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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Holidays to My Blogging Friends

It's time for my traditional holiday blogging break. I know many of you will be doing the same. See you next year!

 Wishing you all a wonderful, magical Christmas season


Photo  Farm Girl. Lucille Marker enjoying Christmas on the Nebraska farm, 1920.
For more on a Farm Girl Christmas, see my website.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Refining the Writer's Voice

I'm guest posting at Shirley Wells' blog today. Shirley, a British crime writer with some fabulous books to her name and a very nice person, graciously offered to host on my House of Diamonds blog tour. Each month she features a guest writer on her This Writer's Life series.

This is the last stop on my tour. I interrupted it to post about Celery Tree because for some strange reason which I still don't understand, the launch of House of Diamonds coincided with the launch of Celery Tree which coincided with Thanksgiving and NaNoWriMo.

For a couple weeks there, my universe was in total disarray.

 I didn't make all the stops I originally planned but I appreciate all who volunteered and offered. I can't imagine living the writer life without the support of my online friends.

I owe many thanks to those who did so much to help me with the House of Diamonds launch--reviews, comments, opening your blog for my tour-- I appreciate each and every one of you.

See you over at Shirley's website, where I'm talking about Refining the Writer's Voice.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fear of Failure

I have anxiety and fear of failure about a lot of things, depending on what I'm working on at the moment. I have three books out there in the big scary red ocean doing their thing, maybe sinking, maybe floating, maybe headed to some distant shore. Who knows? I can't think about it or I drive myself crazy.

Fear of failure can be paralyzing, keeping one from acting or moving forward. I cope by reminding myself that better people than me have failed. And what's failure anyway, but success postponed?

Now that I'm launching my massive, nearly two-year project in the making, Celerytree.com, and it's out there with doors open, the fear of failure creeps up.

I remember when Farm Girl was first published and listed on Amazon, and suddenly one day a little device appeared under the cover image with the words "Download this book to read on the Kindle."

My thoughts at the time: What in the world is a Kindle and why should I care?

I'm not saying that Celery Tree will become anything like Amazon or the Kindle. But I like to remind myself that the Kindle was pretty much ignored for its first three years. If Amazon hadn't believed in the concept and kept it out there, it would have faded away before it had a chance to change the world.

Failure is success postponed.

It's the first Wednesday in December, and this is an insecure writer's post. Hi, Alex.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What could a YA paranormal writer possibly like about literary women's fiction?

Sometimes we writers can limit ourselves in thinking who our demographic might be. I never really thought those who enjoy and write in the YA paranormal genre would get my books.

But when Kerri Cuevas, paranormal author, offered to do a review for my blog tour, I thought sure, why not. If her review is critical, I can take it. I'm a professional, right?

Have you ever had second thoughts about allowing certain readers to review your ARC? And to participate in a blog tour? Any fear of "what if they don't like it?" 

If you want to know what Kerri thought about House of Diamonds, just click on her blog to find out.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time to Digest some Celery

Before going to bed I double-checked my Celery Tree post scheduled for today and realized, I didn't write one! The last three were all very intense and packed with information. Maybe today should be a time to digest everything.

So if you care to digest, here's the first post, What is Celerytree.com and should you join?

Second, Why Celerytree.com?

And even more to chew on:  Frequently Asked Questions about Celerytree.com

And guess what? This week our first books sold from the site! Four print books were purchased by two different customers! Which is just the coolest thing ever to see it working as intended, with people actually buying books!!

 Regular updates will be posted on the Celery Tree Facebook page. Please pop over and Like us! (And see which was the very first book sold on Celerytree.com) We're on the other side of 50 likes, going for 100!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

FAQs about Celerytree.com


Following are the most frequently asked questions about Celerytree.com. Can you guess which is the most frequently asked question?


My print books are POD and must be ordered direct from the printer. I don't have stock on hand. How does this work if I get orders for print books from Celerytree.com?
We will email the order to you so that you or your publisher can order from your POD company and have them ship the books directly to the customer. The price of the books plus shipping is paid to Celerytree.com by the customer and is deposited into your designated bank account each month. 

I live outside the United States. Can I still join Celerytree.com?
Absolutely, as long as your books are in English and priced in U.S. dollars. International shipping costs will apply, set for $10 per book, paid by the customer.  

How do I edit my Author Page?
Log in and then go to your author page. Click the blue "Edit" button that appears next to your name. It may take a day or two for the changes to show on the site. 

Why do ebooks appear multiple times in the ebookstore?
We are using a Virtue Mart store and at this point, we need to fit our products (books) into their system. And their system doesn't currently allow for multiple versions of the same product. To allow ebooks to be sold in the 3 major formats of PDF, MOBI and EPUB, this is how they have to be listed. When we get bigger and richer, we can do things OUR way. bwa ha ha *evil laugh* 

How can I get my book to show up in the sidebar feature?
This is done on a recurring basis by the administrators with no particular order or reason, just picking a variety of cool-looking covers. Yours will show up there, don't worry. 

How can I get more sales from this site?
First, make sure your author page looks good, that you have an appealing, professional-looking photo people can see and a bio that's interesting, that makes a visitor want to click on your name and learn more about you and what you've written. Review your book descriptions. Are they free of cliched words and phrases? Are they clear, succinct, using active verbs not passive ones? If you're not sure, browse the site and find author bios and book descriptions that are well-done and intriguing to give you ideas.

When you are pleased with how you and your book present on Celerytree.com, then send out links and invites to your target audience to drive them to come and buy your books from Celerytree.com! 

Do people have to join in order to buy a book?
No, anyone over 18 can purchase books. Authors with books to sell are required to join before they can list their books and benefit from the privileges of Celerytree.com membership. 

How much should I price my books?
For ebooks, keep in mind that whatever price you set, Amazon will match it. For example, if you set your ebook at .99 here, but it sells for 2.99 on the Kindle, Amazon will drop the Kindle price to .99. When you or your publisher sign Amazon's Terms and Conditions for publishing Digital Books on the Kindle, you agree to allow them to match a price anywhere else on the internet. Just something to think about when you set your ebook price on Celerytree.com 

I don't see the genre category that my book fits in. Will you still take it?
Submit your book for approval and choose the genre that most closely fits. Eventually we may add more genre categories, but give us time for our designer to revamp his cool category boxes. 

Why does it say Contact Us for Pricing next to my book?
That is because you have not yet submitted your book's listing price to Celery Tree. Log in, go to Tips and Tools and click on Edit Your Title. Fill in the field for price and submit.


Any more questions, shout out in the comments and I'll do my best to answer. Also, if you guess right about the most commonly asked one, you win a cookie. (Just stop by my house to pick it up hehe).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why Celerytree.com?

Second day of the week, second post about the new online bookstore Celerytree.com. Today I address the question: Why start something like this anyway?

Because. . . .

Not everybody is doing awesome on Amazon and kicking butt on Kindle.

Not everybody can blog and get a thousand followers to promote for them and buy their books.

Not everybody has a moneybags publisher behind them to get their books on front tables at Barnes and Noble. Yes that costs money, B & N charges for the privilege.

Not everybody has the confidence and chutzpah to get their face and their book covers out there on all the blogs.

Not everybody has a personality that translates well through social media.

