Friday, June 29, 2012

Barbie's Bunkouse: The first of many tears

Late yesterday afternoon, we left to pick up our oldest son who'd been away for 5 days at a local college (only 45 mins away). He'd been selected by his high school faculty and the American Legion to represent our local Legion post at Boys State. Boys State is a leadership and government program involving U.S. Veterans (who work year round to organize this), past & present government officials (as speakers) and other important guest speakers (they had the honor & privilege of listening to an actual holocaust survivor), and U.S. Marines. Yes, real, active duty men in uniform.

Now, I'm usually tooting my #2 son's horn because he's my athlete, along with Diva (cuz, well...she's the diva. nuff said). I don't really say too much about #1. And here's why: he's my logical, level headed, by the book, does what he's asked without objection, never complains (ever), all around great guy. He's also my homebody. Sure, he's gone away on school trips for 2-3 days, hangs with his friends til all hours of the night, but he's never been gone 5 days straight and in the presence of Marines, no less.

Boys State is serious stuff. There were 1100 boys from across the state, and they are divided into "pretend" counties and cities, and these are the groups they stay in for the week. They elect officials, (#1 was a Senator) and go through the processes of creating bills. A lot of thought goes into them, and if they are good enough - they are actually brought in front of our official state government. It's just amazing when you hear what's on the minds of these young men, from helping unemployment to aid for farmers crops and even welfare. Amazing.

Everyday they were up at 5:30am for PT (physical training), with a full schedule including assemblies with guest speakers and some recreation time, and ending at 9:30pm with lights out at 10:30. They marched, as a group, wherever they went, led by their Marine leader. What bonds these boys formed.

As some of you may know, it's taken me about 2 yrs to accept the fact that my oldest wants to go into the army. As a mother, I had to work through my fear of the unknown (I don't come from a military family). He and I have had many discussions over the years about college, careers - and the one thing he never wavered on was the military. He's applied to West Point, and wants ROTC to be a part of his college program. He's spent a day with a cadet at West Point, and we've toured several college campuses so far. I'm fine with whatever avenue he chooses, because after last night...I get it.

As we were waiting in the stadium (in the blazing heat) for the parade to begin, hubby and I kept talking about how proud we were of #1 to be doing this and what a great experience it was - even though neither of us really knew what it was all about until last night. As each "city" marched on the field, we looked anxiously for him but in a sea of white t-shirts it was next to impossible. So I sat with my hands folded in my lap, being the worrying mom. Did it go okay? Was it tough on him? How was the dorm room? you know, all the crazy stuff we worry about when we know our kids well enough to already have those answers.

Well, I knew I was in trouble when the Veterans who run the program took to the podium and spoke about the week they'd had. About what a fine group of young men were on the field before us, chosen by their schools not only because of their grades but because of who they are as individuals, and what outstanding citizens they were. My heart swelled with pride over my "quiet skinny kid". Yup, cue the misty eyes. (at least I could semi-hide it because we were facing the sun).

Then it was time for the Boys State "elected" Governor to speak. Elected by his peers down on the field, he spoke about brotherhood, honor, hard work. And he gave us a glimpse of what it was like to drill with a Marine. All I could think of was, this boys mother has to be a blubbering idiot by now because "I" was again misty eyed, in awe of how professional he spoke and carried himself. I'm going to remember his name because it wouldn't surprise me if he was one day the President of the United States (I'm not kidding). I couldn't believe he was only a h.s. junior (as they all are).

Next, each "city" paraded in front of the stands. We were down along the 30 yd line and had a great view. Diva was the first to spot her brother. When he passed by, standing tall and strong with that determined look, I couldn't help but smile as I wiped my eyes. I can't even describe the feeling. Pride - of course. But there was an almost overwhelming feeling of love and respect on a level I'd never felt before.

Gone was my "tall skinny kid". Before me stood a tall, muscular, commanding young man. My Son.

Thank you, Boys State, for helping me to realize he's right where he needs to be. We raise our children to be responsible, respectable citizens, loving and caring individuals. We send them out into the world trusting in who they are as individuals.

