Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- How do you Edit?


I’m in the middle of editing. I seem to spend a great deal of time worrying about the right tone, getting rid of my crutch words (very, must, actually, glimpsed) and figuring out what’s missing in my story.
For me there are multiple layers of editing. I do get caught up in line editing before it’s really necessary. I’ve been trying to figure out if that’s avoidance of the bigger picture or if that’s just (crutch word) where my head goes.
I’d like to start a discussion on how you edit. Mine goes like this.
I write on the computer. I have friends who don’t. They use pens and paper and then input their material onto the computer for transmission to agents and editors. I get that. The feel of the pencil or pen in hand creates a communication with the mind and the paper. I love to do that with notes I keep. Yet, when it comes to really putting the prose on the paper, so to speak, I need the computer.
But, it’s not done there. I have trouble correcting and editing on the computer. I print out everything. I should donate to the Preservation Society to replace the forests I have decimated with my need to create hard copy.
I edit on paper. I edit in colors. Red for needed tension. Blue for corrections of grammar or punctuation. Plain old pencil for comments to the author. After the stack of paper looks tattered and slightly dog-eared, I’m ready to go back to the computer and start the unpleasant task of inputting my comments. Of course they end up changing yet again as I hit the keys.
A new print out follows. A new hard copy read, many times out loud to my Golden Retrievers who listen with rapt attention. Rhythm, cadence, pacing. I try and hear all of that. Sometimes I even get it right.
Then, the changes begin all over. Yesterday I realized I had the same scene written in two tones, in the first quarter of the book and then again much later. Over writing! And, over editing.
I am a huge believer in trying to get it right. There is nothing worse than reading something with errors of detail, errors of grammar, and errors of plotting. Did she really jump out of the window when she was sitting across the room? Yup, I’ve done that before and thankfully caught it.
Having said that, maybe getting the writing on the page (or screen) is really what we are about. Changing it and making it perfect is absolutely important. Not to be compromised. Yet, as it has been said many times, “It’s difficult to fix a blank page.”
Jump in. How do you edit? What is your process?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kari's Kave: Memorial Memories

As I sit at my desk and get back to reality, back to work, I think about this past weekend. Memorial Weekend. And what a great time we always have.

The guys always sit out by the camper, "bonding," and talking about guy stuff I'm sure.
 The women always hang out on the patio, having margaritas and talking about "girl" stuff ... what is said on the patio stays on the patio :-)
 Some of the kids hang out by the pond, looking for fish and toads and snakes, while others ride the four wheelers through the trails.
 And some of the kids hang out by the pool, especially if the weekend is hot like this last one.
 Big kids and little kids combined play lacrosse and can jam. Basically, everyone has a great time. And at night, we sit around a bonfire, laughing and talking and relaxing.
Memorial Day means fun to most. But what we must never forget is why we are having so much fun. It's because of those brave and fearless soldiers who have fought and still fight for our freedom to laugh and play and relax. If it wasn't for their courage and sacrifice, so many things would not be possible.



So as I sit and write and do what I love to do, I give thanks to those strong brave soldiers still here and those who are gone but never forgotten. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making my dreams a possibility and for keeping myself and my loved ones safe.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Liz’s Lair: Vacationing With the Peeps

As you all know, I just got back from Key Largo after a week-long vacation with a group of women I love. Some, I’ve known for thirty years. We go every year and spend 7 days together…and we keep on doing it!!

This year, I found the house, and it looked absolutely magnificent in the pictures on the web. Not so much in person. It wasn’t bad, but it was arranged so strangely, it made it difficult. For instance, the pool was on the first floor while the kitchen was on the second. It actually had three stories which meant a lot of stair climbing. But like always, we made it work and had a blast. Here we are playing water volleyball. We stayed in the water most of every day, although there was one day when bad weather blew in, and I thought we would have to find an inner sanctuary to hide out in with mattresses over our heads.



We spend a day in the Florida Keys, and that was pretty cool. We ate at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, but sadly there was no JB sighting



We also ate one night in Jimmy Johnson’s restaurant (ex Cowboys’ coach and Fox sports team.) We missed seeing him by a day. We did go on a booze cruise and raised a glass to Bill, the man I had been dealing with about the house. He died three weeks before we got there. Here is the sunset from the boat. The creative me wants to believe Bill is looking down on us in the picture..



While I was there I read a pretty good book called Strindberg’s Star. It started slow but kicked it at a pretty good pace. It’s an International thriller that doesn’t let you catch your breath. I would give it 4 stars and recommend it to y’all.

And finally, here we are on the booze cruise. I love these women and got a whole lot of great material to use when I start working on the sequel to my ghost story. They come up with the damndest things!!


Anyway, I know this has nothing to do with writing, but sometimes there are things more important in life…like family. Today I spent the day swimming with my grandbabies. It doesn’t get much better than that.



And I couldn’t end without a shout out to all the men and women who have or currently are serving in the military and keeping us safe. That includes my hubby who earned a Distinguished Flying Cross in the Viet Nam war.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Villian delemma and Subplot drama

You all know I've been working on tweaking my romantic suspense. Originally when I wrote this story I totally fell in love with the bad guy and kind of redeemed him in the end. I knew he couldn't end up with the heroine, but I felt he deserved his own story...and to find love. Well, I remember my agent saying no. Here was our conversation:

Agent: "He needs to die."

