January 31, 2013

Coming Attraction:  The Valentine's Interviews

I'm up to my eyeballs in preparing Man of Her Heart for publication prior to Valentine's Day, to be followed by my Oscar Trivia contest at my Facebook publisher page, so I'll be turning over the blog to some author friends of mine who are having new releases in time for the holiday of love on February 14th.  So join me here starting tomorrow, and learn about some exciting new books!

January 27, 2013

Sneak Peek, Man of Her Heart

I feel bad about leaving you guys in a lurch with the saga of Brian and Liv, and rest assured I'm working feverishly to have this published, hopefully just before Valentine's Day.  A word to the wise:  When it is published, it'll be available at my eStore at a special price you won't get at any other retailer...and a three-book bundle of all three books (Save The Best For Last, Something Real, and Man of Her Heart) will be available through my eStore only.

Hope you enjoy it!  Keep in mind that my editor hasn't seen this yet, so this is straight from my computer.


Brian stared at his brother. “Sinclair wants to talk to me?”
“She wants to talk to us.”
“All right,” he replied with a shrug. “But what’s up? She already bought nice Christmas gifts for everybody. Is she looking for suggestions for what to get next year already?”

“I’m not sure what she wants to tell us, other than it has something to do with Liv.”

Pain stabbed at Brian’s gut for second, but was quickly overrun by his concern. “What about her?” he demanded.

“I don’t know.”

A careful look at his brother’s face helped Brian determine he was telling the truth. “Well, let’s go find out.”
Brian descended the stairs into the recreation room of the basement with his usual brisk pace, but once he reached the bottom landing he used especially long strides to reach his sister-in-law, who sat on one of the high stools arranged around one of three bistro tables in a corner of the huge room. “Sinclair,” he said without preamble as he slipped onto a stool, “did something happen to Liv?”
“I wanted you to know she isn’t spending Christmas in the Bronx with her sister’s family and her parents.”
Ivan joined Brian at one of the stools. “I don’t get it. Is this supposed to be news flash, Sinclair? If Liv isn’t with her family, then she’s with her husband’s family.”
“What’s going on, Sinclair?” Brian asked. “I’m sure you didn’t call us for this little conference just to announce Liv is with her in-laws rather than with her family.”
“She isn’t with her in-laws,” Sinclair said. “She’s in New York. At her penthouse. Just her and the baby.”
Brian’s brow furrowed. “I don’t get it. Where’s Reese?”
“He’s in Aruba. With his parents.”
Ivan shook his head. “I don’t get it. Why are she and her baby in New York if her husband and in-laws are in the Caribbean for Christmas?”
“Spill it, Sinclair.” Brian words came out sounding close to threatening.
“I didn’t know this until just now,” Sinclair said. “I’ve spoken to Liv a bunch of times in the past few months, and not once did she let on that—” 
Brian’s Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat. Could it be…“Has Liv left Reese?” 
Sinclair’s eyes widened. “How did you know?” 
“She left him?” Ivan said incredulously. “No shit!” 
Brian ignored his brother’s crass reaction. “You spoke with her?” he asked Sinclair.
“Just a little while ago.”
“Did she say why she wanted to stay in the city rather than come up here to be with her family? It’s Christmas,” Brian added incredulously. “She shouldn’t be alone. No one should be, not today.”
“She said she just didn’t feel like celebrating. She insisted she was fine, but I’m worried. Her voice wavered a little bit when she told me she and Reese have split. She said it happened back in September.” 
“September!” Ivan exclaimed. He exchanged a quick glance with Brian. “And when Sinclair and I went out to the guest house to wish Jackie and Mark Merry Christmas the other day before they left, they didn’t say a word about it.” 
“I’m sure Liv asked them not to say anything,” Brian guessed. “Remember, we didn’t know anything about her having a baby, either.” He left out the fact that he had known. The last time he'd seen Liv, she''d been seven-and-a-half months pregnant...and Reese had flirted with a barmaid the minute her back was turned. 
It sounded like she'd figured it out.
“I’m sure that’s it,” Sinclair agreed. “She actually asked me not to say anything to either of you.” She paused. “I told her I wouldn’t, but the more I thought about it… I just can’t stand thinking about her in that apartment all alone on Christmas.”
Brian hopped off his stool. “She won’t be alone for long. I know you have her address, Sinclair. I want it.” 
She hesitated.
“Sinclair.” His voice carried an impatient warning.
“But if you just show up there, she’ll know I told you.” It came out as a wail, and she sent Ivan a pleading glance for help. 
“Go ahead and give it to him, baby,” he said. “You can always tell her you only told me, and that I must have told Brian. That way she’ll be mad at me, and you’ll be in the clear.” 
Sinclair still seemed hesitant, in spite of Ivan’s encouragement. Brian knew he’d already been short with his sister-in-law, and he also knew Ivan wouldn’t stand for his being too forceful toward his wife. He tried a more gentle approach. “Sinclair. You told me because you knew I’d be concerned. What did you think I’d do once I knew Liv was spending Christmas Day with only a baby for company?”
“I guess I really didn’t think about it…but she lives on Fifth at A Hundred and Tenth.” She named the museum that took up the building’s ground floor. “Are you sure you don’t want to call first? I’m sure there’s a doorman. What if you get all the way down there and she refuses to let you come upstairs?” 
“She’ll let me in,” he replied confidently. He leaned and kissed her cheek. “Thanks, Sinclair.” He headed for the stairs, then suddenly halted. “Hey,” he called out to them, “I’m going to slip out. If the folks ask where I went, tell them I had a friend who needed me, and not to expect me back anytime soon.”
“Mom’s gonna be pissed that he’ll miss dinner,” Ivan remarked. 
“No doubt, but she knows she has two very independent sons that she can’t push around,” Sinclair pointed out. She blew out a breath. “Wow. I knew Brian would want to know about Liv’s separation, but I wasn’t expecting him to take off like that.”
Ivan got off his stool and moved to help her down. “It kind of surprised me, too. It’s amazing to think that after all this time he’s still in love with Liv.”
Arms around each other, they headed for the stairs. “What I want to know,” Sinclair said, “is how he knew right away that she and Reese broke up. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was expecting it.
Man of Her Heart, coming next month from Bunderful Books!
January 25, 2013