And as #1 enters his senior year of high school this fall, I also realize I've shed the first of many tears for all the right reasons. I need to stock up on tissues because it's going to be a long year ahead with more tears to come. I couldn't love him more for the choices he will one day make for his country and for being who he is.

I'm predicting there will eventually be more military heroes in my stories....

Now where's that tissue box!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Mourning

I’m in mourning. The news of Nora Ephron’s death has me quite sad. I thought about her all day yesterday and she appeared in some of my dreams last night. I poured over her obituary in the New York Times, reading every word. It began on the front page and continued for a full page inside. Quite a statement for the Times and for Nora. I feel I can call her Nora rather than Ms. Ephron for she has been in our living room for years. Also on my bedside stand. And at our dining room table as my husband and I have quoted her dialogue knowing exactly which work it came from.
Nora’s sister Hallie is a dear colleague of mine. Hallie’s writing is wonderful. The entire family, beginning with their parents, are an incredible writing enclave. I am so impressed. And, a tad envious.
But why? What makes someone like Nora, her sisters and her parents so good at what they have done?
I’ve been thinking about this for Nora’s death caused me to pause. Why would it really matter? I never met her. Hallie sometimes jokes that she has met her. Yet that has nothing to do with me. Why am I sad?
I think the answer is exactly what we, each of us as writers tries to do. Touch.
We pick words that describe, tell, teach, share, embellish, color, and touch. We try to make our imaginary world alive to someone who has decided to join us. We try to suspend the distance between holding a book and being in the book. Engagement.
Nora did that brilliantly. In her writing we laugh (Crazy Salad or I Hate My Neck- for example), and we relate- well the women of the group do, I’m not sure about the men.
There are iconic scenes in her movies. Meg Ryan pounding the table as she shows how a woman could fake an orgasm in When Harry Met Sally (1989, folks!!) lives on as one of the best scenes ever. Granted it goes to Rob Reiner’s mother, but nevertheless, Nora had her fingerprints all over it.
What does all this mean? Why is it important?
I think I have the answer. It’s what each of us attempt to do and she pulled it off.
She was real. We could relate to each of her essays, movies and books. She somehow took the words we use every day, took the images that reflected our own lives, and moved us to a level that made us laugh and sigh. Why? Because we could “be” there. We understood the story. We could relate and suspend our personal moment. We could smile with an understanding, laugh with appreciation, and nod with a little bit of “been there.”
Nora, we’ll miss you. And, we’ll try as best we can to learn from you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kari's Kave: Where is Summer?

Ugh! I have been having computer problems on and off all morning. Sorry for the late post.

This day made me realize my summer literally doesn't start until August! My kids are all involved in lacrosse and field hockey and it never ends! We have practices and camps and head is spinning.

Not to mention I have edits due by the end of the week for Trouble in the Tarot, which I am making great progress on. How you ask? Well, I am trying to make the most of my time.  My oldest son has been driving my 3 boys to their lax camp from 9am to 12pm every morning. While I have been driving my darling diva to her lacrosse camp from 9am to 12pm and staying there.

No internet, no phone, no distractions...just my laptop!!!!

Priceless :-)

My oldest son graduates next year, so that means this summer is his "recruiting" summer. Which basically means we are EVERYWHERE!!! We have no life! But I love watching him play and he will be gone way too soon :-(

And I still have 3 other children involved in sports, too. Eeeek!

August is my summer! Then again, August will bring on college visits...double eek...where did the time go???

Still, I WILL find time to do it all. I cannot wait to do some fun summer activities.

In the meantime, it's so hard trying to figure out what to work on next, what to promote, what to do much to do, so little time!

So tell me, what does summer mean to you? What do you do? How do you juggle it all?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Anita's Attic: Foreshadowing

One of the things I love most about a good book is piecing together the clues to unravel the plot. Regardless of genre, all stories will have some secrets to uncover, who the villain is, or what the heroine is hiding from the hero. The author will usually provide some foreshadowing to hint at the truth. Or hint at what isn’t true but looks like it could be. I love red herrings and misinformation, both as a writer and a reader.

