed out a copy of this wonderful story and shipped it off to this California agent who specialized in TV and movie deals. I can already hear you snickering. I received a really nice rejection letter from him, bursting my dream call bubble. Looking back, I can tell you the man was truly gentle on me. Years later when I revisited the story, I decided I should be crowned the queen of head hopping.

Anyway, I tell you this story to show you the beginning of many rejections to come—some really nice and some generic. By this time I had finished my Colombia story and was not having luck with that one either—until Kelly Ferrara called me one morning. I remember that conversation like it was yesterday.

Kelly: "I read your manuscript, and it made me cry. You really have a talent with characterization. I loved your story, and I'd like to offer you representation."

I can promise you, it's worth the wait to hear someone say they love your story. Unfortunately, Kelly, who was a partner at Book Cents Literary, Inc., didn't have much luck selling SHATTERED DREAMS, either, and nine months later, she left the agency to pursue a personal goal. That's when her partner, Christine Witthohn, inherited me. I remember the first time I met my curly haired, live–wire agent. It was instant chemistry, personality wise. Now all we had to do was sell a book together. Two years and 5 months and three completed manuscripts later, I remember picking up the phone.

Christine: "This is the call."

Me: "The call?"

Christine: "Yes. We got an offer."

I must've screamed bloody murder because my husband came running in from the other room.

Me: "They want three books," I told him.

Then he kissed me. I couldn't have scripted it any better.

So now I want to hear about your call or about how you imagine it will be. Get creative. It's only us having fun. Give us your dream first call or tell us about your real one.

Before I leave you, I want to tell you about another call I got a few days ago that made my heart swell almost as much as both of the calls I shared with you. It was from my three-year-old grandson.

"Nana, I pooh poohed on the potty."



How great is that?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Barbie Jo's Bunkhouse: Meet Elizabeth Edmondson



Happy Friday everyone and please help me welcome to M&M, fellow Book Cents author, Elizabeth Edmondson. Elizabeth is the author of several period mysteries set in the turbulent world of pre- and post-war Europe, weaving together lives, art, and love against a background of deadly secrets and the deepening shadows of fascism and communism. Her books have been translated into several languages.

She joins us from the UK, and is trying to spread the word about her new book DEVIL'S SONATA, a spooky gothic tale surrounding a possessed violin. Wow...it's got me hooked!

Let's listen to Elizabeth as she fills us in on how the story came to be. Take it away Elizabeth!


LEAD INTO GOLD:

It’s odd how books evolve. Once I’d got the notion of a violin possessed by the spirit of a violinist from the eighteenth century, I knew that the violinist was a young woman. A prodigious player, whose abilities weren’t God-given, but came from an entirely different source. So it was natural that the violin and its powerful gift of good and evil would pass to another young musician in the present day.

I decided, or rather it was decided for me in the way that the writing mind decides these things, that the violin had been walled up more than two hundred years ago in the wing of a great house, formerly an abbey.

These days, families don’t live in houses of this size, and so I turned the abbey into a school. A school in a remote part of the north of England, surrounded by great hills, a world of its own. A boarding school.

English boarding schools in literature range from the historically awful – Dotheboy’s Hall in Nicholas Nickleby – to the improbably jolly in Enid Blyton’s school stories, to the most famous boarding school of them all: Hogwarts, the educational establishment attended by Harry Potter.

As far as I know, JK Rowling didn’t actually go to boarding school, although her brother went to a famous Catholic one. Had she been at a boarding school, and disliked it as much as some of us did, she might not have been able to create Hogwarts in such an appealing way.

I loathed boarding school. I loathed the routine, with every minute of your day accounted for. I loathed having to be with other people all the time, and used to lock myself in the lavatory for a peaceful read. I hated getting up and into a cold bath and a brisk walk around the extensive grounds before a meagre breakfast. I detested games: icy afternoons with bare legs in sub-zero temperatures, a lacrosse stick clenched in frozen fingers – oh, the misery.

So why set a story in a boarding school, given that I was writing a gothic mystery and not a gothic misery memoir?

