Monday, December 31, 2012
Anyway. Falling on my face. Uh, yeah, I did. Two days after Christmas. I was carrying in the toaster oven and tripped over the dog, BLAM, landed with my top lip on the edge of the toaster oven. Tore the crap out of my lips, bled like a stuck pig for about 6 hours. I had no idea lips could bleed so much. I busted something in my face where my two front teeth are, still feel the tingling and have been praying that I don't lose them. Waiting for them to turn black and blue like the rest of my face.
So, let this be a lesson to all of you going out tonight, be careful where you walk, beware of dogs, and try not to carry toaster ovens.
On another note, I was almost finished with THE EARL'S ENGAGEMENT. Had the final climax written, working on the denoument, and then realized it sounded too much like the plot ending from MASQUERADE. So guess what I did? Stripped it, 8500 words worth, all the way down to Chapter 24. Believe me, it wasn't easy. I want this book finished and out there, I have big things happening in the next few weeks and I don't need this hanging over my head. So that's where I've been, what I've been doing. Still working. Even on Christmas Day.
So, no resolutions for me. Hate them. I mean why try and do something that you know you can't do. I mean, sure I want to lose 40 pounds, but why start a diet on Jan. 1 when I know it's still winter. I'm still in chocolate mode. I'll wait until March when the weather breaks and I can walk everyday.
Okay, so gotta fly, have to finish ENGAGEMENT. Have a great time for those of you who go out. And like I said, beware of toaster ovens.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Rick Daley tagged me for this meme (and sent me an email to boot) so I just had to participate.
What is the title of your next book?
THE EARL'S ENGAGEMENT.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
As Monster says when she gets ideas, "From my brain." No, seriously, when I was writing THE LADY'S FATE, I found the Earl of Bailey so intriguing, I just had to write a story about him.
What genre does your book fall under?
Historical romance, or Regency romance.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
|Earl of Bailey|
|Gibbs, the butler|
(All photos courtesy of the International Movie Data Base and PBS and A&E Movie website.)
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
This is not a fluffy light sweet historical. This particular book deals with some very real present day issues like old age, poverty in the midst of wealth, family dynamics, sexual harassment, and what strengths we use to overcome diversity.
I'm trying to get the e-version out right after Christmas. It will also be in paperback in the spring.
Thanks for stopping by.
Monday, December 17, 2012
The song "Don't Stop Me Now" is by Queen (one of the best rock and roll bands to come out of Great Britain) and every time I hear it, it just makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Add to that, I read a few posts by the lovely Stina Lindenblatt last week about Writing a Business Plan for 2013.
Now some might say that "We're writers, we don't need no stinking plan -- we're artistes." Yeah, that isn't going to cut it anymore. Even if you're going the traditional route, you still need a plan. How many books you're going to write, how many short stories, if you go the self-pubbing route, there's a whole mess of stuff you need to learn how to do (even if you pay someone to format your books and do your covers you really should at least know the basics of how to do it), traditional route brings queries, synopsis, finding a pub house or an agent.
And let me tell you how much I hate learning new stuff. When I was a chef at The Stone House Club our big days were Easter and Mother's Day. Every year the owner's wife would make the petit chou. (cream puffs)It's not really all that hard, it just takes an inordinate amount of patience if you want the puffs to come out light and fluffy. I mean, who wants a flat, lifeless, cream puff right? I never wanted to learn how to do it because frankly, I just didn't want to. That was Ginny's mien, she loved doing it, and so why should I? Well, one year she was very sick and couldn't do it. Guess who had to take over. I spent 5 days before Easter that year making batches of the stuff, and just couldn't get it right. Over and over, into the mixing bowl, to the oven, dumping batch after batch into the garbage. They just weren't as good as hers. Until, I adjusted my attitude about how much I hated the stupid recipe, relaxed, and gently reminded myself that people were counting on me. The final batch of puffs were fabulous.
You may ask, what the hayzoo do Queen, 2013 writing aspirations, and cream puffs have to do with anything.
And the answer is, it's all in your perspective. I learned a long time ago, that if you don't love something, it won't love you back. That goes for cream puffs, formatting, raking leaves, painting ceilings, or washing the car. You have to give your whole heart to whatever it is or it will end up being flat and lifeless.
Which is why I'm a writer. I LOVE it. There's nothing in the world I have ever wanted to do more and because I've worked damn hard at it, there's a joy in my heart that I've never actually had before. Now some people say I've become self-actualized. (Big fancy psychologist term that just means I've come into my own.) I've become the person I've always wanted to be.
And sure, there's a whole lot of stuff I just hate about writing -- formatting, writer's block, sales slumps, bad reviews -- but that never outweighs why I love it. It's all in my perspective. Sure my writing goals for next year are crazy nuts (2 more contemporary romance novels, 3 more Regency romances, a few novellas, and I have even been thinking about jumping back into the query pool to go looking for an agent). Yes, they're big and lofty, and just trying to wrap my brain around 500,000 perfectly publishable words is a little daunting. But, I can't think of anything I would rather do.
No, my goals might not be met. And I learned that even the best laid plans can go astray. But I also learned that if you love something that much, even when the bumps in the road become mountains, just stay strong and carry on. Even on my worst days when I'm crying into my keyboard, I wouldn't change my life one bit.
It's all in your perspective.
As Freddy Mercury says
Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time. I'm having a ball.
Tell me -- What are some of your goals in 2013? What do you need to keep things in perspective?
And the link above is for those of you who can't view this from my blogpost. I'm still technically deficient. Something else I have to learn.And please do watch it at some point. If you aren't singing by the end of the song, well...I guess my goal to make you super-sonic didn't work.
Also, after the tragedy of last Friday in Newtown CT, can we all say a prayer for those poor people. A day like that will surely keep things in perspective for me.
Monday, December 10, 2012
We can't fault them for that. I do the same thing.
Come December 26, all will be right in our little worlds again, because of all the gift cards and shiny new e-readers given as gifts. Yay for us.