When I reach the end of a book and find out that the villain wasn’t who I thought, it’s a great feeling. I love it when an author can surprise me. Harlan Coben is magnificent at adding twists at the last minute. But when I think back through the book I’ll usually see the clues that were so subtle I missed them.

Some secrets are hidden from the characters, but shown to the readers. Sometimes the characters know something but they don’t share it with the readers until later. It all works for me as long as the author takes me on an exciting journey.

In some cases, an author won’t know who the villain is until near the end of the story. I usually know who my villain is before I start the book. It’s so much easier to layer in the foreshadowing if I know early on. If I don’t know, or if I change my mind, then I have to go back and drop clues. 

But even though I know the villain’s identity, there are always last minute twists that pop out at me as I’m writing. Maybe something from the character’s past that will surprise me. So I can’t avoid going back to add things in. 

With Guardians of Stone, the book I've just finished, I ran into the same issues. I thought I knew it all, but as I neared the end, more twists occurred. It’s hard work making all the pieces fit together smoothly. I’m always curious how other writers handle foreshadowing.

Do you put in subtle hints or heavier ones? Start layering them early in the story or later? Do you usually know who your villain is and what your characters’ secrets are, or do they surprise you? 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Liz's Lair: Social Media Can Be Dangerous To Your Publishing Career

I was getting ready for church this morning and hubby had on Sunday Morning, a news show kinda like 60 Minutes. Anyway, they said something that sort of shocked me, and I can't get it out of my mind.

I'm paraphrasing here, but the gist of it was that prospective employers sometimes check your social media posts before hiring you. If there is profanity or anything that might be unprofessional, they will sometimes pass on you and hire someone else.

What? Did I hear that right? Does that mean if I post a cartoon with an off-color remark or say something about my personal life that they don't like, they can not hire me because of it?

Not only can they not hire me, according to the piece on TV this morning, they won't hire me. That's kinda scary. I, for one, treat everyone like a friend on FaceBook and sometimes talk about personal stuff. Am I hurting my chances of catching a publisher's eye? Let's face it. Since we are all doing our own marketing, a publisher doesn't want someone who turns off readers with their views.

With that in mind, I took a long hard look at my contract with Berkley. Here's what it says:

The author agrees that during the term of this Agreement he will not, without the written permission of the Publisher, publish or authorize any work substantially similar to the Work or which is reasonably likely to injure its sale or the merchandising of the other rights granted herein.

Translated loosely, a controversial post that might turn off potential readers could fit into that category. I also looked at some of my posts on FB, and I've come up with this deduction. Yes, I do post personal stuff, but I don't think there is anything that a publisher might take offense with or that might harm my sales, and if there is, then I probably don't want to write for that publisher anyway.

I am honest and don't take myself too seriously, even on my author pages. I am who I am. But I can guarantee, NEVER will you see any posts on my wall or any comments on somebody elses' that are the least bit political or having to do with religion. I consider both of those areas off limits and have no desire to discuss your take on them either. In the past week, I have un-friended several people who think the world needs to know who they're voting for and why.

People, I don't care. I respect your right to choose, but that doesn't mean I want to hear about your choices. That goes for religion, too. I'm a Christian. End of story. I have no desire to discuss my beliefs with you or to listen to yours. These are sacred to me.

Now, I'm worrying that this post might be too opinionated!! Oh well.

I'll leave you with a funny Maxine cartoon about politics. But before I do, I want to get you psyched up for next Monday when I will be having a double launch party for BEEF STOLEN-OFF which will release next Tuesday. I will be holding court at this blog as well as my other group blog, The Plotting Princesses. There will be a giveaway every hour, alternating between the two blogs. You won't want to miss it.

And here's the cartoon. To steal a line from Larry, the Cable Guy--I don't care who you are, that's funny right there!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Power of Promotion & Positive Praise

I know, I's the little things that make me happy. I think I would rather have a million little things happen, than one big one. We do a lot of talk on promotion, how it takes time, research to find just what works, and the stress of wondering if you're doing enough.