Schools are different now. A modern boarding school is a well-appointed, pleasant place with excellent facilities and a relaxed atmosphere. And a modern school, located in an old abbey with centuries of history contained within its majestic walls, provides a wonderful backdrop to a struggle between good and evil as an ancient curse begins to wield its baleful influence on both staff and students.

I like books set in an enclosed environment, especially when it’s an unusual, not to say exotic one. Another plus for the school setting is the way the school year and the school day give you such a neat structure. Characters, plot and action are bound by the unity of place. Classrooms, lecture halls, the theatre, the music school, the head’s office, the gym, the games fields, the boarding houses form a self-contained world that you can draw the reader into, a world in which, like EM Forster’s past, they do things differently.
And, given that this is my school, my invention, and I can have it any way I like, it has a haunted chapel, a Great Hall, an old library, cloisters, and a magnificent Venetian Wing.

You won’t find Beauregard Abbey in any guide book, but I could take you over every inch of it, pausing at a practice room here to listen to Arabella’s dazzling artistry on the violin, eavesdropping at the staff room door to hear the gossip, dropping into the theatre to watch a rehearsal of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, tiptoeing after the sixth-formers as they break bounds to celebrate Hallowe’en on nearby Dancing Hill.

I loved writing a big spooky mystery, I loved creating a school that was nothing like the one I went to, and I loved throwing all my characters into this strange and dangerous situation and finding out how they coped. So, in the end, the alchemy of writing transformed the lead of boarding school into something very different – the gold of a world worth spending time in.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm totally sucked in! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of DEVIL'S SONATA!! If you want to find out more about Elizabeth Edmondson and her books, check out her website at www.atticabooks.com/attica

And if you're like me and can't wait to get your hands on DEVIL'S SONATA, here are the links to get your own copies:

http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Sonata-ebook/dp/B005CRRTOG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1313099641&sr=8-2
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devils-Sonata-ebook/dp/B005CRRTOG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1313099720&sr=8-2
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/devils-sonata-elizabeth-edmondson/1100076375


Thanks for joining us on M&M Elizabeth! This sounds like a fantastic read!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cassy’s Corner- The New Year

Today I am picking up a bit on Kari’s posting of yesterday. I tip my hat to her with the incredible schedule she is under with the release of Tempest, her blogging to the point that I’m surprised she has fingerprints left, and its meteoric rise to the top of the charts. Yeah, Kari! She also brought up a couple of other points that I think are worth continuing.

First, the idea that those of us who work at home, or better said, “from home,” are some how at the beck and call of everyone in the world. Even the word “home” has the connotation of being at leisure rather than being at work. Those of us who are “at home” can tell stories ad nauseum. I don’t need to create the list we all know so well. But, I have to confess, I am part of the problem. I have trouble putting the skids on those who intrude.

I answer the phone, the door, the dogs’ need for attention, the appointments that somehow must be today, and…. It’s my fault. I have forgotten how to say, “Forget it. No!” I am so impressed that Kari is managing her release with all the other demands that never seem to disappear.

So, that’s the first point. The second one that stemmed from yesterday’s post is the sense of a new year. September has always been for me the beginning. Maybe that comes from having moved as a kid more times than I have fingers. But, I think it comes from the sense that with each new school, each new house, each new set of friends also came a new beginning. September was a time in which no one knew the history- the dorky thing I said out of turn, the ugly dress that I actually thought looked cool, the awful sandwiches I had with organic peanut butter my mother insisted on (everyone else had Skippy and grape jelly), it all was a new start.

August feels almost a burden. We have the incredible anticipation of summer as a free and easy time. Then it becomes hot, long and full of “have-to’s.” It somehow wouldn’t be summer without the barbeques, the trips to the beach, the sense of laziness. But, how can we be lazy with so much on the list to make it summer?

With that, I return to the new year. September is a glorious month in New England. It is full of color, energy and the sense of a fresh start.

Kari, thanks for yesterday’s comments. We will be watching your continued success. And, my copy of Tempest is right next to my reading lamp.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kari's Kave: Going...Going...Gone!

