March 31, 2013

The Bunderful Bundle

Happy Easter, everyone!  I attended church services on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.  I personally don't like attending Easter services...too many people who only show up once a year, clogging up the parking lot and showing off their new clothes.  I've considered going to sunrise service, but have yet to be able to get to church by 6AM...

Anyway, I wanted to inform you about the Bunderful Sampler.  It's a FREE download of excerpts.  The first one I have up is a sampler of three related storylines, Save The Best For Last, Something Real, and Man of Her Heart.  This sample runs nearly 14,000 words.  Simply choose which type of file you want for your device (MOBI, ePUB, or PDF) and download!  Check it out at the Bunderful Books website...and watch for more Samplers coming soon, as well as a FREE short story prequel to an upcoming eBook!
March 23, 2013

Just Do It

Every so often I get a request from someone saying they want to write a book but don't know how to get started.  I've developed a stock answer...I refer them here to my blog, specifically posts labeled "Writing" and "Indie Publishing," but I admit, I'm a little bit baffled by the question.

Thirty-five years ago, when I decided I wanted to be a novelist, I just...started writing.  I sat down at my typewriter (again, this was in the late 1970s) and got busy, because it was what I wanted to do.  Some people collect stamps.  I wrote.  It fed my creativity.  I wrote one manuscript after another.  When I decided to start submitting my work, I went to the library and looked at the Writer's Market to see who might be interested.  In those days popular African-American fiction just didn't exist--publishers weren't interested in books with black characters unless they were written in literary style.  Still, I tried, and the rejections piled up (in hindsight, I must admit that my early work wasn't much good).  When I felt discouraged, I went back to the library and looked up short story markets.  I wrote some more and started submitting.  I still got rejections...but also a few acceptances from publications with limited audiences (none of which is likely to still be in existence today), and later, the confession magazines.

On the novel front, as everyone knows, eventually Terry McMillan broke through that brick wall, and publishers realized they'd been neglecting a huge market.  That, of course, led to an explosion of African-American novelists by the last years of the 20th Century.  By ten years into the 21st Century, things started to change.  Indie publishing took off, and suddenly it became possible to make it big without the backing of a publishing house.

I started pursuing writing back in the days before the Internet.  My first instinct was to just sit down and write, and when it came time to do something with what I'd created, it was relatively easy to find that information (good thing, too, because at that time there were no authors to email...there wasn't even email).

Today, there is such an influx of readily available information (simply Googling "how to get started in novel writing," brings up a multitude of articles), that I have to question the sincerity and/or motives of those who choose to skip this rather obvious step in favor of looking up writers' (I always suspected these requests are made in aggregate) email addresses to inquire how to get started.  These requests are often littered with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, which suggest to me that the inquiry might be coming from a storyteller, not a writer.  Successful novel writing only happens when both skills are in play.  To write, you obviously must have a story to tell.  You have to have a passion for writing, to the point where you can't wait to get your words on paper, where you think about it frequently and can't wait to get back to it and work on it some more.  No one should have to ask anyone else how to write a story, and it's no wonder that I'm so puzzled when people do.  I wish I knew how many of the people who have asked me for information over the years have actually written anything...vs. having an idea for a compelling story they have either completed or are close to it.

Something tells me the former is the more frequent scenario...and that same something tells me it's all related to what I said a few paragraphs ago:  That it's now possible to make money writing fiction without the backing of a publisher.  Think about it.  Would people interested in other creative arts go to Paul McCartney's website to ask how to get started in composing, or to Denzel's (no last name needed) to inquire about how to get started in acting (sorry, couldn't think of any artists who aren't already dead.)?  No.  They'd tinker around at the piano or on the guitar, audition for community theater, pick up that paintbrush or charcoal and a blank canvas.  The same way a writer writes.

Okay, so I'm on an uneven plane here; the artists I named are at the top of their respective fields and have been for years (especially Paul), while I am far from it.  But I wouldn't be surprised if top-selling novelists like Stephen King or Nora Roberts get these types of requests all the time.