I'm taking part in a Kick off the Summer Promotion with some other authors, and my novella Bet On Love is FREE on Amazon until June 24th!

I'm really excited. I've seen many authors try this and I can't wait to see the kind of result I get. I'm telling you, it gives you something to focus on - and while I can't see the exact number of downloads, I am able to see MY little story climbing up the ranks.

I've gotten comments on FaceBook, and emails from people who had already purchased both Bet On Love and Santa Wore Combat Boots, and they want to know when my next book will come out. A couple times I had to sit back and basically slap myself. In such a short time, I have fans! And they aren't my family members. Fans for my novellas. I feel like I've started small, and that they will follow me on to my full length romances! To have people ASKING for your next, I'm still in shock.

I know this is what we all work for, but I tell ya when you've been trying and trying and trying, have had sooo many "close calls" through traditional publishers, to actually/finally get this kind of recognition by self publishing my stories, is HUGE. And just between you and me and bloggerland....the evil side of me is saying "Ha! You losers! Her stories ARE good!"

So good in fact, I'm sharing this 5 Star review I received yesterday, thanks to this promotional effort:

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Bet On Love (Kindle Edition)
This book is the best ever! If I had not gotten it free, I would have payed for it without a doubt! The only thing that I will complain about is that I wish it were much much longer since I am in love with the characters! This author is the BEST EVER! Can't wait to read any books she has to write, I will make sure to check often if she has any new books for me to read. Can't wait to get my hands on Santa Wore Combat Boots!

Yes, I saved this on my computer and I think I'm going to print it out for good measure and to keep me motivated. I've often felt in limbo because I still want to be in that traditional publishing world along with my self published works. I do think it's a sma rt move, if you get with the right publisher who understands what you want and can see the benefits to you being in both places. 

But after these last couple days I see the importance of my continuing to produce my stories in a timely manner to keep my readers happy and wanting more! (eek! I have readers!!) I can't wait to see what happens when I DO put a full length romance up. I'm kind of feeling the pressure, though, and hope I can deliver with my romantic suspense, Twist of Fate - which will be coming soon.

I made the decision, there are NO Classes in my future this fall. I'm putting that on hold so I can keep my fanny in the chair and write! Let's face it, with 3 kids and a day job I'm lucky to get an hour a night to write. I can't let that get taken up with reading and writing for class work like I did in the spring. I HAVE to write! 

This promo and review have done their job and given me the fire I need to start cranking stories out again like I used to. While I've had some new ideas, I'm eager to finish some of my 'old loves' because those characters need their stories told. I'm feeling focused and ready for action. It's going to be a challenge to get those full lengths out there - but I'm up for it. Just another reason to tackle finishing some of the partials I'd started, move them forward and get them done!

Go forth and try different types of promotion. Don't be intimidated by anything no matter how big or how small. ANYTHING is worth a try in this business. All it takes is a little positive feedback from different sources to recharge you and send you on your way to success!

I'm feeling the power, people!!! Who's gonna ride my crazy train to the finish line! There's a party car...and beverages will be served!!!

have a wonderful weekend everyone, stay cool and stay safe!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Guest Expert, Writer Larry Brooks

I am delighted to share a post from Storyfix, a wonderful blog created by Larry Brooks. He has generously agreed to let me post it here and to stop by off and on during the day. If you don’t subscribe to Storyfix, I highly recommend you do. Larry offers great advice for those of us working on the craft of writing. I often finish reading one of his pieces and think, “Oh, no wonder my scene doesn’t quite work.”

I have cut and pasted bits of Larry’s bio from his website.

Larry is a novelist/blogger/freelancer/workshop speaker. His first published novel, DARKNESS BOUND, was based on one of his original screenplays. It debuted in October 2000, spending three weeks on the USA Today bestseller list. His second novel, PRESSURE POINTS appeared to good reviews in December 2001, with comparable sales. His third novel, SERPENT’S DANCE, was a February 2003 release from Signet, also well reviewed despite selling like parkas in Pakistan, and his fourth, July 2004’s BAIT AND SWITCH , earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who named it their lead Editor’s Choice for that month, and at year-end to two of their notable lists: Best Overlooked Books of 2004 (the only paperback so named; perhaps, says Larry, a dubious honor) and Best Books of 2004 (lead entry, mass market).