Not everybody has the time to spend hours a day online making those crucial connections.

But. . . . everybody who publishes a book wants readers, wants to sell books, wants to write more books, wants to make just a little money through the practice of their craft.

And this is why Celerytree. Because it's time for another option.  
 Click on the JOIN button at Celerytree.com and get started!

Monday, November 28, 2011

What is Celerytree.com and should you join?

(All this week I'll be posting about the new online bookstore that nobody's heard of called Celerytree.com.)

Introducing Celery Tree
It began when I realized how much writers like to gather, meet (even virtually), read and review each others books, assisting in promotion and even buying their books.

I thought, What we need is a central location where we can gather, network, post reviews, and also sell our books. Somewhere that doesn't take a huge cut of the profits, that puts more money into the hands of those who actually create the books we love to read.

I was fortunate to find some talented people who got excited about the concept and donated their time and talents to designing, programming and making it a reality. We might have been crazy to think we could make a difference with our little website concept but at least we had fun being crazy together.

I'm super excited to finally see the realization of that dream. Celerytree.com is now live! I like to think of it as an online village for writers and their books.(So maybe the dream won't truly be realized until the village is populated....but at least it's built!)
 
The more writers who join the more they benefit, because Celerytree.com is designed to be a united front, a community. Things like this take awhile to catch on, but the more people posting and linking to it, the faster it will happen. I'm only one person and could use some help to spread the word!

If you want to help, please post this button on your blog and link it to Celerytree.com. Below the button is a summary/list for copying and including in a blog post if you would like. Anything you can do to get the word out about this innovative online bookstore!



WHO SHOULD JOIN CELERYTREE.COM?

1. Those with published books to sell (print and/or ebooks).

2. Those who believe in the pay-it-forward philosophy of authors supporting authors. 

3. Those who don't mind paying a small membership fee for the privilege of being part of a supportive, ad-free community. (Free memberships available for a limited time.)

4. Those who want a place to interact with others, post reviews, network, and to sell their books all in one location.

5. Those who believe in writers receiving fair pay for their work.

If this sounds like you, then go to Celerytree.com and click JOIN.  More information can be found on the Celery Tree blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Best Time to Read

You know the feeling, right? It's Thanksgiving Day and the table is loaded with all the classic favorites as well as some new dishes you just have to try.

By the end of the day you're too full to do anything but nap, watch movies, wake up and go for a walk, nap some more, and then go to bed and read a book. After helping with the clean up, of course.

If you're anything like me and I hope you're not or I feel bad for you, you will be too stuffed from Thanksgiving dinner and the day- after leftovers to do much besides curl up and read.

Mason Canyon's book review blog, Thoughts in Progress, is a must-stop. She always has great ideas of good books, and sometimes freebies for lucky winners.

I'm visiting Mason's blog today to talk about House of Diamonds,  with two free print copies to give away. So come on by, if you're not too full.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2 Days before Thanksgiving and I'm in Africa

The Fabulosity Wendy is extending her feature on House of Diamonds to another day. Yay! She asked me some interesting questions and posted her interview on Fabulosity Reads.

Thanks, Wendy, for your support. Those of you looking for book reviewers, she is willing to do reviews in a variety of genres. Guidelines are on her blog.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US. Many thanks to my wonderful blogging friends for your support, friendship, comments, and general awesomeness!

I'll see you Friday with another visit on my House of Diamonds tour-- the wonderful Mason Canyon, who has two print copies to give away.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What's Hot and Not so Hot about House of Diamonds

Something I love about blogging is meeting people from all over the world. Wendy of Fabulosity Reads originally hails from South Africa (so of course she would attract my attention, it's where my two giraffes are from). She currently lives in Nigeria.

Not sure how Wendy will like House of Diamonds as it's not the usual genre she reviews. For those of you looking for book blog reviewers, Wendy is a good one. She is fair and honest, telling what she does and does not like about a particular book.

Yikes, I'm just a bit nervous! Go here to see the verdict.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Me and Marcie McGill, just chillin' at the Piedmont Grille

It's Friday at the Piedmont Grille! And that means Anne Gallagher, the Piedmont Writer, has another great post to share and this time I am honored to be her guest!

(Well, me and Marcie McGill, the main character in House of Diamonds.)

Anne has a review, some questions and maybe even something tasty to throw on the grill, so come on over to Anne's place. See you there!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The two Karens

My blogging friend Karen Walker and I are the same age, we both enjoy memoir, and we live in the Western United States. We have even spoken on the phone and one of these days we must get together in person because I just know we'd have lots to talk about.

Today Karen reviews House of Diamonds at her blog Following the Whispers. Come by and say hi!

And don't forget the special from WiDo Publishing running throughout the end of the year. Order your copy of House of Diamonds from the website and you will also get a free print copy of Uncut Diamonds.

Have any of you had an opportunity to meet a blogging friend in person? Maybe if I got out more, I would too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Writer's Journey

I started this blog 2 1/2 years ago very insecure, newly published with a brand new small press, my first novel out, doubting that I'd ever find an audience for it. My blog connected with other insecure writers, some published, others on their way, many feeling as insecure about publication as I felt about book sales.

Discovering this community helped me feel like a part of something.

Along the way, I've seen blogging friends get contracts with agents and/or publishers. Some chose to self-publish. Some are sticking with the original plan to get the dream agent, to get the big publisher. It's all cool.

Go wherever your heart takes you, there's no right or wrong way. It's not marriage or parenthood, it's book publishing--a career choice, not a life choice with eternal consequences. Your spouse won't leave you, your children won't die or end up in prison because you chose to self-publish or wait for just the right publishing contract.

After two years of sharing writerly journeys, things change. I see a lot happening. Even the publishing industry has changed in amazing ways! And we writers blog about it and make decisions and share our joys and frustrations with each other. Online is where I found my writing community.

Where am I after two years? More active on social media, for one. (In varying degrees--Twitter, Facebook, Google+) A second novel published and the third heading to the editor. Less frustrated about sales. (I'll write the books, the sales will come or not.) Somewhat less awkward about promoting my books.(Still insecure about that part of it.)

I spend less time blogging and more time writing. (It used to be the opposite.)

Sometimes I wonder what the next two years will hold. Truthfully? I have no clue. I'd like to have more books out but other than that....not sure where I see myself in two years. How about you? Do you think you'll still be blogging? Published? Bestselling author? Tired of the whole scene?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

HOUSE OF DIAMONDS available at last!!

Today is the ebook launch for House of Diamonds! Print copies come out November 22. With a special deal for the holidays-- Anyone preordering House of Diamonds from the WiDo Publishing website will also get Uncut Diamonds, absolutely free. Two books for the price of one!

Charmalot from and then my heart smiled is kicking off my launch and blog tour. Please come and share the joy!  Charmalot, known in real life as Jordan McMakin, earned her B.A. in English from Western Washington University, and was previously a bookstore manager, children's book buyer, and freelance editor. She interned at Puffin Books and Viking Books for Young Readers, and was an editorial assistant at Disney*Hyperion Books in New York City.