Okay, it's official! My brain has left the building.

I love my kids, I really do, but I have to admit....summertime kills me!

I wish I could take the summer off just to have fun. But that never happens. I take days off to have fun and "play" and weekends are always for fun, but weekdays are for work. Children don't "get" that. Just because Mom is home, does not mean she's not working.

I need to have a big sign made that says exactly that.

I still write at my desk in the formal living room. It's just far enough away so I can think straight, yet it's still upstairs so I can supervise. If I retreated to the dungeon in the basement to work, all "bleep" would break loose up here. Yet being "accessible" means the little monsters think they can interrupt me every, oh....SECOND!

I mean, I get it. The month of July is always nuts with lacrosse, and August is when football starts up, so it really only leaves a couple of weeks at the beginning of August to do any type of vacation. But still....most parents don't stay home all summer, they have jobs! And their kids have to learn to entertain themselves. Why is it kids don't take writing seriously as a job. It has to be because writers stay home. If only I could afford an office out of the house.

This summer especially has been hard because it coincided with my release day for Tempest. That involves an insane amount of time participating in my blog tour! So my question is, how do you all handle summer and children, family visiting, vacations, etc, and still get your writing done? I get up at 6 AM and try to work before everyone gets up, but it's still not enough. All I know is my brain is fried....gone for good. Or at least until September 7th when the kiddies go back to school.

Where's the schoolbus when you need it?











THIS is what a Blog Tour looks like! I'm only 2 weeks in and still have 3 weeks left and this is how much I've done so far! All of this takes tons of preplanning to set up and then tons of writing to and promoting and commenting to make successful. I think it's working, since I just found out Tempest is number 11 on B&N Mass Market Mystery List after being out just one week. So excited, but still...I have a new deadline I need to be working on, this book to promote, and distractions at home.

Writers are not HUMAN! We're superheroes! (copy and paste the links below if you want to check anything out. Darn links wasn't working for me)

Blog Tour Guest Posts & Interviews!

To request an autograph on your kindle (my author page) http://kindlegraph.com/authors/karileetownsend

RT Book Reviews Blog (Guest post) http://www.rtbookreviews.com/rt-daily-blog/mystery-month-author-kari-lee-townsends-psychic-heroine-gives-her-reading

Penguin Blog: The Author’s Desk (Guest Post 1) http://community.penguin.com/_Thats-My-Story-and-Im-Sticking-to-it-by-Kari-Lee-Townsend/blog/4987280/150186.html

Penguin Blog: The Author’s Desk (Guest Post 2) http://community.penguin.com/_Never-Judge-a-Book-By-its-Cover-RightWrong-by-Kari-Lee-Townsend/blog/4994192/150186.html

Penguin Blog: the Author’s Desk (Guest Post 3) http://community.penguin.com/_To-Tease-or-not-to-Teasethat-is-the-Question-by-Kari-Lee-Townsend/blog/4999753/150186.html

The Crime Scene: Penguin’s Facebook Page (Transcript of my author chat) https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=238236066209220

The Richmond Times Dispatch (Review) http://www.mytimesdispatch.com/index.php/bookbag/tea_and_felony/The

Killer characters Blog (Guest Post) http://www.killercharacters.com/2011/07/sunny-is-in-house.html

Femmes Fatales Blog (Interview) http://femmesfatales.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/07/an-interview-with-kari-lee-townsend.html

Cozy Mystery Challenge Blog (Guest Post) http://cozymysterychallenge.blogspot.com/2011/08/guest-post-and-giveaway-kari-lee.html

Babs Book Bistro Blog (Interview) http://www.babsbookbistro.net/blog/2011/08/guest-kari-townsend-book-giveaway.htmlKiller

Crafts & Crafty Killers Blog (Guest Post) http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com/2011/08/decorating-with-jeanie-guest-author.html?showComment=1312371216397#c8316245475617811825

Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews Blog (Q&A) http://sharonsgardenofbookreviews.blogspot.com/2011/08/five-questions-with-kari-lee-townsend.html

