December 31, 2012

A Reminder...

Wow...two posts in one day.  You don't see that very often.

Just wanted to let you know that the 40% off sale at my eStore is in its final hours...just like the year 2012, it ends at 11:59PM tonight!

Happy New Year, everybody! 
December 31, 2012

My Goals for the New Year...Literally Speaking

Okay...here are the writing goals I hope to accomplish in 2013.  As you can see, I'm very optimistic!

  • Publish Man of Her Heart to conclude the Brian and Olivia saga...hopefully by Valentine's Day.  I will also publish a 3-title bundle at my eStore with all books in the series...including Save The Best For Last and Something Real.  This conclusion will be a shorter book than the first two.

  • Publish Love Will Follow before winter's end.  This novella, which I'd laid out years ago, features a minor charcter from Isn't She Lovely?, the co-worker of Tracy's named Tierney Simmons.

  • Publish my first women's fiction.  I just changed the title, since someone recently published a book with a similar name, but it's still too early to publicize it.  This is am ambitious project about long-buried secrets coming to light and the effect on the present day.  I hope to have this one out by the summer.  It will serve as the introduction to a small-town series I'll be starting...which brings me to--

  • Try like the devil to have the first book in my small-town series published by year's end.  I've been working on the plot for this one since Michael Jackson's untimely death 3-1/2 years ago.  If you're wondering what the death of a superstar can possibly be related to a small Southern town, you'll have to wait and read the book!  All I can tell you is that it's a writer's mind at work.

  • Publish at least three backlist Arabesque romances in eBook format.  I've had most of them scanned and have proofread them.  Because many of them connect to characters I'm writing about now, it isn't necessary for me to update them; that will only mess up the continuity of the timeline.

Wish me luck...and Happy New Year, everybody!  Have you set literary goals for 2013?  Feel free to share them with us in the Comments section!
December 29, 2012

It'll soon be 2013...are your writing goals in place?

There are some really good articles out there on goal setting for the new year.

Bestselling author Gemma Holiday shares with us what worked and didn't work for her in 2012 in a blog post she did for the Writer's Guide to ePublishing (WG2E).

Indie publishing guru Dean Wesley Smith gives advice on how to set achievable writing goals.

J.A. Konrath (no further identification needed) adds 2013 to the list of New Year's Resolutions for writers that he has been keeping since 2006.

May all your goals come true!
December 26, 2012

It's what you say and how you say it

In a move that will likely surprise no one, director Spike Lee has spoke out against Quentin Tarantino's new movie Django Unchained, which opened yesterday. Lee says the violence-ridden Western is "disrespectful to his ancestors."

This is not the first time Lee has criticized the work of other directors.  He objected to the excessive use of the N-word in Tarantino's movie Jackie Brown.  He criticized Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers for not featuring black Marines (the film was about the soldiers who raised the American flag at Iwo Jima, none of whom happened to be black). And we've all heard about his objections to Tyler Perry's Madea character.

Spike Lee is, to the best of my knowledge, the only director to openly criticize the work of his peers.  Similarly, Angela Bassett's comments about the role in the movie Monster's Ball that won Halle Berry an Oscar were widely reported, saying she considered the role demeaning and stereotypical and that she had turned it down prior to it being offered to Berry (although, in all fairness to Bassett, she did say that she wasn't being critical of Berry, just the role itself, and that she had tears in her eyes at Berry's moving acceptance speech).

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, yes...but under certain circumstances, these types of remarks are best kept to themselves.  I do have to applaud Bassett, whose career was already sagging when she turned down the Monster's Ball role a dozen or so years back...not for her criticism, but for sticking to her principles. She turned down this starring role in favor of taking more positive parts with top-tier billing but little overall screen time (such as The Score or Akeelah and the Bee), and she refused to do a nude scene (as she did in How Stella Got Her Groove Back), although the awful Meet The Browns was pretty stereotypical to me and certainly didn't do anything for her career (and I believe this might have been her last truly starring role to date).  But I digress...

While I felt that Django Unchained, which my husband and I saw yesterday, was highly entertaining (if extremely violent), I happen to agree that the script of Jackie Brown was liberally peppered with the N-word (practically in every other line of Samuel L. Jackson's dialogue), and that Monster's Ball did have a stereotypical view of black women, nor am I a fan of Madea...but I'm not a director or an actress, and that makes all the difference.

I personally don't think it's a good thing for those in high-visibility professions to criticize their peers, simply because it comes off as sour grapes.  Also, I notice that this seems to be done only by black folks.  I mean, Meryl Streep is generally recognized to be the leading actress of her generation, and you don't hear Sally Field, Susan Sarandon, or Glenn Close bad-mouthing her or saying "I could have played that role but I didn't want to." Nor do you hear anything about Steven Spielberg criticizing George Lucas.  I'm not saying this hasn't happened, I'm saying it hasn't been reported.  Prominent blacks, though, criticizing other blacks will be picked up and put all over the media, i.e., Harry Belafonte's unfortunate remarks about Colin Powell during the latter's tenure as Secretary of State.  No, it's not fair that our squabbles are aired publicly...but that's the way it is.  So it's probably best to remember that old adage:  "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."     
December 24, 2012

Attention to Detail

This evening my husband and I watched a Richard Gere movie from earlier this year, Arbitrage (apparently some kind of financial term) newly released on DVD. There was a scene when an angry Gere confronts one of his partners, and he is clearly shown locking the door behind him after he enters the office.  After he says what he has to say, he leaves in a huff...and the door opens without him first pausing to unlock it.

Now my hubby is sleeping, and I'm watching Christmas in Connecticut (1945) on DVD, a movie I've seen many times. This was the first time, however, that I noticed something. Magazine publisher Sydney Greenstreet tells Barbara Stanwyck's make-believe husband, Reginald Gardiner, that the columnist for his rival magazine just announced she is pregnant, which he fears will result in the competition getting a boost in circulation and valuable baby product advertising. He states that the rival columnist's baby is due in September. For the first time that statement made a bell go off in my head, for this conversation was held on Christmas Eve, and September seemed like an impossibly long gestation.

Sure enough, I did the math on my fingers. Even if women in 1945 went public with their pregnancies the moment the rabbit died (I couldn't say, not being around then), if it was announced in December, that baby would be due no later than August.

I like it when I notice these things, and I hope I can apply that same attention to detail when writing my own books.

Merry Christmas, all!  I'm getting sleepy, but the movie is almost over, and then I'll get some shut-eye.  Tomorrow afternoon I have a date with my husband to see Django Unchained.  Wonder if I'll spot any errors in it?

Do you ever notice errors in movies?
December 23, 2012

Time For A Christmas Romance

There's something so, so comforting about sitting on the sofa after dinner, with the lights of the Christmas tree blinking, warmed by the fire going in the fireplace, the grass outside covered with snow (this is Wisconsin, after all), as I sip eggnog (with nutmeg, whipped cream, and rum, of course) and either read a Christmas-themed romance (with the lights on) or watch those Christmas romance movies on Lifetime or Hallmark (in which case just the light from the fireplace and tree will do).  Sometimes I pull out my DVDs with old movies like Christmas in Connecticut or newer ones like The Holiday.  So many utterly charming stories out there about the magic that is romance.  It makes me want to write one.