So drop by Jordan's blog because she is awesome and it will make your heart smile. And if you don't follow her blog already you should, you really really should. And you should buy House of Diamonds because you'll love it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pricing Ebooks

WiDo Publishing began in 2007 as a print publisher, later releasing titles as ebooks as well. They price new releases at $3.99, and $2.99 for older titles to stimulate interest and attract new buyers. Recently they experimented to find that magic number for bringing in the greatest number of ebook sales

As I mentioned in my previous post, $2.99 is the lowest Kindle price to get the 70% royalty rate from Amazon. WiDo tried .99 for two books: Ghost Waves by W. Everett Prusso and my novel Uncut Diamonds, both released 2009 in print, 2010 as ebooks. Results were interesting.

The drop in price made very little difference in sales. Both authors had only one book on Kindle. Neither of the books had significant sales, although mine were higher probably because I had developed an online presence and the other author had not.

My sales went up a bit with the .99 change but then held steady. They weren't enough to make a difference in profit so WiDo put it back to 2.99 and sales continued at the pre-.99 rate. It may go back to .99 for a time with the release of House of Diamonds, as a promotional price.

The cut didn't affect Ghost Waves sales. Although the hardcover print book did alright for $19.95, it hasn't done well as an ebook regardless of price.

WiDo's top selling ebook is In the Mirror: A Memoir of Shattered Secrets by Ann Carbine Best. It came out in May and there are no plans to drop the price to $2.99 as it continues to sell steadily at $3.99. Not by huge numbers, but consistently, and more every month.

Another new release is Cloak by James Gough, a YA fantasy to be released in hardcover November 15 as a special gift edition for $25.95. It is currently available as an ebook for $4.99, the highest WiDo has priced a new ebook release. The somewhat higher price hasn't seemed to affect ebook sales for Cloak, at least not its first month. People who wanted it bought it.  

I'm using WiDo's examples because as a publisher, they're dealing with a variety of authors, titles and genres. So price variations can show interesting trends. And what it has shown in WiDo's case is that if people want a book, the price of a few dollars isn't going to matter. And if they don't want it, the .99 tag won't convince them to buy it. Maybe a few, but not in high enough numbers to overcome that price's  weak profit margins.

It comes down to that age-old question forever baffling writers and publishers. What does the public want to read? What inspires people to pay for a book? Simple answer: If it's what they want, they'll make the effort. They'll look for it in a library or bookstore or on their ereader. Book sales come from writing and publishing what people want to read. Give customers what they want and sales will come, whether the book goes for .99 or 9.99.

Are there any ebooks that should be priced at .99? Books that would sell significantly better at the rock bottom price? Consider this. When paperback novels first came out they were cheap, they were exciting and their enticing covers and fast plots appealed to pulp fiction readers. The .99 ebook is like the new old-time paperback pulp fiction novel. 

There's a large population of ebook buyers looking for the .99 fast read. It has to have an enticing cover and a fast-moving, action-oriented plot, preferably with a healthy dose of sex. Very much like the hugely popular paperback novels of the 1940s. If this is what  you write, and you can do it well, and you churn them out pretty fast, then you could sell a lot of .99 ebooks. Because you will be giving this audience exactly what they want at the price they're looking for.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why I'm Not a Fan of the .99 eBook

How to price an ebook? I've read many posts on this topic and considered the variety of opinions. After all the research, it finally hit me why I disagree with pricing ebooks at .99. It occurred to me one day while gazing lovingly at my cookies.

Convenience stores buy my cookies for $1 apiece to resell at $1.59 or $1.79. I make 24 dozen each week, using extra ovens for baking and other techniques to speed up the process without sacrificing quality.

Imagine that each of these cookies represents one book selling on the Kindle for .99. Compare production time of cookies to that of creating a book good enough for people to pay even .99. Scary thought, isn't it?

 Don't forget that Amazon gets 65% of each cookie--er--book, netting you 35 cents per sale. If you went through a publisher they take their cut. Is the solution to self-publish so you get the entire 35 cents? That's what many are saying, but it's still just a pittance for an awful lot of effort and expense.

I wouldn't sell my cookies for .35. If that's all I got, I wouldn't bother. Remember, I sell to the stores for $1 and they add the extra .59 or .79. I, who created the recipe and made the cookies, get the larger cut of the product. I'd be a fool to give the stores over half my profit.

When an ebook is priced for .99, Amazon gets the largest cut because royalty is only 35%. Priced at 2.99 or higher, royalty rate goes to 70%. A Kindle ebook priced for 3.99 earns $2.76 on royalties. Big difference between getting $2.76 for each book sold compared to 35 cents.

Now if I could write 24 dozen quality books a week hahahahahahahaha, I might consider pricing them for .99. But probably not even then, because that's not really .99 it's .35, which is split 50/50 with my publisher.

* So for each .99 book sale on the Kindle, Amazon gets 65 cents, my publisher gets 17 cents and I get 17 cents.

* For each 3.99 book sale on the Kindle, Amazon gets $1.19, my publisher gets $1.40 and I get $1.40.

* $2.99 is the lowest price available to get 70% royalty rate. At that price, Amazon gets 89 cents, my publisher gets $1.05 and I get $1.05.

* I'd have to sell six .99 books to get the same amount of money I get from one sale at $2.99. I'd have to sell eight .99 books to get the same money I'd get from a $3.99 sale.

A .99 promotional price has merit but as a permanent price on one's books? No. I would not do this for 17 cents, not even for 35 cents. At that price, I'm better off making cookies.

On Friday, I'll post about one publisher's experience with pricing ebooks and how price has affected sales.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tired of the Negativity

I read a post this week that cheered me because it was so fair-minded. It was at Jami Gold's website, about whether we should take sides in debatable issues. Check out the post and read the excellent comments.

It inspired me to talk about something that has bothered me lately--which is the negativity I'm seeing in certain blogs and chat rooms directed at publishers, or at different forms of publishing.

There are blogs to “protect the writer against unsavory publishers” but the end result is a constant stream of criticism and negativity, aimed particularly at new or small publishers. Bashing contracts is one of the favorite activities, such as the incident that Jami discussed in her post.

Small presses are criticized for “lack of distribution” and "horrible contracts that might mean this! Or this! Do not sign this contract!" Whatever scare tactics these bloggers can put out there, they will do it, saying they're simply "protecting the writer" and "providing a valuable service." That might have been the original intention but when it deteriorates into spiteful bashing, it's no longer of value.

There’s one woman and her blog that exists solely to dispense negative information about publishers, and most of it is slanted and some of it is downright false. I would not dare give her name because she has a lot of power and influence online. She would tear me to shreds and probably set out to ruin the good name of my publisher.

I am just fed up with negativity on both sides of the publishing debate. I see a lot of it among self-publishers too, bashing traditional publishing and saying “You're going down sucka!”

And then there's the bashing of self-published books saying that they are lousy garbage in need of editing. (true that some are, but not all of them so why make generalizations?) Try reading Remix by Lexi Revellion, which is one of the best Kindle books I've read, and it's self-published. I found not a single typo or copy edit problem, and it's a wonderfully well-written book.

Like Jami, I am wondering, Why do we have to take sides? Why does there have to be just one right way to get published? And everything else is wrong and evil and stupid.

It's ridiculous to narrow the field to right and wrong publishing methods,  because the great thing about being a writer and a publisher in today's climate is that there are so many options!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting by when times are tough

The economy is in the toilet and a lot of people have been hard hit by job loss, mortgage interest hikes, rising gas prices, reduced retail spending and everything else that goes along with a recession. At these times, major lifestyle changes may be required.