Since then he has written two novels: SCHMITT HAPPENS (the sequel to 2004’s BAIT AND SWITCH, and WHISPER OF THE SEVENTH THUNDER, an apocalyptic thriller from Sons of Liberty Publishing (March 2010).  

In late 2002, Brooks’ script for the adaptation of DARKNESS BOUND was named a finalist in the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the folks who bring you the Oscars. It was one of ten scripts selected out of 6044 submissions,.
Brooks has been developing and teaching writing workshops since the mid-1980s. He has been named a Mentor by the Oregon Writer’s Colony, and continues to teach at workshops around the country His new book, “STORY ENGINEERING: MASTERING THE SIX CORE COMPETENCIES OF SUCCESSFUL WRITING was released in early 2011 from Writers Digest Books, based on the popular developmental model upon which he bases his workshops.

THE SEARCH FOR STORY is coming out from Writers Digest Books early next year. 

Please join us in thinking through the points Larry makes in this post. It’s long,but worth the read. All comments are welcome and encouraged!

Larry takes is from here.

You may have heard that.  In fact, you may have heard that from me, either by virtue of having me evaluate your story, or through your own interpretation of the story architecture principles I espouse here.
It may confuse you.  It may even piss you off.
Not everyone understands the difference between a principle and a rule. Truth is, there are no “rules” in art… but we can lay no claim to art until the principles that underpin effectiveness have been put into play.
That’s not a paradox as much as it is a major lightbulb going off.  If you haven’t heard that glorious little “click”  yet, keep reading, I’m pointing you toward the on switch.
In storytelling, however, what we do have instead of rules are options.  Creative choices.  And for those — to ensure that we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot — we have principles.
Principles are there to keep us safe, to empower our work.
When someone tells you your story structure is weak, it usually means one of the following: pacing is sluggish… not enough tension… no discernible character arc… too one dimensional… not complex or layered enough to sustain interest.  Dull as dirt.
Truth is, you’ll probably hear one of those dark critiques before you’ll hear about your structure.  But pay attention to both,, because one is cause and the other is effect.
Structure is the means toward pace, tension, arc, depth and compelling interest.  It is the roadmap, the paradigm, that allows them to happen in an optimal way.  To mess with structure — to believe you can make it up as you please — is to put these outcomes at risk.
The more you understand about cause and effect in your fiction, the better your stories will be. The principles of story structure set you free to be great.
Step off a cliff and you will fall.  Do it with the right gear, something that mitigates the very physics you seek to defy, and you have a shot at living to leap another day.
Really?  Why can’t we simply write a story any dang way we please?
We can… provided the story aligns with the basic principles of fiction.  Trouble is, basic as the principles are, too many writers don’t consider them when facing the very  choices in a story that will define its ultimate effectiveness.
They just write it.  Something comes to them in the flow, and they put it in.  And then they move on.
Think of every airplane you’ve ever seen.  There are hundreds of designs, sizes and shapes.  Some have two wings, some have four, some barely have any.  Some have propellers, some don’t, some have weird tales, some are shaped like a flying pachyderm.  Some don’t even have pilots.
There are no rules.
But… they all align with certain principles, or they cannot fly.
Same with our stories.
Why do certain things need to be in certain places, in a certain order, and in specific context to other certain things?
When you see this — story structure itself — as an application of principles rather than a constriction borne of rules, then you’re onto something.  This shift is perhaps the most critical milestone is a writer’s development, because without it one remains alone and without a compass in a sea of creative choices that will drown your story in a heartbeat.
Principles, not rules, give us access to the physics of storytelling.These universal literary forces don’t care if you understand them or not (kind of like gravity and the certainty that the sun will rise in the morning), they will always be there to influence your story, to either drag it down or lift it up… depending how you apply them.
What do bestselling authors know that you don’t?  It isn’t the freedom to break  what you might perceive to be rules.  Rather, they understand the awesome power of applying the principles of literary physics within a story.  It is the certain knowledge that it is the principles themselves that bestow freedom to our choices, in context to the certainty that to violate them is a sure route to literary suicide.
If that sounds harsh, it won’t once you understand what specific principles I’m talking about here.  If you don’t recognize them as essential, then you don’t understand fiction.
And if you want to call them rules, in that case… it doesn’t matter.  They don’t care, they’ll still kill you if you ignore them.
Here are the best of those principles.
A story without a hero to root for will not work well.  We don’t have to like our heroes (as readers), but we do need to root for them to keep us engaged.
Conflict — dramatic tension — is what makes a story more than a character study.  Plot is what gives characters something to do… and what your characters do becomes the optimal way to illuminate character.  Thus, these two elements of story physics — dramatic tension and hero empathy — depend on each other to work.
Compelling pace is more effective than stories with misguided pace.
The more vivid the world you create, the more vicarious the experience you deliver to your reader, the more succcessful the story will be.
These aren’t rules, they are principles of story physics.  Understand the difference.
That’s my belabored, over-written point today.  Understand the difference.
The real issue isn’t the physics, it’s the author’s relationship with the physics of storytelling…which include a compelling premise or concept, dramatic tension, pace, hero empathy, vicarious journey, and strength of execution (the latter being the goal of, and the sum total of, the Six Core Competencies of successful storytellingg.
When, perhaps unknowingly, or from a desire to break rules and do something you believe to be out of the box, by definition you are thus confused about what commercial creativity even means.  It’s almost impossible to cite an example of a story that has proven successful without those physics in play.
Better, then, to understand how to harness these story forces to make your story as good as it can possibly be within parameters of your own making.
Sometimes you get lucky, you tap into one or more of the elements of story physics intuitively as you unspool your narrative, but more often you succeed when you are conscious of these forces and don’t allow yourself to settle… when you push your story with a view toward optimizing the very forces that will give it wings.
And how do you do that?
By understanding the elements, context and mission of story architecture, as it manifests on the page via structure.
Where you start, what comes next, what comes after that, what and where and why to twist and evolve the story, how to end it… you optimize them not from the pure genius of your learning-curve savvy intuitive self, but from a proactive application of the role and inevitable presence of story physics in your vetting of, and ultimately your selection of, the elements and moments of your story.
Story structure isn’t a rule.  It is the means toward freedom to create without risk.
It is a set of principles that are illuminations of the truth about what makes a story work.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kari's Kave: Kick Off The Summer Promotion with a Free copy of Project Produce!