I tell myself that every year, but of course, the week before Christmas is no time to think about writing a holiday romance...or is it?

The holiday spirit is in the air.  It's hard to capture the unique magic of the holidays in, say, July.  And maybe that's my problem.  In December I say it's too late.  In July I'm not in the mood.

Gotta do something about that...

Merry Christmas, Everybody!  
December 20, 2012

My Twelve Days of Christmas Sale is Here!

The actual 12 days of Christmas, of course, run from December 26th to January 6th...but in the world of romance it can start as early as mid-December, as authors offer special deals for the holiday.  I chose the last 12 days of the year for mine, because I want all of you who receive eReaders for Christmas to be able to participate, as well as those of you who already own eReader devices.

So here is my gift to you, because it's so hard to save a buck these days:  From today through December 31st all six of my current Bunderful Books titles, Save The Best For Last, The Heat of Heat, A Kiss of a Different Color, Isn't She Lovely?, Accidentally Yours, and Something Real are all 40% off the cover price...that's right, 40%.  This is a great time to stock up for yourself or be generous to a friend, because gifting is also an option.  These prices are only available at my eStore...it is next to impossible to change prices at retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, which is why I opened my eStore in the first place!  eBooks are offered in MOBI format (Kindle), ePUB format (Sony, Nook, and others), and PDF (all the rest).  Payment is via Paypal, and there are absolutely no additional processing charges involved; you only pay the price of the eBooks you purchase!  Although there are links to traditional eBook retailers listed on each eBook's page, the sale price listed will only be in effect when you buy directly from my eStore.

A note about my eStore...only the titles listed under the heading Bunderful Books are included in this sale.  My traditionally published books are not on sale.

Thank you, and in addition to wishing you good reading, I wish you all the blessings of the season and all good things in the year ahead!
December 18, 2012

Can't find time to write?

Here's a wonderful tip I got from Jody Hedlund's blog about writing in increments.  Everybody can do this...and if you can't, you just don't want to write.
December 16, 2012

Writer's Resolutions

I'm a reader of Joe Konrath's blog, and while I'm not a writer who won't make a move unless Joe (or anyone else) says he's for it, I'm always interested in what he has to say.

Every year Joe puts out a blog about resolutions for writers, with the focus on indie writers in recent years.  I looked back on his forecast for this year and was pleased to see that I followed all of his recommendations for 2012.  I've experimented with both pricing and content of my books, I've shared information with other writers, and I haven't let fear get the better of me in this uncertain world.

I already have some goals set for 2013 and look forward to reading what Joe recommends.  He'll probably have it posted sometime next week.   
December 15, 2012

2-for-1 Deal!




Now available for a limited time as a 2-for-1 special: Something Real with Save The Best For Last thrown in for free! This offer is only available through my eStore (where you never pay any fees other than the price of the book) and makes a great gift (gift option also available), so order today!
December 13, 2012

Sales Resistance - Not!

I went Christmas shopping for the grandchildren last weekend.  I ended up getting a pretty sweater dress for my very feminine 6-year-old granddaughter.  I didn't see anything I liked for my grandson.  The bulk of my purchases that day were for my own household.  I bought towels and matching face cloths, plus a set of sheets that had been marked down.

I find that I can't resist bed linens (last weekend while Christmas shopping I bought a bed skirt, two sets of pillowcases for the extra pillows on the bed, more towels and face cloths, and dish towels).  Nothing says comfort to me more than a bed with a lot of pillows, soft sheets, and a nice thick quilt to curl up under.  This is especially soothing during the cold Wisconsin winters.

I also find handbags hard to resist.  On my very first day of shopping, while looking for a pair of leather gloves for my mom, I found a gorgeous leather purse at Wilson's Leather, with that fresh leather smell and large enough for all the stuff I cart around, and with my two must-haves:  a zipped outer compartment and a shoulder strap.

Some women can't have enough shoes, hats, little black dresses, or crisp white blouses.  For me it's bed linens and handbags.  What are your hard-to-resist items?
December 10, 2012

Subject matters that filmmakers never seem to get tired of

  • Robin Hood
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Titanic
  • Jack The Ripper

The fact that these are all British themes is purely coincidental (maybe American legends, characters, and crimes don't seem as interesting?)

These are the ones that come to my mind right off.  Just when you think you've seen the last of them comes the announcement that yet another movie about the topic is being planned.  Can you think of any others?  Share!
December 7, 2012

Gone Blogging

This week I'm over at Shon Bacon's blog, Chick Lit Gurrl, along with Gen, Liv, and Cesca from Something Real.  Also, Chicki Brown featured the first paragraph of Something Real on her blog, Sister Scribbler.  Check me out!
December 3, 2012

Selling eBooks to the public with Ganxy

I first heard about Ganxy from a post on one of the blogs I read regularly, The Writer's Guide to ePublishing.  I found the idea of selling to readers from my website, blog, and/or Facebook page and keeping 90% of the cover price intriguing.  I decided to give it a try by setting up a test showcase (as they call product pages) at Ganxy.

It seemed daunting for someone like me, who knows squat about ePub and .mobi files, both of which Ganxy recommends be uploaded.  About all I could handle was a PDF, which is the third and last format Ganxy recommends.  I read their instructions, then did a search for a site that converts documents to ePub and .mobi formats.  I found Online Convert, which does it for free (they do accept donations, and they are on my list of places to send funds to now that I have received my September royalties).  I followed Ganxy's suggestion and named each new file with the book title, my name, and the format.

Once that was done, I was able to go back and create my showcase.  I decided to take advantage of the function that allows me to list other retailers (because some folks will always want to purchase from Amazon or BN, and while I'd gladly trade lesser Amazon rankings for higher royalties, there's no denying that reviews still stand for something).  Since I am an Amazon Associate, I had to include my personal ID in the linked product code so I get credit for any orders, which meant I had to get a product link code and only enter the part starting with "http" and ending with my Associate ID and skip the rest of it.  It's a pretty quick process once the files have been converted (and because I forgot to take out some Kindle- and Nook-specific references in the front of the first documents I converted, I'll need to go back and re-do these).

I then embed the code on the main page of my newly re-designed blog for an easy purchase link.  The showcase is pretty big, and since there's no way to fit six of them (and counting!) on one page, I skipped this for the page that lists my other titles in favor of linking each title to the showcase page.  Take a look and tell me what you think!