Over the weekend I watched the DVD The Company Men, which followed the lives of three men affected by their company's mergers and layoffs. Each of the men (and their wives too) responded in different ways to the events. It's a film worth seeing more than once, not only for the story and themes, but the dialogue is brilliant and so is the acting. (Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper.)

It got me to thinking about how people use money. One of the characters had spent money like it was an endless stream. His wife told him they needed to cut back, to put the house up for sale, to cancel the country club membership, and he couldn't accept these changes. It made him feel like less of a man to not only be unemployed but to stop spending money.

Anyway, it's an awesome movie and I give it 10 stars out of 5. And it prompted me to write a longer post on this subject over at my website. Where I also included a recipe for salsa. (I was going to give Marcie McGill's homemade cracker recipe but thought Salsa Fresca might be more appealing LOL.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some things are simply worth the wait, like babies. And book covers.

Introducing House of Diamonds, and I hope people will love this cover as much as I do! 


But wait, that's not all. You must see the full shot to see what brilliant treatment the designer gave the back of the book.




The summary is written on the sheet of paper, because in House of Diamonds Marcie McGill dreams of becoming a published author and writing her first book. I doubt if you can read it on this thumbnail but here's what it says:

In this sequel to Gowen’s debut novel, Uncut Diamonds, she follows sisters Cindy and Marcie as they reach a crossroads in their lives. House of Diamonds tells the stories of two women, one facing opportunity the other tragedy. Can their bond endure?

Marcie pursues her dream of becoming a published writer while Cindy faces a terrible tragedy. In this gripping story of faith, loss and the transcending nature of sacrifice, Gowen gives voice to a beloved baby who has none. She shows the incredible power that comes to families when they pull together to overcome challenges. It is at these times that a house of pain can become a house of diamonds.

So at last I have my cover! And I have some wonderful advance praise that warms my heart whenever I read it, making me not as scared as I should be to send my newest darling out into the world.
 Release date: Tues, November 8!!

Want to read it? If you're on Goodreads click here to add House of Diamonds to your to-read list!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Writers Write

Today I am thinking about my older sister Julie. Today is her birthday, and she is someone I really look up to. We weren't that close during most of our adult life. She and her husband lived in Europe and I was busy with my large family. But after she came back to the States and went through a divorce, and my kids were older, we had time to bond again.

That's when she made a statement that changed my life.

One day on the phone I was moaning about my career or lack of one. Should I go for a master's degree? Should I teach?

"What do you want to do, Karen?" she asked me.  Without a moment's hesitation, I said, "To be a writer. I only want to write. It's what I've always wanted."  And she said, "Then why go back to school? Writers write. They don't keep going back for degrees. They write. If you want to be a writer, you have to write."

At that time, I'd finished Farm Girl and felt there was hope for me completing a novel. After my conversation with Julie, I resolved that I would finish the novel I'd been working on for ten years and I'd get other projects lined up as well. Whenever I wavered and worried about money, thinking I should be supplementing the family income with a guaranteed paycheck instead of  spending time writing with no guarantees, I thought of Julie's words.  

Writers write.

There's really no other way, is there?

Like all my family Julie's a really good sport about seeing herself show up in my stories. She is who I based Marcie's older sister Linda on. One reader said this about Linda-- "I especially loved Linda, Marcie and Cindy's sister-- I do wish we got to see more of her. She was fun!"

Happy birthday to my wonderful sister, Julie! Who I'm sure won't mind if one day Linda gets to be a main character in her own book.

Julie has always loved laying out by the pool to work on her tan. (She's the one sitting on the edge.)


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Six ways to Put the Blog to Work When You're Not There

A good blog is like a major home appliance that keeps working for you while you're busy elsewhere. We know how a dishwasher does this, but how can we be sure our blog is working well for us behind the scenes?

1. Comments. Your comments are like little signposts leading people back to you. So visit other blogs and leave comments. One who takes the time to leave thoughtful, clever, original comments will get followers and comments back.

2. Declutter. Make sure things are tidy and attractive for visitors. Sidebars can get really crowded! And viewing the blog daily, we get used to the mess. Declutter once a month and determine what needs to stay and what can go. Imagine how a new person viewing your site for the first time might see it.

3. Platform. Every blogger whether a career writer or not should have a platform, regardless of how informal it might be. Why are you here? What's your focus? What kinds of people do you want to attract? Once that's settled, make sure everything in your blog reflects you and the platform you've chosen, from your profile photo and bio to your design and even the arrangement of gadgets on the sidebar. That doesn't mean you can't branch out now and then and fly your freak flag, because a blog should reflect the personality of the owner. But someone stopping by should be able to tell fairly quickly who you are and what you're all about.  

4. Posts. Once a post is written it stays in place until deleted. Long after the blogger has forgotten they even wrote it, someone can find it and decide if your blog is worth their time just by that one post.  So take care with what you write, and if you have nothing to say, don't say it. Why stick to some arbitrary schedule if you have nothing? Or if you're on a roll, go ahead and publish daily. A good post will continue working for you as long as your blog exists, so the more excellent posts you have in your file, the harder they'll be working for you and your blog! But let me repeat: That doesn't mean you can't branch out now and then and fly your freak flag, because a blog should reflect the personality of the owner. So don't get paranoid and think everything you write has to be perfect and meaningful. Let loose now and then, nothing wrong with that!

5. Label and Index. When I first started blogging, I discovered a few publishing blogs that were full of such great information that I went in and read everything. On Blogger, there's a place for labels at the bottom of each post. You can then choose which labels you want displayed in the Index on your sidebar. Ideally, each post should carry labels according to subject matter. My labels are chosen with emphasis placed on the key words that relate to my platform. Like: bad reviews, blog tour, booksellers, editing, editors, selling books, rejection..... You get the idea. My labels reflect my platform. So that just in case someone wants to thoroughly research my blog and go through my old posts to get information, I organized it for them!

6. Selling Your Book. Your blog can help sell your book, but make sure it's easy for visitors to click on the links where they can buy it in various formats. I like these Kindle and Nook buttons. Suddenly one day I realized they needed to be near the top of my blog instead of buried down below somewhere, so I changed to a two-column format that makes more sense for me.

These are a few of the ways that a blog can keep working for you while you're off enjoying your vacation, or writing your book, or eating dinner, or down with the flu. There's no need to hover and be constantly present online. Set up your site carefully and thoughtfully and then let it hum along doing its job! Because the internet never sleeps.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do You Miss My Old Giraffe?

As nice as this new giraffe is with his "Hi, I'm cute too. You like me, right?" sometimes I miss my old giraffe. But as I mentioned in a post awhile back, he has a new gig.

Want to see what it is?

He's perfect for the job, the way he looks all "Uh, I'm a little lost but if I stay here awhile I'll soon be at home."

Okay, enough teasing. If you go here, you can see my old giraffe, and get a clue as to what he's up to right now.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sometimes I don't want to do anything

I think I'm spoiled from having other people writing my blog posts lately. Guest bloggers are awesome! The posts are entertaining, informative, interesting and written by someone else. I hope you enjoyed the visitors-- Nicki Elson, L.A. DeVaul and Roxanne, Elliot Grace, Jim Bronyaur and Anne R. Allen. Thank you all for making things fun and interesting here for awhile!