The Naked Hero Blog (Guest Post) http://thenakedhero.com/guest-kari-townsend/comment-page-1#comment-6623

Bea’s Book Nook Blog (Guest Post) http://beasbooknook.blogspot.com/2011/08/fine-art-of-book-promotion-guest-post.html

Freda’s Voice Blog (Interview) http://fredasvoice.blogspot.com/2011/08/114-tempest-in-tea-leaves-kari-lee.html

Dames of Dialogue Blog (Interview) http://damesofdialogue.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/kari-lee-townsend-answers-the-dames%e2%80%99-dozen/

Dru’s Book Musings Blog (Guest Post) http://notesfromme.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/my-day-sunshine-meadows-by-kari-lee-townsend/


Blog Tour Reviews!


Genre Wench (July 8) http://genrewench.blogspot.com/2011/07/tempest-in-tea-leaves.html

Bab’s Book Bistro (July 9) http://www.babsbookbistro.net/blog/2011/07/new-review-tempest-in-the-tea-leaves-by-kari-lee-townsend.html

Murders and Mysteries (July 14) http://murdersandmysteries.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/review-tempest-in-the-tea-leaves/

Nora Adrienne’s Reviews (July 18) http://noraadrienne.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/340/

Stuff and Nonsense (July 28) http://marlyn-stuff.blogspot.com/2011/07/just-finished-reading_28.html

Pudgy Penguin Perusals (August 2) http://kayespenguinposts.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-giveaway-tempest-in-tea-leaves.html

The Merry Go Round Reviews (August 2) http://harstan.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/tempest-in-the-tea-leaves-kari-lee-townsend/

RT Book Reviews (August Issue) http://www.rtbookreviews.com/book-review/tempest-tea-leaves

Lori’s Reading Corner (August 5) http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/2011/08/giveaway-tempest-in-tea-leaves-by-kari-lee-townsend.html

The Mystery Bookshelf (August 6) http://themysterybookshelf.blogspot.com/2011/08/tempest-in-tea-leaves-book-review.html

Book of Secrets (August 8) http://www.bookofsecretsblog.com/2011/08/cozy-mystery-monday-review-and-giveaway.html

Bea’s Book Nook ((August 9) http://beasbooknook.blogspot.com/2011/08/dual-review-of-tempest-in-tea-leaves-by.html

Freda’s Voice (August 9) http://fredasvoice.blogspot.com/2011/08/114-tempest-in-tea-leaves-kari-lee.html

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Anita's Attic: Guest Post by Casey Crow - Which Direction Are You Taking Your Career?


Most of you ladies here may remember Casey Crow. We first met her at RWA in DC a couple of years ago. She's been kind enough to guest blog for me while I'm on vacation. Tell us a little about yourself, Casey.

Casey Crow is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from the University of Alabama with degrees in Business Management and Dance. She received her Master of Business Administration from the University of Mobile. In addition to being a pageant coach, Casey writes erotic and spicy contemporary romances with the tagline “Sexy, Southern & Sassy.” Visit her at http://www.caseycrow.com.

Take it away, Casey.

I’ve been diligently writing a little over two years and a published article in RWR (Romance Writers Report) and the launch of my website www.caseycrow.com in 2010, I turned my hobby into a career. Having been at this a short enough time to “fix” things and long enough to figure out what needs fixing, I find myself reflecting on things concerning the establishment of my career. Some things I’m glad about, but of course there are plenty of things I wished I’d done differently. The main thing to keep in mind for new writers is you are developing a long-term, comprehensive marketing planning. One of the first decisions is which direction you want to take with your career.

