One Author Plus One Author Equals?

As so often happens when I want some “quiet” time, I open up the iTunes program and let the music begin. Doesn’t make sense to you, you say? Well, for me at least, when I listen to good music it becomes only me. My attention is not diverted to a screen or box, the focus is on the inner self, my quiet thoughts, and what the music and/or lyrics is making me feel. Happy or mellow, the music can even dictate my mood. Maybe on the flip side, it enhances what I am going through at the moment – though you’ll never find me listening to the mournful “lost love” type of music. Michael Bolton, sorry, but I figured out “How (Am I Supposed) to Live Without You”. Good grief, like watching a tear-jerker on purpose, who wants to wallow in that? Please, give me a song that’s upbeat and makes me want to savor a good cup of coffee, or get up and do the happy dance. But I am getting off-topic…and for all the Michael Bolton fans, I do apologize. 

rock band silhouetteMusic is what influenced this blog, however, and that’s why I bring it up first. I was scrolling through my playlist and saw so many GREAT bands or duos. Collaborations of artists making memorable, iconic songs that will never fade away. Aerosmith, U2, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Casting Crowns, Van Halen, Journey, ZZ Top. The list goes on. True, some of the members of these bands did strike out on their own to pursue solo endeavors but when they were together as a band, it was magic. More common nowadays, and across all genres, you see solo artists’ songs on the charts with a “feat. (insert name of an equally well-known artist),” making them really not solo at all. You think Usher is good? Let Pitbull “feature” with him on a song and that song just went up a notch. 

But does that only happen in music – where more than one equals better? 

I wonder why you don’t see more authors collaborating on a book. You may see a “Foreword” penned by another author but to co-write a book? Not very often. One popular author who is noted to truly enjoy co-authoring is James Patterson who has said that “collaborating with others brings new and interesting ideas to his stories.” How’s that for a win-win.

Collaboration2

How many solo authors could benefit from joining with another, particularly when one author’s strength is in a different genre than the other. Think about it. The genres used to be simple: Romance, Mystery, Horror, Thriller, Suspense, Western – one genre, cut and dry. Not anymore. Genres, like music, have crossed over: Romance/Mystery, Horror/Thriller…in fact, I saw one the other day advertised as “Christian/Romance/Suspense.”

It’s not difficult to imagine that an author’s writing is not created equal. Me? My strength lies in the romantic arena. I couldn’t no more write a horror if my life depended on it…I take that back, I could write anything but outside of romance, it would probably suck. BUT I would definitely co-author in a horror genre and be proud of it, IF I were writing it with another author whose creative penchant for horror equaled mine for romance.

I know it’s not that easy – to partner with someone who you can collaborate with…peacefully and creatively. It takes trust, respect, the same work ethic and just as important: the same vision.

As you can guess, I’m in the middle of a work-in-progress with another author. The first time for both of us in co-writing a book. It wasn’t as hard as you would think for us to find that one-voice. We have all the ingredients in the partnership I mentioned above plus we are really great friends – completely simpatico in all areas and we’ve already talked about the next book we would like to write together.

coauthlogoDo you think you would benefit from partnering with another author? If you don’t have someone in mind, start now to put your feelers out, ask your author friend(s) – the one you respect; the one whose books you already love reading. That’s one of the things about authors…we all love reading the writing of those authors we most admire, or, who write similarly.

All authors, at least the ones who know how to market well, network. Like a child, and let’s face it: books are our babies, writing a book is only a fraction of what it takes to give it wings, it takes a village to sell a book. Heck, even before selling, an author has (or should have) utilized members of the community to even get it to the point of marketable, such as an editor, proofreader, beta reader(s), cover designer, etc. Imagine working with another author who has as much vested interest and love for the book as you.  

And, it’s not just for us. How about your readers? While you’re marketing your co-written book to your loyal readers, your co-author is enjoying the benefit of being introduced to more readers who may in the future become his/her loyal readers as well; and BAM…they are doing the same for you on their end. Reciprocity in this regard is definitely an added benefit.

Nothing is stopping you to continue to pursue a solo by-line but entertain adding another author to that by-line at some point. Believe me, when it works, it’s magic.

Never Enough Books

Posted in Co-Author, Marketing, Writing | 2 Comments

An Author Blog Chain

I have had the pleasure and honor of being tagged in an Author Blog Chain. You’ve probably seen a few going around. The only way to participate is firstly, be an author; and secondly, to have a blog. Okay, perhaps a little obvious there but above all, you must be invited by a fellow author who believes in your work, your blog and most importantly, YOU.