And now I'm spoiled and don't want to do anything.

My husband and I have a small local cookie business. Twice a week I make the cookies and he delivers them. It's a refreshing change of pace from the intense mental exercise that comes from writing my own work and editing others.

And sometimes I just like to do absolutely nothing but gaze lovingly at my cookies laid out to cool on the table or counter.


These are white chocolate chunk macadamia nut. My absolute favorite. *mouth is watering*

Friday, October 7, 2011

About Food. About Love. About FOOD OF LOVE by Anne R. Allen

Today is a guest post by the always entertaining and insightful Anne R.Allen, author of the new release, FOOD OF LOVE—a novel about friendship, size acceptance, a small nuclear bomb, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. 

Does anybody remember the size acceptance movement of the 1990’s?

Fashion magazines like Mode and Radiance featured gorgeous models with non-surgically-enhanced curves. The plus-sized Emme became a supermodel and motivational speaker. Romance publishers issued whole lines featuring curvy women who didn't diet to find love. Helen Fielding's BRIDGET JONES DIARY and Jennifer Weiner's GOOD IN BED topped the fiction bestseller lists. Books like Geoffrey Cannon's DIETS MAKE YOU FAT and Susan Powter's STOP THE INSANITY let us know 98% of diets resulted in weight gain.

The movement urged women to put energy into living instead of dieting. It reminded us that nobody who's starving can work at full capacity. It told us that if women channeled the energy we were putting into hating our bodies into changing the world, we could make a difference.

I wrote my novel FOOD OF LOVE during that era, just when a diet drug combination called phen-phen had to be taken off the market because it, well, killed people (but left a fashionably skinny corpse.)

I wanted to point out the ironic truth that women--no matter what culture, sexual orientation or race--are united by one thing: the compulsion to diminish ourselves by dieting. I showed how women inflict this insanity on ourselves and each other--as one character says "women are always complaining how the menfolk are oppressing us, but you know...we're pretty damn good at oppressing our ownselves."

I didn’t want to write something preachy. Or another “men are jerks” saga.

So I combined satiric social observations with a roller-coaster plot involving an aging supermodel, a conservative talk show hostess, a hot KGB agent, a small nuclear bomb, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

Two different agents took it on and tried to sell it, but it didn't pigeonhole neatly into a prescribed genre. Finally in 2001 I found a medium-sized independent publisher in the UK who loved it. I think the book might have taken off if they had been able to get US distribution rights. But one of the owners of the company died under mysterious circumstances (yes, fodder for another novel--coming out soon) before the book had a chance to find a US audience.

Soon afterward, New York pronounced romantic comedies "over" and plump, life-affirming heroines were replaced by vampires, zombies and the hungry undead.

At the same time a new cultural mindset emerged--carefully orchestrated by the multi-billion dollar weight-loss industry. By the mid 2000's, the concept of body acceptance had been erased from our consciousness. We were again being told that starvation (and/or surgical enhancement) was the path to happiness.

I suppose it helped that our romances were all about falling in love with dead people.

Boomers were told the natural weight gain—which has been happening to aging human bodies since we were swinging from the trees-- is "unhealthy." Children as young as six were put on diets that destroyed their natural appetite regulators. We didn't let them run free and exercise, then shamed then for being fat. Fad diets like Atkins came back with a vengeance. Fat people were humiliated for entertainment and dieting lies got new life
with the 2004 debut of “The Biggest Loser.”

Personally, I lost faith and fell for the lies again: “It’s not a diet—it’s an 800-calorie-a-day ‘lifestyle’.” I was swayed by those nightly news reports about the obesity “epidemic”—which turns out to have been created by reducing the medical definition of “normal” weight, inflated by the natural weight gain of aging Boomer bodies. I was shamed by those decapitated images of people who dared walk our streets without buns of steel or six-pack abs.

After three years of starvation dieting and the subsequent craving, depression, and binging, I’d gained thirty pounds and looked for help in the size acceptance movement again. But I discovered most of their websites were dead and/or had been vandalized. I Googled “Emme” and couldn’t find one entry. It was as if the whole movement had never existed.

But this weekend something happened that gave me hope. The brilliant actress Melissa McCarthy won the best actress Emmy.

I’m not a big awards show fan, and the TV was on only to accompany my laundry-sorting. McCarthy’s sitcom, Mike and Molly was barely on my radar. But as I stood there folding my plus-size clothes, watching her walk regally across the stage, I shocked myself by bursting into tears. Here was a beautiful fat woman—seriously fat, not simply un-skeletal—winning an award over the likes of Amy Pohler and Tina Fey.

I couldn’t stop crying. It was as if some huge shift was happening in my own consciousness as well as that of the ATAS voters. I had a glimmer of hope that maybe things were moving back to sanity. Later that evening, I Googled Emme and found she has a new website, Emme Nation http://emmenation.com/ full of new messages to women about honoring ourselves, no matter what size the bodies our genes and age dictate.

This all happened the same weekend that FOOD OF LOVE finally made its US debut—thirteen years after I wrote the first version.

I am so blessed that a small US publisher, Popcorn Press, liked my blog enough that they contacted me and asked about my out-of-print books—and then liked the books well enough to publish them. With a fresh edit and a gorgeous new cover, the book is as relevant today as when I wrote it—maybe more so, because a whole generation of young women haven’t been able to hear its message. Most women still need to learn to stop “oppressing our ownselves”—and love the bodies we were born with.

FOOD OF LOVE is about living life to the fullest and honoring our own passions—whether for food, music, faith, or an all-consuming romantic love.

********

Anne R. Allen blogs with NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

She’s the author of five comic mysteries debuting this fall with two publishers: Popcorn Press and MWiDP. FOOD OF LOVE is available in ebook on Amazon. The paper version is available for pre-order at Popcorn Press.

Upcoming titles: THE GATSBY GAME (October 2011) GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY (October 2011) SHERWOOD, LIMITED (November 2011) and THE BEST REVENGE (December 2011.) Paper versions will be available at Popcorn Press.

Anne is also working on a nonfiction self-help handbook for writers with PAY IT FORWARD author, Catherine Ryan Hyde.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Marketing for Insecure Writers

Today we have Jim Bronyaur, author of thrillers The Devil's Weekend and In the Corner  talking about MARKETING. Yes, like it or not, it's that thing we have do as authors. 

But since this is the first Wednesday of the month, the theme is ANXIETY and INSECURE AUTHORS, right? We need tips to make us feel less insecure about the biggest task facing us after we publish our books-- MARKETING and PROMOTION.  

Take it away, Jim.

Marketing. Okay, I’ll wait for everyone to run or yell or boo at me. *checks watch* Okay, we’re back.

Marketing. Online marketing. Social marketing.

These are all essential tools for yourself, your book, and your platform.

The first thing you need to do is understand that your book is a product. And you, as the person selling that product, are indeed a business owner. Your business is to sell your product, your book. This right off the bat is where some people fail. You need to see the big picture of the product and the business and find a plan that works for you.

So, you have your product, your book, and now you want to market it.

Good luck!

