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 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 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 @ (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...