Get your FREE copy of my romantic comedy PROJECT PRODUCE in my Kick Off The Summer Promotion!

This promotion will last for 5 days because you are all worth it, and I love to give back to the readers who support me :-)

I had so much fun writing this book. I wrote it under the name Kari Lee Harmon so my Kari Lee Townsend fans would not get confused and think this book is "cozy."

This book has swearing and sex and a whole lot of laughs!

Enjoy...and be sure to tell me what you think in a review. I love to hear from my readers.

Here's the LINK

* As promised, today I have the pleasure of announcing the winner of my Corpse in the Crystal Ball Contest. This lucky person will get a signed paperback of the book, as well as a "real" crystal ball. Congrats to Maria Tantillo! I will email you and once I have your address, I will be mailing out your prize. Thanks for playing everyone :-)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Anita's Attic: Summer Juggling

Summer is finally here and while I'm excited to have the kids home and not to have to get up so early, I'm in a bit of a panic thinking of all the things I need to get done. How to blend that with summer fun? that is the question at my house. Especially since I've discovered that I'm not a fast writer.

During the school year, the kids are out of the house for several hours of the day and they eat lunch at school. With them home, I have less solitary writing time, more lunches to fix. They'll want friends to come over or me to take them to friends' houses. There are vacations to manage. This time the kids are going and Austin and I are staying home. That might be nice, but again, I'm losing writing time. Now,  hubby is more important than my books, but I'm a writer and I have deadlines, so I have to get it done. And in between fun, friends, and vacations, there's always football practice. 