Traditional marketing holds its own ground, but not for books and authors. I dare you to tell me without looking what the last four sidebar ads you saw on Facebook were. I bet you can’t. Because we’ve grown accustomed to ads. They are on pages, newspapers, even on the glass of the rink on a NHL hockey game!

So to market your book, you must do so in a way that’s new, different, and effective.

Personally, and as I’ve said before, the best marketing plan is to have another book in the works, ready to sell. The more you have out there is the more you can sell. The law of numbers is actually on our side as authors. Embrace it.

Good marketing means you’re real. You’re human.

This is why Twitter is popular. You have 140 characters to share a message, and no, that doesn’t link up every ten seconds. Please don’t pester everyone with your links, over and over. I personally tell myself I’ll Tweet my book maybe once a day, maybe.

So, without linking your book, how does Twitter help?

Twitter is a giant network.

You can find people to talk to. People who you can network with, share ideas with, and find new avenues of selling books with. You can join in on conversations via hashtags such as #amwriting. For those not familiar with hashtags, these are search items on Twitter. For example, if I put in #amwriting and search it on Twitter, anyone who has tweeted that hashtag will show. This allows me to engage in conversations and find potential new people to follow and new followers.

Another trick with Twitter is to use hashtags around your book, without being pushy.

I may Tweet something like this… “Current review for my #horror #thriller #ebook available on #kindle…”

All those hashtags can help me.

Another place to be is KindleBoards. Here you will find a community of authors with open arms. They share ideas, thoughts, history, and numbers.
Yes, numbers.

On KB, every month people will share their sales for the previous month. They will go into detail, discuss why the books sold may have risen or lowered. And I’m talking some heavy hitters here… people who sell twenty thousand books a month! And they are willing to share their advice and what they’ve done to get to that point.

How does that help you market?

You’re networking. You’re talking to new people, finding new places. That’s what marketing is all about.

I’ve gotten several interviews and guest posts and traffic to my blog and books from KB. Authors will hold contests and events, looking for other authors to help.

A perfect example… coming in October, I have a month long blog tour going on with several other writers I met on KB. We are all promoting each other’s books on different dates, etc.

Now, here’s possibly the best marketing plan out there… don’t market yourself.

I’ll say it again.

Don’t market yourself.

That’s right, don’t market yourself.

What does that mean?

That means just be there.

Be in the moment, in the now of writing and publishing.

Establish a blog that provides something that people want. I struggled with this for years until I finally started one. I decided to use my financial background to help analyze things. One of my firsts posts was the explaination of why Borders closed. The post still gets dozens of hits a week. I went out and tracked down other writers and brought them to my blog to talk about selling books.

I gave people a reason to come to my blog.

And yes, on my blog are links to my books, but the blog is not about my books.
I’m also active on Twitter using the hashtags (like I said above). I talk about books, publishing, and basically give people a sense of who I am, why I write, and the fact that I know what I’m talking about.

That’s my marketing plan.

I want to talk to everyone about books. I want to learn, I want to teach, and I want to enjoy.

Face it, you all know I’m a writer. So instead of trying to shove my totally awesome kick butt horror novels on you, I’m going to share everything I know about publishing. I’m going to be personable, real. I’m going to be someone you trust, and hopefully someone you enjoy to read… so once you’re done with this guest post, and my other posts, you’ll be ready to head over to Amazon and buy my book.
And that is new marketing.

So, remember, if you want to market your book… don’t.

But no seriously, like I said, posting your book on ads doesn’t work. Not anymore. You have to be face of your book, your product. You have to be out there, talking, posting, and being a human.

This is publishing, and it’s a business.

Thank you, Jim, this post was packed full of helpful information. Just like your blog! Anyone who hasn't been there, definitely go check it out. And guess where I met Jim and invited him to be a guest on my blog? Yep, Twitter!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Elliot Grace: SOUTH OF CHARM


Today I am two places at once. Here interviewing Elliot Grace, to kick off his blog tour-- and I'm over at Jennifer Lane's blog being interviewed by her. Because I am awesome at multi-tasking!


Since this blog deals mainly with writing, editing and publishing issues, I asked Elliot about his process of getting South of Charm published. 



Elliot, How did you happen to write South of Charm?  

-I'd certainly prefer to respond with a distinguished answer, something to the effect of dreaming up the entire story one evening while basking under an expiring sunset along Siesta Key, the skies ablaze with color as the wheels in my head start churning out words by the dozen.  "South of Charm" was actually inspired from a series of childhood events.  I added to my notes over the years, created a few interesting characters, dramatized things a bit, and thought perhaps it could someday make for an enjoyable story.  The project collected dust for a while as other stories took precedence.  But "Charm" was persistent, never allowing itself too much distance from my thoughts.  Eventually I committed to the project, and three years later had a decent manuscript that I felt was ready to share with potential suitors.  


How did you find your publisher?  

Following the usual gauntlet of rejections, I found myself at a local book fair, conversing with one of several featured writers on display, when by chance, I met up with David Wiesenberg, an editor representing Wooster Books Publishing.  Upon his request, I pitched to him my idea, basically just the highlights off the top of my head.  A few days later he sent me an email, this time requesting a full read.  Several weeks later I was signed.

What was the editing process like? 

The editing process became an exhaustive commitment lasting nearly a year and a half, with David, ever the perfectionist, leading me in the right direction, while never overstepping his authority.  The hands on approach of an indie publisher played out just as I'd read on many websites and tutorials.  A personable staff who were always available to lend advice, be it a major conflict with the cover design, or simply an ear to lend to a writer's concern's.  

"South of Charm" was released in May, and while making a fighting effort at keeping pace with the big shots of the publishing industry, has done well locally.  Enough so, that I'm considering a return to Wooster Books for the second release, whenever that day may come ;)


From South of Charm by Elliot Grace:



...we're huddled in the far corner of my bedroom.  Arms wrapped around our knees in the dark.  The approaching footsteps grow louder.  Ominous thuds.  Our mother-but somehow not.  She's standing outside my door.  We listen to the creak of hinges.  My sister clenches my arm.     
"She's coming," she whispers.  "She's broken."


To purchase on the Kindle
To purchase print copy

Elliot, I am honored that I got to kick off your blog tour, and thrilled that you answered all my nosy questions. I wish you every success for South of Charm!


EEl


Friday, September 30, 2011

The Future is Bright for Writers


Look to Amazon if you want to know the future for books and writers. See the new Kindles they're coming out with in time for Christmas. See how their ad shows it in a teen-age girl's back pocket. See how they make it affordable as stocking gifts for your kids. See how they realize the Kindle has a whole new market of readers to find-- children and teenagers.

As e-readers get cheaper and more diverse, people will have several. I have a Kindle, but I'd like an iPad too. Why not a Nook? And kids will have them.

More people than ever will be looking for books to read on their new readers. So, writers, get busy writing their books! 

I've been kicking myself to write more. Soon I'll go from one book to three that are available as ebooks. I have another novel in the works that I hope can be ready for March release. I think I  can get another one done and into editing for next October release.

My goal is to have five books with my name on them available by next Christmas. Right now I have one. Pathetic, I know, but I have goals.