However, in studying my stats for November, I also remember that Hurricane Sandy hit during the first week in November. In 1991 Hurricane Bob hit Rhode Island and I was homeless for 6 weeks. My beloved beach house where I lived was wrecked beyond comprehension. Rocks filled the driveway, the yard, my 200 gallon propane tank that I used for heating and cooking floated in the estuary behind the house, the National Guard wouldn't let us come down the road to survey the damage, Coastal Resources wanted to condemn the house although it was still standing.
My world was thrown for a giant loop, trying to work, figure out which friend I could bum a couch off to sleep on or a shower, what to do with my dog. I slept in my car for week on the public beach. It was a nightmare to be sure. No, I didn't lose my stuff, I had days to move my things to higher ground, but I did lose my home.
That hurricane was a lesson I've never forgotten. It doesn't matter what you have, the stuff you accumulate through the years. What matters is that you survive the bad things that happen. That you, and your children and your pets are okay. Towels, kitchen gadgets, furniture can be replaced. Human lives cannot.
After surviving a disaster like Hurricane Bob, I know how those people who lived through Hurricane Sandy feel. Shock and awe comes to mind, then the mind-numbing emotional crippling -- What are we going to do now?
So, as we all commiserate our falling sales, can we just remember there are people who have lost so much more than that. Our lives will be on the upswing in just a few more weeks. For those people who have lived through Hurricane Sandy, they will be recovering for months or years to come.
Let's keep November in perspective.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Okay, so this is what I basically look like, sans the beard. Oh, and add some thick hiking socks, the kind with the red band around the top. Yup, that's me, mismatched clothes and all, hair a mess, and let's not forget the paint smears on my forearms, hands, and one or two across the legs as well.
So, how does this get-up make me a better writer? Here we go.
1.) After a long day of painting (or lawn mowing, or whatever it is I'm doing) I go home to the Monster. I make her something to eat and then retreat downstairs to my office. Once I'm sitting in my chair, I can't get up. No, seriously. For one, I've been working all day and am just exhausted. Two, the damn boots are so heavy, I just don't want to move. Hence, I'm still sitting in my chair. What can I do -- why write of course.
2.) Now because I look like this I also don't go out much. Oh sure, at Home Depot everyone looks like this, so that's okay, but I never go out in public. (Okay, that's a lie, I go everywhere looking like this, but I keep my sunglasses on so no one will recognize me.) Anyway, because I don't go anywhere, I have nothing else to do but write.
3.) Wearing this get-up makes me look like a man. A big burly man. I suppose if I wanted to really make the look complete I could wear my pearls, but let's not get crazy. Okay, so wearing man clothes, and man boots, I start to channel man thoughts. And as I write romance, I really need to think like a man at least half the time.
4.) Work boots are heavy. No doubt about it. Mine weigh at least almost a 1.5 pounds each foot. Wearing them all day feels like walking through swamp mud. BUT, once you get used to them, as I said, they're comfortable and you don't really feel how much they drag. Wearing work boots all the time you never need to do pilates or aerobics or stair-step ever again. Let me tell you how fab my ass looks. And no more cottage chesse thighs. And if you're not wasting an hour a day at the gym, you have more time to write.
5.) And because I'm a savvy smart shopper, and my feet are size 9 women, which translates to size 7 men, I can buy my boots in the young men's department so they're a lot cheaper. (If I wait until after Christmas/January they also go on wicked sale.) So I'm also saving money because I'm not blowing wads of cash on fancy schmancy girly shoes that I'll only wear once because I fell off the high heels and broke my ankle. Which means I can buy books with the money I save.
So there you have it, my sure fire way of how wearing work boots can help make you a better writer. (And get you a J.Lo rear end as a bonus.)
Tell me -- Do you own a pair of work boots?
Monday, November 26, 2012
I'm almost finished with the old house. Yay. It's about damn time too. One "big" and one "small" thing left to tackle and then I'm home free. Or perhaps I should say, free of the home. Gah, this thing is an albatross around my neck. (an expression I don't quite understand, but it's useful here.)
Trying to work on the latest novel. Halfway through, and if you'd like to take a gander at how real life ends up in my books, you can find that here.
Spent almost the whole Thanksgiving Day raking and blowing leaves in my mother's back yard. Kept me busy and burned off all the calories I ate during dinner. So yay.
Gearing up for the Monster's Birthday next Sunday. She'll be 8, thinks she's 19. I cannot believe she's going to be 8. I mean, really, where did the time go? I can't help think what's going to happen in 8 more years when she turns 16 and wants a car for Christmas. This year she's getting a laptop. (My mother bought it for her.) Think she's spoiled? Definitely spoiled. Rotten. I don't even have a laptop.
Spent the weekend on the computer doing stuff (because I overdid it raking on Thursday), got over to Goodreads, LinkedIn, even managed to Tweet on Sunday. It's been too long since I've done any of that so I'm glad I had the chance to finally catch up.
Okay, enough about me. What about you? How are your NaNo numbers? How was your Turkey Day? Did you get your Christmas shopping done?
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
On a day that is known to millions across the United States as one for which we are to give thanks and be grateful for what we have....
I would like to say Thank You to all of you, who have helped me, guided me, shored me up, beta read for me, listened to my blabbering, held my hand when things went awry, praised me, gave me great reviews, bought my books, and have been there for me throughout my publishing journey.
I am so eternally GRATEFUL to ALL of YOU! I could not have done any of this without you.
Monday, October 29, 2012
I sat down the other day after 72 hours doing what I normally do and said to myself, "Geez, when are you going to catch a break. You've been working non-stop since May."
In writing this post, I had 6 more paragraphs inserted here about what I've done in the last 5 months and deleted it. I figured you didn't want to hear any more about the old house or the other bullshit I've had to deal with lately.
So, all things considered, Halloween, NaNo, the holidays are coming, I've decided to step back for a while.
I'm taking a break. Not only for my mental health, but I have another book to write. I'd like to get it out before Christmas. I also have a book that's been sitting on my shelf in haphazard revisions for almost 2 years. I'd really like to pull that together as well.