The one who thought enough of me to mention, tag, and keep the chain moving forward is the very talented, best-selling author, R.S. Guthrie. His blog RobOnWriting is one of the best around. Rob Guthrie Stock PhotoThe year has only started and he has already produced many insightful blogs covering everything from classic must-see movies, sports, marketing advice, and of course, indispensable writing advice. I can be totally honest that no matter what I’m doing (other than driving), when I see the notification that he has uploaded a blog, I will stop and read it. And …  I’m Never Disappointed. The post he was tagged in and answered the four questions I’m about to answer can be found on his blog under the same title “An Author Blog Chain.” 

His blog, though, isn’t the only place you should be reading his writing. R.S. Guthrie delivers the goods when it comes to telling a story. I have read and loved each one of his books. From his Mystery/Thriller series, pick up Blood Land and Money Land; from his Horror/Thriller Trilogy: Black Beast, LOST and Reckoning; and, to anyone reading this who writes, his non-fiction book on writing, INK: Eight Rules To A Better Book is THE book you want to keep handy and refer to before each and every book you publish. His latest release is a short story found within the pages of Eight The Hard Way, an Anthology of Short Stories from eight best-selling Mystery/Thriller writers. The short story, entitled “Veritas: Concubine,” is an introduction to the main character of what will be a litany of upcoming “Veritas” novellas. The chatter has already begun surrounding this exciting storyline.

Getting back to the blog chain – this chain is a little different from the others. Rather than the emphasis be on promoting and supporting other authors, which I think I can safely say is the one thing all of the authors tagged within this chain have in common, you instead blog about yourself for a change. The answers to the questions propounded are to provide you, the reader, a look into what is going on with me. I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I enjoyed writing them!

1.  What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m working alongside two other authors on a writing project. When time allows me to put that aside, I go back to my own novel in progress, a contemporary romance. Yes, it’s coming along slowly, but I believe in first impressions and since this will be my first published piece – when it is released, I want it to be a work I’m proud of and not something thrown out just to say “I’m published.” Unfortunately, I see a lot of authors do just that or skip important steps such as having it edited or proofread. I don’t want my first book remembered for what was wrong with it but what was right. 

2.  How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

Although I love reading historial romance and western romance, I’m writing a contemporary romance set in a major, central U.S., city. This romance and all the others I plan on writing, I believe, will be different in that each story could be true, not just exist in fantasy. Writing a story this way, for me, makes the characters more alive and their emotions more real. When they laugh, I laugh; when they applaud, I applaud; when they make love, my heart is racing right with them; and, when their heart breaks, so does mine. I write to make my readers not only read the story, but live the story with their own emotions.

3.  Why do you write what you write?

I have always had a vivid imagination. When I was younger, my daydreams wound around being a key player in an action scenario or a singer in a rock band. As I got older, they matured to seeking that one true love. The characters and the stories just come to me…usually random thoughts where some begin and end just as a “what-if” where others will stretch out to form a beginning, middle, and end. I’m one of those people, too, where I dream stories. One of the stories out of those dreams is set to become a Mystery/Thriller trilogy which I have already asked an author friend to co-write with me. But all of them, no matter how they come to me, manifest inside my heart and soul and telling them is a release and makes room for more. 

4.  How does your writing process work?

That’s a toughie. Unless there is some outside stress going on in my life, the muse is only a keystroke away. However, I am a horrible procrastinator. The upside to that trait? I’m great under pressure or a deadline. Right now, being the novice that I am, I will write a thousand or so words and then go back and hone it. One day, hopefully sooner than later, I hope to be able to write a good portion of a book before I go back to hone it, much like I do when I write a blog or short story. That’s my goal and one which I will attain some day. The two books I’m working on right now are just the beginning.

So that’s a little insight into me and where I’m at professionally. Now to the other fun part of the blog. I get to nominate and tag one, or two, or three of the authors I admire to let them answer these same questions and give you a peek into what’s coming up for them. One of the first authors I really think of when it comes to talent and marketing and all-around great personality is Charity Parkerson. Thankfully when I asked, she accepted and, since the other two didn’t get back to me in time, I get to toot her horn a little louder and give her my blog’s undivided attention.