I can't emphasize this enough:  Writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme.  It takes hard work and dedication, perseverance...and most of all, material that people will want to read.  That material has to be completed before anything else can happen.  So my real answer to the question of how to get started  in writing:

Just do it.
March 21, 2013

When Your Output Drops

I decided late last year to really get serious about my writing, that the key to success was not only creating quality eBooks, but doing it frequently (in other words, both quality and quantity).  I realized that I could not afford to spend eight months  writing a book, as I did with Something Real.

I began keeping an Excel log of how many new words I created daily.  At the time I had just begun writing Man of Her Heart and was determined to have it done in 90 days, so my output was excellent, sometimes over 2000 words a day.  Still, my output was highest in the month of January.  It was lower, albeit still respectable, in November and December because I was doing other things, some of them family-related (like hosting a family reunion over Thanksgiving weekend), but much of it writing-related (setting up an eStore, revising my website, and proofing the text of a backlist title among them).  I met my goal and published Man of Her Heart 90 days after Something Real

But my word count has dropped dramatically following the publication of Man of Her Heart a month ago.  That worried me, but I'm now realizing that there's more to writing than just pumping out words.  My word count decreased because most of my time went toward proofing the text of another backlist title (A Love For All Seasons), which I published a few days ago. So I'm still on schedule and have now begun to work on my projects scheduled for April. Sure, in December I managed to keep up with everything

So if your output suddenly drops, ask yourself if it's because you're slacking, or if it's because you have other writing-related business to attend to.  If you know you've been slacking, ask yourself if you want to get with the program or do something different.  On the other hand, if you've been tending to other things related to your writing--promotion, website updating, pre-edits, etc., don't beat yourself up.  It's all good.
March 19, 2013

It's heeeeeeere!

I have another backlist title available.  I have published my Arabesque title, A Love For All Seasons, as an eBook.

Jack Devlin is captivated by a woman he sees for just a few seconds as she enters an Upper West Side restaurant as he leaves it to catch a plane home. When he sees her again months later, after relocating to New York, he feels like the luckiest man on earth. But Alicia Timberlake is an enigma. She’s kind and considerate, but yet seems oddly detached. Jack is determined to penetrate her impersonal demeanor, so devoid of emotional connections, and become special to her.

Alicia has never questioned why she is content to roll through life with no real emotional attachment to anyone other than her mother. But the moment she lays eyes on Jack Devlin, she is unnerved. Flustered by her unexplainable reaction, she rebels against her attraction to him, but fails to drive him away. What neither of them knows is that Jack represents a key to Alicia’s past that is about to be unlocked…and that will shock them both and represent a challenge they might not be able to surmount…

This eBook is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for just $3.29, but the best deal is to be found at my eStore, where for a limited time it is just $1.99 in MOBI, ePUB, and PDF formats.  The administrators of my eStore recommend that Kindle owners download the file to their computer, then email it to their Kindle.  For those who would prefer to purchase from Amazon or Barnes & Noble at the higher price, the product page at my eStore contains links to these retailers.

As always, I wish you good reading!
March 16, 2013

Meanwhile, in the blogosphere...

There are so many interesting articles in the blogosphere about writing and publishing.  I thought I'd share a few.

Author Marie Force had her first book published in 2007, just seven years ago.  She is now a bestselling author, writing for traditional publishers as well as having a very lucrative career in indie publishing.  Read her interview, in which she talks about the path to her success, here.

Author and publisher Bob Mayer talks about what he sees ahead for publishing, including paths he feels indie writers should take for success.  Fascinating stuff, and you can read it here.

Finally, Joe Konrath's blog is so widely read, I wasn't sure if I should even include this one because chances are anyone reading this has seen it already, but he has a highly informative post about a survey Harlequin is asking its authors to complete.  He isn't a Harlequin author, but he answers their questions.  Read what he has to say here.

March 15, 2013

First Look:  eBook cover, A Love For All Seasons

My cover designer, Sean Young of Young Creations, and I had such a hard time with this cover.  We both loved the picture I originally chose, but eventually we decided it wasn't working.  I then gave her three pictures I really liked for her to decide which one would make the most attractive cover.  She eliminated two of them for reasons related to her graphic arts expertise, saying they wouldn't look so hot on a cover.  This is the picture she chose, and what she did with it.

Is she talented, or what?