This is still new to me, but I'm learning how it works.  These are the pluses of hooking up with Ganxy for me:

  • A 90% cut of the price of all eBooks sold, rather than the 65% and 70% offered by BN and Amazon.
  • The ability to offer free eBooks to readers, choosing an end time by whichever is reached first:  A maximum number of free downloads or an end date.  Doing this on Amazon and BN is next to impossible.
  • The ability to offer sale priced eBooks to readers, with automatic end dates/criteria I set (i.e., "The first 150 people to download this eBook will get $1.50 off the cover price").  I didn't have my current giveaway ready in time to offer a Black Friday or Cyber Monday special this year, but I can offer new releases at reduced prices for a temporary period to entice readers to buy from my eStore rather than Amazon or BN (I think that works better than saying, "Please buy from my eStore; I'll make more money," don't you?).  Price changes go into effect immediately, another plus.
  • A good payment plan.
  • Superb and prompt customer service.  I had many questions along the way, and they got back to me very quickly...even on Sunday.
This is an overview of my experience I'm sharing today, not an endorsement.  That decision to Ganxy or not to Ganxy has to be made by each individual indie writer, just like everything else in the business.  I strongly suggest reading their Terms of Service thoroughly.  But if you do decide to set up one or more Author Showcases, it's always nice for them to know the source of the new business.  For that reason, I ask that you drop an email to Lonnie Rosenbaum at Ganxy at lonnie @ ganxy.com (please remove the spaces) and let him know I referred you!

I hope you found this column helpful!  Let me know by leaving a comment!
December 2, 2012

Where do my ideas come from, you ask?  Try real life...

My mom, who came up to Wisconsin a few weeks before our family reunion over Thanksgiving weekend and stayed a week after it ended, flew home to Florida yesterday.  I'm happy to say that she, plus all the other family members who came, arrived home safely.

But the details of Mom's return flight were hardly routine.  When we arrived at Milwaukee's Bradley Airport, the Departures board showed that her flight had been delayed by 65 minutes.  This was concerning because she had to make a connecting flight.  A chat with the ticket agent revealed that flights from her connecting city had also been delayed for the same reason, so there would be no problem with her possibly missing her connection.

But here's where it gets interesting:  When we arrived at the gate (I normally turn her over to an airport employee with a wheelchair, but this time I went with her to make sure she got on the plane without additional delay) I noticed that the sign behind the gate agents said "On Time."  I inquired about this and was initially told that it had been delayed, and when I asked why this wasn't reflected on the sign behind them, another agent informed me the delay had been lifted and the flight would take off on time after all.

This was fine for Mom, but my "what if" writer's mind started working overtime.  What would happen if a passenger checked, found out that their flight would take off an hour past the scheduled time, and did some things before going to the airport, only to find that the delay had been lifted and the plane had taken off on time? 

I'm already jotting down notes for a story...
November 30, 2012

Complimentary eBook from Me

If you have not yet read my eBook Save The Best For Last, you can get it here for free!  Of course, after that you'll want to read the sequel, Something Real...

As always, I wish you good reading!
November 28, 2012

Another item crossed off the To-Do list

Yesterday's project was sprucing up my website (it hadn't yet reflected the release of Something Real).  It didn't take as long as I expected...could it be I'm getting better at this?

Take a look at it and tell me what you think!
November 27, 2012

Anatomy of an eBook:  Something Real

I've been a little busy, hosting 25 family members for the Thanksgiving weekend.  One thing I was determined to do was get Something Real published before anyone arrived, and I did.  I just realized I forgot to mention it on my blog.

Something Real, my 21st original novel, was published on November 15th.  It is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at Smashwords.  I think Sean D. Young of Young Creations did a fabulous job with the cover.  What do you think?

 

Wondering what's up next?  I have ambitious plans for 2013, but I'm not confident enough that I'll be able to accomplish all I hope to, so I'm keeping mum...other than to say that I will definitely be releasing the final book in this series that began with Save The Best For Last (Gen and Dexter's story) and continues with Something Real (which includes both Cesca and Terrence as well as Liv and Brian).  The concluding story, which will be considerably shorter than the 107.7K final word count of its predecessor, wraps up the relationship between the latter couple.  I've already started this and plan to publish before winter's end.

I still have to update my website (did I mention I've been busy?), but I did an entertaining guest blog with author Chicki Brown at her blog, Sister Scribbler.  It will give you an idea of what the story is about, so check it out!  Also, I have been offering Save The Best For Last, published in 2009, for FREE on Smashwords.  If you haven't read this eBook yet, you can get your complimentary copy here.

Finally, I was also interviewed by author Michelle Monkou for her regular column in the online version of USA Today.  You can read the interview here.

Thanks to the regular readers of this blog for coming along on this journey with me as I worked to complete Something Real, from conception and all through the structuring process.  Now that it's over, I wish you good reading!
November 26, 2012

Chewing the fat with...Phyllis Bourne

I have been a fan of Phyllis Bourne since I read her novel Operation Prince Charming, one of the best contemporary romances I’ve ever read. This talented, imaginative writer has a new release out this month, so get comfy and let’s chew the post-Thanksgiving fat with her!


 
Phyllis’s first book, the lovely-titled A Moment on the Lips, was published in 2006. She contributed to the novella The Holiday Inn in 2008, and 2010 brought the publication of the aforementioned Operation Prince Charming, a novel that can only be described as utterly beguiling! Phyllis recently signed with Harlequin’s Kimani line. Her first title for them, Taste For Temptation, was published in mid-October, with the eBook release following on November 1st. Here’s the back cover blurb (gotta love that first sentence; it’s a real attention-getter): 
 
No one dumps Brandi Collins! After being left at the altar, the Nashville high school teacher plans to get back at her ex by undergoing a major transformation. But how is she supposed to shed those extra pounds with that intoxicating aroma wafting into her condo? And the tempting smell of mouthwatering chocolate has nothing on the handsome hunk who's creating the irresistible confections.

Adam Ellison has given up everything for his dream of winning the International Chocolate Pastry Competition. His voluptuous new neighbor knocking on his door at three in the morning is a distraction he doesn't need! Now only one thing will satisfy Adam's craving for Brandi. But what happens when she discovers her struggling pastry chef is really the heir to a multimillion-dollar corporate empire? Will Brandi still be there intoxicating him with her kisses…or will Adam lose his chance for a lifetime of love?”



This book is available wherever Harlequin titles are sold, as well as print and ePub copies for sale at Amazon, BN.com, and eHarlequin.com.
Bettye: Phyllis, welcome to the blog. So glad you stopped by to chew the fat. Tell us what inspired Taste For Temptation. Is it a series or a story without spin-offs for secondary characters?

Phyllis Bourne: The opening scene popped into my head first. From there, I had to figure out the perfect situation and a hunky hero to complicate the life of a chocoholic dieter desperate to lose weight for a special occasion.

Taste for Temptation is book one of a two book series. I keep the sweets theme going in the second book, Sweeter Temptation, which revolves around a candy factory.

Bettye: It’s been much too long between books. Do you plan on publishing on a more frequent basis?

Phyllis Bourne: I’m a super slow writer, who can spend hours making sure a sentence reads just right. However, I’m learning to pick up the pace since signing with Harlequin Kimani. I’m working toward putting out two books a year – instead of a book every two years!

Bettye: Your fans will be happy to hear that, both the old ones and the new. Tell me, will those of us who missed your first book, A Moment on the Lips, get to read it in an eBook reincarnation?

Phyllis Bourne: Definitely! I recently received the rights back to A Moment on the Lips from my former publisher and look forward to putting out an updated e-book version early next year. The story is different from my later works, which are humorous, faster-paced, sexy reads. A Moment on the Lips progresses at an easier pace, like life in the small town it’s set in. It’s not a sexy book, but very sweet and utterly romantic.

