Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hailey's Comments Free Today

My novel Hailey’s Comments, an Amazon Breakout novel quarter finalist, is free today! Please tell all your friends, family members, postal workers and random people on the street. I know they’ll all appreciate this great beach read. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An Indie Business Plan (and my apology to Mr. Buffet)

Yesterday I picked up a book on marketing at the Friends of the Library bookstore. Written in 1986, the book compares marketing to gorilla warfare. (It also refers to IBM as a god of the market place—so yeah, it’s outdated.) But fifty cents seemed like an okay investment. The book’s general advice: seek out the weaknesses of the opposition so that you can destroy them.

I’ve also been trying to hone my business skills by web surfing and I came across articles by Warren Buffett. (Because, let's be honest, I was a literature, not a business, major and I'm a much better reader than I am a business person.) Mr. Buffett talks about how each business needs a moat—a shield that protects from the opposition trying to destroy its business. A good business is focusing on widening its moat. An aggressive business is looking for ways to storm the opposition’s moat.

With sincere respect to marketing experts in general and Mr. Buffett in particular, I must say that when it comes to indie publishing I disagree. The code word in indie publishing is generosity. Help others and gratefully acknowledge when someone helps you in return, because they will. People like to help. It feels good.

I’m not advocating writing glowing, gushing reviews to undeserving books, nor am I saying you should promote what you haven’t read. What I am saying is that when you share what you learn and observe about writing and  the book business—people will appreciate that. They might decide to read your books, because writers were readers before they were ever writers, and if they like what they read, they may decide to help you, too.

That’s my indie business plan. Will I be as successful as Mr. Buffett? Probably not. But that’s okay. At least I won’t get wet and dirty wading through moats.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Time Management for Writers

Recently I had lunch with my writer friend, Michelle Knowlden and I learned so much from her! I love a learning lunch.

 She shared her writing accounting with me and I want to share it here. This is what she said:
“Status reports were something I had to do for over 30 years as an engineer.  I found they work for me.  A study was done about it, and the results created the maxim "Anything measured improves."

Franklin planners were also built around the fact that tasks prioritized and scheduled ensures that the important things get worked and finished.  An unfortunate side effect is that (I believe) they've made our lives too busy, not giving us enough time to reflect, celebrate, meditate, and refresh. But moderation in all, as they say.”

Here’s Michelle’s accounting:


Writing session with Becky on Tuesday
Have feedback from ab01 beta readers--excellent (last one received today)
Wrote a draft for ab01 novella description
Working on an ab01 first page note
Received blurb from Jackie (wonderful)
Sent requirements for ab02 cover and received it yesterday (fabulous)
Finished ab02 revision for beta readers; going through one more edit
Read ab02 Chapter 6 at Big Fict: helpful comments
No new words in ab04 (at 13075 words)
Posted An Indelible Mark blog last night
Posted Amazon review of Elise Stephens Tightrope short story and sent it to her--she was pleased
Continuing to shape new Lost Child mystery e-short story series (and created a cover)
            --Scheduling 28 June to 01 July to work first story
            --Aiming for 4200 to 5000 words
Reading through Neal's UnSould, at 420 pages, prepping for writing another Unwind novella

Watching Prophets of Science Fiction on Netflix Streaming (HG Wells)
Completed four more socks and two military caps--rests the brain
Up to Ch 01 in 2 Samuel
Memorizing James; up to 15 verses (works on cognition)

Business and Marketing
Lunch with Kristy Tate and superb brainstorming ideas for marketing
Considering other blogs/websites for marketing Abishag mysteries
Sent interview questions to DH (July), ES (August), and KT (September) for author blog interviews

Competing activities: gardening, chiro, life group, ARCE lecture, art day with Betty, met with soup kitchen team leaders for planning, Star Trek with Lori, shopping for soup kitchen.


Incorporate Big Fict comments for 2.5 chapters and final edit run
Send ab02 to beta readers
Work on ab02 chapter one to use for promo when publishing ab01
Address ab01 comments from beta readers
Prep format of ab01 myself or contact KT's formatter (decide which)
Do one more read through of ab3 Revisions--give to Kris for line edits
Finish reading UnSould; standby for collaborating on next novella
Work with Gary to prep a Fathers in the Moor chapter for the 22nd
Pick a time to finish and submit a new Micky Cardex short story to AHMM
Post a blog on 20 hour challenges or preparing raw buckwheat groats breakfast

Watch Prophets of Science Fiction on Netflix Streaming
Listening to Stephen King's 11 22 63

Business and Marketing
Write review of Dalaina May's Yielded Captive
Send Rivers in Space to DAW (or agents Becky sent)
Write blogs on Micky Cardex, variations on grilled cheese sandwiches, fig trees, muslin-ing trees, making the best of last days, 20 hour challenges
Review KTs resources: this week on blogs and reviews
Create a writers' network with a focus on marketing

So how about you? What are your tricks for accountable writing?

