Sunday, April 29, 2012
Three words --OMG!!!
Now mind you, I'm used to RWA conferences where there are about 2500 or more writers, editors, and agents. I’ve attended quite a few of these over the years and loved every one of them – – and learned a potload of craft information as well. Anyway since I decided I was actually a mystery writer (thanks to an agent who knows her stuff!) I have been to 2 Crime Bakes, and they were a blast. In February I went to Love is Murder in Chicago, and it was my first taste of a conference with mystery readers as well as writers.
That was a blast,also, and quite possibly was the reason I sold my paranormal mystery series to Terry Bischoff of Midnight Ink (see earlier blog.) But back to Malice, it was a much bigger conference than the Chicago one and probably had 300 readers attending with almost that many authors. And get this – – this one is geared to cozy mysteries only. Holy cow!
I arrived at the Baltimore/Washington Airport where I met my CP, Joni Sauer-Folger. We picked up our rental car and headed to Bethesda (about a 45 min. drive.) The Hyatt was already overflowing with all the conference folks, and I quickly began hugging old friends and meeting new ones. That night, Kari and I went to Ruth Chris Steakhouse with all the Berkley people, and I got to meet my editor, Faith Black, for the first time. She's just as wonderful in person as she is on the Internet. And God, is she ever fun to be around. It was a wonderful spread put on by the Berkley folks, and I got to rub noses with a lot of the authors.
After dinner the party ended up in the room I shared with Joni, Kari, and Christine (our agent!) I forgot to mention that both Kari and Christine drove to the conference and came prepared. We had snacks galore, fruit, veggies, sodas, water, Bailey's, vodka, coconut run, wine, and tequila, and to celebrate Joni’s sale we all did shooters. The party went on until 2:30 AM with all of us eating and drinking way too much.
Did I mention that Kari and I had to get up at 5:30 AM since we had to be downstairs for the debut author's breakfast? Crap! This old lady’s butt was dragging big time. Each of us hosted a table of readers and were supposed to have something small to give them. Being the clever gal that I am, I decided to make Crème de cocoa peanut butter fudge from a recipe in book 3 of my Clueless Cook series. I had made it a few weeks ago, and it was to die for. Somehow, this batch didn't want to get hard. (Get your minds out of the gutter!) So, again being the smart girl I am, I put the 10 individually wrapped blocks of fudge with their own adorably packaged units in one of the coolers to try to harden overnight.
You guessed it. The fudge got all wet and yucky, but it still tasted fantastic, so I gave it out anyway – – and promised all the people at my table that I would send them one of my bigger promotional items once I got back home. That stupid fudge ended up costing me a fortune (promotional items and mailings) and quickly got labeled F-Up fudge. Thankfully, people who drink a lot of alcohol will eat anything, and I managed to get rid of it all – – sending the final chunks with Jessie Chandler, a Midnight Ink author who obviously is a pretty big chocoholic
Saturday night was the banquet, and as usual, the food was mediocre. I don't know why conference planners all over the world can’t come up with a nice salad plate, or loaded baked potatoes or something equally yummy. Unfortunately, Kari didn’t win the best first novel, but she's a winner in my book just for getting nominated. I happen to know another debut author who didn't even make the short list – – and frankly, I'm still pretty ticked off about that!!
Anyway, the party again moved to our room where we attempted, without success, to finish off all the liquor. We went to sleep again at 2:30, but this time we slept until 10 the next morning.
The highlight of the conference was getting to party with both my editors. I’ve already mentioned how much I love Faith. Terry is just as fantastic.
Once again, I connected with Mary Lee and Anita, the writing team of Sparkle Abby, and we planned for them to come to Dallas to sign with me this summer. They write the Pampered Pet mysteries for Bell Bridge books, and they're both adorable.
Here's the T-shirt that Terry gave me to welcome me to the Midnight Ink family. I can't wait to wear it tomorrow.