Bettye: Sweet and romantic works for me! Okay, now it’s time for the all-intrusive personal question. Your followers know that you’re very much into cosmetics.  Who, in your opinion, makes some of the best products out there for hair and skin?

Phyllis Bourne: While I no longer have the time to devote to a dedicated beauty blog, I still adore all things beauty. And I love recommending products that really work! For hair, I like K√©rastase products. It’s a pricey line, but delivers great results both at the salon and at home. I prefer the drugstore brand Aveeno for skin care. I especially like their citrus-scented ‘Smart Essentials’ line.

Bettye: Will check them out! What’s up next for you, Phyllis? Can you give us a little advance info on what your next book will be about, and when it’ll be out?

Phyllis Bourne: My next book, Sweeter Temptation, comes out Fall 2013. I’m still in the midst of the editorial process, but will give you a hint – they’re snowbound!

Bettye: If there’s anything you’d like readers to know, please share. Be sure to give your website and Facebook info!

Phyllis Bourne: I love romance novels and enjoy connecting with fellow readers. I can be found on my website: www.phyllisbourne.com/ , Twitter: @phyllisbourne and Facebook.com/phyllisbournebooks.

As always, great chatting with you, Bettye. Thanks for having me!

Bettye: Thank you, Phyllis! Readers, do yourself a favor and pick up or download Taste For Temptation today!


November 10, 2012

All Listed Out

Lately I've been reading a lot about setting writing and publishing goals for the rapidly approaching new year (yup, it'll be 2013 before you know it).

Goal-setting and progress-checking are important for indie writers/publishers, because we are in charge of our careers.  At some point our past accomplishments have to be checked to determine what is working and what's not, and our future accomplishments checked as well...looking at our output studied to determine whether we need to speed things up (or slow things down), check that idea file and outline which projects are anticipated to be completed and published over the next twelve months, etc.

The problem is, I can't handle another list right now.  My life is full of lists at the present, including:

  • A list of just who is attending my family reunion, which my husband and I are hosting over Thanksgiving weekend.
  • A list of where those who are planning to stay at the house are going to sleep; who gets a bedroom and who will be staying at Camp Griffin in the basement.
  • A list of the menu for Thanksgiving Eve, Thanksgiving breakfast, and Thanksgiving dinner, which I'm preparing.
  • A list of "teams" who will work together to prepare one meal each for the rest of the weekend.
  • A list of things I need my handyman to either fix or install before everyone gets here.
  • My Christmas shopping list.
  • My Christmas card list.
I have a feeling I'm going to be working on my plan for 2013 on December 26th...

What about you?  Are you all "listed out" with things that have to be done by year's end?
November 9, 2012

Is this what it takes to sell a CD these days?

I freely admit I made a face when I saw this new Diana Krall CD being advertised on TV.  For those of you unfamiliar with Ms. Krall, she is a respected jazz pianist and vocalist.  On this cover she looks anything but respectable.

There was a time not too long ago--probably less than 15 years--when women dressed up to look like streetwalkers on their CD covers, but then it went away.  I hope this isn't the start of a trend.


Mothers, don't let your daughters grow up to be singers...
October 28, 2012

Chewing the Fat with...Candace Shaw


If you’re an indie author (or a traditional one) preparing to launch your first book and aren’t sure what to do, I recommending following the example of Candace Shaw.  Start with a well-written, focused story (preferably a series, since that’s what most readers go for). Have it proofread and edited, avoid stereotyped romance characters and plotlines wherever possible (the domineering, matchmaking mother of the clan; the pregnancy that results from a single bout of unprotected sex—something that does happen but with unusually high odds of close to 100% in romance novels), and be sure to give readers a good idea of whose book will come next to whet their appetite.  Come up with a catchy title and an attractive cover photo (preferably one that hasn’t already been on the covers of a gazillion eBooks already).  Finally, join a few writer’s groups, participate in the conversation if the group has them, and tell everyone about your book (on the appropriate days, of course).

Candace published her first book, Cooking Up Love, in April 2012, in which she introduces the Arrington family of Memphis.  The Arringtons have five children, three daughters and two sons. Candace released Book #2 in the series, The Game of Seduction, in late August.  She is busy writing the next installment in the series, but took a few minutes to chew the fat with me. 
Without further, ado, here’s Candace!

Bettye:  Candace, welcome to my blog, and congratulations on the success of your Arrington Family Series.  It’s wonderful to see a new author launch his/her career so nicely.  Tell me, what inspired you to write this series and to choose that particular setting of Memphis?  I must say I have fond memories of Memphis…my husband and I took a “blues vacation” for my birthday a few years back, first spending some time in Clarksdale, Mississippi and then Memphis.  The music was marvelous.

Candace Shaw: Thank you so much for having me here today, Bettye. I got the idea to write the series while I was in Memphis visiting my husband’s family as well as attending the Memphis in May Barbecue Festival. I had ideas swirling in my head about a family of doctors. While driving down Shelby Street, the light bulb clicked on in my head that Memphis would be the perfect city for my doctor series. I loved downtown with the trolley, blues clubs and barbecue on Beale Street and the park that overlooks the river. One of my dear friend’s maiden name is Arrington, and I knew I wanted to use it for a family series. My husband was raised in Memphis and gave me insight of the different areas and neighborhoods.

Bettye: Give us a quick rundown of the Arrington siblings from oldest to youngest, their approximate ages, occupations and a little bit about their personalities.

Candace Shaw: Cannon: 37, Pediatrician. Workaholic and very goal-oriented. An intellect. Alpha male and an all-around good person.

Raven: 37, (Cannon’s twin sister) Ob/Gyn. Serious-minded, focused and a logical thinker. A widow.

Sean: 34, Psychiatrist. I don’t really know him, yet but so far he’s arrogant and loves the model-type. Alpha male.

Bria: 30, Allergist and naturopathic doctor. Headstrong and determined. Fun-loving.

Shelbi: 27, Medical resident (eventually becomes an endocrinologist) Sassy, easygoing, goal-oriented.

Bettye: Want to hear something funny?  The book I just started writing features a 37-year-old male pediatrician. Do great minds think alike, or what? (Fortunately, my doc's name isn't Cannon.)
When did the writing bug hit you, Candace? Was Cooking Up Love your first attempt at writing a book? (I know that was two questions, but I’m sneaky sometimes.)
Candace Shaw:  I’d been writing since college but never finished a book. Once the education/test prep grammar books (grades 1st to 4th) I wrote for Creative Teaching Press were contracted and published, I decided once again to work on a contemporary romance novel. So in 2006, I started Perfect Candidate for Love, as well as the sequel, and worked on them off and on for about three years, mostly during the summer months when I was off. I did send it to a few publishers but never heard back. I joined Georgia Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America in 2009, and I had the book critiqued several times by published authors, including Carmen Green and Carla Fredd, as well as attending conferences and workshops. I found out I wrote the book completely wrong, as far as where I set it, among other things. So I started over again with Cooking Up Love in 2010 and incorporated everything I’d learned. Now I’m going back and rewriting the first book and it will be out in summer 2013. It’s more of a chick lit meets contemporary romance series, sort of like Sex and the City or Single Ladies. Two of the heroines, Megan Chase and Jade Whitmore, were briefly introduced in The Game of Seduction.