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Taste of Summer

I was introduced to the protein, carb and fat rule. I like how it’s working so far. The goal is to eat every three hours, keeping hunger at bay by following this simple rule. At every mini-meal eat:
A carb the size of your fist
A protein the size of your palm
A fat the size of your thumb
It’s just that simple and yet not. Technically, a vegetable is a carb, but not all carb-vegetables are created equal. Be wise.
This rule translates really well into most of my favorite meals.
 A sandwich
Bread= carb
Chicken breast= protein
Mayo or avocado= fat
Yogurt parfait
Yogurt=protein and fat
Beans and tomatoes=carb
Ground turkey=protein
Dollop of sour cream= fat
Breakfast Burrito
Eggs= protein
Tortilla and salsa= carb
Cheese= fat
I’m very excited about how easily that simple formula can be applied to everyday meal choices. Except for brownies. It doesn’t work for brownies…or pies. But that’s okay. I have a weekly two dessert allotment. Because brownies can’t be ignored.
For more helpful and healthly tips, be sure and check out my book romantic suspense novel, Losing Penny, featuring Penny Lee a cooking show diva who loses 50 pounds and gains a stalker. A delicious novel with all the right spices!

Here’s my new favorite food, stuffed peppers.
Peppers cut in half
Half a pound of ground beef, browned, rinsed and drained (rinse to wash away fat)
Add to meat:
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans
Half cup of cooked brown rice
1 can of stewed tomatoes
Half cup of medium salsa
Simmer meat mixture for about 20 minutes
Fill peppers and top with:
Sprinkled parmesan and cheddar cheese
Bake until the cheese is golden.
Serve with avocado and sour cream.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Self Publishing Myth--Friday's Writer's Forum

Someone once told me that PBS was making a documentary on the life of Emily Dickinson and my first thought was what a yawn that would be. Legend has it that Emily spent most of her life alone in her attic. I love her work, but wouldn’t ever want to watch her life story…or live her life.

Same with the Bronte sisters. In college I studied in depth the Emily Bronte’s poems and I’m a huge fan. But I certainly don’t envy her lonely life on an English moor.

Gone are the days of the lonely artist, scribbling in her attic or slowly withering away on a moor. Even my early dreams of writerhood have taken a dramatic turn. I had thought that I would write a story, send it to an adoring editor polish it up (just a little) and send it out into the world. I would live in peace with my family of numerous children and dogs on my apple farm in the wilds of Washington writing stories.

I did have numerous children and I do have a dog, but I don’t have a farm in Washington. I buy my apples at Costco. I do have an editor, but I’m pretty sure that I adore her more than she loves me. This is the schism in the writer myth. Writers today aren’t allowed the luxury of wallowing in their art all by their lonesome selves. Just like no man is an island—no writer today can afford to stay cloistered in an attic.

Even when you’re like me and pick up the reins to steer your own writing career you need a team. I know this is true when you work with a traditional publisher, but it’s especially true when you self publish. I suppose it’s possible to “self” publish without involving another soul, but I don’t think I could do it. I wouldn’t want to.

Here’s a brief intro to my team:

Critique partners—a pair of talented writers to read with on a weekly basis

A writers’ group—a gaggle of writers to read and laugh with

Beta readers—who get your sense of humor and read in your genre

A cover designer—who has a good eye and shares your vision

An editor—who is a grammar stickler and likes your voice

A formatting guy

The most important word when trying to cobble a team together is “simpatico.” Each member of your team needs to “get” and appreciate you, your work and what you’re trying to say. The last thing any artist needs is someone rolling their eyes. If someone shows the whites of their eyes—run away. You don’t need that. Helpful criticism yes—scorn no. It’s just that simple.

 Only it’s not simple. Sometimes it’s hard to find a good fit—until it’s not. Stay in the game and people will come to you. My formatter approached me and did my second book for free. I’ve used him (and paid him) ever since. I’ve been approached by many editors and beta readers. It took me a lot of trial and error to assemble my team. I’ve used three different formatters and I’ve had five different editors. . Hang tight and good things will come your way.