But the very best thing was rooming with Kari, Joni, and Christine. We giggled like teenagers, told a few secrets, and giggled some more. As I predicted in last week’s blog, I slept with a girl – – girls – – and I liked it. I'm already planning for next year's conference. Anyone want to go with me?
And because I'm still feeling the love from both my editors, from all my peeps, and from the fans, I'm giving some back. All you have to do is comment and say hey, and you may win an arc of BSO. If you’re real sweet, I might even send some of my FU fudge – – just kidding—Jessie took it all!
Friday, April 27, 2012
Thank you Tiffinie Helmer for tagging me as part of a Lucky Seven blog! This is going to be really fun, and a great opportunity for me to speak about my current work in process. According to the Lucky Seven rules, I get to post the 7th line from the 77th page of my manuscript. I'm going to use my current WIP, a romantic suspense titled Twist of Fate (At least that's the title right now, LOL).
To give you a little background on the story, Kate (my heroine) was in a car accident and lost her memory. Sam (the hero) found her, and believes her ex-husband's flunkies had something to do with the accident. Her ex has been linked to a local mob family. Until Kate's memory returns, she thinks she's married to Sam and he's continuing the charade as long as it takes to keep her safe. Sam and Kate have a history together and the feelings he thought were long buried start to return as danger surrounds them. They have just spent the day in town when Sam notices a suspicious van he thinks is following them. He suggests something to eat so they can get off the street.
If he succeeds in keeping her safe, can he succeed in keeping her heart?
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Anyway, I was sitting here thinking about how far I've come. So many times we doubt ourselves and worry if we can write another book, or even a first book, or finish whatever goal it is that we set for ourselves. But then when we sit back and really reflect on all we've done, we see we've really accomplished quite a bit.
In my case, I was worrying about being able to write another book, being able to have it do as well, being able to self publish, being able to write in other genres, etc. There's so much I want to do, that I sometimes doubt if I'll be able to do any of it. But then when I reflected on all that I have accomplished, I realized I've done quite a bit.
Tempest (I can't find the full cover) became a national bestseller and was nominated for an RT and an Agatha.
Book two, Corpse in the Crystal Ball, has already received a great 4 star review from RT, so I have really high hopes it will do as well, if not better, than book one.
Love my covers by the way :-) Berkley rocks at that!
Book three, Trouble in the Tarot is written, but doesn't have a cover yet. Can't wait to hear what my editor thinks of it. I had fun :-)
On top of that, I have my teen superhero series. My first Digital Diva: Talk to the Hand, was nominated for a Golden Duck Award and is now available on both the Kindle and the Nook, soon to be in print as well.
Not to mention, I'm still waiting to hear if the Family Channel wants to pick this up as a TV series. Now THAT would be amazing.
So when I finish that, I will have three teen books written and published.
So that makes three finished romances as well.
3 mysteries, 3 teen books, and 3 romances. At the end of the day, I guess I have accomplished quite a bit. I am proud of the books I have written, and I love writing in several genres. It keeps life fun and interesting and keeps me from getting bored :-) We live in such new and exciting times, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it all. So quit doubting yourself and look at all you've accomplished already. And all you plan to accomplish. And all the wonderful and exciting new adventures waiting for you right around the corner.
Good Luck! See you all after Malice where you can expect a full report next Wednesday!
PS I LOVE my self pubblished covers as well!!!!
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Whether you're published yet or not, have confidence in your abilities. Because you're a professional too.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
As I'm looking out at my own beautiful flowers (actual flowers, not my children!) the book just randomly popped into my head. I thought back to my interest in the book, it's wow-factor along with the 'forbidden' aspect at such a young age, and all of the books since then which have swept our nation from Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games, to the recent Shades of Grey phenomenon. Makes you wonder how many young girls are going to sneak the copy of their mom's book to read at night - that's how I read Flowers in the Attic! some of the girls at work have already said they have password protected their iPads so their daughter's won't get curious. EEEK!!!
While I'm thinking of this, I'm pulling in bits of information from Cassy's post yesterday and the great ideas from Art. Again.... wow-factor material. All of it. Just what you need to put some thought into an idea and really make it this unique piece of work. Something which stretches the limits, causes a stir and through word of mouth becomes the next big WOW.