So, I'm off. I know, I haven't really been a great blogger lately anyway. I don't comment, I don't make my rounds, I don't know what's going on anymore. But you know, sometimes, these things just can't be helped. I'm a writer, first (well, second if we don't count Mommyhood). So I need to write. And blogging just takes up too much of my time. Especially now with the sun going down earlier. You can't rake leaves in the dark. (And let me just say how much my mother wants her yard done NOW.)
So I'll see you around the 3rd of December.
PS I hope this Hurricane doesn't catch anyone unaware. Stay safe.
Monday, October 22, 2012
If you missed my appearance at the lovely Anne R. Allen's blog over the weekend, you can find it here. I talk a little bit about pen names.
Fast and Furious it goes for this Monday morning. Still painting, my cousin Patty showed up for an unexpected visit, writing like a maniac (22K+ words on the new Regency), and trying to finish up the weed wacking.
I'll talk to you soon.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Anyway, last Thursday, because I needed a post for my Robynne Rand blog and didn't have one, I decided Wednesday night to get all my short stories together and put them in one volume. (Yeah, I know, how nuts was that after painting all day. I guess I was having a good day, knock on wood.) Well, I put them together, formatted them, and published them.
There are six stories in all, dealing with love. Technically, broken love. I should warn you, these are heavy duty, almost raw if you will, with adult themes and language. Not for the faint of heart.
Three were previously published in the Literary Lab anthologies (of which I am so grateful to Davin, Scott, and Michelle for the opportunity to show my work in short form).
The total of words in this volume is 12,873. Like I said,
A collection of very short stories. Here's the link.
The second quick thing I want to say, is for those of you following the Anne Gallagher Regency Writer blog, is that I've put up a quick scene when Rory meets Rosamund for the first time. You can find that here. I don't know how, but in the last week I've scored over 8500 words on that. I think it's because the story is totally new, I'm still in love with it, and I'm actually following an outline.
If you haven't guessed, yeah, I really take this writing thing seriously. I had a mini revelation of sorts the other day. I LOVE what I do. I LOVE being a writer. I guess I've wanted to be one all my life and now that I am one, I don't think I've ever been happier.
So for all you who love what you do, keep it up. There's nothing better than getting words on paper.
Tell me -- How much do you love being a writer? Is there anything you don't like about it?
Monday, October 8, 2012
When the Monster was a baby she was sick all the time. From ear infections, to sinus infections, a bout with pneumonia, several with bronchitis, the kid was always running a fever for one reason for another. Now, we lived in Rhode Island at the time and naturally I kept in touch with my extended family of cousins, aunts, uncles and what not. Several times we had to cancel plans to go to a family gathering because Monster was either sick, or I was afraid she would get sick. Everyone was always concerned. Including me.
It seemed to me that whenever she was actually doing well, someone would invariably ask, "How's the Monster doing?" And I would always respond, "She's much better, thank you." And right after I said that, she would get sick again. I swear to God, I felt like I was jinxing myself, and I got so paranoid that whenever anyone would ask how she was, I would reply, "I can't tell you. Everytime I say how she is, she gets sick again, so I'm not going to say." (My family thought I was nuts.) But it worked. (I guess, at least that's how I thought of it. Come to find out, she was allergic to something in milk and once I switched her to organic milk, she was fine. If she gets sick now, I'll know it's really me...)
Anyway, I thought the jinxing was over. Ha!
You all know I've been working on the old house trying to get it ready to sell. It's been tough going because a few weeks ago, I shared with you how I've never felt better. Jinxed again. Since I've said that, I've felt really shitty.
Someone asked me last week how the painting was going. I said, "Really good. Moving right along." And it was, until I fell off the ladder. Not once, but twice.
I released my latest book, A ROMANTIC REGENCY COLLECTION. Now with this book, I didn't really promote it at all. One announcement on my Anne Gallagher blog, one announcement here, one day of sporadic Tweets, that was it. And it was selling really well. (Well, really well for me. I don't expect much with no fanfare, but it was having really good sales. Exceptionally good sales.) Until someone asked me how it was going. I said, "Fantastic!" Okay, jinxed again. That next day sales fell off markedly.
Can I really not talk about good things happening to me? I don't get it. I mean, it's not like I'm bragging or anything like that. I just want to share with my friends that things are going well for a change. But then when I do, it all falls apart.
Is it just me or does this happen to you? Do you believe in jinxes? And if it is an old wives tale, does someone know how to countermand it? Do I spit while turning in a circle, or throw salt over my cat's left shoulder?
Monday, October 1, 2012
Here's the blurb...
Here's the link to Amazon.
In other news, I'm still working on the house. The ceiling downstairs that was supposed to be so easy (just slap up the paint) has had to be stripped of the 'popcorn', then sanded, then primed, and now painted. Add to that nightmare, the heating ducts running across it as well...well, let's just say Anne's not a happy camper.
HOWEVER, I have managed to begin working on two stories. THE EARL'S ENGAGEMENT, another Regency (and if you want to read about that title, please take a gander at my Anne Gallagher blog).
AND I also banged out 2700 words on another romantic women's fiction. I don't have a title yet, so I'm calling it "Kate". It's been roaming around in my head for a long time. I had written about 20k on it but it started with Kate attending her mother's funeral. Then I found out, that being at a funeral for an opening was a no-no, so she's not at the funeral anymore. They also say not to start with backstory, but I'm not working for a traditional publisher so I can do whatever I want. We'll see if I change it around once I get more to it. I need more chapters before I can make a decision on where to start.
And that's about it. Other than falling off the ladder a few times, I'm pretty good. I just wish this house would be done. I only have a few hours a day to paint and clean and junk, and no one to help me so it's slow going. I'm really excited about these new stories and can't really do anything about them just quite yet. argh!
So tell me, what are you guys up to? Now it's officially Oct. 1 have we started thinking about Christmas yet, or are we waiting a little while longer?