A Love For All Seasons (which is actually a backlist title, not a brand new book) should be available by the first part of next week at the earliest.  As has quickly become tradition for me, I will be pricing it $1 cheaper at my eStore as an introductory rate, effective for the first 30 days. I'll also be offering a Bunderful Sampler for this (a free download at the Bunderful Books website).  Note that this sampler will not be available until the book is for sale at all retailers; to offer a Sampler without including a purchase link is rather pointless...
March 14, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

It's been a hectic couple of weeks, and what little writing I did involved proofing the scanned copy of a backlist title, A Love For All Seasons, which will be available for download next week (the cover for this one has been giving my cover designer and I a lot of grief; we ultimately decided the original artwork I'd selected wasn't working and we're starting over). After what seems like forever (I'd taken a couple of weeks off after finishing Man of Her Heart, not aware that all hell was about to break loose in a whirlwind of unexpected, nearly nonstop personal activity), I'm getting back into actually creating new words! I must say it feels great!

I'm working on the short story prequel to my upcoming novella, which I have named Lost That Lovin' Feeling.  This is the first time I've done a prequel, so it's rather exciting.  This is backstory for the novella, Love Will Follow, since I decided that the reader needed to know more about the heroine's history, but I didn't want to include the backstory in the actual book; that would only slow down the pace.

I'll be offering Lost That Lovin' Feeling as a free download from the Freebies page of my Bunderful Books website, alongside my Bunderful Sampler.  Here's my issue:  Originally my plan was to offer this short story exclusively from my website.  I know it can take weeks for a book to go free on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and in this age where 99 cents can buy a full-length eBook, I feel a little funny charging even 99 cents for a work that is almost certain to be under 25 pages, possibly under 15.  I don't believe in padding, so the story will be however long (or short) it takes to be complete, and it will include the first chapter of my novella (at least now I'm considering it a novella, but again, the length might change before the story is complete), Love Will Follow.

But despite my best efforts to inform the reading public about the free availability of this story, there will be people who won't see it.  I hate to lose out on prospective buyers because they didn't know the story was available, but yet I hate to charge for something that I feel should be free.  So, this is my plan:

In addition to offering Lost That Lovin' Feeling at my website as a free download, I've decided to also sell it for 99 cents at Amazon and Barnes & Noble while I attempt to make it free at those sites.  I will use the Product Description to let prospective buyers know the length, that it is a prequel, and that it also includes the start of the story it precedes...and I'll hope like hell that some uninformed buyer doesn't ding me with a 1-star review because they didn't read the Product Description and were expecting a full-length eBook.

I'd love to know what you think of my strategy!
March 8, 2013

What Constitutes a "Real" Book?

One of the discussions I follow on Facebook had writers saying that they don't feel like "real" writers unless they are able to hold their book in their hands.  I paused to think about this.  It was exciting when the UPS man would deliver a carton of books to my house and when I saw them for the first time, but what excited me the most was seeing the cover art, which I always saw (and received cover flats) well before the books were actually printed. I felt that way well before the introduction of eBooks. The next most exciting thing was seeing my book on the store shelves, where the public could see it, and hopefully buy it.

That was then.  These days I'm an independent writer and publisher, and what puts the zigzag pattern on my EKG is seeing my book for sale at the first online retailer to get it offered after I upload (usually Amazon, which takes about four or five hours vs. more than 24 hours for Barnes & Noble).  I had that thrill just a few weeks ago, when I uploaded Man of Her Heart and saw its page for the first time  On the other hand, last week I received a carton of books from my old publisher, who reissued a mass market edition of one of my trade paperback women's fiction works (A New Kind of Bliss, if anyone's interested).  I'd seen the new cover art (it's very nice, IMO).  My biggest concern was that the books were delivered the same day we received a foot of snow, and while I'd cleared the driveway, it was such a big job I decided to wait one more day to do the steps and sidewalks because I wasn't expecting anyone (and anyone out walking their dog could walk in the street, as far as I was concerned).  The poor UPS man had to plow through a foot of snow on my walkway to get to the front door, and I felt badly about his having to do that.  The carton itself got shoved into my coat closet...and it's still there ten days later, unopened.

