Thursday, July 27, 2017

Getting Ready to Publish Your Book by Betsy Ashton

I've given a dozen or more classes this year on what it takes to be ready to publish, self or traditionally. I give the attendees my actual release plan, so that they can do as much or as little as they wish. Everyone leaves my class with a game plan and a boggled brain.

Those of us who self publish have to do everything ourselves. Everything. Right now, I'm working with my cover designer. We have a good idea, an image that is close, and  a plan to modify said image. Spooky cover. Hoodie with a pair of eyes following you around. The cover is the fun part. Getting the ISBN, back matter, blurbs all have to be done around the same time. So does asking people to read the ARC, get more blurbs back, and review on Amazon. I think two of the three of the latter points are easy. Getting that darned review up on Amazon, well, a whole different matter.

I talk to the class about housekeeping issues. If they don't have a website, they need a professional-looking site before the book is available. Where else will readers be able to buy a signed copy if they don't live near the author? Goodreads? Wait, I have to be on Goodreads? Sure do, sister. That's where readers hang out. Author Central from Amazon? I thought Amazon did that. Nooo, you, dear author, set it up. How else will you track e-book sales on Amazon and book sales on all other distribution sites?

What about newspaper interviews? Well, you can hire a publicist, or you can develop a press kit with your press release, a brief summary of the book, interview questions, and a list of places where you can be contacted. You do the legwork. No one else will.

What about social media, you ask? Don't sit there and tell me all you have to do is put the book out, and it will sell. That worked in Field of Dreams, but I'm not Kevin Costner and I don't have a multi-million ad budget. How the heck will people other than friends and family know you have a book out if you don't use the tools at hand to spread the word? If you don't want to use all the current apps, pick one or two where you feel comfortable. Also, pick ones where your readers come to share information and play. For example, if you write YA, hang out in Snapchat, Instagram, and several others whose names I can't remember. I don't write YA, but I'm trying to learn how to use Instagram. Pinterest is fun, but it doesn't really drive traffic to my website or Amazon where my books are available.

Did I hear you say you don't want to do all of the work yourself? If you have a kid whose interested, use said kid. If you don't, consider hiring a virtual assistant who can set up posts on your chosen apps.That will cost money, and you might not see a return on your investment immediately. But if you don't want to do the work and you can't afford to hire someone, you should set you mind to selling a few books to friends, colleagues, and family. It will be harder to attract strangers if you hide.

Writing the book is the easy part. Even working with a professional editor is the easy part. Sucking it up and shoving yourself out there in front of readers is not for the faint of heart. We all have to do it. We need to learn to do it well.

Next time, we'll talk about giving a book talk...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Yep. Elbow deep

I'm 3 chapters in to a new manuscript and having a lot of fun.

As you might remember, I took a week off from writing earlier in the month. Shocking, I know. While I was in "time off" I did some research for the new idea rattling around in my brain so when I started to write, I could get going immediately.

This is a new method for me. Normally I have an overall plot/idea for the book and each chapter is X number of words long with a good idea going into the chapter what it will entail.

Not so with this book. I'm going back to one of my earlier methods: I'm writing almost entirely dialog then going back at the end of the chapter and filling in the details. Each chapter will be as long as it needs to be, and I have an idea for the ending of the book, several major scenes, and that's about it.

My main characters are outside the human realm, I guess you could say, and they're commenting on what the humans are doing to the world (heh heh). I'm having a lot of fun with that. There's a major plot twist at the end that should produce a very satisfying ending.

This may prove to be a book I publish myself, or I may submit it someday for publication. I have 4 or 5 other manuscripts to submit to my editor, so I'll do those first, probably. Plus I have another book that was returned to me (rights-reversion) and I need to think about what to do with that.

But for now -- just writing. If things go smoothly, I think I might be done with this one early. The last time I wrote a book in this fashion, it took me 6 weeks from start to finish. I doubt if this will be that fast, but who knows?

I'll report in on progress -- so far, so fun!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Love Story vs Romance by Colleen L. Donnelly

Welcome our guest blogger today, Colleen L. Donnelly...ah romance.

Romance – it’s the rally-for-the-heroine and fall-for-the-hero sort of tale that makes hearts all over the world go pitter patter. It’s the genre of fiction that promises we will come away with a smile on our face and a sigh slipping from our lips. 

Romance – it’s not as messy and it’s far less complicated than the love stories other genres weave in, sometimes beneath their main plot, where no happy ending is guaranteed. 

Why would I subject myself to a story where passion may break from what’s comfortable and spill into the uncomfortable, defy a construction I know will make me happy, and take me beyond a ripped bodice to the heart that beats beneath it? A heart that aches to love and be loved, trust and be trusted, or hate and behave despicably in return? A heart that can choose to forgive – but may not. That has every reason to stay – but may not. Or that enters into a relationship which seems so right…yet not. 