CHARITY PARKERSON

Her official bio: Charity Parkerson is an award winning and multi-published author with Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Midnight Books, and Punk & Sissy Publications. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it in her characters.

Charity Parkerson

*2013 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner
*2013 Reviewers’ Choice Award Winner
*ARRA Finalist for Favorite Paranormal Romance
*Five-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath
*Named one of the top 10 best books by an Indie author in 2011- Paranormal Reads Reviews
*Best Paranormal Romance of 2012- Paranormal Reads Reviews
*Quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as an authority on Independent Publishing.

From my personal experience with her, I can tell you she is one of the most friendly, accessible authors on Twitter and Facebook. Her support of other authors is phenomenal. I first noticed her wit and informative tweets on Twitter several years ago and later listened to that same wit and delightful interviews of other authors in her weekly podcasts from The Melissa Craig and Charity Parkerson Show. Her blog, The Sinner Author, usually will feature either a review from a book or an author interview. How she keeps up with that all that and churns out her romance books, must be true discipline. She deserves the awards she has received. She is a GREAT storyteller. None are your typical romance, some are laced with paranormal, some are mysteries, and most, if not all, are interspersed with her tasteful and classy writing of the erotica. If you haven’t read any of her works before, go to Amazon now. Her books are available in ebook, paperback, and her most recent, also in audio audible edition. There are over twenty books to choose from and you can view and make selection(s) from her Author Page on Amazon.

To connect with Charity Parkerson online visit:

Website: http://www.charityparkerson.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorCharityParkerson
http://www.facebook.com/TheMenofSin
Twitterhttp://www.twitter.com/CharityParkerso                                        Blog: http://charity-thesinners.blogspot.com

Charity Parkerson will be continuing the blog chain with her own post on or around March 3rd. Don’t forget to visit and see who will be next in line.

Posted in Books, Charity Parkerson, Interview, R.S. Guthrie, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Writing – It Soothes the Soul

This blog was inspired by a post I saw on Facebook the other morning. It was an article highlighting an artist in San Francisco, California, who creates art in sand on the beach at low tide. “A Man Takes A Single Rake To The Beach. And When You Zoom Out and See It…Mind Blown.” What spoke to me, though, wasn’t so much the article but what was said by the person who shared the post. My great friend, Rob Guthrie, commented: “To enjoy the CREATION of your art enough to not mind when the tide washes it away a few hours later—well, that’s true love.”  He–nailed–it.

I have always enjoyed reading for as long as I can remember. Little Men Women Like for everyone else, it started with cereal boxes and children’s books…but I suppose when those ran out and I began to thumb through our set of World Book Encyclopedias, my parents, who were the most frugal people I’ve ever known (and since the encyclopedias was that era’s version of the world-wide-web, harboring within the pages definitions and pictures no eight-year old should be exposed to) put together enough money to buy a set of Companion Library Books. Thirty books, each containing a fable or other time-honored children’s classic. I devoured them. From Huckleberry Finn, to The Arabian Nights; Robinson Crusoe to Little Women; Treasured Island to The Call of the Wild. I was in my own small piece of heaven when I opened those covers. If it was a real page-turner, after bedtime, I would crawl from under the covers and sit beside the nightlight to finish reading a page, or a chapter, or the book itself. I never did get caught, although by the time I was twelve, I needed glasses. 

A little older and my reading world expanded again when every other Saturday, my best friend and I would ride our bikes to the church in our neighborhood and wait in the parking lot for the new bookmobile to arrive. It wasn’t too long after that, a library was built close by and from there, I never looked back. Books became, and still are, a constant part of my life. 

I’m not sure exactly how old I was, but one day in my teenage years I picked up a spiral notebook, untouched with no school notes yet, and I began to write. Not a daily diary, but rather a journal of my thoughts. There was no order or schedule I adhered to – it was my go-to whenever I was troubled, or excited, or just contemplating; I’d pull it out from underneath my mattress and put in my own words, what I hoped I could look back at later and remember. Some entries were deep, some silly, some that didn’t make any sense at all except at the time I was jotting it down, other thoughts I purposefully added just so when I did get older I would be able to look back and have sympathy and an understanding of what a teenager went through, so convinced was I that after a certain age, adults forgot and remembered nothing of what it felt like to be a kid.

It didn’t take too long to realize that I loved to write. I escaped when that pen was in my hand, into a world all my own. No judgments, no criticism, no failures or disappointments.