Me: Whaaat??????

Agent: "You have to make him meaner and kill him off."

Me: Whaaatt???? But I like him, and I have a story planned out for him.

Agent: "You have to kill him."

Me: Okay.....

So, while I finished the story I had a post-it note on the corner of my computer screen that simply read: KILL HIM. But, the more nasty I added to his character, the easier it was to have him die in the end. But...(don't you hate those?), now that I'm making another pass through it (years later) and I'm adding a couple sub-plots to hopefully get rid of the category-feel....I'm loving my bad guy all over again!!!!

Just this week I was working on one of his scenes, and realized while he is greedy and power hungry, he's kind of become a victim of circumstance, and due to situations far beyond his control due to the VERY NASTY man he's working for, he can't get out. Things are snowballing and the very people he loves are going to be in danger. (which kind of runs parallel to the hero/heroine plot and at some point they will collide) While I know I can keep him bad.....I am feeling the need for him to have a story again! Hell, we all know he's not  going to end up with the heroine!! But maybe if I ship him off and give him diplomatic immunity or whatever it's called....he can take on a new identity, find a new (clean) life and live happily ever after!!!

Does that make sense? Do I have my rose colored glasses on too tight? OMG...does he REALLY have to die??

I'm going to keep working through the rest of the story and see how he develops. Maybe something will happen and I will feel the need to kill him. Things will start to get more intense and illegal where he's concerned. I'm not worried that the subplot will take over, as much as it has given me a different perspective on my villian.

Have you ever had a character who you were supposed to get rid of, but realized you couldn't?

What do you do when you fall in love with your bad guy? Can he be redeemable?

Enjoy the holiday weekend everyone! Remember our soldiers past and present. Travel safe and party responsibly!!



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kari's Kave: The Waiting Game...

I hate waiting. I'm normally a patient person, but when it comes to the publishing world, waiting drives me mad!

Waiting on offers...
Waiting on contracts...
Waiting on paychecks...
Waiting on edits...
Waiting on release dates...
Waiting on author copies....

Waiting....waiting...waiting....

You would think once you finally sell a book, you would get used to it. Not so. I still suck at waiting :-)

I am sooooooo excited that book two CORPSE IN THE CRYSTAL BALL comes out in two weeks! I can't wait to hold a copy of the actual book in my hands. There is nothing in the world that compares to that feeling...except maybe walking into a bookstore and seeing your pride and joy sitting on the shelves. Nope, not even that....NOTHING compares to holding the book you've worked so hard for in your hands for the very first time :-) Seeing all the hard work that an entire team of people have done finally come to life as a finished product.

And then more waing happens...

Waiting for the review to come in...
Waiting for sales numbers to come in...
Waiting to find out if it finaled in any awards...
Waiting to hear if it wins any of those awrads...
Waiting (and praying) that it does as well as the last book (or better :-)...

Waiting...waiting...waiting...

I don't care how long you've been in the business, it never ends.

So how do you all feel? What do you hate waiting for the most?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Anita's Attic: Ahhhhh!

This is going to be a short post. From my post last week you know that I had a manuscript to due. LAST WEEK. Well, my editor, at her suggestion, told me I could turn it in the next day, early or late, it didn't matter. I chose late, and I still needed a few hours, so I emailed and asked if I could send it the next morning. She offered Monday. Whee doggies! I was happy. I had shifted some things at the last second and you know what a nightmare that is for the rest of the manuscript. Things need to change everywhere. I switch one thing and realize something else would be better over here. And on and on.

So I've been working like a maniac to get it done. And of course there are the usual interruptions. Ball games. My Girls' Night Out event with Nora Roberts. House cleaning? Nah. Dinner? Take out. Breakfast? Take out. Sleep? What's that? So I just sent the manuscript off as I'm writing this post. Finally. But now I'm tormented over all the things that need to be tighter. My editor said not to worry. We can fix those in edits, but I hate turning in something if I feel like it isn't finished.

Now I wait to see if the developmental editor says the story even makes sense. But at least I can sleep. I think I'll actually change the sheets and sleep in pj's instead of my clothes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Liz's Lair...Encore Post!

As I said last Monday, this is an Encore post, but it's really relevant now.I've changed it up a bit to make it current.

In today’s world of self publication, we are entering new territory, and no one really knows what to charge for the stories we put up. We’re all learning, and sometimes it takes making a mistake to set us on the right track.

That’s the thing that is keeping me awake at night right now. Before I get into that, I want to take a look at what we know about self publishing. First off, let’s define it.

Self-publishing is putting your novel, short story, etc. available as a download and/or Print On Demand trade paperback without the involvement or vetting of an established publisher through a publishing system such as Lulu, Smashwords, Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing or Barnes & Noble's PubIt! The author pays to have it copy edited, pays for a cover, and either formats it herself or pays to have it done. All the catchy blurbs on the cover and on the websites are done by the author. The payout is usually 35 % for anything under $2.99. A $2.99 price tag earns the author 70%. Here are some facts.