Because sometimes the less happy ending makes me breathe a little deeper, haunts me for days afterwards, draws me into thousands of imaginary arguments with characters who should have done things my way. Love stories that retain the right to disappoint reveal the inner throes of loving someone the same way a mirror reveals my outer beauty as well as my flaws. They force me to take a step beyond the dream into the reality of loving, hurting, and hopefully healing. Sometimes the story that doesn’t make me smile is the story I’ll remember. 

“Mine to Tell” is one of those books – Was it adultery that marred the Crouse family’s reputation for three generations, or merely the accusation of it? Was it the fact that Julianne Crouse disappeared for two weeks that brought shame to all of the Crouse family women, or was it the stories told about those two weeks by others? On the cusp of her own marriage, Julianne’s great-granddaughter, Annabelle, has to know the truth. Defying her family’s and fiancĂ©’s wishes, she unboards the house her great-grandfather had sequestered Julianne to, and searches for her great-grandmother’s story. Alone, at first, then with the aid of the quiet man down the road she’d ignored when they were children, and her great-grandmother’s words that begin to slowly trickle in.

Buy link for “Mine to Tell”: 


“Mine to tell,” Kyle said suddenly. It was a jolt. I was yanked from my mental tumble into a pit of unredemption. Alex looked up too, a quizzical expression on his face. “Julianne left a story behind,” Kyle continued. “Some of it speculation and rumors by people who don’t know, and the rest of it by her own hand. It was a love story. One that was countered with suffering.” 

We were all quiet. I looked at him, my heart melting as I heard his masculine voice speak of love and suffering. I wanted to lean across the table and hug him, but I was too afraid. 

Alex leaned back in his chair. “What my father went through didn’t feel like love when we were little.” 

“But maybe it was,” Kyle persisted, his tone smooth and even. “Does love always turn out the way we want it to?” Then he looked at me. “Julianne Crouse was a fine woman. We haven’t finished her story, but she suffered, and she was fine indeed.” 

Tears came to my eyes. “Thank you,” I squeaked. Kyle stood and walked around the table to me. He helped me stand as he thanked them for their time. He retrieved Julianne’s picture, took my hand, and together we went to the door, Alex and his wife following us. 

“I hope you’re right,” Alex said, running his hand through his thin, brittle hair as we stepped outside. “My father had some things to come to terms with, but he was a good man. A better man later in life, when he told us he was sorry. I never knew for what.” 

Other Buy Links:

“Asked For”:

“Love on a Train”: 

Contact me:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer? Ugh! by Brenda Whiteside

We've had a few posts this summer about summer. I'm not a fan of the season. Not when I'm spending it in Central Arizona. The temps are high and now that the monsoons have moved in, the humidity is relentless. The good thing about Tonto Basin is we're really almost in northern Arizona. A thirty minute drive gets us to Rim Country. The Mogollon  (pronounced mug-e-own) Rim is pines and cooler temps. It's amazing how the weather changes in that short thirty minute drive.

We leave our RV parked in Tonto Basin. It's our base. This year, it's not moving. Lots of reasons why, but that's another post. The
Half-way done
owners decided to expand our space. We were thrilled, but it sure would've been nicer to do it before the monsoons hit or in October. We won't complain. We have so much room now. It's just been hot working outside to get it looking good. We're part way there, but I have more plans...a little each day. At least the mess is gone.

Getting there
Today we need to empty the storage shed, clean it, and reload. A large bottle of balsamic vinegar exploded...sticky mess everywhere. That's how hot it gets here. See why summer is not my season?

Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Currently, they split their time between the pines of Northern Arizona, the desert of Southern Arizona, and the RV life. Wherever she roams, she spends most of her time writing stories of discovery, suspense, and the tangled relationships of life. 

Visit Brenda at
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at
She blogs about life’s latest adventure on her personal blog
Goodreads Author Page:

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Summertime...and the livin' is...Well, You Decide, Part II by Margo Hoornstra

Ah yes, the Gershwin song, Summertime from the musical Porgy and Bess. The opening line goes like this. Summertime…and the livin’ is…easy

Last time I wrote on these pages I opened with that, and pointed to those lazy, hazy days of Summer. Warm, tranquil days full of sunshine and fresh breezes. Days, and nights, to sit back, relax and soak in the quiet. Enjoy doing whatever we want, or nothing if that’s our choice.

I championed my Calla Lily blooms...okay bloom...

I mentioned the Adirondack Chairs we purchased for the front yard.

And a glider swing to go with the rocker on the back deck.

Then lamented the fact I only wished I could use them more.