Indie writerLater, instead of keeping a journal, I wrote letters. There have been letters of anger where I raged with my feelings of betrayal and bitterness that were never delivered to the guilty party; letters of what I hoped to be wisdom I’d accumulated and given to a loved relative at a significant milestone in their life; letters of disappointment, fear, and loss of hope written to myself. What I discovered, is that somehow through each letter written in anger I became stronger; each letter penned with advice, showed me I really did know more than I thought; and, through each letter that dealt with hopes and dreams, I found who I really was. Every major decision I have ever made, was usually preceded with a letter(s) of “Pros and Cons”. Without fail, when I was finished, looking at it in black and white, the decision I needed to make was there in front of me.

Writing…whether a letter, an email, a blog, or a book, is where my true self comes out. No doubt, it can be difficult at times to get thoughts to paper, especially if you’re working a scene that you know is missing something but then when it comes to you, it’s akin to finding that puzzle piece that fell under the table. You pick it up and it just slides right into that spot made for it and all is well with the world again.

Unfortunately, that journal I mentioned where I found my love for writing didn’t survive to make the journey with me into the present. When moving into our first home with my (then) husband, he found and read it while I was at work one day. And, to say he didn’t like some of the things he read is an understatement. I stood at the kitchen window and watched as the Bic lighter dipped inside the metal garbage can in our back yard that night and a soft orange glow began to emanate from within.

While I am not one to hold grudges, remembering that night I just want to call him up on the phone right now and tell him what a fishstick he was for doing that. But then again, perhaps I’ll write a letter instead…

Like that journal, there are and still will be, other words, letters, stories even, I write that I doubt anyone will ever see and the time may come when the tide takes them, too, away. I won’t mind. I created it and it made a difference in me and for however long it existed, it soothed my soul.

There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Books

There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Books

Posted in Books, Motivation, R.S. Guthrie, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing | Leave a comment

R.S. Guthrie Unveils “Veritas” And Promises There’s A Lot In Store For This Character

Earlier this month, “Eight The Hard Way”, an anthology of short stories contributed by eight masters of the Mystery and Thriller genre, hit publication.

I set up an interview with R.S. Guthrie to not only discuss his short story “Veritas: Concubine” within the anthology, but to catch up with the author and bring his readers up-to-date on what he has going on in the months ahead.

Eight the Hard WayFirst, about “Veritas: Concubine”: The synopsis off the Amazon page describes it as “How far would you go to find the truth? Shale Veritas is not his real name, but that’s not important. What’s important is why he’s taken an interest in you – and what you’ve done to deserve it…This dark, atmospheric tale of revenge, justice, and redemption is not for the faint-hearted. You have been warned.” 

From my own reading of  “Veritas: Concubine”, I can share with you that Shale Veritas is nothing like anything R.S. Guthrie has written before. This character is edgy, calculated, driven and highly intelligent. Skilled with natural-born talents honed by none other than Delta Force, Shale Veritas is a seeker of justice. And, he will dispense that justice in a way that fits the crime. Oh, and I should mention ladies….he’s very easy on the eyes. Shale Veritas is a truly lethal combination of brawn, brains, looks and compassion. (I can hear a collective of sighs now – mine included.)

At the conclusion of the short story, “Veritas: Concubine”, I didn’t feel like I had read a short story but a lengthy novella. So packed within the pages, R.S. Guthrie told, and showed us, a history; a setting; an injustice and then imparted on the reader the feelings of suspense, sorrow, vengeance, and retaliation. At the conclusion, all expectations were met and exceeded and you felt you had yourself lived the character of Shale Veritas.

A big thank you to R.S. Guthrie for taking time out of his busy schedule to indulge me in answering a variety of questions relating to his work, while having some fun at the same time. 

Veritas is a very unusual name – what inspired that name?

Veritas means “truth”. The core of the series is that we all, in some way, yearn for the truth. And truth comes in myriad packages, not all of them pleasant. Shale Veritas is the person you want standing on that wall when the truth needs a defender willing to do whatever it takes to keep good people safe.

If Shale Veritas were to show up in Wind River, the town setting in your mystery/thriller Blood Land, would Sheriff James Pruett have anything to worry about?

If Veritas showed up in Wind River (and who’s to say he might not one day?), he would clearly have come to take care of some ugly business; Sheriff Pruett understands nothing if not the need to do what has to be done to protect his town. My guess is Pruett and Veritas would like each other very much. Then again, that’s the beauty of a story: not knowing just what will happen in the end!