Monday, September 24, 2012
This last year has also been filled with personal triumphs as well. My illness took a turn for the better so I've been able to accomplish so much more "outside" in the fresh air. We bought a new house. I got rid of my ex (which had a lot to do with feeling better). My daughter is now in private school.
I have lots to be thankful for. But most of all, I am thankful for you, my wonderful blog friends. Without you, I don't know where I would be now. Your support and encouragement has enabled me to accomplish my dream of being published. Without you, I would probably still be sitting on my first manuscript wondering what I'm doing wrong.
Like I said, I've learned a lot.
Tell me -- What have you learned in the last year?
PS -- Does anyone else hate the new Blogger changes? I can't find anything!!!
Monday, September 17, 2012
UNCHARTED: Story for a Shipwright is out now, published by Rhemalda Publishing. Here's my review.
That is the review I posted on Goodreads and Amazon, but truthfully I just wanted to write --
OMG OMG OMG YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!!!!
Yeah, I'm not kidding, it's that good. And I'm not saying that just because she's a friend of mine. This book HAUNTED me, still does as a matter of fact. Between the story itself, which was phenomenal, and the writing, which was gorgeous, just color me jealous. I wish I had her talent.
Now, because of our friendship, Bridget's graciously offered to answer a few questions for me...
How did you come up with the idea for a story about a shipwreck within a story about a boatbuilder? Well, I guess it all started way back when I was a little kid—you see, I had a crush on Gilligan. You can read all the sordid details on a blog post I wrote not too long ago.
How did you come up with the idea for a story about a shipwreck within a story about a boatbuilder?
Well, I guess it all started way back when I was a little kid—you see, I had a crush on Gilligan. You can read all the sordid details on a blog post I wrote not too long ago.
You're an accomplished watercolorist. Are the two (writing and painting) exclusive of each other or are they companion to each other?
Um…I’ve painted scenes and images inspired by my stories—like Marlena, on the cover of Uncharted—and I’ve written stories based upon a few random paintings, but one is not contingent upon the other. It’s just that I need a creative outlet for good mental health, so I’m either painting or writing most of the time. If I can combine the two, I feel doubly productive, which I like.
Is it harder to write or paint?
Writing is definitely harder! Way harder. I can pick an image, begin painting and be done with it in a week’s time. When it’s complete,it’s easy to set it aside and move on, even though I know it’s not perfect. And putting it out there for feedback is easier—that is, it takes little time or commitment for someone to offer their opinion. Writing—especially a novel—requires a huge amount of emotional resources and is a much longer and more involved process. And it’s much different to flash a painting in front of someone and ask, “Whaddaya think?” as opposed to passing a manuscript to a reader, saying, “This is going to suck up the better part of several days and there’s a chance that you make not like it at all and feel quite annoyed with me afterward.”
What is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself during the publication process?
I’ve discovered that I’m a very private person and that the internet is a very precarious place. I mean, I knew that going in, but the lure of easily accessible research was irresistible and made me lower my guard. I kind of laugh about it now, but I had a situation come up that freaked me out a little back when it happened.
You see, in the process of researching a particular sailing vessel, I came across a real live shipwright’s Website. After inquiring about the particular sailboat project that interested me and explaining about my writing, we corresponded several times over the course of a couple months. By then, I had completed my first draft and thought, ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be great to have an actual shipwright for a beta-reader?’ I mean, I hated to think of some poor boat builder reading my novel and hurling it across the room in frustration over some implausible passage.
Alas, I had never asked anyone outside of my family and friends to read my story, and my request seemed rather presumptuous. I imagined this particular shipwright was not unlike my main character Sam—very, very busy. I thought he might be more inclined to oblige me if I showed a little interest in his work and background, justifying all that as further research, and I was genuinely intrigued. Much of what he shared was in fact very interesting and insightful. Unfortunately, by the time I mustered up the courage to ask if he would read my novel, he apparently misinterpreted my interest…
‘Yes!’ he wrote back, he’d ‘love to read it!’ Myheart raced with excitement.
Then I read the next line ….—did he just write what I think he wrote? … Oh nuts!
Just the same, his proposition was rather poetic. Nicely written—a few too many modifiers, but pretty good for a shipwright. Perhaps he was just trying to impress me with some literary ability of his own… but that thing about making love in the oakum and shavings …. Yikes!
It was all very embarrassing. He did not read my novel.
However, I learned a big lesson: Keep my guard up and just be direct. It may feel like shameless self-promotion, but better that than something else.
Well, I'm all for shameless promotion so you can find Bridget in all these places.
Writing blog: http://jbchicoineliteraryworkinprogress.blogspot.com/
Art blog: http://jbchicoine.blogspot.com/
Thanks for stopping by. And make sure you put this book in your TBR pile. You won't be disappointed.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Well, in looking through all my boxes, I found several that contained my old writing. (When I say old, I'm talking like 1975.) Yes, I was writing in 1975. Of course I was a teenager and dinosaurs roamed the earth, but still it's writing even if it is written on papyrus.
And it's bad. All of it is so very very bad. Flimsy plots, atrocious puncutation, illegible script (I wrote longhand for most of it) and just a lack of (I don't even know what word to use here) ...story.
But, there is one thing I learned, or rather RE-learned when I found all that stuff that was astounding to me
I have always wanted to be a writer. Always. And because of that, I have always written. Always.
And now I am a published author. (By my own hand, but still, I'm published.) Funny how your dreams sneak up on you when you're not looking. Although, this dream was 37 years in the making so I'm not sure it snuck up on me. But, it reaffirms my tenacity. And patience that dreams do come true.
Now if I could only get Tom Selleck to fall in love with me....
Tell me -- how long have you been writing?
Monday, August 20, 2012
All that being said, I wonder how big name authors spend their days -- writing in their air conditioned offices with a plethora of researchers, housekeepers, maids all catering to their every whim. Let's not forget they all have wonderful Scottish nannies to take care of the kids, and their spouses are marvels in the kitchen so they don't have to scrape together another round of mac and cheese and hot dogs.