To paraphrase the great Mr. G – I noted, in my world, it’s more like Summertime…and the livin’ is…busy!

With a novella, For Money Or Love...

in the six story anthology, All In For Love...

Promo going on through Author Promo Pal for my own three book anthology, Saturday In Serendipity...

A soon to be given release date for Book One in the Brothers in Blue series...On the Surface...

Nearing completion is Book Two in the Brothers in Blue series...On the Force...


Then....they started digging up our road about a week ago. We live on the very end of a dead end, so getting out and about can be a challenge. What with a ten feet wide, by twelve feet long by fourteen feet deep crater between us and the nearest highway.

This is a picture of the view out my front bedroom window these days.

And that's just the beginning. They are putting in new water and sewer lines. Fun! Fun! Fun!

Then....this morning, we awoke to water dripping, ominously, I must say, down a wall.

To their credit...the plumbers, two of them, arrived within an hour. Diagnostic...estimate...both time and cost. Thankfully a one day, albeit 8 hour+, job and an estimate that won't exactly break us...but...

I'll spare you pictures of their endeavors. Think bathroom sink and vanity removed, drywall as well. More drywall, plus part of the ceiling cut out in the bathroom below. Items under the kitchen sink...didn't know that space could hold so much...gotten out of their way...pipes out...pipes in...pipes out...pipes in. (More in than out, I'm hoping.)

Although I am taking a little time off to attend the Romance Writers of America® National Conference. My husband's going with me. What a sport, huh? I think so.

It'll be nice to get away...

So, tell me. What about you? Are you indulging in a vacation this year? Or are you as busy as the rest of us?

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and the stories I write, please visit my WEBSITE

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Message for my son on his wedding day ~ Leah St. James

As this message posts on our blog, my son’s wedding is mere hours away. I tried to think of something else to write about, but my brain is too crowded with the seemingly endless details that even the MoG (mother of the groom) must attend to. More than that, my heart is too full of emotions I’m afraid to let loose. (You might recall how I sobbed just THINKING about the mother/son dance.)

Like many writers, I deal with emotions by setting them to words. So I write this a few days in advance, lying in bed while my husband snores softly beside me, and I think about our wedding day several decades ago. I remember that first joyous kiss as husband and wife, then turning to face our guests and thinking, “It’s us against the world.”

We’ve had our ups and downs and made mistakes (who hasn’t?), but those hills and valleys, joys and sorrows, have made us who we are today--far from perfect, but happy together. 

I hope we’ve set a more positive than negative example for our son as he starts out in his own marriage. Still, if he were here right now (instead of off at his bachelor party!), I’d want to share some thoughts and "learnings" with him.

I’d tell him that marriage isn’t easy, even under the best conditions. I’d tell him that it takes work, it takes trust...and lots of love to pull it off. It takes  biting your tongue and compromise and saying “I love you” when you really want to tell your spouse to go .. well, let’s not go there.

I’d tell him that as of this day, he and his bride are a team, unbreakable by their shared vows of love and honor. 

That means having her back, in public and in private. It means protecting her, being loyal to her. It means cherishing her as if she is the one woman, among the millions in the world, uniquely meant for him.

I’d tell him he needs to be strong for her, but to let her see his vulnerabilities. And to let her be strong for him, too.

I’d let him know that when they argue, as I’m sure they will, he needs to consider her point of view, really consider it, because she is half of their team. And when those hard times fall, because they most likely will, to draw closer together and work on figuring things out, together.

I’d admonish him to work hard for his new family, but to play hard as well. His bride is a young woman, full of enthusiasm for life and the world. Go out together, see that world. Plan day trips. Save for and take vacations. Try new foods and recreate them in your kitchen. Go to local museums, plays and concerts. Go bowling or play golf. 

Enjoy each other. Enjoy life.

Happy wedding day to my son and his bride. May this be the first of many days and years of joy,  together. 

Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil, and the very real power of love. Learn more about Leah’s writing on her website. Or visit her on Facebook where she posts about life in general. She loves meeting readers!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Going to RWA

I have been busy packing for the RWA Conference in Orlando.
With the new rules on baggage, I'm limiting myself to one bag for five days. sounds tricky, huh? It is. I need three pairs of shoes and underwear along with nice clothes for the conference and one special outfit for when I speak on a panel on Saturday morning.
So here I am writing my speech about an invisible disability. The panel is about giving your characters disabilities and making them real. If you're going to be there, come and listen. We have lots of handouts.
I'm excited about going. I need the enthusiasm. I always learn something new or am reminded of what I've forgotten.
I'm also looking forward to seeing friends I chat with on-line. this year I have an extra task. My local chapter wants to host on-line classes again and I'll be asking for help. If you're interested in doing a class let me know.

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