1.There are a lot of people doing it! It no longer carries the same stigma as it used to. I was always told self publishing was the kiss of death for a writer…that no reputable publisher would touch you if you did. I believe Amanda Hocking’s story along with J A Konrath’s success tells a whole different story. Amanda, if you’ll remember, self pubbed a YA Paranormal series. When her sales skyrocketed (well over 450,000) she began getting noticed. Recently she signed a 4 book deal with St. Martin’s Press for two million dollars.

Holy crap!

2. Because there are a lot of people doing it, there are a lot of books out there with great titles, great covers, etc. that really are not ready for prime time for one reason or another. It’s difficult for readers to know if they are wasting their money on something that should have stayed under the author’s bed.

3. The popular thing to do right now is to put up short stories and price them at $.99. I see authors talking about how fast they write them and get them up there. After all, more books mean more sales, and even at $.99, their take is $.35. That’s about half of what a debut author gets for an $8 mass market paper back. So, IMO, that’s pretty good.

4. A recent survey shows 20 million people read e-books last year, and more self-published authors are taking advantage of the trend.

So, here’s my dilemma. I have my full length stand alone mystery up on Amazon with the introductory price of $.99. It’s been reviewed by a seasoned reviewer who fell in love with it. Three other readers (not related to me!!) also loved it. I know it’s a good book. Anyway, this weekend I was advised by two industry professionals to raise the price. These are people whose business opinions I value. To a man they said I was undervaluing my work.

How’s a girl to know?

Recently Elle Lohlorien posted on J A Conrath’s blog about this very thing. The entire blog is worth a read, but for the sake of arguing my case, I will try to break it down. Basically, she published her book on Amazon and slapped a $2.99 price tag on it. Sales were not anything to write home about. Then she ran across a thread where a reader said “she never bought a book that was $2.99 or less because it was sure to be self-published “indie crap” riddled with typos.” And one reviewer who gave her a 5 star review said she would have paid full price for her book.

That got her thinking about how pricing books compared to Starbucks coffee (you have to read the blog to get this.) so, she raised the price to $3.99 and guess what? Sales increased. When she jacked up the price another dollar, they sold even more.

What? This goes against all the advice I got before I self published…all the people who told me to price it at $.99 to get people to try me.

Elle went on to say that she questions the fact that pricing the book at $.99 may indicate to some people that your work had no value. On the flip side, one could argue that more people will download your book at the lower price, and then you can charge more for your next book.

Can you see my problem?

But I have to go with my gut and the advice of people who know what they’re talking about. For that reason, MORTAL DECEPTION will remain at $.99 until Wednesday when the price will go up. So if you’re seriously thinking about giving it a try, you’d better hurry.

Now I’d like to hear your opinions about ebook pricing. Are you more inclined to jump on the $.99 cent bandwagon or does it make you pause and wonder if the book is any good? Give it to me—the good, bad, and the ugly.

Okay, it's me on Monday May 29th. I raised the price to $3.99 and sales slowed down. In my defense I really haven't marketed this one yet. I am waiting to get the print book out--which should be soon. Then I will bring the ebook price down to $1.99 for a week as part of the promo. I have since decided that for a full length brand new book (not a recycled one with reverted rights) $3.99 is a fair price. How do you feel about this?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Gifts


 I have a new plan in my days. I am trying hard to do one thing for myself, something special, and one thing for someone else—every day. Some days I pull it off and some I don’t. I have come to the conclusion that not only does it make me feel better, but just maybe I can make someone else feel better. This really isn’t self-serving, just living.

Recently a family member was in the hospital. I spent lots of hours working, reading, catching up on email as I waited for test results and so on. I had a lovely conversation with the woman who mopped the floors. We ended up hugging. My day was dramatically improved and I hope hers was too.

I was on the phone last week with our pharmacy trying to solve a confusion. The woman who answered has been helping our family for 15 years. The week before I had been in picking up a few things and overheard her helping a very debilitated man who probably shouldn’t have been in there alone. She was patient, kind, and wonderful. I didn’t say anything at that moment—too many people around. But when I called last week and she was the one to answer, I had to tell her how impressed I was. She began to cry. “No one ever tells you when you’ve done it well.”

My daughter, the doctor, called last night. They had delivered a baby the day before who is addicted to crack. The mother literally delivered the baby and left. This child had no name, no parents, no clothes no anything. My child ended up naming the new child. His name is Will. I said his name should be Will to Live. My daughter spent the day holding him and then passing Will around so he would never be left in a crib, constantly held skin to skin as he withdrew from his drug addiction.

These are gifts to ourselves as much as they are to others. Then, I confess, I plan ones that only have significance to me. I cleaned a closet and felt great pleasure. I edited extra pages and ignored the phone. I took a nap. I visited my dog who just had puppies and is staying with the breeder. I had my nails done.

But as I do these small silly things for me, I find more energy to meet my goal of making sure in each day there is something I do for others. All this sounds a bit self-serving and a bit preachy. I don’t mean it that way. Not at all. Rather, I am trying to find the balance that is difficult in this nutty rushed world we all live in. Gifts—they are the balance.

May your day have gifts for both you and for others.




Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kari's Kave: Success in Self Publishing

I just love writing romantic comedies. They are so much fun. In fact, they were my first love. Destiny Wears Spurs was my first rom com and Project Produce was my second. I wrote them back when romatic comedies and chick lit were hot. But, as usual, I hit the back end of the trend, and the market became saturated with them.  I just love the fact that we live in such new and exciting times. My romances have finally found a home. Destiny Wears Spurs is now available in both kindle and nook. In fact, just last weekend it received over 36,000 downloads and reached number 2 on Amazon's Bestseller List for contemporary romance, right behind Marie Force. Now THAT'S exciting! If you are interested in buying, liking, tagging or sharing Destiny, here are the links: http://tinyurl.com/DestinyWearsSpurs-kindle & http://tinyurl.com/DestinyWearsSpurs-nook Here is a description and short excerpt:
One temperamental Colorado cowboy + one phony ad campaign + one quirky NY ad exec = one wild Rocky Mountain ride in Destiny Wears Spurs!
Monica Hammond—NY ad exec at Hammond’s Advertising Agency—will do anything to save her father’s company from her ex-fiancĂ©, but she never imagines that will involve working beside cowboys on a Colorado dude ranch. With the boss looking like the centerfold for a Hot Men of the West calendar, her slogans sound more like an advertisement for a singles' ranch than a family run operation. While Cody Rafferty—owner of Rafferty’s Remote Ranch—only agrees to need a phony ad campaign because he owes her father a favor and her crazy antics are making more work for him than it's worth, but he can't help rooting for the spunky little spitfire. Falling in lust is one thing, but falling in love isn’t part of the plan, only sometimes destiny has a mind of its own.
           “I’m ready when you are,” Cody said.  
           “Right, uh, come play with my toy,” Monica blurted just as he lifted his water jug to take a swig.
            "Huh?” A spray of water flew out of his mouth, and he gaped at her, choking.
             Great. How was she going to backpedal her way out of this latest disaster? “Um, my boy toy. Cowboy toy. Toys. Cowboy toys!” She gestured wildly with her hands, trying to think of something. Anything.
            “What in God’s name are you talking about, woman?” He swiped the dribble from his chin with the back of his hand, recapping the jug of water.
            “Come play with my cowboy toys here at Rafferty’s Remote Ranch?” She smiled weakly. “Just brainstorming again.”
            “That’s your slogan?”
            “Yeah, you know, cowboy toys. Saddles, spurs, ropes,” a long sigh slipped past her lips, and she shivered slightly, “leather, muscles, sweat ....” Oops.
            His mouth hung open and eyes scrunched up in a horrified expression as he sputtered, “I think you’d better storm someone else’s brain.”
 

On the heels of Destiny's success, I am thrilled to announce the release of my second romantic comedy, Project Produce.  Produce is available in both kindle and nook. Here are the links if you'd like to buy, like, tag, or share : http://tinyurl.com/ProjectProduce-kindle & http://tinyurl.com/ProjectProduce-nook

Here is a description and short excerpt:
What does the size of a man’s Mr. Winkie have to do with his personality? This is the ridiculous question Callie MacDonald has to answer or risk failing on the path to her new life.

 Callie MacDonald—a small-town woman running from an Internet pornography scandal—starts her life over in Queens, NY. She enrolls in a psychology class on sex therapy to try to figure men out, expecting to find answers through a book, not a final project for her class. Her topic is to research how the size of a man’s Mr. Winkie affects his personality. With the help of Bahama Mamas, Mac and Cheese, and salsa music, Callie bolsters the courage to set Project Produce into motion and try not to make a fool of herself as she shops for a pickle, a cucumber, and a zucchini. She never imagines Dylan Cabrizzi—the hunky detective in charge of sex crimes with a grudge against female shrinks—will make her heart beat in places it has no business beating. While she’s given up on finding the perfect man, she might have a use for Hot Britches after all. His tall height and massive feet indicate he just might be her perfect zucchini.


The patrol officer arrived on the scene and joined Hot Britches while I verified with the man on the phone that Detective Dylan Cabrizzi was the real deal. After I hung up, I poked my head out the door. “Come on in. When I described you,” I jerked my chin in the Detective’s direction, “your captain assured me you’re not a criminal.” 
            The patrol officer coughed into his fist. 
            “Oh, and he said he wanted to speak with you first thing in the morning. Something about standard procedure.”
            “Great. Can we get on with this? I need to ask you a few questions.”
            “Sure. I have some questions, too.” I led the way into the lobby.
            Yes, indeed, it had been one very long day, but it wasn’t over yet. In fact, things were starting to look up. Detective Hot Britches wasn’t a loser after all, not that I had any intention of getting involved with him. He was a man, and in my experience, that was just as bad. Nope, he wasn’t the perfect guy for me. No man was.
            But he just might be my perfect zucchini. 

And now to announce the winners of my Corpse in the Crystal Ball contest for blog tour topics...

Kathleen Kaska, Diana Leigh, and Sheila Webster Boneham. Please email me at
karileetownsend@gmail.com and give me your address so I can mail you a signed copy of the book.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Anita's Attic: Familyand Deadlines

Today is my deadline for the new relic hunter story. I've spent the past few days writing 15 hours a day, sleeping in my clothes so I could jump up and start writing first thing in the morning, or not even bothering to dress and wearing pj's all day. I thought I was finished earlier, but my CP found all kinds of problems that needed to be fixed. I've been stressed, the house is a mess, laundry piled up, but Sunday, I put it all aside and spent Mother's Day with my family; Austin and the kids, my mom and dad, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. It was such a joy to just not worry about the manuscript. We ate and talked and played bean bag toss, which was so much fun. I don't know when we've laughed so much. It reminded me how important my family is.