Working Top to Bottom vs. Bottom to Top - By “top,” I mean the traditional, big New York publishers. This was the route I chose, which typically takes longer to get published because most require agent submissions. That means you first spend time querying and obtaining and agent, then wait on editors. I spent nearly a year querying agents. I got one and after nine months with her, we parted ways after she could not sell my manuscript as mainstream. Obviously, I moped around for a week feeling like I’d wasted almost two years of my life, but once my mentor, the fabulous 2011 RITA finalist Cynthia Eden (NEVER CRY WOLF, Kensington Brava), gave me a pep talk, I was back in business. Not only did Ms. Eden reaffirm my writing abilities, but pointed out my agent had targeted mainstream when focusing on the spicier lines might have worked better. I hadn’t considered that possibility as I never sat out to write hot sex, but really, there are worse jobs to have, you know? Now, I’m targeting spicier lines and have already sold my first book CAN’T FAKE THIS to Loose, Id. (Dec. 2011). Other projects are with some e-pubs and the few New York publishers that accept unagented manuscripts. I don’t regret my time searching for and working with an agent. It fit my personality and career plan. However, others prefer the opposite route.

Some author friends who joined RWA about the same time as I did have been published numerous times by various e-publishers. A few of their books have gone into paperback, as well. Several use different e-pubs with the same genre, mainly to compare sales and the editorial process. Their reasoning for starting from the bottom - top (and again, this does not reflect on the quality of the work or publisher) is they are laying the groundwork for New York. They hope to build awareness of the publishing process, contract negotiations, and most importantly, name recognition. Once they have a solid fan base with firm sale numbers, they believe they will have a better chance at landing an agent and thus, a three-book advance through a top house. Other factors play into this as well. For example, in regards to personality, does the author want the additional stress of writing two other books on deadline? If she already has a full time job and is happy in her career, she may not want, can, or need to devote several hours a day to writing. One author said, “I don’t want a print pub because I like the flexibility of writing what I like, and I don’t want an agent because I don’t want to be pressed to write too much.” E-publishers afford less pressure with since most manuscripts are sold without prior commitment to a three-book deal.

Another reason to go with e-pubs is turnaround is typically faster. Waiting for an agent and/or top house can take months, but in the long run, you have the glory of going into the bookstore and seeing your name beside best sellers. Of course, that’s possible for e-books too, as some go to print after a certain time. E-published authors feel instead of waiting to hear back from a top editor, their time is better spent not only getting published online, but also building a fan base and making money. The printed book that may come later is a bonus.

It’s important to mention that some writers are so intent on seeing their name in print, they will sign with the first company that comes along, often without checking the credibility of said publisher. Some pretty much take “whatever” while others (the more credible ones) only accept truly well-written manuscripts. Do your homework!

Other authors self-publish then sell on Amazon’s digital press or similar sites. They are solely responsible for cover design, editing, and marketing, but don’t have to split their proceeds with another publisher. The risk is the payoff can be hugely profitable or nearly nil. Some authors find this option viable for manuscripts they simply can’t sell for whatever reason, but it’s also a great way to get one’s backlist out there

Regardless of the direction you chose, it’s crucial that you continue to write and be ready to present your next book to the public soon after the first one comes out. Doing so will keep your name in the limelight and build its recognition better than anything else.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Liz’s Lair: Cracking Myself Up


When I wrote my very first book one hundred years ago (seems like it!) I was still chasing romance. Although Shattered Dreams has a beautiful love story that made even my agent cry (trust me..that's a feat!!) it still has danger and suspense. It's not a true mystery since you know who the bad guys are all along. It's not a RS since it breaks too many rules. It’s just the book of my heart to this day. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that when I was writing it, I went for the emotional heart strings and not so much the humor. It has its make-you-smile moments, but it's not what I would call ha-ha funny like some of my later work. (Okay, I admit it. I laugh at my own jokes!!)

I remember being in the shower several times and thinking about all the heartache I’d put my characters through, and the tears would roll. How could I do that to them? I’m tearing up now just thinking about it. This story, BTW, will probably go up on Amazon since the whole world rejected it. Who cares that there are two heroes or that it takes place in Colombia or that there are orphaned children involved?

Apparently New York!! But isn’t it great that we no longer have to live or die by their preferences? In yesterday's world, we were all authors. In today’s world we can all be published authors. Most of us will never be able to quit our day jobs, but so what? We can always dream.