Having read your short story in Eight The Hard Way, I am so intrigued and enthralled by this character. Will this be an on-going series, or do you have a set number in mind? And, if it’s any influence on your answer, this reader is hoping that your answer will be that it is on-going indefinitely.

Well you are in luck, because my plan is to release Veritas novellas—succinct, enthralling, action-packed reads—two or three at a time. In my mind, there is no limit to the number of Veritas novellas to be written; there is a lot of truth that needs defending out there in the world.

In the Detective Bobby Mac Thriller series and the Sheriff James Pruett Mystery series, you’ve shown an ability to appeal to the male reader by creating a strong, man’s man, tough-guy persona; yet, using those same traits to attract the female reader and also portray a sexual and intimate side to these characters. It’s certainly a tough line to walk. Will Shale Veritas also be the kind of man every woman wants?

You know, when I wrote Detective Bobby Mac in 2011, I made no secret he was patterned after John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee, a tough-as-nails, tender-hearted hero. My readership on that (as well as the Sheriff James Pruett) series is well over two-thirds female. I see Veritas appealing to both men and women—men because he is a product of Special Operations training, ruthless toward the evil in this world, and as expert and tough as they come; females because, like Travis McGee, he knows what a woman appreciates in a man and is able to both protect, respect, and treat her with love and tenderness.

What does 2014 hold in store for the fans of R.S. Guthrie books?

The completion of the third James Pruett mystery, Honor Land! That one has been a while coming. After that, as mentioned before, a good number of Veritas novellas. I’d like to have a dozen of those out by year’s end. We’ll see. A writer’s eyes are often bigger than his or her “stomach”.

Congratulations on being named one of the “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading”! Is there an award you aspire to receive?

Seal-2013Winner-300Like any Mystery writer, I don’t think I will feel fully accomplished unless, one day, I am considered for an Edgar. I mean, how could any actor be honest if their ultimate goal was not a Golden Globe or Academy Award? I’d also feel pretty satisfied if one (or more) of my books landed one day on the coveted NYT Bestseller list. Small goals, you see. ;)

We’re starting to see a lot of anthologies hit the market. Do you see that as a trend? Is it a statement to how busy we’ve gotten in our lives or another genre that has been stagnant too long and now coming to the forefront?

I think anthologies have always had their place. For me, they’ve always been a great source of finding new authors to read. If an anthology has one or two authors I love, the chances are pretty good that the other authors in the collection will appeal to me as well.

Your non-fiction “INK: Eight Rules To A Better Book” is lauded by writers as being one of the best how-to’s on the craft they’ve ever read. Do you anticipate following that up with a sequel?

Yes, my intent with “INK” was to provide a short, concise, no-frills list of actionable tools an author could use to make their book better. Period. I always envisioned it a smaller book, not unlike Strunk & White’s Elements of Style; a book to keep next to your computer for quick reference. This year I plan to publish a much more extensive book for writers that delves into the murky necessities of book marketing, author branding, what works, what doesn’t, as well as some more plentiful writing advice.

In Veritas, you take the reader inside the Army Delta Force; in Detective Bobby Mac, the Denver Police Department and FBI; in Sheriff James Pruett, the local Sheriff’s Department and inside hometown politics. What’s next?

Great question. The Secret Service and the areas for which they are responsible have always fascinated me. We all know they are tasked with the crucial duty of protecting the President and other high-ranking government officials, of course. That’s all I want to say at this point, but there is a book coming, and it will not be what anyone expects.

Finish this dialogue:

Shale Veritas sat with his arms folded across his chest. An untouched whiskey sour sat atop the oak table engraved with graffiti.

Rockin’ Rita and the Glory Hole Band just finished playing their first set.  Rita takes the mic and says, “Any requests from the crowd?”

Veritas calls from the back, above the rest:

Sympathy for the Devil.”

He catches her eye when she scans for the requestor. He smiles sardonically and motions to the whiskey sour and the empty seat across the table.