That’s the book producing team. There’s a whole slew of people involved in book marketing.  And that’s another post, because it’s a whole other ballgame and involves different sorts of players. But the exciting part of today’s technological world is no one has to sit on the bench.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

BLURBAGE- please tell me what you think

In the summer of 2014, Petra Baron, a senior at Arroyo Oaks High School, enters a fortune-teller’s tent at a Renaissance faire and exits into Elizabethan England, a time steeped in legend and on the verge of religious revolution.

In the summer of 1414 Emory Ravenswood dies in a fire that destroyed his entire village.

Despite gypsy hunts, demon dogs, and an interfering friar, Emory and Petra meet and fall in love in the year 1614, because as Petra later discovers, the correct translation of happily ever after is 200 years and anything is possible beyond the fortune teller’s tent.

Note (not part of the blurb)

The King James bible was first published in 1610 and was met with out all sorts of resistance and outrage as there were many who believed that lay men  needed mediators (priests) to access holy writ. When I first wrote this story in 2009 my dates "worked"--not so much in 2013, but since it's a story and not a historical account of true events I'm hoping no one will care.

Another crack at the blurb:

In the summer of 2010, Petra Baron, a senior at Arroyo Oaks High School, enters a fortune-teller’s tent at a Renaissance faire and exits into Elizabethan England. Despite her ambivalence towards her father’s recent remarriage, Petra is desperate to return to her life in Orange County, California. The seventeenth century presents all sorts of challenges -- a gypsy hunt, a demon dog named Black Shuck, and an overwhelming attraction to Emory Ravenswood.

When Petra returns to the here and now, she’s reunited with her newly created stepfamily emotionally as well as physically because of the lessons of love and loss learned in the Golden Age. But she’s lost Emory. Or has she? Petra soon discovers the correct translation of happily ever after is 200 years and anything is possible beyond the fortune teller’s tent.

And then there's this one suggested to me by a helpful writer:

Last thing Petra Baron expected when she walked into a fortune teller's tent was a trip through time. But that's exactly what happens to the bookish high school student. Stranded in Elizabethan England, she encounters a kindred spirit in Emory Ravenswood who helps her deal with a gypsy hunt,a demon dog, and an interfering friar. But as she slowly falls in love with Emory, she wonders is he really who he seems, or is he just as lost? How can they have a future when trapped in the past? Is anything possible beyond the fortune teller's tent?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What Happened to Rescuing Rita—Stealing Mercy’s Sequel

Last October Stealing Mercy went free. Within days it to soared to the top of Amazon’s free charts and it stayed there for months. (Just yesterday it made another brief appearance on Amazon’s top 100 historical romance list.) Because a number of readers had issues with the continued disappearance of Cousin Rita, I set out to write her story. And I did. I wrote a novella, had it edited, sent it to beta readers and told my formatting guy to get ready because I was going to publish again.
But I can’t do it. Rita needs a whole novel, not just half a story, and the story I told wasn’t the story I started out to tell. There’s a mail ordered bride to be rescued, a traveling acting troupe, a villain with wives in every city. Polygamy is mentioned, my characters travel through 1889 Salt Lake City—a year before plural marriage is banned. It’s a great story, very fun. Someday I’ll share it.
But in my heart there’s a better story. And it’s true. And anyone who isn’t of my faith will never understand. I don’t know to make them see what I see. Or maybe I’m just not brave enough to try. Yet.
The true story is of my great-great grandmother Martha Diana Case. Martha was from a wealthy family in Chicago. When she and her husband converted to Mormonism and prepared to travel to Salt Lake City to live and practice their new faith, Martha’s parents offered them $70 thousand dollars not to go. But they went. They hired men (Mormons) to drive their three wagons across the plains. Along the way Martha’s husband died. When Martha’s wagons arrived in the Salt Lake Valley they had been emptied—everything she owned had been stolen. Brigham Young, the president of the Mormons, encouraged Martha to become William Hickman’s fourth wife, which she did. She had four children with William.
William was an attorney—the liaison between the US government and the Utah territory. About the time that William fell out of favor with Brigham Young and church leaders, his second wife left him and took with her William’s children. The rumor is that the man the second wife left him for was also having sex with William’s twelve year old daughter. William went to that man’s home and shot him in the head.
According to my great grandfather’s personal history, William was excommunicated from the church, convicted of murder and sentenced to live in a desolate part of Wyoming. (It’s true, Wyoming used to be a punishment.) According to Wikipedia, William Hickman was excommunicated for refusing to carry out an assignation for Brigham Young.
In any case, Martha didn’t follow him. Instead, accepted a teacher’s post in Idaho and it was there she raised her children as Mormons, who loved and believed in the teachings of a restored gospel. In spite of everything that she went through. She didn’t return to her family in Chicago. She raised her four children and taught them, and others, the best that she knew how. It must have been cold, windy, and bleak. (I’m sorry, but I can’t imagine Idaho any other way.)I’m sure they were poor. I hope they were treated kindly, despite the family scandal.
To me, that story is just as miraculous as Moses parting the Red Sea. And I can’t even tell it with the power it deserves. There is a quote I love by Friedrich Nietzsche-- And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
How can I explain the music to Stealing Mercy’s 70 thousand readers? I don’t even know how to try. But I feel my grandmother’s story is so closely tied to Rita’s that I have to tell it. When I’m ready. When I’ve figured out how to find the words.
An interesting side note, more pertinent to those who understand Mormon doctrine than to those who don’t. Several years after my marriage I read the Life and Times of William Hickman and when I came to the end of the book I learned that many years after his death, William’s temple work was done. The man who granted that privilege? Franklin D Richards, then president of the quorum of the twelve, my husband’s great grandfather.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Wedding Cake and the Visitor