Bettye: Speaking of my being sneaky, I always slip in a highly intrusive personal question in these interviews…Now that you’ve been forewarned, here it is: What’s your favorite color?
Candace Shaw: Pink and green.

Bettye: Tell us where your eBooks are sold, and what’s coming next (and an estimate of when we can expect it).

Candace Shaw: My ebooks are sold with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, All Romance ebooks, iTunes, Sony and eDiesel Bookstore. Cooking Up Love is also in print through Createspace.
 
I’m currently working on a short prequel to the third book in the Arrington Family Series, titled Simply Amazing, which takes place about 12 years before the third book. The prequel is centered around the oldest sibling Cannon and his heroine, Yasmine Dubose. It will be released as a free read (forever) in December 2012. The third book, Only One for Me, will be released more than likely late spring 2013. You’re right about an estimate of when to expect it. I like to take my time when writing a novel. It’s all about quality not quantity for me. It took me a year and few months for me to be satisfied with Cooking Up Love and about the same for The Game of Seduction. I’m aiming for late spring, plus I send it to a professional editor, and that takes time as well. But I have an outline, scenes typed and some still in my head. I plan on officially beginning again once the short story I had no plans of writing is finished.

Bettye: Thanks, Candace!  If there’s anything else you’d like your readers to know, this is the time to fill them in!          

Candace Shaw: Thank you, Bettye. I had fun. I would like to share the blurb for Cooking Up Love.

When Shelbi Arrington accepts a position as a food critic in the hopes of burying her medical career and foregoing her residency, the last thing she’s searching for is love. However, that’s just what the doctor ordered, especially when she lays eyes on the handsome chef, Justin Richardson. While sorting out her secret conflict of continuing her medical career, she falls for his mouth-watering charm, leaving her hungry for anything he has to offer.

Justin is leery of doctors because a doctor’s negligence caused his mother’s death when he was twelve. He has put his focus and energy into his restaurant, which had been a dream he and his mother shared. Justin is immediately smitten by the cute, sassy food critic that has him cooking up different ways to please her appetite. But when things start to heat up, Shelbi learns of a shocking revelation that could extinguish the flame of their relationship. Will Justin be able to forget his pain and commit to the woman who has stolen his heart?
-------------------
Thhhhhhhat's all, Folks!
October 10, 2012

That's a Promise

As I finish up the manuscript for Something Real, it dawned on me that this has been such a long project because of its structure.  I haven't had this much difficulty completing a project since The Heat of Heat two years ago.  The two projects are structured similarly in that they cover more than one romance (two and three, respectively). Keeping previously mentioned facts as well as timelines straight has been a real challenge, but the end result makes it worth it for me and hopefully for readers as well. There's nothing like patting yourself on the back for a job well done.

Because of the complexities of coordinating the plotline, the length of the manuscript ballooned well past the original estimate.  It's important to me that the readers have a sense of who these characters are, but I have challenged myself...

My next release will be a single romance thread that will absolutely, positively be less than 75K words, preferably shorter than that.

I already have two storylines that will work for this; all that remains is to choose which one to write.

Wish me luck.
September 24, 2012

Why I don't do print

Every now and again I get a request from a reader who asks me why my more recent eBooks are not available in print.  Here's the answer, in a nutshell:

Last week I received payment notification from Amazon, under whose CreateSpace division I published my first two indie releases in print.  While the initial sales numbers for print were pretty good (in 2009 and 2010 there weren't as many eReaders as there are now, and at that time I was offering direct-to-consumer autographed copies), they have dropped off to nearly nothing in recent months. I'm not much to talk publicly about my earnings (which I frankly consider to be nobody's business) and probably will not do so again, but right here, right now, I'm laying it out in order to make my point.

To wit (I always loved that expression):

For the five-month period between April and August of this year, I made a little over $7000 in eBook sales of all my indie titles published under Bunderful Books.  I'm no bestseller, and this is certainly not enough to live on, not even in an off-the-beaten-path place like Guayaquil, Ecuador, but a very nice supplement right here in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

For this same period, for the two books I offer in print, I made $16 and change.  Let me remind you:  This was five months.  They had to wait this long to issue me a check because I hadn't earned the minimum (which I believe is $10).  Again, I only have two titles available in print, but I honestly do not believe my earnings would be much higher even if all my titles were offered in this format.  Now, it just so happens that my books tend to be lengthy, and in print-on-demand the more pages, the the price must be.  My available print books sell for $12.95 and $13.95 in trade size. The ones I wrote after that are longer and would be more like $15.95/$16.95, which I feel is too much for a consumer (they are priced between $3.49 and $4.79 in eBook format).  Add in the time it takes to format, the expense of an ISBN number (every author doesn't feel this way, but I want Bunderful Books, not CreateSpace, to show as the publisher of record, which means I have to have purchase my own ISBN), and I get the makings of a losing proposition.  For other authors it may be different (and probably is; who in their right mind would go through all that to make $16 in five months?), but that is the way it looks for this particular indie author. 

To print or not to print is a personal decision, just like the decision to indie publish and every aspect thereof.  For me it's better not to offer my books in print...because mid-to-upper four figures vs. less than 20 bucks speaks for itself.

I figured I'd put this on the blog, so that I can refer people who ask for print books to it.  Those numbers speak louder than anything I could ever say...
September 22, 2012

Dating Yourself

As I get older, I find I enjoy writing about characters my age, but it’s hard to build a book around people in their fifties. It’s a young person’s world out there, so I usually relegate these people to what in movies is called “supporting roles.”

That said, it can be hard for a middle-aged woman like myself to successfully convey a younger person's mindset.  Here are some dead giveaways that suggest that those 30-something characters are written by someone over 50 (or over 80, for that matter):

  • Characters who have names that were popular 60 years ago.  Linda, Deborah, Patricia, Phyllis, Diane, Brenda, Stephanie…those names pretty much were out of use by 1970, and practically extinct by 1980.  Some male names have retained popularity, like Chris, Robert, Matt, and even John (looks more modern spelled without the “h”) and the always popular Michael.  There are web sites that list popular boy and girl names by the decade that are quite useful.
  • Your 30-ish characters call flight attendants “stewardesses.”  Any character using this term should be at least  75.
  • Your 30-ish character’s dream man is Denzel Washington.  Come on…Denzel still looks good, but the fact is he’s a man in his late 50s…old enough to be the father of a 35-year-old.  Choose a younger dream celebrity.
  • Your 30-ish characters are doing “the bump” or even worse, “the bus stop” at a party.  Dances today really don’t have names, unless it’s line dancing like the slide cha-cha or the Cupid Shuffle.
  • Your 30-ish characters sound old.  Come on, folks.  If the hero calls the heroine a “treacherous little minx,” it just doesn’t come off sounding like contemporary jargon.  I actually read that line of dialogue in a contemporary African-American romance novel.  Just thinking about it cracks me up.  I once tried to repeat it to a writer friend, but laughed so hard I couldn’t get the words out.  Dialogue should sound natural...and preferably taken from the century in which the story is set.