“Hold that thought,” Rita says to the crowd, the verve and energy of the moment draining like fluid from her already gaunt features. In the poor lighting, she looks to have instantly aged ten years. She turns to the band. “Take twenty.”

~~~

Eight The Hard Way” is available at all online retailers. Among them, the majors: Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

While there, please check out all the books written by R.S. Guthrie: Blood Land (FREE on ebook), Money Land, Black Beast, LOST, Reckoning, and INK: Eight Rules To A Better Book.

You can follow him on Twitter @RSGuthrie; “Like” him on Facebook; Visit his website RSGuthrie.com; and, subscribe to his popular blog RobOnWriting where he gives writing advice and shares his humor, snippets of life, and great taste in movies!

There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Books

There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Books

Posted in Books, eReader, Interview, Mystery, R.S. Guthrie, Reading, Writing | 5 Comments

Latest Release from Author Elena M., “A Scent of Gardenias” Is Now Available.

A Scent of Gardenias,” the most recent book from Author Elena M. has gone live on ebook and paperback retailer sites. I had the good fortune of being approached by Elena prior to its release to preview “A Scent of Gardenias” and, having been so touched by the life the author developed in her lead character, Sarah Ann Baker, I have been anxiously anticipating this moment where I could help in promoting “A Scent of Gardenias.”

Sarah Ann Baker starts off with a child’s idyllic life, in a home by the seashore surrounded by loving parents. It’s not long before it’s all ripped away from her and Sarah is forced to begin a journey of discovery – of her strength, of her freedom, and finding love.

If you think it’s just your typical love story, you’re wrong. Elena M. weaves within the pages, a mystery of the paranormal kind. Sarah Ann Baker was born with a unique gift of sensing bad things to come (you’ll have to find out how she receives this foreboding in the book); but, what she doesn’t see coming is a suspicion that she is not the only one to share the home in which Sarah hoped to finally find peace.

Native_Cover_4428124.indd

Elena M. pulls you into the story and won’t let you go until the end. The mark of a good storyteller is when you can experience the emotions of the characters. Elena M. is a good storyteller. You will feel anger, shame, grief and failed expectations but are rewarded with joy, laughter, surprises and elation.

I asked Elena a series of questions so you can get to know her better. I’m pleased to introduce to you, Elena M.:

First, I want to thank you, Gail, for the invitation to be interviewed about my new book, “A Scent of Gardenias.” It’s a pleasure to be here.

What was your inspiration for “A Scent of Gardenias”?

I wanted to write a ghost story, however my story evolved into something more along the way. There is always a story in the news unfortunately, about one child bullying another. And, how bullying can be instrumental resulting in a tragedy like Columbine or even suicide.

I wanted to explore how with the support of a loving family and, perhaps a friend or two, a child could overcome these threatening roadblocks in life.

From start to finish, how long did it take you to finish the piece?

I started writing this book three years ago, and set it aside partially finished because of writer’s block.

At the time, I was taking a Creative Writing Class hoping to free the block. However, because of the subject matter in class, I got involved in another storyline that resulted in my other book, “Lake Charm,” a murder mystery that takes place in a trailer park alongside Lake Charm, Florida. The trailer park is fictitious, as is the story.

I became friends with a well- known FanFiction author, Jane Harvey-Berrick who wrote, “Fifty Shades of Grey and The Story Continues,” and many more published works in her own right. I told her about the book I started at the time entitled, “Bailey’s Cove.” Jane encouraged me to complete it.

By then, another author by the name of Sylvain Reynard came along with his bestselling books, “Gabriel’s Inferno” and “Gabriel’s Rapture.” He spoke about faith, love, grace, hope and redemption, which was like a light bulb going off in my head. At that point, I knew how I wanted to continue my unfinished story of Sarah Ann Baker and her struggles through life.

Do you have any other writing projects on the horizon?

Yes, in fact I do, however, I’m undecided about the name because I’ve only just begun. It’s another murder mystery.

While A Scent of Gardenias is mainly romance, it did have a bit of paranormal in it, specifically ghosts. Can we expect more from you in the romance/paranormal sphere?

Perhaps one day I will. I rather enjoyed Hazel Mueller’s ghost. I have a fascination with the spirit world, and know people who have experienced things after a loved one has passed away.

You made the scenes of domestic abuse amazingly real in A Scent of Gardenias. Have you been touched in any way by that in the past?

I thank God I haven’t. I was fortunate to come from a very close and loving Italian family. However, I knew of some school friends who experienced some domestic abuse. There are many stories on Lifetime TV that deal with this issue as well.

Do you have a favorite all-time book or author that influenced you as a writer?

Yes, Sylvain Reynard is my very favorite author. I have never been addicted to an author’s writing as I am to his. He touches my heart and soul with his brilliant prose. His characters actually become part of your life, and you never want the stories to end. He not only entertains you with a wonderful story, but he educates you in the process. His stories are based on the Italian Renaissance, and the famous love story of the poet, Dante Alighieri and Beatrice Portinari. However, it is in current day form. He makes me want to write better.

You’ve written three other books under the name of Ellen Totten. Why did you decide to use a pen name with A Scent of Gardenias?

That’s an excellent question, Gail. I decided to write it under my real name, which is Elena Marie, because I felt this was the best book I’ve written. I feel I have grown over the past few years as an author. Writing was something I took up when my husband and I retired. It was actually on my bucket list with golf. I learned to play golf first.

What is your favorite line from A Scent of Gardenias?

I guess it would be the following when she reflects about John:

“He promised to keep in touch and always love her when she had to move away. Now she felt they were empty words that people did not intend to keep. They bandied them about as conversation fillers and nothing more.”

I think this is probably true with many people. Have you ever experienced this when you had to move away or out of state? I think we all have.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

I can’t remember the essays I wrote in my English classes, because it was too many years ago. My first attempt to write a book was when we moved to The Villages. The book was “Fatal Choices.” I’m rueful of the day I allowed certain people to influence me on the storyline, as well as the editor I chose. I was embarrassed with the result. I relied too heavily on someone’s recommendation.

What was the hardest part of writing A Scent of Gardenias?

I guess the abuse scenes were difficult because I had to act it out in my mind.

Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.

I’m a native of Boston. In 1967, I was transferred to Washington, D. C. because of my job and based at National Airport with Delta Air Lines.  It was there I met and married my husband, Jerry, who worked for Naval Sea Systems Command. Because of our work, we were able to travel the world and meet some wonderful people who became lifelong friends.

After my career of thirty years, my husband and I retired to Florida in 1992 where we both took up the game of golf, and I found I had a love for writing.