What do you think?  Does a book available in print seem more real than a book that is only in electronic format?  I'd also love your thoughts on the new cover art for A New Kind of Bliss as well...
March 4, 2013

Guest Blogger:  Shelia Goss

Bettye says:  I've had a very busy week, with a foot of snow (the wet, heavy kind that repeatedly clogs the snowblower), a couple of longish dental and medical appointments, my elderly mother arriving for a visit ill, and being late mailing out prizes to winners of my Movie Trivia contest that ended on Oscar night.  I spent Saturday at a funeral in Milwaukee and Sunday at the walk-in clinic at the local hospital with my mom (whose cold turned into bronchitis but fortunately not pneumonia).

Whew!  So as I begin a new week (and prepare for another 5-8 inches of snow tomorrow), I'm still exhausted.  Fortunately, my friend and fellow author, Shelia Goss, has a new eBook out and agreed to write a guest column.

Shelia is, as I never get tired of saying, one of the first traditionally published authors to dip her toe into the indie publishing market, and her success (her short story Love UnExpected was a presence on Amazon's Top 100 list of African-American romances for months and months) inspired me to try it myself.  Hard to believe that we have never found ourselves in the same location simultaneously and have still not met face-to-face, but through the magic of the Internet, we are friends, and I hope to one day work with her.

Take it away, Shelia, with my heartfelt thanks!  I'm going to make my mom some breakfast...


Shelia says: Hi, Bettye!  I'm happy to take over your blog for the day.  Man of Honor is my latest eBook release.  It's considered a Love Bite. What is a Love Bite, you ask?  Love Bites are short romantic stories that are offered as eBooks. 

Before I write my stories, whether it's a full-length novel or a short story, I like to interview my characters. I want to share with your readers a behind-the-scenes conversation with the three main characters of Man of Honor

Here we go:

Shelia Goss: Adam, please tell the readers who you are.

Adam: My name is Adam Bennett. I'm the manager for R & B singer Sasha Hayes.

Sasha: He's more than that. He's also my best friend.

Jared Logan: I thought I was your best friend.

Sasha: Jared, you're my man. Adam and I have been friends for years.

Jared: Adam...Adam...Adam. I'm getting sick and tired of hearing his name.

Sasha: He's my manager, so you better get used to it.

Adam:  I'm only concerned about Sasha's well being.

Jared: That's my job now, so you need to chill out.

Sasha: Fellows, no need for the hostility.

Adam: You need to check your man, because he's the one who seems to have the problem.

Jared: Adam, you are my problem.

Sasha: Jared, enough. Adam's been there for me when no one else was. You just have to get used to our relationship, and it won't be such a big deal.

Jared: Whatever. I got football practice. I'll catch up with you later. And Adam, I got my eye on you.

Shelia Goss:  Adam, it seems like there's some tension between you and Jared. Would you like to elaborate?

Adam: No comment.

Sasha: They both want to control me, but no one controls me. I'm the boss of me.

Adam: Sasha, I'm not trying to control you. I only want the best for you. Haven't I shown you that these last five years?

Sasha: Yes, Adam, but sometimes you can be a little overbearing.

Adam: That's because I have to be.

Sasha: It would be nice to see more of your fun side.

Shelia Goss: I hate to switch the subject but time is winding down. I love writing about romance, so Sasha, tell me, how did you end up with one of the top NFL players? 

Sasha: Jared and I met at a party hosted by a mutual friend of ours.

Shelia Goss: Do I see wedding bells in your future?

Sasha: Only time will tell.

Adam: Marriage doesn't mix with your fast-paced career.

Sasha: I'm almost thirty. I want to have kids. If I don't settle down now, I'll be too old to have kids.

Adam:  I don't think you can do both.

Sasha: Ignore Adam. What he needs to do is stay out of my love life and find him somebody. Are you available?

Shelia Goss: Sasha, this interview isn't about me, so I'll do like Adam and respond: No comment.

Sasha: If and when I do get married, Adam is going to be my man of honor.

Adam: I think it's time to end this interview.


Man of Honor by Shelia Goss is a romantic appetizer. Author Angelia Vernon Menchan describes Man of Honor as "...that quintessential love story that involves unrequited love and a love triangle...Man of Honor is a short story that packs a wallop with secrets and heat."

Man of Honor is available for Kindle at Amazon and for Nook at Barnes & Noble.

To learn more about the author, visit