I know most big name authors have schedules, and probably more than a few of them have maids and/or some kind of outside help, but I keep remembering Danielle Steele's appearance on Merv Griffin (remember him?) way back in the late 70's early 80's. She wore pearls and a long flowing chiffon something, could have been a gown for all I know, she kept playing with the scarf, flipping it between her fingers. She reminded me of Elizabeth Taylor. And then Merv did an expose on her house. California big, with a pool, and a view. Back then, she and Jackie Collins were big name authors. And I guess somehow, that's what stuck in my head. Glamorous, elegant, rich.
This image people have of writers is so not how it really is. Well, at least it's not for me. Like I have all this time to just write every day. Yeah, like that's possible when the kid is sick, the dogs pooped all over the carpet, the cat knocked down five of my african violets off the shelf, and my mother has been bitching the grass needs to be cut. Add the fact we're going back to school in less than a week, I'm dealing with financial bullshit from the ex, and it's raining -- AGAIN.
I know I'm whining. You know I'm whining. I think we're all entitled to it once and awhile.
The reason I bring this up at all is -- I had an outside interview last week. Our new house is in a golf community and they have a monthly newsletter. The woman who writes the letter is a friend of my mother's. Well, when she found out we lived here now, she called me and wanted to know what I was doing. When she met me five years ago, I was a caterer. When I told her I was now a writer she said, "How unusual."
What does that mean exactly?
Are we, as writers, unusual? Are the five million of us currently writing books weird, or kooky, or out of the ordinary? Sure we're introverts, sure we have our little rituals before we tackle those revisions, sure we don't speak to people between the hours of 8-1. Sure we eavesdrop on stranger's conversations, have a penchant for back booths and corner tables in coffee houses, and we might even push the bounds of research occasionally and have the Secret Service show up at our door. But does that really make us unusual?
I explained to Judith I wrote in a niche market, Regency romance, and that I had two novels and several short stories out, and I had also just published my first contemporary romance. She oohed and ahhed in all the right places, and then she asked, "So are you going back to catering anytime soon?"
Why do people automatically assume you won't be able to hack it as a writer? Why do people automatically assume you need to have a "job" because you also write? Back in the day, I was a waitress who wrote. Or a housekeeper who wrote. Or a chef who wrote. Now, I'm a writer. That's it. Just a writer.
The Image of a Writer's Life isn't glamorous. Well, at least not this writer. But I'll take a two hour nap after weed wacking, just so I don't ever have to go back to the "real world" again. I'll put up with disappointing reviews, and writer envy, and not meeting my word count, just so I can stay home. Perhaps agoraphobia is the culprit. Perhaps it's just my way of being the black sheep. Just a little unusual. It doesn't matter. I am who I am, and I'm a writer.
I wonder if Nora Roberts cuts her own grass?
Tell me -- what kind of reaction do you get when you tell people you're a writer?
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Today I want to discuss e-book pricing. While I was away, I read some "big name author" opinions on the subject, and I have a few of my own I'd like to share. Not because I'm a "big" author, but I think they're valid points and if you're heading into the e-publishing sphere, you might want to take some of this into consideration.
As a whole, I think it depends on what kind of story you've written. For my short stories, I priced them at .99cents. I thought that was fair. I tried $1.29 for one of them for two weeks and I didn't sell one copy. As soon as I dropped my price back to .99, they sold.
(Now, some authors price their shorts at $1.99, their novellas at $2.99, novels at $6.99. Which might work for them, but it doesn't work for me. These are mostly big name authors who've made their mark in the self-publishing arena and can do whatever they want.)
In my Regency series, my novellas and short stories are .99 cents. My novels, I started off at $2.99, and then I raised the price to $3.49. I'm selling the exact same amount from when they were .50cents cheaper. It's my opinion, if people like what they see in the cover copy and the "inside peek" they'll buy it no matter what the price. Especially if you've found a fan base.
Now, some "insiders" say to price your first book cheaply in the beginning to gain an audience and use it as a "loss leader." (We discussed this last week on the Is Free the New Black post.) If you're writing a series, and don't write short stories, this can work for you. .99 is an enticement to get readers to stick around for the rest of the series especially if the first book is well-written. When the second book comes out, the price you decide upon is up to you.
And here's the crux of it. How much do you think your book is worth? Only you can determine this. I don't know about you, but I've worked long and hard on my books, crafting them, revising, rewriting, editing, formatting, all the stuff we do as writers on our way to publication. How long did it take me to write the book? God only knows. If I broke it down into actual man hours, it seems like a million. Do I really want to charge .99cents for something that took me almost a year to write? I feel I'm worth more than that.
In today's competitive market (strictly e-books here) you want your book read, you want your readers to feel satisfied they didn't waste their hard earned money on something they hated. (Which in that case, they'll ask for a refund.) I could have charged $6.99 for my novels like the big name authors do. But I'm not a big name author. I also want to be competitive. I also want to make some money for all my hard work, which is why I chose to start out at $2.99, the lowest price point to garner 70% royalties.
Now some of my readers in their reviews were disappointed to find that what they bought for .99 wasn't a novel. But they wouldn't pay $2.99 for one. So that either means, they're cheap, used to Free, or on a limited budget. Which in today's economy is fair to say. However, if I put my novels at .99 then that devalues ME as an author. I work hard on my books, have great covers, edit them, re-edit them, and make sure they're free of typo's and all the other junk. I feel I'm distributing a pretty good product.
I'd love to sell my novels for $6.99. Why don't I? Because I'm still new at this. I feel the more I write, the better I get, and possibly someday, after I've sold 50,000 copies, I just might. But for now, raising the price .50 cents is my way of giving myself a raise and telling consumers I value what I do. And so should they.
My books aren't crap. I've put probably a thousand man-hours into research. I've spent years rewriting and revising. I think I know what I'm doing, and with help from my critters and betas, I put out what I think is a damned fine book. Of course, there are better writers than me, I know that. But you know what, I've read some stuff that's come out of New York and I wouldn't waste my hard-earned money on it. You get what you pay for. And I think $2.99 is a pretty fair price. It's less than a cup of coffee sometimes.
