Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review of LIFE, LIBERTY AND PURSUIT by Susan Kaye Quinn





Susan's new release now available in paperback and ebook was the lucky winner of my "I want to buy your book" contest. Or maybe I was the lucky winner, because I got the opportunity to read this fun and charming romance, a new title by a new small press, Omnific Publishing.






 Here's what I liked about Life, Liberty and Pursuit by Susan Kaye Quinn:

* The two main characters-- David and Eliza-- are extremely likable and realistic. I found myself thinking about them at odd times during the day like they were real people. Always a good sign meaning the characters have gotten inside one's skin.

* David has a Polish heritage, speaks with a slight accent, and sometimes uses Polish words in his speech. A nice touch.

* Never having read a book set on a cruise ship that didn't involve shipwreck or disaster (or even been on a cruise ship), I really enjoyed the "where they met" setting.

* The romance is sweet, passionate, and believable. Romance isn't my usual genre, unless it's combined with humor as in chick lit or mystery as in cozy mysteries or classic lit as in Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights or anything Jane Austen. But this one was fun to read and seemed more grounded in reality than many of the romance novels I've tried and set aside.

* It's not YA, since the protagonists are past high school, although still young. It's an example of the New Adult genre that hasn't quite taken hold but needs to. Those of you in support of the New Adult genre should buy this book.

* The first half was my favorite. I didn't want to put it down. David and Eliza enchanted me from the moment they first appeared.

* Without being explicit, there is passion. Without being prudish, there is restraint.

* The alternate POV's work very well for this story. Allowing the reader to see the anguish and attraction from both sides of the fence actually becomes a thematic element showing how confusion and mixed signals can threaten a beginning relationship.

* The ending is a pleasant surprise. David and Eliza resolve the distance, education and career obstacles in a realistic, satisfying way.

Overall a fun quick read and a delightfully charming romance. It brought back a lot of memories of my own first love(s), and the agonizing ups and downs that go along with falling quickly, deeply in love. Well done, Susan Kaye Quinn!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to Enjoy Your Author Event

Today I'll be speaking at a local library in Salt Lake, to the Senior's Group. I get 45 minutes to talk about "how I wrote my books, Farm Girl, my next book, and tips for any of them who might want to write a personal and family history."

Sounds like fun, right? Well, it isn't UNLESS I go with my own agenda which is: "tell stories, have fun, make friends, tell stories, talk about writing, give tips on writing from life, tell stories, give tips on writing one's history, tell stories."

End with a question- answer session. Done and done. Go home and change back into  pajamas work clothes.

Here's what I DO NOT want to do: "worry about book sales, try to convince people to buy my books, think about who will buy my books, wonder why no one wants to buy my books, agonize over the lack of sales at this or any other event."

There you have my very short list on how to enjoy your author event. You notice I didn't say "how to have a successful author event." Because that involves selling books, and that means I put too much pressure on myself, and that means misery and failure instead of enjoyment and avoidance of an entire pan of fudge brownies.

Oh, one more thing-- Include a drawing for a free book. Each person in attendance writes their name and email address on a card and drops it in a basket. The winner gets a free copy of your book, and you go home with everyone's email addresses for future promotion. But be sure and tell them you will use their information only to contact them about future events, or when your next book is available. (I have yet to do this. But I keep thinking about doing it, as it's a really good idea.)

 Please feel free to add your own excellent tips in the comments-- either from your experience at presenting or attending such events. (I'm a lost cause, but your good ideas might help someone else.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Consulting an Expert

I've been on a contest bonanza over here, that's for sure. This week-- no contest, just a normal post or two. And it's Meet an Author Monday again. Go here to join the fun and add your blog!

Ok, I'm trying to concentrate while my son is on the roof fixing our evaporative (swamp) cooler, and hoping he won't fall off. For those of you in humid climates who have never heard of such a thing, a swamp cooloer puts moisture back in the air of your house to cool the air. Unlike an air conditioner, which takes moisture out.
 
And that's as technical as I can get without interrupting their work to ask my husband and get it accurate for this blog post. Oh here he comes, I'll ask him! "Pulls air through wetted mats and blows it into the house." (Fast answer since he's busy, but still there you go..)