I have strayed way off topic and probably should get back on track. Sometimes, I crack myself up. If I had to choose, I would say my ghost mystery series is my funniest manuscript, mainly because it's about five sisters, one of whom dies and comes back to help them solve her murder. Now, in real life I have four sisters, just like my heroine and one of them died way too soon. TALK DEAD TO ME plays on these sibling relationships, but Theresa, my sister who died, is nothing like Tessa, my ghost. Tessa is so smart mouthed, she says everything I sometimes want to say to people, but my Catholic upbringing stops me short.

I decided it would be fun if you all posted a “short” excerpt from one of your stories to show how you do humor. Do you crack yourself up sometimes? Here’s one from my ghost story. As a side note, this is the story that my editor loved but couldn’t use since she wanted a cozy. She’s still thinking about, though. To set it up, Lainey is the host of a TV show in Savannah and is in town for the funeral when she gets guilted into staying to help her sister find out who killed her. She is dressed all sexy and in a bar to see if she can get any information out of an oilman from Houston who just might be the killer. She’s nervous because she has no idea what this guy looks like, and she's never done this before. She nearly bolts before Tessa finally shows up. The bold dialogue is the ghost.

“Thank God!” Lainey exhaled noisily when she turned to see Tessa on the stool beside her. “Where in the hell have you been?”

I can’t control when I show up. It just happens.

“Yeah, well, good thing you did. I was about to haul butt out of here. Carrie told me to check out Quinton Porter, and I have no clue if he’s even in here.”

The guy at the end of the bar all alone. I swear, that jerk couldn’t score in a monkey whorehouse with a bagful of bananas.

Lainey turned in time to catch the cowboy staring at her, probably wondering who she was talking to. “The one in the hat?” she asked, trying not to move her mouth as she smiled at Porter.

Yep. That’s one dude I’d like to see well hung.

Lainey’s eyebrows hitched. “Well hung? You said he was a creep.”

He is. In his case when I say well hung, it means I can barely slip my finger between his neck and the freakin’ noose.

Okay, show me what you've got. I’ll ask my fellow blog mates to help me choose the one we think is the funniest. That lucky person will receive an ARC of LIVER LET DIE.

Go for it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Barbie Jo's Bunkhouse: Freak the Freak Out!!!

well, par for the course of this wretched, horrible week...I had half of my blog post written when I "apparently" hit the wrong key and the whole darn thing disappeared!!!!! So tell me, WHAT is the point of blogger "saving" my draft every few minutes (I mean, it TELLS me at the bottom of the post the last time it saved) when I use the shortcut to produce the draft and it's B.L.A.N.K.!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING???????? Yes, I'm freaking out. But that's not the reason for the post.

I'm actually freaking out for a totally different reason. As I watch the people around me, finish and edit their stories, work on promotion and still keep up with the dog days of summer and family committments.....I look at my own crazy life (which I love, really) and wonder, HOW am I going to do this when my time finally comes????

I have so many "open" projects right now. Stories that need to get out. 2 are a pretty high priority, and 2 are older stories that I plan to self-pub whenever the planets align and all is right with my crazy world. And then there are the new ideas that taunt me when I least expect it. They want to be written too, but there is only one of me - and lately the brain is pretty fried by the end of the work day. so how am I going to get this stuff done???

I'm taking some time off next week to be the taxi for my children and their various sports camps, but I'm hoping I get in some good quality writing time. I need to because I'm not sure how else I can make a dent in it all. Maybe I can finish up one of the projects, but I certainly can't write an entire book!!

Again, as I sit here freaking out I KNOW when my time comes (no matter how much I freak out) I will do what needs to be done to get the job done. I may have a nervous breakdown in the process, but what better way to get quality writing time??? A private room in a hospital sure beats a rubber room in a looney bin!

This business is so hard to break into and even harder once you're there! Everything is so important. I mean, really, a trip to the looney bin could totally happen! I try not to think about it, but I have to be realistic with myself. I've wanted this ultimate goal for so long and I've been so close so many times, I really feel the prize is right around the corner. And then what??? Ugh, maybe I'm just having a midlife crisis? LOL.

What things make you freak out? And what do you do to get past them and back to normal?