We all have that potential. We are writer's for a reason and the creativity never stops. It might take a much needed vacation now and then when the muse becomes overloaded (cue the margaritas), but that vein is always within us, waiting to be explored. Why not work beyond our potential, not necessarily stepping out of our comfort zone but taking ourselves to that next level.
It's easy to get caught up with our current deadlines. But what about our own flowers in the attic? What about those stories we have sentenced to a file somewhere in the depths of our computers, or in a box in the closet? Having a back list is awesome, especially during this time of self-publication. But why not take a look at those forgotten babies and see if you can incorporate some of the elements Art spoke of? You could have a killer plot that is only in need of a little "something" to make it become that story readers can't wait to get their hands on!
So.....what's in your attic??
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Don't get me wrong...I have 4 kids, and watching kids being forced to kill each other to survive was hard. But in an odd way I could relate.
Desperation is a powerful thing.
We, as writers, want so badly to live the dream. We want to sell our books and share them with the world. Only, today's world is so different from the one we knew not that long ago. What will we do to live the dream?
Do we stick to our guns and write what we love no matter the cost? Or do we write multiple things to be everywhere? There are only so many hours in the day. Times are tough and it's so hard to make a living as an author. I repeat, I have 4 kids...3 of which are headed off to college one right after the other starting next year. A scary thought! I haven't prepared enough, and I'm nowhere's near ready financially.
So that takes me back to the word desperation.
In today's economy, we have to be everywhere. Self-pub, traditional pub, multiple publishers...it's insane. Lucky for me, I love writing in multiple genres, but not everyone does. Yet that scary word desperation may push people to write just about anything, even if it means walking away from something they love.
So tell me, how desperate are you? What would you do to sell or stay sold? Would you kill off any of your darlings to make it happen? Inquiring minds want to know...
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Last week I talked about my "strong words" list. It's so easy to use a mediocre word, but a stronger, more vivid word can speak so much louder. I mentioned "Walk" in my last post and some of the stronger word choices available. This brings up another issue for me.
I struggle with showing the characters' movement on the page. It drives me crazy. They're in this room, now they're in that, or they need to go from fighting a demon to crossing the room to confront the heroine for daring to get involved in the fight. I find I'm using "Walk" way too much, so I'm always looking for more ways to express my characters movements. Readers don't need to see every step the character takes, and there are ways to write the scene without that, but when you do need movements, they need to be well thought out.
If you want the movement to disappear on the page, kind of the way "said" does in dialog tags, then walk might be best word. But if you want to draw attention to the movement, show the emotion or motivation behind it; for instance he's storming across the room, or he's hobbling across the room, or strolling, then walk isn't the best word.
A couple of days after my blog, I got my daily writing tips from DAILY WRITING TIPS, a fun site that, as the name says, emails writing tips daily. This time they talked about various words for walk and their meanings, so I thought I would share. Several of these need to go on my "strong word" list.