Have you noticed any factors in books that give away the author's age?  Share!
September 10, 2012

Anatomy of an eBook:  Something Real

It sounded so simple...Answer reader's requests to know more about a strained romantic relationship that was in the background of my book The Heat of Heat, and since the female half of this duo, Olivia (Liv) Oliveira had been introduced in my book Save The Best For Last , why not have her share a story with the heroine's other friend from that book, Francesca (Cesca) Perry?  I'd already set the stage by having Cesca harbor an intense dislike for policemen...and I'd included a scene where the heroine, Gen, encounters a policeman who is initially suspicious of her marriage when she is unable to give him a contact number for her husband other than, "Four pound" on her cell phone speed dial.  He quickly reverses his opinion when he witnesses Gen's husband Dexter rush to her hospital bed and interact with her tenderly, unaware that his first suspicions were correct...it was a sham marriage, but the two of them were actually falling in love.

I decided to put Cesca and that suspicious policeman, Terrence, in what would be a complete romance, with the requisite happy ending, but that the relationship between Liv and her love Brian had the potential for more angst, so their tortured relationship would not be resolved this time around (Let me say that again, will not be resolved).  Because this book would be divided into Book I and Book II, with the first beginning the spring after Save The Best For Last ended, with a jump forward for Book II to after the end of The Heat of Heat, I would have an opportunity to let readers witness the start of Liv's love affair with Brian and see what drove them apart.  Then I threw a wrench into the story that really twisted it up, because there's nothing like giving the readers a good surprise that they (if I'm lucky) won't see coming.

Yes, it sounded simple.  Yet, this book is turning out to be Extremely, with a capital E, difficult to write.  I'm not sure why.  Like all my books, I had this story outlined before I started to write.  But as I do a read-through I'm finding that I need additional scenes here and there, need to move this scene up and push that scene back...in other words, this thing is driving me nuts.  The only thing that is keeping me going is that I absolutely loooooove the way it's turning out!

Which brings me to the point of my post (yes, I know, it's about time).  Why are some books so hard to write while with others I can't get the words out fast enough?  My last two eBooks, Isn't She Lovely? and A Kiss of a Different Color, were both easy to write.  Sure, I added scenes here and there when transitions seemed too harsh, and characters needed more development so readers could really feel they knew them.  But they were quick writes, with the former following the latter to publication by just five months.

It has now been over six months since Isn't She Lovely? was put on sale, and I'm still working on Something Real.  My goal is to have it turned over to the editor by the end of this month and to publish by the end of October.  But I'm not sure why some stories are soooo difficult while others are so easy.  If anyone has any ideas, please share!

And wish me luck! 
September 2, 2012

Good Advice

This blog post from New York Times bestselling indie author Gemma Halliday about the importance of good eBook cover art is from last spring, but it remains relevant.

Here are a few of Ms. Halliday's covers.  Not only do they look like traditionally published books, but they work well in thumbprint form.




Remember, even successful writers never stop learning and are always open to new and better ways of doing things!
September 1, 2012

In Celebration of September

It's just one flip of the calendar page from August 31st to September 1st, but for me this shift in months is second in importance only to December 31st morphing into January 1st.

So, in honor of this month, all together now:




September means, of course, that summer will soon be at an end.  Only a few more days remain to don those white slacks or even slip your feet into those white sandals.  It means apple cider, which I love (I picked up my first half gallon of the season yesterday!).  It means a new season of TV shows will soon be airing.  It means cooler temperatures are around the corner.  It means back to school for the kids (although in many parts of the country this has already occurred).  It means I blew it yet again when it comes to summerizing my snowblower, which I will probably have to have serviced to make it operational for the winter.  It means my family's reunion is drawing closer and I'd better start making arrangements, since my husband and I are hosting. Yes, I can practically feel the chill in the air.

I'm also on an efficiency/organizational/clean kick, which I get every spring and every fall.  I'm writing this after a vigorous scrubbing of my oven with baking soda and vinegar.

That desire for efficiency stretches out to my writing.  The 5th of September will mark six months since the release of my last original eBook, Isn't She Lovely? back in March.  (Accidentally Yours, ePubbed a few weeks ago, is actually a slightly revised reprint of a previous book published under a different title.)  Since Something Real is still in the edit process (more on that in an upcoming blog), it means I missed my preferred six-month deadline to publish a new product within six months. But you know what?  That's okay.  I'm not gonna shoot myself over that.  It might not even be out by October 5th (although I do expect it to be out by the end of October).  The fact is, pre-edits are hard...Every few pages I have to ask myself things like, Wasn't the heroine wearing a dress earlier in the scene? Why is she kicking off her jeans?  (The answer:  Because I made a consistency error.)  This gets exhausting after a while.  But these pre-edits (before I submit the manuscript to the editor) would be a lot harder if I was a sloppy writer.

You see, I've caught the habit.  The writing habit, that is.  Editing is a slow and tedious process, but writing is getting easier and easier.  A few months ago I committed to writing 1000 words a day, and for the most part I've kept up with that, usually by dictating into my handheld and then hooking it up to my laptop and letting the Dragon software transcribe my words.  I've also stayed on target with reading over the text and, if necessary, checking what I actually said if it didn't transcribe correctly (that is something that also happens less and less and Dragon has become more familiar with my speech patterns).  The result is that my future projects have a healthy amount of text.

I'm also having a lot of fun learning the ins and outs of the Scrivener writing software while I wait for my copy of Scrivener for Dummies to arrive so I can make sure I'm getting the maximum use of this amazing software.  In the interim, I've learned that I can essentially storyboard (plot out a book) using this software, even though if a plotline is giving me trouble I still prefer to use an actual board with different colored Post-It notes to determine which thread of the story each action belongs to (I usually divide these between General, Hero, Heroine, Antagonist, and Romance threads).

Using a different color for each thread, I can view my color-coded plotline chapter-by-chapter (or the entire book) in either list form:



 or index card form (similar to Post-It notes):



and check the balance of the story (am I too heavy on this thread or that thread while neglecting others?).

Lovin' September!  (humming the bars to the Earth, Wind, and Fire song).  What do you like about this month?
August 16, 2012

Good service appreciated

My husband and I were very annoyed when the Check Engine light began staying on for long periods in our SUV, which we bought the end of last year and even after all these months has less than 25K miles on its odometer, with both occurrences happening during road trips. We purchased a warranty through the dealer, Carmax, and I brought it in for servicing. I was already unhappy when I drove over at the appointed time, for I had to wait six business days to get an appointment, and by then the light had gone out. From there it was all...well, uphill.

The young man who met me in the service area listened to my concern about the long lag time in being able to get an appointment, apologized for the delay, and assured me that if they were unable to diagnose a problem, they would not charge me the deductible.  I immediately relaxed.

After about 45 minutes (which I spent editing, of course, from the binder I'd brought with me), he reappeared and explained that the problem was one the manufacturer knew about via a bulletin to repair shops, and that the repairs would be fully covered by them as sort of an unofficial recall.  I would not even have to pay the deductible.  The service employee further explained that because it was a manufacturer issue, they would be the ones responsible for the repair, not Carmax.  I was pleasantly surprised when he said they would be happy to transport the car to the dealer they work with at no extra charge, as well as pick it up when it was ready (no small matter; the dealer they work with is in Milwaukee, a 30- to 45-minute drive from Kenosha), inform them of the diagnostic findings and follow up on the progress of the repairs on my behalf. When I consented, he said all I had to do was choose a loaner vehicle.  In ten minutes I was driving off the lot.