So that's that. My thoughts on E-Book Pricing.
Any questions, comments, thoughts, ideas, personal experience you want to share....
Monday, August 6, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Well, guess what, that doesn't happen every day. It depends on the book, the genre, the writer, why you're doing it, as well as the day of the week, and the position of the moon. Yeah, no not really, but luck like that is very rare. Also a back list is worth a thousand downloads.
I'll tell you my story, and you can decide if you want to put your books for free or not.
We all know I write Regency romance. In the beginning I wrote a novel -- THE LADY'S FATE. But I didn't know how to promote it. I decided to write a short story to give away as a loss leader. You know, like the prize in the box of Cracker Jacks. Give something else away for free, to get them to buy what you really want them to buy.
I gave away A WIFE FOR WINSBARREN when I launched LADY'S FATE. This was before the days of Amazon's KDP Select. It was a win-win for me. When I launched THE DUKE'S DIVORCE, I also gave away copies of A HUSBAND FOR MISS TRENT. Another win.
All my books shot up in the rankings, got me sales, made me delight in my forethought and cunning that I was so smart to do so. I thought I was the golden child of the Regency world.
But all that soon came crashing to a nasty halt. Amazon caught on to the game (If you uploaded to another venue, Smashwords for instance, and offered your book free before they went to Premium status, the spam bots at Amazon couldn't track you.)
Last December they decided to install KDP Select. Which would give you the option to offer your book for free on Amazon for 5 days. It also allowed its Prime members to borrow your book for free, but you would still get paid. Which sounded like a good deal. Everyone was still making money, and you could also use those 5 days for a loss leader promotion. It was only 90 days and if you wanted to re-up or not, that was your decision.
Well, the first month, everyone and their brother tried it. It worked for me too with WINSBARREN. I took it off Smashwords, enrolled it in KDP and although I never put it for free (as I had already done so) I did get a lot of hits off the Prime membership.
But now, we come to the big bad Amazon (in March) changing their algorithms. (Okay does anyone know how to spell that word? Really? I've seen it spelled like 3 different ways.)
For those who don't know what algorithms are, I don't actually know either. But to hazard a guess, it's a scientific analytical spreadsheet that marks (in Amazon's case) how many books are sold by genre, by price, by author, then makes calculations based on how, when, and where they're selling, then takes all that information and plugs it into another spreadsheet and figures out who's going to sell more, who's going to buy more, and who's going to make more money. (Amazon.)
Anyway, once Amazon plugged FREE into their algorithms, authors were shooting up to #1 with a bullet. Everyone was talking about it. Everyone was doing it. Authors were getting on lists, authors were selling more books, people were reading more books. Amazon was making more money. (Because that's what Amazon does.)
But then, as with every good thing that's too good to be true, authors began to suffer from lackluster sales after their free promotion. They'd hit #1 or #2 during, but after, nothing. You know why? Because everyone else was giving their books away for free so why should they buy yours. People were grumbling, authors were in uproar, marketing analysts were writing articles in the NYTimes and Huffington Post. Oh my.
So here we are, 8 months after the initiation of the KDP Select program and what's happened is Free is now the norm. Authors who are having lackluster sales decide to offer their book FREE in the KDP Select program after it's been out for awhile. You know what that does. Makes people wait to buy your book. Because they know eventually, it will be free. That's why there are lackluster sales. They're waiting. Everyone loves a bargain.
Free is what you make it. In my opinion, offering a book free at the launch would be the way to go. Making that free list, getting higher in the rankings, garnering some reviews. Then set your price and stick with it. (Which is what I did with REMEMBERING YOU. I'm waiting for the dust to settle and then once I have all my notes in place, I'll tell you what happened with that book. Probably in late August, early September.)
In my opinion, once you publish a book, instead of trying to sell it forever, write the next book. If people buy your first book and like it, they want more. It's called a fan base. (Unless you have a 1000 followers on your blog and Twitter, you don't have a fan base yet.) Perhaps write a short story and offer that as Free, possibly for the launch of the next book instead of the book itself. It couldn't hurt. And besides, how long did it take you to write the 80k words in your novel? How long did it take you to write the 15k words in your short story, or 25k words in your novella? Which would you like to take a loss on?
I think, and again this is only my opinion, now that Amazon has changed its algorithms again (June) free is not what it once was. Sure it might get you to #1 for a few days, but after that, you go back to where you used to be. Rankings don't follow the free promo anymore. So save yourself, and your sanity. Think about your loss leader before you go offering anything for free.
And again, this is only based on my experiences on what I've done. Comments, questions are welcome. No spam please. Next week I'll discuss price points.
Monday, July 30, 2012
(And just so you know this is a long post. It is aimed at newbies and not meant to offend those of you who already know how to do all this. It is only my opinion and what I did. You can take from it what you wish. Also if you have some other great tips, ideas, or information, please feel free to write them in the comments.)
Well, as I said, I was going to share the secret of my success in getting to #1 on the Kindle. First, it was only #1 on the Kindle Free list. I made it to #16 in the Advice>Self-Help>Love and Romance category, and #49 in the Genre Fiction> Romance> Contemporary category. (Which blew my mind all kinds of ways. I was even higher in rank than a few best-selling NYT authors for awhile.)
But all that didn't last. As I mentioned before, I didn't have any reviews, so when it came off of *free* status, the book died. My ranking went from #1 to 274 to 20,745, down to 35,337, to 78,229 within a matter of HOURS. Shocking. However, as soon as the lovely Cindy F. (whoever she is, bless you) wrote a review and posted it (the next day) my ranking shot back up to mid 30k where it's been hovering for the last week.
Lesson #1 -- Before you start your book launch always have at least one review waiting in the wings. Preferably a 4 or 5 star. (I started this launch as a FREE promotion, but you don't have to do free, and on Wednesday I'll tell you why.)