The dogs had a blast too. All together, they numbered almost as many as us. We have our two boxers, Lily and Luna, Lucy the Yorkie, Jake the German shepherd, and Grizzly the golden lab. They chased balls and wrestled, having a great time.

But there was a more somber reminder to cherish your family while you still can. My mom is the most amazing woman on earth. I don't say that lightly. When she gets to Heaven she could sit at a table with Mother Teresa. Mom is the most caring, considerate, unselfish person I know. She's always thinking about other people. ALWAYS puts them first. She doesn't suffer from jealousy or envy or any of the other shortcomings that humans struggle with. But mom is getting older. Well, we all are, but after so many years of her being a powerhouse--there was nothing she couldn't tackle--her age is starting to show. She can't hear as well as she did. We sometimes have to repeat things. She doesn't have the balance she used to but she won't slow down. She fell several weeks ago and now her leg and hip are bothering her. We think she damaged her sciatic nerve when she fell. Then, she fell again Sunday morning, on Mother's Day of all days. The phone rang and woke her up. She rolled over, didn't realize how close she was to the edge of the bed and she rolled out. That would be really funny in a book, and we did laugh about it, telling her we should have gotten her rail guards for the bed instead of flowers. Thankfully, she wasn't hurt, other than scratching her arm.

But this is life. Aging is a cycle none of us can escape. There isn't enough wrinkle creams, plastic surgery, and artificial hearts to do that. So we do have to appreciate what is really important before it slips through our hands and live life to the the fullest.

On a final note, Liz mentioned bucket lists yesterday. I don't really have one, but I should. One thing that will be on there somewhere is "Don't turn in a manuscript on the last day." And another will be "Don't turn it in to your CP until you've done more editing yourself. EVEN if it means turning it in late!" We're all ready to kill each other. She's frustrated with my characters, and probably me. I'm frustrated with her....Hopefully the editor will be happy! So now I'm off to turn in this darned manuscript.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Liz’s Lair: Living Life To The Fullest

Just so you know, next Monday I will be in Key Largo with 9 of the funniest women on the planet. I fully intend to eat too much, drink too much, get way too much sun, and kick someone’s ass at water volleyball. Yeah right!!

I tell you this because my post next Monday will be an encore one, but I promise funny stories and pictures the following Monday. We’re flying into Miami on Saturday, picking up two rental cars, and heading to Key Largo. None of us have ever been there before, so we are really looking forward to it.

I found the house online and had several email conversations with the son of the owner. Seems his mother is 94 years old and has this great 5 bedroom house with a terrific pool in the back yard that’s to die for. Anyway, the conversations moved to the phone, and I got to know a little about Bill. Y’all know how I love to BS with strangers. Well, before long, I knew way more about Bill than a normal renter should. I persuaded him to buy a volleyball net for the pool so we wouldn’t have to bring ours. (Don’t laugh. We’re obsessed with water volleyball.) I even got him to agree to get all 10 of us passes at his country club for the week. Bill ended up singing me a made-up drinking song over the phone and promised to arrange a booze cruise around the island for us. He even went on my website to check out the Bunko Babes and was looking forward to partying with us, I think.

I couldn’t wait to meet Bill as he was just the kind of person I enjoyed spending time with. He was always happy, made me laugh, and promised to spend money on me!! What more could you ask for?

So, a few weeks ago, I decided to really give the contract a onceover, and lo and behold, there was a dealbreaker in there. It basically said that the thermostat would be kept on 76 and they would read the meter before we got there. Any usage over $100 would be charged to my credit card.

Hold the phone, Mr. Bill. We’re talking ten menopausal women from Texas. There is no way we’re coming to Florida to sweat our asses off..no matter how many bennies come with the house. So, I sent him an email explaining the dilemma and said that if we couldn’t get this issue resolved, we would have to back out of the house. A week went by and he never returned my email.

Now you have to know that Bill was a traveling, jet setting kind of guy who loved cruises and drinking with friends. He lived on a three bedroom houseboat, for godssake. I figured he was off having a great time and I would give him a week. Then I called and left a message on his cell phone. When I hadn’t heard from him a week later, I got angry. No matter how much I liked him, he should have called me back. When I picked up the phone last week to rip him a new one, a woman answered.

“Who are you?” she inquired when I asked for Bill. I figured it was a jealous girlfriend, and I quickly explained that I had rented a house from him. That’s when she told me.

Bill had died suddenly two weeks earlier. OMG! Tears formed in my eyes as I felt like I’d lost a friend even though I’d never met him. At 63, he’d died in his sleep in the arms of his current girlfriend. What a way to go.

Anyway it got me thinking about how fragile life really is. I’ve recently lost a 27 year old niece who had complications from a simple arthroscopy that turned into a full blown open knee surgery. I don’t want to leave this earth and have regrets about not doing something I really wanted to do. I want to go out like Bill. Every day was an adventure to him, every person a friend.

His sister in law and the caretaker have retracted from the clause in the contract—said they never used it anyway unless the pool is heated. They can’t get us into the country club because that required a lot of paperwork that Bill would have had to do. They did buy us a volleyball net and arrange a booze cruise for us.