It's time to buckle down and get writing. We determine our own futures. If we don't write the books, then life goes on without our names on the titles.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Choosing the Setting of a Novel

Welcome, Nicki, as she stops by on her blog tour for Three Daves. Until September 30, Three Daves and other school-related titles are only 99 cents in Kindle, Nook, eBook, and ePub as part of the Omnific Publishing Back-to-School sale.  If you’re a book reviewer, A Tale of Many Reviews has opened up sign-ups for a Three Daves paper book tour.

I personally took advantage of this great deal. I have my copy of Three Daves waiting on my Kindle for me to read.  I love the new cover!!

Today Nicki and I discuss how writers choose their settings.

First, Nicki:

I doubt many people think of Central Illinois as a very exciting place.  And the truth is…er, it’s not.  But somehow that didn’t stop both me and the exciting Karen G from choosing the cornfield clustered metropolis as a setting for our stories.  So for my guest post today, we’re going to explain ourselves and tell you just why, out of all the places in the world, Central Illinois was the preferred backdrop for telling our tales. 

My first decision regarding the setting for Three Daves was that it had to be a college campus.  There’s really no other time in life quite like those undergrad days—it’s the perfect combination of  being free from the watchful eye of parents and yet still not having to face up to all the responsibilities of adulthood. 

When describing places, I’m often inspired by where I’ve been—the old “write what you know.”  But also, my alma mater, Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL, was the perfect campus off of which to model my fictional Central Illinois University precisely because it was so isolated from any major distractions, keeping the focus on the students and their mutating relationships. 

The mid-size of the EIU campus was also ideal as it allowed for much criss-crossing of paths.  You never know exactly when each Dave’s story has ended—any one of them could pop back in when you least expect it.  But I admit to getting a little stir crazy in that sea of corn, and so I sent my main character on a few side trips.  It wouldn’t be college in the 80s without a spring break in Daytona Beach, after all. ;)   

Okay, Karen—your turn.  Why’d ya do it?

My two novels Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds are loosely based on my own life, and they are set in Jacksonville, Illinois, where my husband and I basically started out our married life. I considered fictionalizing the name of the town and then decided not to. Especially in Uncut Diamonds, the town and the houses where the McGills live are almost like characters themselves, so I decided to keep it authentic.

I was born and raised in Central Illinois and although I now live in Utah, the cornfields, huge trees and river country of Downstate Illinois (what everyone calls it to distinguish it from Chicago) are what feels like home to me. I went to college there and so did my sisters. In fact, one of my sisters graduated  from Eastern Illinois University, the setting of Three Daves. When I found out the setting of Nicki's book, I knew I just had to read it!

Setting is really important to me in choosing what books I read. I'll buy a book simply based on the setting! I love to read about places both familiar and foreign to me.

How about the rest of you readers and writers? Writers, how do you choose your settings? And Readers, what kinds of settings do you enjoy in books?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How He Sold one Million ebooks in Five Months

John Locke is a super-salesman/businessman who regardless what he does figures out how to make money and be a success. Everything he touches turns to gold. If he ever writes a real memoir, I'll buy it.

I'm not one of his niche readers, will never buy one of his .99 books or even read a free one. Not because they aren't good, I have no idea if they are or not, but they're just not my kind of read. However, a book that gives guidelines and tips on being more successful especially when it has to do with my own rather unplanned, unorganized, write it and they will come approach to my career definitely has my attention.

And speaking of niche readers, that is a big part of his plan. An author must find their target audience, write to them, email them, love them. I totally agree with this! If only I could find my target audience, I'd do all of these things!

How can anyone not be impressed with Locke's accomplishments as a self-published author? In his book How I Sold 1 Million ebooks in 5 Months, he outlines how he did it. Some of his plan is applicable for about everyone, others are the kind of things a born salesman/successful rich guy will do and that would be really tough for a reserved, anxiety-ridden, overly stressed already woman (like me) to follow suit and have even 1/10 the same results.

Besides, I don't believe that everything works for everyone, but what I do believe in is making plans and setting goals. What Locke's book made me realize is that although I do this kind of planning and goal-setting in nearly every area of my life I have never done it for my own writing career. So he really opened my eyes to that.

As I read his business plan for marketing books, I was inspired to set up a professional author website. I finished it this weekend and am very proud of it!  Anyone who wants to stop by and say hi, I'd appreciate it! Better get in there now before it's crowded with all those one million readers who will rush over just as soon as I publish House of Diamonds.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Okay, so I admit it! I'm desperate for fame. And I like Cheetos and cupcakes."

Today on my blog I am doing a guest interview with author, L.A. DeVaul, aka, Liesel DeVaul, who also just happens to be celebrating her birthday today! Can you think of a better birthday present than to have the release of your debut novel???

 Roxanne in La La Land was just released by WiDo Publishing. You can buy it now as an ebook or pre-order a print copy from the publisher's website (links below). So Liesel, can you tell me a little bit about your new book?

Roxanne (waving): Hi, I’m Roxanne, the main character of Roxanne in La La Land. Nice to meet you, Karen. Liesel couldn’t make it, so I came instead.

Karen: This is a pleasant surprise. It’s not everyday that I interview a character on my blog.

Roxanne: I know. I’m really good at this kind of thing too. Liesel’s not as good, so it’s probably best that she’s not here. So what did you want to ask? Lay it on me. I have all the dirt on Liesel if you want it. Can I have a cupcake?


Liesel (breathless): Hi, so sorry I’m late. I won’t name any names, but someone let the air out of my tires this morning.

Roxanne: Why are you looking at me like that?

Liesel: Because you are guilty.

Roxanne: Maybe you ran over a screw.

Liesel: Doubtful, since my tires were fine before breakfast, and when I went to leave, one of them was as flat as week old soda. I put air in it and it was fine all the way here.

Roxanne: Sounds fishy.

Liesel: I have a pretty good idea of what happened. And look, here you are trying to horn in on my interview.

Roxanne: Interview? I was just hanging out, eating Cheetos and cupcakes. I had no idea there was an interview going on.

Liesel: You really are desperate to become famous, aren’t you?

Roxanne: Maybe a little bit.

Karen: Well, this is great, now I can interview both of you. So Roxanne, where did you come from? What was your inspiration?

Roxanne: I don’t know. I was created by her.

Liesel: I didn’t create her. She just shows up one morning and tells me her story, then she won’t leave me alone until it’s written and published.

Roxanne: Well I can’t write my own story.

Liesel: If you can let the air out of my tires, I’m sure you can find a way to write your own story.

Roxanne: I did find a way. I found you. You know what, Karen? She acts annoyed by me, but deep down she really loves me. Don’t you, Liesel? Don’t you? She’s ignoring me, but she’s always listening. That’s how I know she loves me. She listens to all of us stories. Stories aren’t made up. All of you writers know that, right? We already exist. We just need to find someone who will listen and write down what we tell them. Liesel, do you remember when you were eight and you wrote Pet Semetary?

Karen: Pet Sematary? By Stephen King? What is this?

Roxanne: She did! She wrote Pet Semetary when she was…I don’t know, in the second grade or something. She wrote a page and a half about this dog who was hit by a car and came back to life and tried killing his owners. Do you remember that, Liesel?

Liesel: Yeah. I remember.