When you walk the walk, talk the talk: Replace the flat-footed verb walk with a more sprightly synonym from this list:
1. Amble: walk easily and/or aimlessly
2. Bounce: walk energetically
3. Clump: walk heavily and/or clumsily
4. Falter: walk unsteadily
5. Foot it: depart or set off by walking
6. Footslog: walk through mud
7. Gimp: see limp
8. Hike: take a long walk, especially in a park or a wilderness area
9. Hobble: walk unsteadily or with difficulty; see also limp
10. Hoof it: see “foot it”
11. Leg it: see “foot it”
12. Limp: walk unsteadily because of injury, especially favoring one leg; see also falter
13. Lumber: walk slowly and heavily
14. Lurch: walk slowly but with sudden movements, or furtively
15. March: walk rhythmically alone or in a group according to a specified procedure
16. Mince: walk delicately
17. Mosey: see amble; also, used colloquially in the phrase “mosey along”
18. Nip: walk briskly or lightly; also used colloquially in the phrase “nip (on) over” to refer to a brief walk to a certain destination, as if on an errand
19. Pace: walk precisely to mark off a distance, or walk intently or nervously, especially back and forth
20. Parade: walk ostentatiously, as if to show off
21. Perambulate: see stroll; also, travel on foot, or walk to inspect or measure a boundary
22. Peregrinate: walk, especially to travel
23. Plod: walk slowly and heavily, as if reluctant or weary
24. Pound: see lumber
25. Power walk: walk briskly for fitness
26. Prance: walk joyfully, as if dancing or skipping
27. Promenade: see parade
28. Pussyfoot: walk stealthily or warily (also, be noncommittal)
29. Ramble: walk or travel aimlessly (also, talk or write aimlessly, or grow wildly)
30. Roam: see ramble
31. Sashay: see parade
32. Saunter: to walk about easily
33. Scuff: to walk without lifting one’s feet
34. Shamble: see scuff
35. Shuffle: see scuff (also, mix, move around, or rearrange)
36. Stagger: walk unsteadily (also, confuse or hesitate, or shake)
37. Stalk: walk stealthily, as in pursuit
38. Step: walk, or place one’s foot or feet in a new position
39. Stomp: walk heavily, as if in anger
40. Stride: walk purposefully, with long steps
41. Stroll: see saunter
42. Strut: see parade
43. Stumble: walk clumsily or unsteadily, or trip
44. Stump: see lumber
45. Swagger: walk with aggressive self-confidence
46. Tiptoe: walk carefully on the toes or on the balls of the foot, as if in stealth
47. Toddle: see saunter and stagger; especially referring to the unsteady walk of a very young child
48. Totter: see stagger (also, sway or become unstable)
49. Traipse: walk lightly and/or aimlessly
50. Tramp: see lumber and hike
51. Trample: walk so as to crush something underfoot
52. Traverse: walk across or over a distance
53. Tread: walk slowly and steadily
54. Trip: walk lightly; see also stumble
55. Tromp: see lumber
56. Troop: walk in unison, or collectively
57. Trot: see nip
58. Trudge: see plod
59. Waddle: walk clumsily or as if burdened, swinging the body
60. Wander: see ramble
Pretty good, huh! So if you're interesting in subscribing, here is the link for DAILY WRITING TIPS.
Monday, April 16, 2012
In 2008 in an effort to market their Kindle, Amazon lowered prices on some ebooks, sometimes even taking a loss. Apparently, they thought people would rush out and buy the kindle if they could download books at a lower price. No matter how you feel about that, you have to admit it was a pretty good strategy, and it worked.
Sometimes in early 2008, Steve Jobs contacted the NY publishers , and they had “secret” meetings trying to come up with a way to deal with this. They were losing money on their hardback covers and Apple was getting ready to introduce the iPad to the world. They came up with something called the “agency” model that set the prices for ebooks, preventing Amazon from lowering them.
Now here’s where I have a conflict with myself and my own opinion. My publisher was one of those who will not allow my ebooks to be discounted. While I am grateful that people are willing to pay the full amount to read my story on an ereader, I wonder how many more readers I would have reached if they could have gotten it cheaper. Who doesn’t love a good sale? I have several friends who saw their numbers skyrocket when their books were discounted. Granted, it may not have translated into bigger royalties, but still….
Then I remember my dismal income from writing last year, and I wonder if we are selling ourselves way too short by allowing our books to go so cheaply. I don't know about you, but it takes me a good 9 months to write a book. Couple that with promotions and other expenses, and I am probably in the tax bracket where I could receive food stamps.
Last week, after the DOJ filed the federal antitrust lawsuit, three of the five publishers chose to settle. I won’t even try to explain it. You can read it below and from your own opinions.