I am disappointed I won’t get to meet Bill, but you can bet that somewhere on that booze cruise, all ten of us will raise a glass in his name. I wish I could remember that drinking song he made up.

Now quit reading this and go tell someone you love them and then hug your kids. As soon as I finish writing this, I’m going to make a bucket list. One of the things I will definitely put on that list is a vacation with only my grandkids (without their parents.) I never knew my grandparents, and I don’t want mine to miss out on that. Another thing is to visit Germany, part of my heritage. And of course, I have to be interviewed by the great Kelly Ripa as she talks about my books before I get to hear Bill sing that song again.


So tell me what would be on your bucket list. One lucky commenter will win a souvenir from Key Largo. You have the next three Mondays to comment as many times as you like for extra chances. I’ll announce the winner when I write about the vacation.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: Change is a good thing

As writer's we've learned to adapt. We all know that we start with this phenomenal idea. We groom it, we feed it, and it takes off to become an even more phenomenal story by the time we are done editing, polishing and as Liz put it "throwing out the garbage words". :-) Sometimes it means going in a direction we originally didn't plan, but the end result is the same if not better: A story that we're proud of. A story readers will devour and want more of.

Ever since Amazon stepped on the scene offering authors the ability to self-publish, or to even be represented by Amazon as they enter into the publishing biz, the writing world has been  a whirling mass of opinions - both good and bad. It seems like every day I see a blog post, Facebook feed or Tweet related to some form of self-publishing. Just another way we have to adapt.

I, for one, like the idea of choices. I don't think publishers should tie their people down (or lock them in as it is sometimes referred). How many times throughout the submission process have we heard "I just filled a slot with something similar", "it's too overdone", "I like the author's voice but the story isn't unique enough", and I'm sure the list goes on and on. So what happens to those stories? Not once were you told it sucked or needed a major makeover. It's clean writing and an engaging read. So what to do with it?

Self publish it.

HOW can a publisher look at this in the negative. Yes, I understand if the genres are the same OR in some cases the extreme opposite (i.e. Cozy author does Erotica). You don't want your readers getting confused or disheartened because you've written something they don't or won't read. Hmm....maybe another reason why the pseudonym was invented?? But seriously, I see self publishing as a win-win for everyone. I mean, if you don't go to the extreme in a different genre, then I feel like as readers find out who you are they may try one of your other books, like it, become a fan and that can just increase sales numbers all around as they do their part through word of mouth etc... Through all of the postings I'm reading, the route to successful self publishing is slow and steady growth (eh-hem...see Liz, you're the trendsetter her!). There's nothing wrong with slow and steady as long as you're getting your stories out there for others to enjoy. And in the process you are building your name and building your brand. I find it all very exciting except there are sooo many authors turning to self publishing. I think it's becoming a question of what we have to do to make ourselves stand out, be found/read/heard.

Once more....something to adapt to.

I'm beginning to think we should be called chameleons instead of authors. Just don't send me to some exotic rainforest because I don't do well with the humidity (remember Orlando, people). I like change - but only when I control it. You know, like moving my furniture, getting a new vehicle, or painting the dining room. Under other conditions, I tend to internalize my panic. a.k.a. FREAK OUT.

Basically that is what I've been doing lately. I'm finally at a point where it's full steam ahead on my projects. There are 3 of them I need to get done by August so I can have covers made and get them up. They will be print and e-book and I'm so excited for this change! BUT...there is stuff I have to do that I'm not very good at. It's the getting myself out there. Oh, I can announce things. I just shy away from being that "in your face" author. Since the release of Santa Wore Combat Boots last December I've been trying to come up with some kind of interesting things to Facebook about or Tweet. Yeah....there in lies the problem. I think I'm a rather fun and nice person. Then why the hell don't I have anything to talk about?

You see, I've even stalked authors who I LOVE on Facebook because they keep us up to date on their book news but they also blend in pieces of themselves so you feel like you "know them". I want to do that, too! I don't want to be that author who only talks about her books. But in the same vein, I want to not get too personal about family, etc.... So I'm having a hard time finding that happy medium.

So while I'm working furiously over the summer, I will be thinking about how to do all of this which will help make my promotion ventures easier (I hope). I know I have to jump further into the blog-relm and line up blog tours and such - which Kari is the queen of so I will be picking her brains for sure!

Change is not only good, but it's inevitable. If I want to survive as an author, I have to do everything possible to aid in my success. While I'm STILL WAITING to hear about my cozy submission (BIG HONKIN HINT), it's full steam ahead with my self publishing. Cuz it's all good in Barbie-topia!

And if anyone has ideas as to how I can be more interesting on my Facebook and Twitter, please let me know. I'm open to suggestions. What kind of topics do you all like to see posted? Help me change so there won't have to be an intervention later.....