He knows how everything works and can explain it in an easy-to-understand way. Plus he has an amazing memory for trivia. This makes him #1 resource for information when I'm writing. "Honey, who was the president in 1981?" "Vice- president?" "Remember that winter when we lived in the Franklin Street house? How much was our electric bill?" "$800 for one month? Are you sure?" (Yes, because it was 3x higher than the house payment.) "How high will the winter wheat be in Colorado in May?"

I could go on and on with off the cuff questions he's answered for me. He's like a freak of nature. And if he doesn't know, there's always Google.

Recently I read him a chapter of my wip, and he remembered a couple details about a shared experience that were nuggets of gold. I quickly wrote them in. It wasn't just the extra information, it was that it so perfectly fit into the story.

Years ago, before I was married, and I had this dream of being a writer of books, I felt a lot of anxiety about how to get information. (This was before Google, Wikipedia, and the internet.) I couldn't travel like Ernest Hemingway because I was a shy college girl with no guts and no money. I used to look everything up in the Encyclopedia Britannica or the World Book Encyclopedia, but they never gave enough information. It would be interesting without answering my particular question.

Then I got married, had a houseful of children, wrote stories and gave up the idea of writing a book. No time or energy, and I never WENT anywhere worth writing about, I thought. Finally, with my youngest headed off to kindergarten (the one who is currently on the roof), I said, "Now I've got time and screw this, I'm not Ernest Hemingway, and I'll write about what I WANT to write about which is family life, and family relationships and stuff that happens in families and to families." I know plenty about that, and what I don't know, my helpful husband-- my resident expert-- fills in the rest.

 Uh oh, there are some awful big banging noises coming through the ceiling as husband and son try to fix this cooler and make my afternoons less miserable in our 98 degree temperatures. Please don't fall...

Job done! Water running through the cooler, no one fell off the roof. Husband comes in and says, "That smell right there reminds me of my grandma. Reminds me of Avenal when I was seven years old."  (His grandma lived in Avenal, a small town in central California, hot and dry, and they used these coolers in the summer.)

Who or what is your favorite method of consulting an expert? In the field learning by doing? Google? Or do you have a resident walking encycolpedia who lives in your house?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Winners of LETTUCE SHARE (and upcoming website for authors)

Out of 10 in the Diamond Tribe, and 15 in the Farm Tribe,                                congratulations to the two winners!






Leah and Jemi, email me your address at karenjonesgowen@gmail.com, and I'll ship out your autographed copies. Everyone was so enthusiastic and supportive that I wish I could send all of you the books requested!

For those who seriously want Uncut Diamonds, there are a few used copies available here for $4.00 which includes shipping. And next week it will be available on Kindle for $2.99.

Farm Girl won't be sold as an ebook because of the photography not translating well, and there are no real deals listed on Amazon. However, anyone who would like a copy shipped direct from me, I can do that for $15, which includes shipping. Or $20 for outside the U.S. I don't know how that price compares to Amazon for outside the U.S., but it is somewhat of a savings if you live here plus I can autograph it. Email if interested.

Okay, enough about me and my books. As I've said before, I am not a salesman and don't want to be

Which is why I've been working all summer with a team of web developers to put together a website for authors that will make it easier for us to sell our books-- a combination Goodreads slash Amazon and even-something-more-no-one-has-done-before site. That's all the hint I can give right now, until it gets closer to launch. The people I'm working with are paranoid computer geeks. (Who don't read blogs lol).

So I've been networking like crazy, getting completely out of my reclusive comfort zone, starting twitter and facebook accounts to connect with more authors who have books to sell. I'm not sure how effective the networking is. I'll know more when the time comes to launch and put out the call for applicants.

Any of you with published books to sell-- who are interested in more information, or who want to be considered for the initial launch-- please email me. Also, whether you have a book to sell or not, you can help support those who do by spreading the word. Just blog, tweet or fb about this, (such as it is-- I know I've not given you much yet), link to my blog and encourage authors with books to sell to follow me here or on twitter.

That way when the time comes, as many as possible can hear the announcement.

That's all I can say about it for now. More to come later.