~~~~

Thank you so much, Elena. It has been such a pleasure to have you here.

You can find “A Scent of Gardenias” on Amazon.com/US, Canada & UK, Barnes & Noble.com & Books-A-Million

Never Enough Books

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New Release: FOREVER DOOMED by Author MaryAnn Kempher

For the second time this year, I am happy to host Romance and Mystery Author MaryAnn Kempher and blog on the release of yet another novel.

Her first book, Mocha, Moonlight and Murder became available on Amazon in April of this year. Did MaryAnn sit back and bask in the joy of having her first book released? Well, of course, BUT, she didn’t rest on her laurels long.

Right on the heels of her first novel, she penned FOREVER DOOMED, another romance/mystery novel and … it’s her best yet.

Forever_Doomed_fullcover_for_sharing_online-2

The synopsis goes:

“It’s not wise to wander the cruise ship Forever alone at night. You might not live to see daylight.

Detective Jack Harney agrees to do an old Army buddy a favor. Curt Noble had some personal business to attend to, he didn’t say what. What he did say was he needed someone to temporarily take over his duties as head of security on the struggling cruise ship Forever. Jack hesitates, but he owes Curt his life so agrees. He’s told the worst mischief he can expect to encounter will be the occasional shoplifter, or drunk. Instead, one week into the cruise, a beautiful red head and a member of the crew are ruthlessly murdered. Are the two murders connected? It’s up to Jack to find out. He must find the killer before the ship returns to Tampa’s port, or worse, before another dead body is found. This won’t be easy. The ship is old, its security systems outdated, and clues are few, or so it seems at first

It’s not just a sense of obligation that motivates Jack to agree to Curt’s request; Jack moved thousands of miles, started over, and still can’t get Amy O’Brian out of his heart or mind. When she shows up on the ship as part of a large wedding party, Jack must fight to stay focused. To make matters worse, Amy isn’t his only distraction; a sexy and mysterious woman has made it her mission to seduce Jack.

As the body count rises, and time slips away, Jack has to ask himself, “Did someone commit the perfect crime?”

In FOREVER DOOMED, MaryAnn Kempher has brought back a few of the characters her fans from Mocha, Moonlight and Murder grew to love. Although FOREVER DOOMED is not a sequel, once you read it, you are going to want to go and pick up Mocha, Moonlight and Murder to see where they started and, to read even more of this author’s writing. Already, her fans are asking when her third book will be out.