Anything for a Like?

"I'm looking for some likes."

"If you like my page, I'll like yours in return."

I see requests and offers like the ones above all the time on Facebook. Every time I see this, I have to wonder, what's the point? Do the number of likes really matter that much? What purpose does it serve having people you don't even know liking your page? Why would anyone blindly agree to like someone's page whose work or product they know nothing about in exchange for them to like yours, whether they know anything about you or not? Do appearances really count for that much?
Someone help me out here; I really can't wrap my brain around this type of thinking, and I'm seeing these types of requests more and more frequently. Amazon's taking the number of likes into consideration when determining whether a a book will or won't be a recommended purchase has only added to the wild solicitation for likes...but whatever happened to honesty and sincerity? Surely there are others besides me who only want those who've actually read and enjoyed my books to like my publisher page or my page on Amazon?

I have about 320 people who like my Facebook publisher page, but every one of them is genuinely interested Bunderful Books, because I have only approached those Facebook friends whom I don't know personally (whom I presume befriended me because they've read my books) or those whom I do know who read my books. What do I care if I come off looking like the proverbial red-headed stepchild no one wants to play with? For me the key word is genuine.  I want the diamonds.  I'm not interested in cubic zirconia.

Do you think it's better to have 1000 or more likes from people who couldn't care less about your product, or 100 likes from people who have an authentic interest in it?

January 21, 2013


I can't think of a better way to express how pleased I am that the first black President is taking the oath of office on the day designated by the Federal Government in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. than by posting this photograph:

Dare to dream!

January 15, 2013

Where There's Smoke, now available for the first time as an eBook

I just released another backlist title:  Where There's Smoke is now available for Kindle and Nook for the low price of $3.29, but the best deal is at my eStore, where for a limited time it is being offered at an introductory price of just $2.29--a full $1 savings!

Longtime bachelor Lucien Ballard gets a shock when an adolescent girl asks to use his cell phone to locate her mother in the department store, for she bears a striking resemblance to Thais Parker, the Las Vegas showgirl he’d impulsively married 15 years before during a sexually charged affair. Thais broke his heart when she insisted on having the marriage annulled. When the girl’s anxious mother shows up to claim her, she’s none other than Thais herself. Could their relationship possibly have a second act after such a long intermission?

Showgirl turned actress Thais Copeland, nee Parker, has started over on the opposite end of the country after her painful divorce, with a new job on a popular soap opera. She never expected to see Lucien Ballard again. He soon makes it clear he still wants to light her fire, but things aren’t as simple as they were 15 years ago. She has a sensitive daughter who longs for her parents to reconcile, and besides, in spite of their intense affair, Lucien is essentially a stranger to her...a stranger who still leaves her breathless with wanting. But a mere affair at this stage in her life won’t cut it. Do they have what it takes to turn their burning attraction into a mature partnership?