Next year, Caleb starts high school. Friday was our last day of school and the high school is already doing conditioning. So for the next two weeks, I have to take him to a two hour practice every day, then rush to baseball all stars practice which lasts until dark. Today, including traveling time, we spent 8 hours on practice. Thank God for laptops. I wrote so much today that I drained the battery. At least practices are easier than games. I can sit in the car and close out the world while I sort out the problems of my created world. 

Another thing that has to be squeezed in between summer fun and writing is promotion. Liz blogged about it yesterday. (Sorry for my really late comment, Liz! :) ) And Cassy talked about social media on Thursday. On the best of days, promotion can be overwhelming. While I love talking to readers, I hate feeling like I'm trying to sell myself. If only I could afford a publicist. I watch Nora Robert's publicist (Laura Reeth) working the crowds and I turn green with envy. Not only is she super nice and flat out hilarious (this woman could star in a TV show), she's an amazing publicist, absolutely brilliant in her interaction with Nora's fans. I want a publicist. Whine, whine. But for now it's just me, so add another ball to the juggling routine. 

This summer, in between family and friends and fun, I have to get some serious writing done. And I think the bottom line for anything is this: If you have to get it done, you will. You'll find the time somewhere. 

What's your summer writing schedule?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Liz’s Lair: Gearing up for a Blog Tour—Or Not

Fifteen days and counting down until BEEF STOLEN-OFF releases. You would think that since I’ve known this for –well, forever—that I would be better organized with the promo that I’ll have to do. Last October, when LIVER LET DIE debuted, I had completely filled six weeks with a blog tour, several signings, and lots of contests and Facebook announcements. I was exhausted by the time I was finished, and I vowed never to do that again.

Apparently, publishing books is like childbirth—you forget how bad it really was until you’re smack in the middle of it again. I was all geared up to send out pleas for friends to have me on their blogs when I realized I have not budgeted much time in July for that.

I have 6 sisters/nieces coming down for a week the first week in July—actually the day of BSO’s release, and I am going on a family vacation with kids and grandkids for a week in the middle of July. I was getting all freaked out about this since I knew there was no way I could fit in a grueling blog tour like I did in October.

Then I read an interesting blog. Although it’s about the top self published authors who earn the most money, I found one very interesting point among the ten points listed that I swear was like heaven speaking to me and answering my prayers. (Thank you, St. Jude.) Here it is:

The Top Earners group spent more time writing than they did marketing, and those in the group who spent the least time marketing were making the most money. Out of all respondents, those who spent the most time marketing earned the least.

Are you kidding me? Go back and read it again. And again if you’re like me and have a hard time believing it. Is the guy really saying that if I spend more time writing and less time with blog tours, signing, etc, I will be more successful?

Damn! I think that’s exactly what he’s saying. And you know what? The more I think about it, the more I realize he’s right. What good does it do for you to hook a reader with a cutesy blog or a FaceBook blitz or even your fantastic writing style if there isn’t another book for him/her to read afterwards. Let’s face it, in this day and age of self publishing there are a lot of choices out there for readers. Are they going to remember your name nine months later, or however long it takes to get another book out there? Maybe—maybe not, but for now, I’m going to give it a try.

I have three books under contract, only one of which is written. Cozy readers would love a book every month from the authors—that’s how crazy they are about the fast, entertaining genre. I need to quit worrying so much about how my books will sell and just write new ones to go with the ones out there. As a reader myself, if I find an author whose voice I love, I immediately look to see what else they have that I can read.

So, for any of you who are wondering why I’m not contacting you to ask for time on your blog, that’s why. I already have about ten set up, and that’s plenty. I am going to put my butt in the chair and write. Let me repeat that. I am going to put…well, you get the picture.

I love that cartoon!

I’m curious what you all think about this. How important do you think it is for an author to devote so much time to marketing nowadays? And do you think it might be different for a debut than a multi-pubbed? Come on. I want to know. And I’m so curious that I’m going to send some lucky commenter an ARC of BEEF STOLEN-OFF. Bring it on.