I have often been on the receiving end of absolutely appalling service, and the courteous, efficient manner in which my problem was treated was refreshing.  Whenever I receive bad service I always let a person of authority know about it (the manager of our local J.C. Penney never wants to see my face again), and I decided that this works both ways.  After I got home I placed a call to the general manager and commended his employee.  They are not collecting a dime from me because the responsibility lies with the manufacturer, yet they offered to transport my car and inform the dealer, rather than telling me, well, where to go.  I thought that was just wonderful.

You know what?  It felt good to give someone credit for a job well done.  I just wish I had cause to do this more often.

How about you? Have you ever complained about bad service, or praised good service? Which do you have cause to do more often?
August 13, 2012

The Happiest Days are when books are uploaded

To paraphrase a line Olivia de Havilland said in Gone With The Wind , "The happiest days are when books are uploaded."

There's that wonderful feeling of accomplishment at having completed a project.  All those marathon writing sessions are forgotten in the joy of seeing your book's page on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and the other popular retail sites, and seeing your author page get a little fuller.  So is it time to rest on your laurels?

Heck, no!

It's time to get busy on the next project.

I am now in the midst of ruthless red pen edits for the upcoming Something Real before sending it to be edited.  I'm loving what I'm seeing (even as I cross out and revise my own words), but around this time I always get those inevitable feelings of, Will I ever get this project finished?


The answer to that is, of course I will, and it'll be wonderful.  But sometimes being a writer is exhausting.  Even as I do these edits to make it as sparkling as possible for my editor, I'm also storyboarding a book I was inspired to do ever since the untimely, tragic death of Michael Jackson (so you know it's been three years) in hopes of being able to get that middle filled in (I know how the story will open and how it will end), as well as not being able to stop my thoughts from wandering off to my next, partially written, project.  It can all be a bit much.

Gone With The Wind time again.  No, not the movie, but the making of it.  Maybe it's time for me to pop in the DVD I recorded of The Making of Gone With The Wind , which I regard as my grown-up writer's version of The Little Engine That Could.  This documentary from 1989 (50 years after the film premiered) tells of the struggles producer David O. Selznick had in bringing this impossibly long novel to the screen.  This is a man who had just about each of his fingers in a different pot as he worked on several quality pictures at a time.  Writers brought out to Hollywood to whittle the 1000+ page novel down into a treatment (not even a script that early in the process) found themselves being asked to prune dialogue on other Selznick productions currently in production, like The Prisoner of Zenda and the original A Star Is Born.  Even as the postproduction process began after a lengthy shoot that included the firing of one director and a nervous breakdown of another, Selznick began to turn his attentions to the upcoming Intermezzo and Rebecca.  In other words, this man never stopped.  But somehow it all got done, and extremely well.  That is what inspires me.

So I'm going to keep plugging along.  Not only is writing what I do, but it's who I am.

As for David O. Selznick, after Rebecca was released in 1940, he closed Selznick International Pictures but continued working, writing, producing, developing projects for others.  I, on the other hand, intend to continue bringing readers good reads through Bunderful Books...to keep getting that wonderful feeling when a new book is uploaded, hopefully for many years to come. 
August 11, 2012

New (sort of) eBook!

I am pleased to be able to offer for the first time in eBook format my romantic comedy, published in print form under the title Prelude to a Kiss, now called Accidentally Yours. While much has changed since this book was originally published in the summer of 2001, the pursuit of the opposite sex has not. If you're in the market for a genuinely funny romantic comedy, this is the book for you! As always, I wish you good reading!


Amazon reader reviews from the original print version of Accidentally Yours (then called Prelude to a Kiss):

"I thought this story was just too cute, was full of wonderful writing and loaded with surprises. I thought it was a great storyline that is so true to life for some 35+ singles."
"I absolutely adored this book. I thought it was a very humorous story with a few sprinkles of surprise in it."

"Funny, funny funny."

"A wonderful romantic comedy about the perils of looking for love."

Download your copy today, and get your laugh on while watching the hero and heroine fall in love! Available at Amazon, BN, and Smashwords!

August 8, 2012

Dear Amazon

At 4:45PM on August 7, 2012, I uploaded the manuscript for my new eBook Accidentally Yours through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) with the same publication date.  I was very happy to receive an email notification from Amazon at 11:35PM saying my eBook was now ready for purchase.  I clicked on the link...

And was brought to a page with an error message saying this product did not exist.

I promptly filed an inquiry with KDP and was told it would take 24 hours for a response.  Not understanding why they would send me such a message with a broken link in the first place (building me up for a huge letdown), I decided to simply re-upload the book rather than wait 24 hours to find out what was wrong.  The email informing me that the second upload was successful came at 4:55AM on August 8th.  This time the link worked.

When I clicked through, I noticed that the publication date, which I had put in as August 7th, appeared as August 6th.  There is not much difference between the two dates; however, I found it troubling that the date had been altered from what I entered.  I sent another inquiry asking why this had been done; for there was no indication that the date would be anything other than what I requested it to be.  I stated that it made me a little uneasy...if you were going in and changing my publication dates, what else were you fiddling around with?

I was away from the computer for a few hours, and when I returned I went to see if I had a ranking.  By now I'd sold a total of 10 copies--4 more than in the morning--and had a ranking of 18,000.  But then I noticed something curious...at the top of the page, where the price should be, it now showed "No price information available."  I guess that answered my question about what else you folks were fiddling around with...by claiming there is no price available, you have effectively removed my eBook from being sold and put the kibosh on my income.  And I have to wait at least 24 hours to get this resolved...more lost income.

I have been uploading books to KDP for three years now, and I have never had such a hassle doing so.  I'm not sure what your objective is.  Do you not want me to sell my products through your service?  Just say so.  Don't make dealing with your process such a frustrating, blood-pressure-raising experience that I won't want to use your channel anymore.  And please, please stop asking me to enroll in KDP Select.  If there's anything this experience has taught me, it is never to give anyone an exclusive to my work, because they can remove it from sale and put a halt to my income whenever the urge hits them. At least I can upload to Smashwords so my readership can get this eBook without having to wait as long as it will take for Amazon to straighten this out.

Bettye Griffin Underwood  
August 1, 2012

Balancing Act

It's nice to think of writing as a nice, orderly profession, where you simply work on one project from start to finish and then move on to the next one, but I've found that it doesn't work that way.  Most of the time I am working on two projects simultaneously.  In earlier times I would often be working on three, but I decided that limiting it to two allows for maximum focus and productivity.

Right now I am putting the finishing touches on getting a backlist title (formerly Prelude to a Kiss, now Accidentally Yours) ready for ePubbing.  I had the original paperback scanned, and I proofed it and made some improvements here and there, usually spending an hour on it a day while working on my work-in-progress.  Now that I'm done with that, I realize that adding a pivotal scene will give the story a more complete feel.  Then I need to write a new blurb (the original is the property of the original publisher and cannot be reproduced.)  The cover art is already done, so after those two things are done I can publish.