As always, I wish you good reading!
January 12, 2013

Crossing Over

Connecting books have always been popular.  My first two books featured heroines who were friends in a fictitious town in coastal Florida.  I then switched over to a new group of friends and lovers in New York City, which carried me through several books.  This connection factor made it only natural for the characters to appear in other books, because hey, they didn't stop being friends just because the spotlight had turned elsewhere.

At some point I went from simply writing connecting books in which previously established characters made cameos to actually crossing over.  My earliest of occurrence of this happened with my book The Heat of Heat (2010).  I wanted to do a follow-up on the younger sisters of my character Cornelia "Hatch" Hatchet from From This Day Forward (2002), who were no longer 16 and 17, but 25 and 26.  I decided there needed to be a third character, so I brought in Yolanda Jones, the teenage daughter of Ray Jones, hero of Closer Than Close (2003), who would be about the same age as the other two girls nearly a decade later.  This crossover brought in other characters from those books as well...Harriet Jackson, affectionately known as "Miss Hattie"...Hatch and her husband, Skye Audsley...Ivy Smith and her husband, Ray Jones...Ray's younger daughter, Maya.  Readers who'd read the earlier books told me how much they enjoyed seeing these characters years later.

I now find myself having characters cross over from book to book in my works in progress and in stories still on the drawing board.  In 2006, I submitted a proposal for a book about lifelong friends facing their 50th birthdays, planning on setting it in New York.  When I relocated to the Chicagoland area that year, I switched the setting to Chicago. (That book was published in 2008 under the title Once Upon A Project.)  "Chicagoland" encompasses an area stretching from Gary, Indiana to as far north as Kenosha, Wisconsin.  In the seven years I've lived here, first in Illinois and now in Wisconsin, I've had the opportunity to learn about the rich history in the area, how blacks came up from Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas to work in the steel mills of Northwest Indiana or the auto plants of Kenosha or the beer factories of Milwaukee (the last city is not part of Chicagoland, but it isn't that far away).  The story possibilities are endless.  I've set numerous stories here, in varying cities that aren't household names...places like Gurnee, Illinois...Waukegan, Illinois...Kenosha, Wisconsin...Hammond, Indiana.  If I need a minor but pivotal character, I don't create a new one, I simply take one from a story that's either already been published or is laid out and waiting to be written. 

An example of this:  I've got one character in a mainstream novel who admits to having had a post-divorce affair with the much-younger writer son of her parents' friend.  I've got the pediatrician hero of my WIP who notes that whenever he's not seeing anyone, the pretty general surgeon he'd like to get next to is, and vice versa. That writer and that surgeon, introduced or even simply mentioned in separate books, will be the hero and heroine of an upcoming romance.  The character of Elyse Hughes from Once Upon A Project will be in that book, as well, as a helpful neighbor.  The lakefront condo development where all these characters live will be the setting for yet another romance, which will allow for more character crossover.   

How do you feel about character crossover?  Is it something you enjoy?  Have you even noticed it?     
January 9, 2013

First Look:  Where There's Smoke

I will soon be releasing my Arabesque backlist title Where There's Smoke in eBook form for the first time.  Here's a look at the cover:

Although I am not updating this book because it connects to other books and characters and it would only confuse readers if I messed with the timeline (instead I put an Author Note at the start of the story reminding readers of the time setting of around 2005, because many things have become outdated in just eight short years), I am revising it to make it sexy enough to match that new cover.  When it's published (likely in another week or two), look for a special introductory price that will only be available through my eStore and nowhere else!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the cover!
January 4, 2013

Formatting Help

I’m a do-it-yourselfer, a necessity when you're an indie writer who doesn't have kids to force into servitude and can’t afford to hire a staff that have to be paid.  I do insist on going with professionals for two specific areas:  Editing and cover design (although I do extensive pre-editing so my editors don't hate me).  Whatever else I didn’t know how to do, I learned..and believe me, it hasn't been easy. 

That means that I design both of my websites (www.bettyegriffin.com and www.bunderfulbooks.com) and keep them updated (or sometimes not, but right now I’m good).  I write my book descriptions (Look, Ma, I’m a copywriter!).  I write my newsletters and new release announcements.  I coordinate my mailing lists.  I coordinate my contests and make sure prizes are given out.  I set up my author showcases at Ganxy and coordinated them in a central location at my eStore.  And I format my eBooks (I did the print ones as well). 

That latter one has given me the most grief. Mark Coker’s free Smashwords Style Guide has helped tremendously.  In addition, I just found more instructions at The How To Write Shop that might be helpful, and this one has tips for formatting scanned documents as well for those preparing backlist titles.  I figured I'd share this with any indie writers out there.

Happy formatting!