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's, Grandma's, and moms to be!!!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Growth and Patience


As you all know, I have a tendency to ruminate. I fuss. I ponder. I worry. Well, today I’m worry about plants—more specifically orchids. I love them. They are tender and fragile. But they are absolutely resilient. You have to trust. You have to wait. Sometimes for a year. I have six growing on my window sills. They are wonderful colors of pink, purple and white. I talk to them. They are actually part of my family. The ritual of watering them, supporting the stems with tall sticks and hair clips, picking off the dying blossoms and giving them care becomes a quiet ritual.
Many people think that they are fragile. Well, some are, not all. But there are more types of orchids than any other species of plants- more than any other. They have adapted over time to manage just about any condition. That means there is one that can thrive with you.
A few years ago I went through a special exhibit at the Smithsonian with a full room just with orchids. They were gorgeous and they were ugly. Some gave off a smell of rancid meat—it attracts certain insects such as maggots that then pollenate the next plant. Some were fragrant and so lovely that you’d think it was made of glass carefully crafted and sprayed with perfume. Then I was taken by the one that could have been formed from chocolate and the aroma would confirm that. A fudge looking and smelling plant.
My mother has a tall and lovely orchid in the kitchen that has been blooming for a year and a half. I think she told me 33 months.
They are special.
Why do I go on about this? We tend to our projects. May it be writing, may it be our family, may it be whatever is important of the moment. That’s who we are.
I think our writing is an extension of how we define ourselves. We write to tell our stories as if they were the orchids. Special projects, sustaining parts of our lives, and beautiful additions to our definition.
I’m not at home right now, but I do know that my orchids will be waiting for me and so will my thumb drive, so the stories will continue. Best to you all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kari's Kave: Blog Tour Topics Contest (I need help!)

Okay, so I need help, folks!

Haha I know what you're thinking...you all knew that already, right?

Very funny!

But seriously, Corpse in the Crystal Ball comes out in 4 weeks on June 5th. I'm gearing up for a blog tour. This time I am doing very few interviews and a whole lot of guest posts. I have lots of ideas for blog posts for the tour which takes place the last week of May, the whole month of June, and the first week of July.

But I am also going to blog on the Penguin blog called The Author's Desk. I will be doing 3 guest posts during the launch week of my book.

So basically, I need 3 blog topic ideas for that week.

I should be getting my author copies any day now, so here's what I'll do in return for your help :-)

I will give away 3 signed copies of Corpse in the Crystal Ball to the people whose blog topics I choose. Just think...you'll get a copy before the book even hits the stores! That's worth it, right? So please help...my brain is fried and I can't think of anything else. The ideas can be anything you think readers would want to read about. Ideas about the book, ideas about my life, even creative ideas from the pov of my characters, etc.

Please leave your ideas in the comment section and include your email so I can let you know if you won. If you don't want to leave your email there, then please email it to me privately at karileetownsend@gmail.com

You can leave as many ideas as you want and you have all week to think about it and keep coming back to leave more. I will announce the three winners in one week on May 16th's Kari's Kave blog post.

Thank you all so much in advance!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Anita's Attic: An Angel Stuck in My Toilet

My deadline is in 8 days. This is for a new publisher so I don't want to be late. Well, I wouldn't want to be late anyway, but especially not now. So of course everything that could possibly go wrong, does. Take my toilets for instance (please take my toilets and give me new ones!) I flushed the other day and it started to overflow. I cranked off the water and caught it just in time, scratching my head in confusion. Then my son remembered to tell me that when he flushed last, he'd just gotten out of the shower and pulled the shower curtain closed and one of my shower rings flew off, a lovely little angel with wings, and where else would it land except for the swirling waters of the toilet. He claims it was too late to grab for it. But personally, I don't think he would have anyway. So now I have an angel stuck in my toilet.

I tried to fish it out with my hand. Not fun. And it didn't work. Then I tried a pathetic little As Seen On TV declogger tool that I already had. The angel is apparently beyond it's reach. I went to Home Depot and bought a snake, but it's not working either. It's too big and clunky. I've tried everything except call the plumber, which I refuse to do. Mainly because I would have to clean my house before I would let him in, and I don't have time to clean my house. I have a manuscript to finish. I haven't even turned it in to my beta readers yet. I will get that angel out, darn it. In the meantime we're stuck with only one working toilet in a house with four people. And that, folks, ain't fun.

Another interruption in my deadline was much more fun. I attended the Virginia Romance Writers conference in Virginia Beach on Saturday. I drove down Friday night and hit the worst storm I've ever driven in. Lightning so bright it felt as if it pierced the brain. The rain was coming so fast the roads were covered. Traffic was doing 20 mph on I-64. When I finally got there, I got to meet a fellow Book Cents gal,   Lara Nance, a super lady who is sooooo gracious. She's the president of Chesapeake Romance Writers and she had put out a spread of food, Tapas, that was just amazing. I wasn't even hungry and I ate like a pig. I stayed up late chatting with her and my agent, the amazing Christine Witthohn.

I roomed with Christine. We got far too little sleep and the next day was filled with workshops ranging from Voice with Barbara Samuel O'Neal (which was a fantastic class) to butlers and doddering housemaids to CIA operatives. I don't write historical, but I adored Janet Mullany's class on English servants. Very enlightening and fun. Just listening to her accent was fun. Another class was given by Alma Katsu  Understanding the Intelligence Community. I discovered that I knew even less than I thought I knew. She's amazing. She looks like a kid and she was an analyst for something like 30 years. I want her beauty secrets. She swears she looks young because she's short. But I'm short and it isn't working for me. I sat next to a group of ladies at lunch and am now feeling a little more inclined to exercise my will power muscle. After I find it, that is. I didn't realize until halfway through the conversation that one of the ladies was Karen Solem, Lori Foster's agent. I adore Lori Foster. Cathy Maxwell was the speaker. She inspired me and made me laugh. She was funnier than stand up comedians I've seen.