Oh, and here’s the link to the entire article I talked about. It’s pretty interesting.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: Write what you know...or NOT!

Happy Friday everyone! This week found me wishing for some serious downtime. I even took a vacation day yesterday, got to meet with my CP for a bit, work on about 8 pages of my romantic suspense...and then the running started. Boys to the orthodontist, a quick stop at the grocery, Diva to practice, dinner, #2 son to a soccer meeting for fall sports, trip to home depot, pick up Diva (who's practice ran late) thankfully #2 son scored a ride home with a friend from meeting. Now that school is wrapping up, I'm realizing this is my week:

Monday-Diva soccer game/ #2 son soccer practice
Tuesday - Diva soccer game (different league)/ #2 son soccer practice
Wednesday - #2 son soccer game/ Diva volley ball league
Thurs: Diva & #2 son soccer practice (different locations of course)!
Friday????? FREE NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!! Shh...I think I hear the angels singing!

I know, I know, I signed on for this and I make it work. It's just putting a little crimp in my time and I'm figuring how to adjust it. I may just have to break out and clean up my old "mini" netbook so I can at least take that with me for times I'm just sitting, which really isn't very often since I'm basically a taxi until 8:30pm.

So what does this have to do with writing?? Well, as I thought about the saying "Write what you know" it dawned on me that I should be writing about soccer! ha ha ha. Yeah right? I live it vicariously through my children. I have never played except high school gym class! Or what about football - I LOVE football, and my son plays football, my husband played football. But when I think about writing on these sports.....I got nothing. What's up with that?? I know enough about them I suppose, but technically it's at the YA level - which was great when I was writing YA and MG stories. But could I spin an adult version?? Could I turn it into a mystery even? Romance? Hmm....

I don't really have a specialty. I was a band-geek in school, art/music/language was my "thing". I was a band officer, drum majorette, spanish club president. Close your gaping mouths, yes, I was a nerd. And I wouldn't trade it for anything!! But it's nothing substantial to write about. High School drama from the geeks pov, I suppose. And even as an adult, the things I do for "fun" are not spectacular: photography, gardening, painting, writing, hiking, camping.....nothing super-de-duper for a heroine or hero that's for sure!

So sometimes, I think it's good and fun to take stock of what you know but it's even more exciting to write about what you DON'T know! Thinking of some adventurous career, or some out of the ordinary job that your hero/heroine could have and doing the research. Not only is that challenging, but it is fun and if you do enough of it, you don't necessarily become an expert but you can pull off a good book!

Do any of you write about your own talents or specialties? Anything interesting you'd care to share? Something you've never done but wish you could - or even something you WISH you'd find in a book but no one has touched on it yet?

Enjoy the weekend with a good book~

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Social Media

 I need help. Those of you out there who are knowledgeable, easily more so than I, please chime in. I’m completely inundated by emails that come from social media sources. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Klout, Yahoo groups and I’m sure others I’m not thinking of at this moment.
We all have been told that if you don’t have a presence on the social media networks you are dead in the water for your publishing. Great. I get it. I know there are some publishing houses that check to see how many followers you have before even reading your submission. Okay, I sort of get that too. Well, sort of.
I have writer friends who absolutely love their Facebook and Yahoo connections. They live on the links. I confess I have a few private loops that I do truly enjoy the communication. Yet it’s not a compulsion. Goodness help me if it were because it would take all day to manage. When would I write?
But, how do you keep it all in line? It takes me a chunk of time to repeatedly hit my delete key. I only respond to the emails that are important to me. Yet that is still time consuming. Even if I don’t respond, many I want to read.
Again, what are your tricks to managing all of this? I know I’m not alone.
I’m not even raising the question of privacy. I cringe as I receive multiple emails a day telling me I’ve won the Irish lottery, pleas for helping a damaged soul in the Middle East or am eligible for body parts that I don’t wish to have. Where are these emails coming from? I am sure it’s tied to the social media connections. Yet, we are stuck.
If we go “silent” we are told we are in trouble. If we are “out there” we are in trouble. So, I ask you. What are your strategies for keeping your nose and privacy above water?