I was simultaneously working on proofreading/revising Accidentally Yours while writing my  work-in-progress, Something Real, which will be an original Bunderful Books release.  Something Real was receiving the bulk of my attention, with Accidentally Yours being relegated to an hour a day.  Something Real is essentially completed, with me inserting a few scenes here and there to assist in continuity and to fully flesh out the story, plus I'm doing pre-edits before I submit it to my editor.  Maybe it would have been ideal to send Something Real to my editor first and then work on Accidentally Yours, but two things convinced me not to shift my concentration:  1) When I realized I had just 20K words left to read over, and 2) It's never a bad idea to take a break from a project, and I've been pushing myself pretty hard on Something Real.  It was clear that Accidentally Yours is closer to being ready for publication, so I decided to take a break and divert my attentions.  I plan to have it available within the next week.

How about you?  Do you work on more than one project at a time?  How many do you divide your attentions among?



    
July 22, 2012
Behave!

Recently, I’ve heard quite a bit about authors behaving badly, both online and at a recent literary event I attended.  Those who have witnessed this find it distressing, a black mark on the literary community.

There’s no such thing as an Author Code of Conduct, but if there were, these would be my suggestions:
In general:
1) Be dignified.  Sure, we all want to sell books, but there’s a way to do it without looking desperate.  If you’re traditionally published, consider following the example of many traditionally published authors as they inform readers that first-week book sales, just like opening weekend receipts for a movie, are crucial, and that they hope readers who are planning to read the book anyway will either place a preorder or get it within a week after publication.  Doesn’t that sound gracious?  On the other hand, saying something like, “Please buy my book, or my publisher is going to kick me to the curb,” or even (for indie authors who don’t have that first-week pressure to contend with but want sales nevertheless) “Please buy my book,” sounds too much like…begging.
2) I have not witnessed this behavior myself, but I’ve heard it said that authors have been known to publicly accuse other authors of getting all their friends to write favorable reviews of their books.  Well, so what if they do?  Is that really any of our business?  Does this affect us directly?  So why bother with it?  The best thing a writer can do is concentrate on their own career, not somebody else’s.  Positive reviews are definitely a good thing, but the number that counts more than anything else is the number of net units sold, not the number of "likes," not the number of reviews, or any other number. 

3) If you have encounters with other authors who act like they don’t want to be bothered or are otherwise less than pleasant, just get away from them pronto.  I remember my own encounters with a writing colleague, who never failed to make a catty remark within 30 seconds of “hello” to remind me that they were miles ahead of me…with all the subtlety of the lights of the Las Vegas Strip.  It happened with never-failing predictability, and I found it quite amusing, because I never considered myself to be in competition with that writer or any other.  But their behavior gave me an idea for a book about people who felt they had to own bigger, better, and more expensive belongings than anyone else and who really had to scramble when wealthy people moved into the neighborhood.  That result, my first novel of women’s fiction called The People Next Door (and its sequel, Trouble Down The Road), made me a nice amount of change and attracted attention from film producers (even if it went nowhere, as these things often do), and many readers wrote to comment on it, saying they had neighbors just like that.  Too bad I can’t thank the source for the part they played in that success.  Just remember, you’re a writer.  Everyone is material for a book…the good, the bad, and especially the unpleasant and the tripsters like my colleague…who often make the best characters.
On social networking sites:

1) Promoting your books is fine, but constant (as in daily or even several times a day) tweets about your book will likely be considered nuisances by those following you.
2) If you befriend someone and they accept you, don’t go to their wall and post promo about your book.  That’s just rude.  It’s much better to send them a private message.  If you feel you absolutely have to post on people’s walls, ask for permission first, but don’t be surprised (and don’t get into a snit and shoot off a nasty message) if you’re turned down.

3) Likewise, don’t start sending chat messages to your friends about your book. Annoying with a capital A. Let them do their networking in peace.
4) If you join a group, be sure to see what type of group it is.  Some groups are nothing more than a place to post book promo.  Others have stringent rules about times to when this can be done to keep from becoming little more than places to post book promo.  If the group is active, plan to participate at least minimally.  Simply popping in to advertise your book, even on days when it is allowed, and never joining in conversations is like saying, “I could care less about this group; I just want all of you to buy my book.”  Sometimes members ask questions specifically targeted at authors.  As for posting about your book on a daily or several-times-a-week basis, this is definitely on the wrong side of the “pest” line, and that is why some groups have instituted strict guidelines about which days people can post promo in the first place.  Make sure you look at them before you start posting.

5) If a group contains both authors and readers and books are openly discussed, don’t go off the deep end if someone says they weren’t crazy about your book. (This is presuming the statement is made diplomatically, i.e., “It wasn’t my cup of tea,” vs. something insulting like, “That book was a piece of crap.”)  I personally believe that most readers will take the high road and be honest without being offensive.  If you want to respond, it’s best to limit your remarks to acknowledging their feelings and perhaps your own disappointment that they didn’t like it.  No need to be apologetic about your work (remember your dignity!); the simple truth is that every book is not for every reader.  And please refrain from defending or trying to explain your work; that isn’t going to make them change their mind and doesn’t reflect particularly well on you.  Most groups enjoy having authors participate, but bad behavior will get us banned.
For book retail sites:

1) If you’re reissuing a backlist title, be sure to disclose this to readers.  Avid readers who devour several books a week won’t always recognize a book with a new cover as one they’ve read before.  Others will recognize it and will want to put the electronic version on their eReader, but if they don’t, why risk antagonizing them?  Be upfront with readers and let them decide whether they want to order the electronic version or not.  These days angry readers will slam you with 1-star reviews for what they perceive as your trying to pull a fast one…and there’s nothing you can do to justify it.

2) Learn this mantra:  “Everyone is not going to like my book…Everyone is not going to like my book…”  Repeat ten times.  In that vein, let me say this:  All reviews you receive will not be glowing.  Refrain from responding to negative reviews; if you absolutely must, limit your remarks to acknowledgments and expressions of disappointment only, as stated above in the social media section.  It’s never a bad thing for readers to think of you as a gracious, even if they didn’t care for your book.

3) Sometimes reviews simply aren’t fair.  It burns me when I see an author slammed unfairly, i.e., they clearly state in the product description that it is a short story or a novelette/novella and readers give them low ratings “because it was short,” or when they make it clear this is a backlist title being re-published and readers slam them because they’ve already read the book (but we’re talking about authors behaving badly today, not readers, so let’s move along).  This hasn’t happened to me as of this date, but I would strongly advise to simply take the high road, at least in public.  In private, by all means let loose with a string of expletives, but please hold back on issuing a public response.  Consider contacting the retailer to consider removing the review, pointing out that the review is invalid because the information they claim was missing was there but somehow not seen.  Don’t get a friend to respond to the reviewer on your behalf.  And do I even have to say that asking your readers to attack the reviewer is the behavior of a third-grader, not of a responsible adult?

In conclusion, always remember that writing is supposed to be a professional occupation.  Please give it (and yourself) the respect it deserves.