Now, some people are not on Twitter. I know I balked at it for YEARS before I finally succumbed to the madness. It took me a while to figure it out, but once I did, it became a lot easier to use. Also, the key to Twitter is not just using it for promotion. You have to play nice, and be respectful to your following. There are a few "rules" you have to learn, how to use a #hashtag properly, how to shorten your links. (I use bit.ly but there are a few others out there.) how to RT (retweet -- which I'm still not sure how to do with edits -- it's a learning curve). But all in all, I would say it's a nice place to hang out and talk to people using 140 characters or less.
Lesson #2 -- Join Twitter. Find your blog friends. Find people you want to be friends with. It's all about following. The more the merrier. Usually, if you follow someone, they'll follow you back. (Just be careful. There're a lot of spam Twits floating around too.)
Once you get the hang of Twitter, (took me about a month, seriously, I'm a slow technological learner) then you need to download Tweetdeck. (Okay, I don't know what these apps are actually called -- Twitter feed in real time with columns so you can see who said what as it appears) There's also Hootsuite and one more that I can't remember the name. I use Tweetdeck because it's simple. Like me. It gives me 3 columns -- one for feed, one for interactions, one for scheduling Tweets. Yeah, because that's what you want to use -- the scheduler.
Lesson #3 -- Download Tweetdeck.
Okay, so now you've joined Twitter, downloaded Tweetdeck, looked it over, played around on both. Here's the fun part. Scheduling your Tweets.
I'm going to use my book REMEMBERING YOU as an example (because why would I use anyone else's?)
As I said before (somewhere) this uploading to *free* was an experiment. Because I published this under Robynne Rand, a lot of people didn't know it was me -- Anne Gallagher. So basically I was a newbie author. I decided to offer it free just to see what would happen with a new cover and new edits. I also decided to promote it on Twitter first before I announced it on my blog -- also to see what would happen.
I basically had 4 lines from my book that I pre-scheduled to show up on my Twitter feed (using Tweetdeck) every hour on the hour. If I had just Tweeted:
Remembering You is out now. Free for two days. Get it while it's hot. amzn.to/MsSULj
What do you think would happen? Nothing. So here are my tag lines and my Tweets.
Optimism was so ugly when it kicked your ass. REMEMBERING YOU #romance #beachread #free amzn.to/MsSULj
Pete will always wonder if I'm sleeping with Tony no matter how much I deny it. REMEMBERING YOU #romance #free amzn.to/MsSULj
Missing her parents was something Genna had done for so long it defined her soul. REMEMBERING YOU #romance #free #beachread amzn.to/MsSULj
Love is a gift from the angels. They smack you upside the head. Pay attention. REMEMBERING YOU #free #romance #beachread amzn.to/MsSULj
Okay, see the use of my taglines, my #hashtags, the word free and my Amazon tag. Everything is there. No one has to click anywhere other than Amazon to see the book. Then it becomes their decision if they want to download it.
Lesson #4 -- Find some good lines from the book and schedule them with the appropriate hastags and shortened link to Amazon.
So, after scheduling my Tweets for 12 hours, (I did this in shifts) I sat back and watched. I have a few friends on Twitter, and they also helped by Re-Tweeting to their followers. THAT my friends is key. Retweets. I didn't ask them to, as a matter of fact, no one in my circle knew what I was doing. They just did. And that helps. It's like the chain game -- if you like something and tell two friends, they'll tell two friends etc. and so on. It's all about word of mouth.
Now because I did my first free day on a Sunday, I knew there would be people out and about on Twitter. And because I scheduled my tweets every hour on the hour round the clock, I also knew I would hit all time zones. And once an hour for a Tweet is plenty. There's one girl I know who's promoting her book every 15 minutes with a barrage of scheduled Tweets. She doesn't interact, only promotes. Let me tell you how annoying that is. In between my scheduled promo tweets, I also Retweeted articles I liked, put up tweets for other books I reviewed, and talked with a few of my friends. Yes, the first day was almost non-stop on the computer. But this is how I wanted to do it.
The first day I gave away 1074 copies.
Lesson #5 -- Schedule Tweets 24 hours. One an hour is fine. But remember to also have fun. Share. Invite. ReTweet. Promote others.
So the next day, Monday, I announced it on my blog. I also did the same 24 hour scheduling, but as the day drew to a close and I knew the free promo would be ending, I wrote a few other Tweets to schedule.
Only a few hours left for #free REMEMBERING YOU #romance #beachread amzn.to/MsSULj
Only an hour left to get REMEMBERING YOU #free #romance #beachread amzn.to/MsSULj
Only a half hour left to Pacific Standard Time REMEMBERING YOU is #free until then. #romance #beachread amzn.to/MsSULj
At the close of the adventure I gave away 1411 books. During the course of those two days I watched my ranking rise to hit #1 and stay there for two whole days. Did it do any good? I don't know. Would I do it again? Probably not. And I'll tell you why -- But I'll save that for Wednesday's post.
So to recap book promotion using Twitter -- Write a good book. Get a good cover. Join Twitter. Download Tweetdeck (or another scheduling app). Find some great taglines. Use your hashtags wisely. Schedule your Tweets one an hour. Have fun. Promote others.
Anything I've missed? Please feel free to let me know in the comments. Any Questions? Please by all means ask. If I can't answer them, I'm sure someone else can.
(And I'm sorry, I didn't give you the links for anything because my computer was acting up at the time of this writing and I was afraid I was going to lose the whole article. You can find them just by Googling.)
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I'm over at Susan Swiderski's today dishing dirt on me, Anne Gallagher, and the other me, Robynne Rand in a surprising interview. Surprising because the questions she asked me were not the typical interview questions. But that's Susan. Always getting to the heart of the matter. You should stop by. And no it's not a plug for anything, but I reveal some interesting answers.
If you haven't read what happened to Roni Loren (formerly of *Ficiton Groupie*) about her use of pictures from the Web, you should. It's a scary thought. My advice -- be careful out there.