Roxanne: Don’t fool yourself that you are half as good as Stephen King, but that story was floating around, and both you and Stephen King heard it and wrote it down. I mean, just because you hear a story and write it down doesn’t make you a good writer. Don’t get a big head that you are the next Stephen King or anything. Even now that you are older and more experienced, Stephen King is still miles and miles more talented than you. You really don’t have a chance of being as successful as he is.

I tried getting him to write my story, but he named me Carrie and twisted everything around until it wasn’t my story at all. So then I tried getting other authors to write my story, but everyone was too busy writing other stuff. You were actually my last pick.

Liesel: All right, I get the point, shut up already. Eat your cupcake, why don't you?

Roxanne: But now that it’s written, I’m happy with the way it turned out. You have my approval.

Liesel: Oh, thank you so much. Now that I have your approval my life can go on.

Roxanne: I’m only being honest. You don’t have to be so sarcastic. Don’t they say, a good friend is the most honest?

Liesel: Sure, whatever.

Karen: Well, we are about out of time here. That was Roxanne Donnaly, main character of Roxanne in La La Land, and L.A. DeVaul, the author of Roxanne’s –er—story. You can find more about Liesel and Roxanne at her website, L.A. DeVaul.

Roxanne in La La Land is now available on the Kindle and the Nook for $3.99. The print copy sells for $14.95 and can be pre-ordered at the publisher's website. Get yours today!

And don't forget to take your cupcake!!

 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chick Lit and Cupcakes!

I have some exciting news!
My daughter Liesel's debut novel is coming out on Sept 20, which by the way, is 
her birthday!! 

Her book is called Roxanne in La La Land, a chick lit novel (WiDo Publishing).

Love and success, isn't that what every girl wants? At eighteen, I moved to Southern California, hoping to find it. And I did, eventually . . . but nothing like I expected. New to Los Angeles, Roxanne Donaly spends her days dressing mannequins, and her nights drawing pictures of her cat, Danny Boy. Definitely the wrong way to find stardom, or Prince Charming either, for that matter . . . .But forget love, I am pursuing my dream to become a famous movie star. I moved to L.A. to be successful, and be successful I will! I'm just not getting any parts yet. Which totally sucks. Success is the only thing I really want in life. Besides love. Success and love. Sigh . . . .

I'll be interviewing her on that very special day, this coming Tuesday. Don't miss it. There will be cupcakes!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

About Writing, Reading & Publishing Books

Today I am being interviewed over at Strands of Thought, Kai Strand's blog. Kai is a children's author (The Weaver) who writes reviews and focuses on children's and YA books. I, of course, write neither, but why let a little detail like that stop me?  You invite me, I'll come, because there's nothing I love more than talking about writing, reading and publishing books.

And btw, I just downloaded John Locke's how-to book for authors on how-to sell more of their books. I'll be reviewing it here when I'm done. Fascinating stuff! I am always eager to discuss how to SELL more books, because it's a big challenge for me. Like Locke, I tried a lot of things that didn't work. Unlike Locke, I'm not a natural sales person so I really am taking in his tips. More on that later.

See you over at Kai Strand's blog!

Monday, September 12, 2011

No-no's in Character Actions

I wrote this tweet a couple days ago:

"No-no's in character actions: eye-rolling, grinning, smiling, sighing, head-jerking, arms crossed in front of chest. All cliches."

Think about about all the times you've seen these actions in manuscripts, even in published books-- they seem to be everywhere!

Not meaning you can never use them, of course, but be very very careful and sparing in how many times you have a character roll her eyes, cross her arms in front of her chest, smile, grin and sigh. A few I didn't include: clenching teeth, gritting teeth, glaring, laughing-- not because there's anything wrong with these actions themselves but it's because they have become too overused.

A question that came back to me: "So characters can't act like real people?"

Actually, real people have countless mannerisms. Writers must go beyond the obvious and the cliched in their descriptive tags. I mean, think about all the little expressions and gestures that real people use to show their thoughts and emotions. Why limit ourselves to those common ones that everyone else is using? As writers, we need to have refined powers of observation, not falling back on what's ordinary and easy. If you want to show a character's disgust or boredom, give me something besides eye-rolling. Please!

Crossing arms in front of chest used to be good the first few times, but lately I see it everywhere. It's unfortunately become a cliche. What other overused character mannerisms have you been seeing lately?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Trying Blogger's New Interface as I Keep My Fingers Crossed

I'm posting from the new interface on Blogger. Many of you will have noticed the little hint at the top of  your Dashboard "Try Blogger's new Interface" or some language like that. It's a lot like the Word Press interface, only simpler to understand.

One of the blogs I follow has been hacked, so I'm thinking there might be better spam protection on the new interface. Some of you have experienced this-- a big warning sign when you click to go to a blog. "Danger! Virus! This blog is Bad for You! Don't Go Here!"

It's not a blog I have on my sidebar, or one I visit often, and if I could I would unfollow, but I can't even go there to do that. Apparently Google has notified the Bad Blog Owner and is repairing the problem. I feel really bad for the blog owner. What a nightmare for her.

I have a Word Press blog *sort of* set up just in case although I never do anything with it. I really don't want to mess with it right now, unless I'm forced to, because that would be like starting over.

So I beg of you Blogger, please stay good for my blog tour! You made it through my Labor Day BBQ just fine. Please make it through my release of House of Diamonds and the subsequent blog tour! Because I DO NOT want to have to plan that from a new and different blog.

Blogger, I do hope that you catch your evil viruses and keep them away from me and my giraffe.

Thank you, and until then I remain  your loyal fan,

KarenG

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reflections of a Tree Hugger

Hope you all enjoyed the Blog BBQ, got full on calorie-free virtual yummy-ness and picked up some new followers. Thank you to everyone who stopped by!

The weather turned cooler on Sunday and season changes always make me reflective. So let's call today Truth Tuesday.

1. I'm not a very organized person. I spent a lot of time on Twitter this weekend, I don't know, just hanging out and tweeting nonsense that came into my head  snarky comments timely information about the publishing industry. And I noticed that I've sent over 3300 tweets since I began my account last year. Only get this-- I read it without my glasses as 33,000 tweets. Which freaked me out, thinking I had tweeted half of a novel in one year.

I even sent out a tweet about it:  Once I double my tweets I will have tweeted a novel. And I'm thinking, what the heck am I tweeting and posting and commenting with the words adding up by the thousands, when I should be writing novels? Anyway, not that I'm withdrawing from social media or anything drastic, but it was an eye-opener to analyze how I spend my time. I really must get more organized.

2. My husband and I don't work together very well. This is due to communication problems. I say, "What do you want me to help with on the website?" He says, while carrying the food scales, "I'm going to use these to weigh books."  I say, "I asked you what you want me to do, not what you are going to do."  And he responds, "But these scales are used for food so I thought I should tell you." See? Communication issues.

3. I love trees, I am a tree-hugger.  I miss the trees at our old house. There were 30 trees on that property, two-thirds of which we planted ourselves. The new house has too much grass, not enough trees.  Saturday we went and bought two 12 ft. red maples to plant in our yard. Now I only have to wait twenty years for them to grow as large as the trees at the old house. Sigh. 

What my new trees will look like some day.

4. Sometimes I get jealous. And I want to throw my laptop across the room when I read about yet another self-published e-book author selling hundreds of books a day on Kindle.

So that's me. Got any truths you want to share?