I belong to a group blog—thirteen amazing romance writers sharing their stuff three times a week. For the month of June, we’re all sending a few of our favorite characters to a wedding. (Meaning we each write a story snippet involving a character or two from one of our books and send them to a wedding on Main Street.) I decided to ask Penny, from my novel Losing Penny, to bake the cake. To read my blogger friends’ posts click here To read my post, which will go live tomorrow on the same site, just read on.

The Wedding Cake and the Visitor

Temptation lurks around every corner and sometimes attacks in your very own kitchen—Penny knew this, had written it as gospel in her heart, but even after months of relentless calorie counting and hundreds of hours logged on the elliptical, one little whiff sugary goodness could turn her knees to butter.
Tess, who pretended to be her friend but kept company with the enemy, held out a spoon weighted down with frosting.  “You have to taste this.”
 Penny gripped her spatula and her willpower. “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the boobies hang down.”
“Boobies will hang anyway. It’s what they do.” Tess laughed and wiggled the frosting under Penny’s nose. “You’ve already lost so much weight, how much damage can a smidge do?”
Penny sniffed at the offending spoon and returned to creating spun sugar roses. “That smidge is a whopping 150 calories.”
“How can you decorate an entire wedding cake without even taking a lick?” Tess asked.
“How can you profess to love me and still tempt me?”
“How can you be such an amazing cook and stay so thin?”
Penny sighed and put down her spatula. “All I have to do is close my eyes and picture myself at my brother’s wedding, wearing the beige dress that makes me look like a giant pralines and cream ice cone.”
“Ah, the dress from hell—or Dairy Queen.”
“Same thing,” Penny muttered.
“It can’t be that bad,” Tess said. “Rosalynn loves you, right?”
“I thought she did until I saw the dress.”
Tess licked her spoon and settled down on a stool in front of the three foot high, nearly completed wedding cake. “I’m glad my brother isn’t getting married. This wedding is enough stress. Thanks again for helping out.”
Penny smiled at her creation. If she couldn’t eat, she could do the next best thing—bake.  “Anything for Samantha and Greg.”
“Unless calories are involved.” Tess popped another spoonful in her mouth. She licked her lips, closed her eyes and murmured, “Yum.”
“Yum is right.” Penny bumped her hip against Tess and pointed her spatula at a tall, blond and blue eyed man standing in the courtyard. He looked lost and Penny fought the temptation to rip off her apron, bolt through the door and ask him if she could show him the way to where ever. “Who is that?”
Tess peered through the window and Penny elbowed her. “Don’t look!”
“How can I know who he is if I can’t look?” Tess asked.
“Okay look, but be fast and remember I tapped-tapped him first.”
Tess casually stood, went to the window and tweaked the curtain. “He’s visiting the new guy in 2B.” She resumed her spot on the stool, her back to the window.
Penny tried to focus on the cake, but for once sugar loaded calories had lost their appeal. The visitor of 2B glanced her way and their eyes met briefly. Embarrassed, Penny filled her pastry bag and drew a series of repeating hearts around the base of the bottom tier. When she looked up he was gone. Penny sighed, put down the pastry bag and returned to the sugar spun roses, promising herself that one day she would attend a wedding in a dress she loved.
And she would bake the cake and eat it, too.

Penny and Tess are introduced in Losing Penny, a novel that sizzles with romance, suspense and lip smacking recipes.