And if I didn't have enough distractions, there is drama in the house from the kids. Caleb's ex girlfriend is trying to get him back and using his little sister to try to do it. Geez. I'll never get this book polished.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Liz’s Lair: What Does Editing Have To Do With Garage Sales?



Glad you asked. Somewhere in this post I’ll tell you what I think, but first--to quote my sister--I have to paint the picture.

This weekend my daughter and I participated in a neighborhood garage sale. I haven’t done many of these, but every time I do, I swear I’m gonna kill myself if I even think about doing it again. This time it was a little different. Both my kids have decided that two kids per family are enough, so my attic was full of all kinds of baby stuff. Hubby and I decided that although we love this house, we really need to downsize since it is over 5000 square feet. It was a perfect time to clean out all my closets and the attic.

Fast forward to Friday. I spent most of the day at my daughter’s house pricing things and getting everything organized. I came home and crashed at 9 pm and slept until 5 am when it was time to get dressed and head back to her house to put things out on her driveway. When we got there, she had nine hundred new boxes of clothes, toys and everything under the sun that needed priced and organized.

The community garage sale was scheduled to open at 8 am. They started coming at 6. By 8, we had half our stuff sold. I don’t know what it is about garage salers, but they think you should give stuff away. I asked one guy, “It’s a quarter. How much lower do you want me to go?” Some people just outright made me mad and I refused to bargain.

At the end of the day, we walked away with over a thousand dollars. We hauled the rest of the stuff to Goodwill and headed to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet and pigged out. I have to correct myself here. There were about 10 items that I brought back to my house. Things I couldn’t make myself part with.

Which brings me back to editing. I just finished the edits for MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT this week. I normally don’t have many edits—usually just things I need to make clearer. This time I had a character’s motivation that wasn’t too cozy and another with a real but depressing reality situation. At Malice when I partied with my editor, she had me in stitches talking about it. I swear I will always be a rebel. But I knew she was right, so I made a few changes and was done with the edits in a day. She signed off on them immediately.

All this got me thinking about how I get so attached to things, whether it is garage sale items or my written words. Sometimes, I get so caught up in my character’s pain and suffering that I forget that people read books (at least my kind of books) to escape from reality. Nobody wants to get depressed while they’re relaxing with a good book. I still giggle every time I think of my editor repeating my character’s motivations. I had about ten of them for one person—just wanted to get the message across why she hated another character so much!

It’s hard to cut out things that really don’t add anything to my story. Not only didn’t I need all that motivation, but also it bogged down the story. I also have a tendency to show the bawdy since of my humor. I need to remind myself that DELETE is my friend. After the changes, my story is still as strong as before—maybe even better. Like the garage sale stuff, it had to go to unclutter the story and make it desirable.

And speaking of the house, we showed it to a nice couple today and they loved it—even came back later with their kid and are bringing friends by on Friday to see it. And it’s not even on the market yet. Friends saw the sign out front and told them about it.

Even though nothing may come of it, it’s further proof to me that uncluttering your house/manuscript makes it more appealing to your buyers/readers.

So, tell me about your edits. Do you have trouble getting rid of your garage sale words???

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Creation


My dog had puppies on Saturday. Eight gorgeous tiny Golden Retrievers. I co-own Mina with a fantastic breeder and trainer of champion agility Goldens. The labor and delivery was long, nine hours, but well worth every minute. As each new puppy emerged we were delighted, and then they kept coming. Our new six girls and two boys have already grown in the few days since they arrived and are busy doing what new puppies do—nurse, poop, and squeal. Their eyes aren’t open yet, but they still have a remarkable way of finding “Mom.”


Here were talk about writing, life, and what’s on our minds. Mina has been at the breeder’s house for over two weeks. She’ll stay there about two more months until the puppies are weaned. I visit. I miss her terribly. We are oddly close. As you know, I travel a fair amount so I’m used to leaving the dogs with Cindy, the breeder. But this is different. This is about babies, contact, and relinquishing.

The connection to writing came to me last night as I was editing my current project. As writers we are inventors. We conceive our work first from nothing, a pure idea that really has no shape or form. We then incubate it. We scribble words, make outlines, fuss about small things such as does our heroine have blonde hair or brown. We research. We write which is a type of growth. Then we edit. 

As Mina pushed a puppy away from the edge of the box, I realized that’s editing. She was setting limits and creating change. Her puppies will be heading to new homes in about seven to eight weeks. Our work ends up in the hands of many in a timeframe slightly longer than that. But, we have to let go. Mina watches carefully as I pick up each puppy. She trusts me, yet still doesn’t take her eyes off the baby. When she had her first pup she tried to run away, the baby in her mouth. Her instinct was to hide. The little gal is fine, no harm, but still a message. We need to learn from that. Let our readers pick up our work, enjoy it and give them the benefit of the doubt that they will believe in us. Then we get back to work on the next book. For Mina, getting back to the next litter won’t be for quite a while, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t be productive.


Best of luck in your writing and your reading. Cassy