I've finally gotten a start on LADY CADORET'S LONGING (novella) and if you want to read the first couple of pages, I put them up on my Anne Gallagher blog. I also wrote the next three chapters and let me tell you what, if you don't cry when you read them, well, then you're not human.
Next Monday, I'll share my secret to success in getting to #1 on the Kindle with REMEMBERING YOU. It's not really a secret, people do it all the time, but I'll tell you how I did it.
And lastly, I know I promised interviews and fun stuff, but I'm still in the throes of cleaning the old house and haven't gotten into the fast pace of blogging just quite yet. I went over there last Friday and weed-whacked and let me tell you what, I better churn out some more books pretty quick because I'll be damned if I have to do that again. Two hours, used the whole roll of string, and was in bed the whole next day. I'm getting too old for that crap.
Anyway, hope you'll stop by Susan's. Have a great rest of the week.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Once upon a time, in this man's world, that was the sentiment. EVERYONE read book reviews. If you made it to the TIMES, you were golden. Nowadays, even the TIMES won't necessarily warrant a best-seller list.
In today's world, one book review is worth a thousand of your friends talking about your book. In today's world, a good book review and a half dozen sales in one day on Amazon will shoot you up to #10 in a best-seller rank. Sometimes even allow you to get to #1.
However, in today's world, even if you wrote the best book in the whole world, and sold a zillion copies, if you don't have a review on Amazon, you end up languishing in publishing hell. Amazon has changed their algorithms yet again, and for all my ranking of #1 Sunday and Monday with the free promotion of REMEMBERING YOU, because I don't have any reviews, no matter how many copies I sell per day, I have no rank on any list. It's all gone. (As of this posting, I do have one review. And my rank has gone up.)
Before Amazon offered the KDP Select program, people who sold merely 5 copies a day of any book they had could shoot up the best seller lists like nobody's business. I did. I maintained several top ten lists for quite a few weeks, depending on how many copies were sold, and who else had copies sold on the same day.
Heady stuff for a newbie pub like me. Especially with no reviews.
However, with the advent of the KDP Select program all that changed. You could now offer books for free, and in a market filled with authors vying for all the attention they could muster for their books, free became the new black. People were downloading faster than you could say 50 Shades.
But in that gluttony, having a free book out there also brought the attention of those less-than-5 star reviews. Mean reviews, stupid reviews, I-hated-this-book reviews. (Amazon has since changed their view on book reviews and has been taking down the mean spirited ones.)
All that said, this monster called Amazon rules our world, whether we like it or not. It's the biggest and fastest way to get a book out there. More people use Amazon for books (reading or publishing) than any other venue out there.
And in doing so, book reviews are king if you want to get anywhere in publishing. Of course, there's a problem with all 5 star reviews (see Anne R. Allen's post). But one or two 2 stars in a pool of 4 and 5 stars isn't such a bad thing. I should know, I have my fair share across the board.
And I know how exciting and exhilerating it is to offer up your first book into this self-publishing world. Some of you have networks and friends and have all kinds of blogposts and hops and tours lined up. You have no problems getting reviews.
However this lesson is for those of you like me, who don't have that kind of network. Before you upload anything to anywhere, have a couple of reviews in place, ready to go before your launch. I know, I should have, but I didn't. (I tend to go off half-cocked when I'm excited.)
Ask your mother, your friends, your Aunt Alice, the librarian in your hometown. And you know, those people who say those reviews don't count? Well, guess what, they do now. If you want to get anywhere on Amazon, you need a review. And hey, just one counts too. It's all about the rank. No, it's not about sales, it's about your ranking. And one review, even a 3 star will get you ranking on some list.
Tell me -- Do you write reviews of books you like? How about books you don't? Do you write reviews for friends? If not to any of those questions, why not?
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Best Sellers in Love and Romance
Top 100 Free
Monday, July 16, 2012
I'm still not done moving. Now it's just all the flotsam and jetsam that floats around the house after all the big stuff has been cleared out. An old stack of magazines, the last of the plants, what remains in the cabinets over the fridge. You know. Once it's all out, then I get to clean. Fun times.
My ex- has left us again so it's just me and the Monster now. I told him there's no coming back this time. I'm used to his going and coming and going, he's done it for years. But the Monster is taking it hard this time. She wasn't old enough to remember his leaving the last time, so now, this really hurts. I've tried to explain it to her -- Mommy and Daddy just don't get along -- but she wants real reasons and I'm not sure she's ready to hear the truth about her father just yet. She's only 7.
In any case, his departure put the kibosh on our trip to the beach. Um yeah, another reason to despise him. Not only did he ruin my summer, he ruined Monster's as well. The pool is set up and she's been swimming happily for awhile now, but it's not the same as the beach. I'm hoping Divine Intervention (or a winning lottery ticket) will give me the funds necessary for a long weekend at Myrtle Beach. Going to Rhode Island is just not in the cards this year.
I haven't been writing. Well, because I've been moving, but being around the blogosphere has started the itch again. I guess I think checking in with you guys will somehow get me motivated. I've got some big things to finish and some smaller things to start and I figured that if I'm around you, it will give me the schedule I need. I keep telling the Monster that my sitting at the computer all day is WORK (I'm not just playing at this writing thing -- why don't people understand that) so if I go back to WORK, maybe the creative juices will start flowing again.
However, I did accomplish one thing while I've been away. I've a new cover for REMEMBERING YOU. I know, what is it with me and this cover? As we all know, self-publishing allows you to change what you don't like about your book. So, voila, the new cover.
And just for fun, I'm giving this particular edition away for FREE at Amazon TODAY (until midnight Pacific Standard time). So I hope you'll all pick up a copy and Tweet about it. It's also gone through another round of edits and I'm hoping this will garner me a few reviews. (Not bad ones though, please.) Here's the link REMEMBERING YOU. This is also somewhat of an experiment so I hope to have some data for you on a few issues with marketing and promotion for you in September.
So tell me, what have you been doing? How are you? How's your summer going? Tell me all.