Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

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.

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?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Don't be Depressed about: Career or Writing or Reviews or Book or Blog

Sometimes it seems like there's a lot to be depressed about but my advice is: don't worry about any of it. P.S. I am not a licensed professional

What if nobody likes your book? (just write another one)

What if you can't find a publisher? (improve your work and keep trying)

What if you got some bad reviews? (they are just as important as the good ones)

What if the writing isn't going well? (it often didn't go so well for Hemingway either, or Steinbeck or Dickens or-- fill in the blank)

What if your career isn't happening like you expected? (nobody's is, except for maybe Mark Zuckerman and Jeffrey Bezos)

What if your blog doesn't have enough followers or comments? Now that I can do something about!!

Stop by tomorrow for my big bash, KarenG's Labor Day BBQ. Bring food (I like food) and be prepared to add some spice to the lazy summer blog routine. Find new blogs, get new followers, and jazz up the blogosphere with shared enthusiasm! See you tomorrow then.