Under the Federal settlement, Harper, HBG and S&S promise for two years not to "restrict, limit, or impede an e-book retailer's ability to set, alter, or reduce the retail price of any e-book or to offer price discounts or any other form of promotions to encourage consumers to Purchase one or more e-books." They also "shall not enter into any agreement with an e-book retailer relating to the sale of e-books that contains a price MFN" during that period. Technically, it is at the retailer's option to cancel current agency contracts. All three are required to void any ebook contracts with Apple signed prior to the filing of the complaint within seven days, so presumably either their ebooks will exit the iBookstore or they will need to resign with Apple under some other business arrangement.
Best selling author, Scott Torow released a statement basically saying that by allowing Amazon to sell ebooks at a loss only hurts all of us. Read it here.
And here's PW take on it. It only adds to my confusion.
So what does that mean to me? I am fortunate enough to write for THREE houses. Berkley, Midnight Ink, and Liz Lipperman, LLC. Will it affect that somehow? Actually, I have no idea, but I do know that I won’t give up my choice to write for more than one publisher. Maybe my books won’t reach as many people, but it doesn’t matter. Today’s writer has many more avenues to get their stories out. We are no longer chained to what NY thinks will sell. I, for one, love the new publishing world we live in. I adore all three of my publishers and hope my relationship with them continues until I am so old I can no longer write. That's why I am watching what's going on out there and trying to figure out what my next move will be--or even if I need a next move.
So, what about you? Any thoughts? I would love to hear your take on all this.
An addendum: I just noticed JA Konrath is talking about this today, too. He explains it so much better that I do. Go here to see.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Hubby's GPS is about 4 yrs old. It doesn't notify you of traffic delays and every once in a while it "hiccups" and sends you in the wrong direction. But usually he's in familiar territory and knows enough that it's wrong and he corrects it himself. Apparently that was MY job. Well, we are in rush hour traffic right on the main drag of the university. GPS is sending us the same way we came, Hubby is telling me to look for signs, and I'm trying to pull up the APP on my phone so I can see about finding an alternate route or how the hell I can find the other bridge we're supposed to cross! Oh yeah...No. 1 son is calmly being the mediator from the backseat so HE doesn't have to drive home because Mom and Dad have strangled each other! Seems comical now, but at the time....not so much.
Enter Big Black Moment.
Hubby: which way am I going?
Co-Pilot: I don't know, this way I think.
Hubby: What do you mean you don't know? You have the nav. C'mon I need to know.
Panic sets in as we are at least going 60mph in traffic. I scan the nav, then look at the signs. Nav says 80 west. But the sign says New Haven. (hmm...as in CT? didn't the admissions girl say she missed her turn once and ended up in CT? is this what she meant or should we go that way?)
Co-Pilot: Stay in this lane. 80 west.
Before long we see signs for the G.W. Bridge and we are now in horriffic traffic! Yup, you guessed it, we should have taken the other way. the nav is taking us the same way we came! Hubby is NOT happy as you can now factor hunger into the equation. I, of course, try to find the humor in it. And am reminded our mine and hubby's first trip together to NYC before we were married. He decided to give up smoking on that trip, AND while being co-pilot we missed an exit! Ahh...memories!!! No. 1 son and I laughed. Hubby did not.
Well, we missed one more exit on this trip (I think my poor co-piloting skills were due to low blood sugar), we grabbed some dinner on the fly and ended up taking a scenic tour of NJ in order to get back on route through PA and back to NY. The co-pilot became the pilot for the last 2 hours of our trip, arriving back home over an hour behind schedule. Another fun adventure, and I enjoyed the one on one time with No. 1 son. A very long day, but a very successful trip.
A funny story, but it got me thinking. There are times in our writing careers where we start out as the co-pilot. We need others for support (critique groups) and we support them as well. We don't quite have that confidence to get behind the wheel. We make mistakes, and we learn and we build or confidence and before we know it we are taking charge. We are the pilot! We don't have to fly solo, even though many say that writing is a solo career, we can keep our support system but we understand that we are the pilots of our own writing destiny.
For those who feel you might still be sitting comfortably in the co-pilot chair....hang on, your chance to fly is coming!
Have a great weekend everyone!!!