MaryAnn Kempher’s writing is infused with romance and mystery. Her love of romance stories goes back to her teen years spent living in Reno NV where her first book, Mocha, Moonlight, and Murder is set. MaryAnn’s travels have taken her to beautiful cities in Italy, Southeast Asia and the sultry desert country of Qatar. She met her husband on one of her romantic is adventures while traveling. She has two children and currently lives in Florida where she and her family share their home with two dogs and a cat. Her writing influences include favorite authors Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. Her guilty pleasures are any and all sweets, including a good cup of Mocha.

 Visit Amazon today and download FOREVER DOOMED and MOCHA, MOONLIGHT AND MURDER

Forever_Doomed_fullcover_for_sharing_online-2

Mocha Moonlight

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You’ve Read it Over and Over and It Looks Find, Right?

You’ve finished your book. Yay!! The work’s not over yet, though. MagnifierYou go back and re-read it, making revisions, read it again; give it to your significant other after each revision to read – heck, when you’re both finished, you almost have it memorized and could recite lines back and forth to each other. One more read, one more time just to make sure.

Next you steel yourself, break out the Excedrin and get ready to hit publish, at the end of which, you’re either singing Hallelujah, doing the happy chair dance, or reaching for the artificial tears because your eyeballs have turned into two Brillo pads from starring at the computer screen and correcting formatting errors.

Enter Key PublishThat magical push of the “Enter” key and BAM. You’re online, live, at Amazon. Time to sit back, relax and wait for the reviews to start pouring in. Visions of sweet accolades dance on the wings of Angels, waiting to rain down on you as you drift into a much needed slumber.

Just as you predict, the emails from your loyal writer friends start filling your mailbox. You smile as you read them, “Great book! Fabulous. Um, do you want me to send you some typos I found?”

Wait, WHAT?!

Proofreading. I don’t care how many books you have written – whether it’s your first or one hundred and first, there are going to be typos, timeline hiccups in the story, an incorrect form of tense, improper shifts in POV, or some other type of inconsistency. Nobody can beat out a clean draft. NOBODY. That’s why it’s important to dole it out to someone fresh, preferably an unbiased third-party. No matter whether you have sent it to an Editor or not (and, I hope you have – I’ll touch on that in another blog), a Proofreader picks up where the Editor leaves off.

If you want a polished work, get it proofread! First impressions are vital in a book’s life. I’m a big fan of the “Click to Look Inside” feature on Amazon; or, “Read Instantly” on Barnes and Noble. No matter how interesting the book may sound or the story begin, nothing will make me hit the “x” to close the screen and move on to preview someone else’s book, than to stumble across a typo in the sample. You just lost a buyer of your book, and possibly, all the rest of your books to come after. It’s not an issue of “everybody makes mistakes,” it’s an issue of putting your best foot forward for the reader and gain the reader’s interest. No matter how good a story is, when a reader is absorbed and moving at a brisk pace, the flo sops ata mestake,

Proofreading

The thing is, even a Proofreader is not infallible, nor is an Editor, BUT they’re going to make reading your book as comfortable for your reader as possible. Instead of fifteen or fifty errors, you may only have three. And please, don’t even think that Word or some other type of spellcheck is going to catch everything. No program will be able to figure out that when the girl looked out to see, you were referring to an ocean and not vision.

Cost to a writer usually makes the decision on whether to hire an editor and proofreader. You can make do with one, if need be, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Like I said, a Proofreader takes up where the Editor leaves off. However, if you can only afford one, go with a Proofreader. A good one will make editing suggestions along with catching punctuation, misspellings, and other inconsistencies as I already mentioned. Then, when your book has done well in sales and you’re ready to publish the next, hire yourself that Editor.

Being new to the publishing world, I am already working with an Editor and at the proper time, will be hiring a Proofreader. That may sound silly to some since I am a proofreader for other authors, but it goes along with the saying that “he who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” There is no way I would be able to proofread my own book. I want that “fresh” eye and read.

Check rates. Hire a proofreader. Like everything else, the prices range. Read the books of your author friends. If you think it’s polished, ask who they use. If the price is too high, look around some more. If you like what you’ve read here, contact me. I’m taking on work right now – just drop me an email. I’d be happy to get in touch and work with you.

The point is, you, the writer, don’t (and shouldn’t) go this alone. You want your reader to remember your book for the story it told, not the words it took to tell it.

(And, for those who noticed the title, YES, it was intentional, and aimed to drive home the point that everyone needs a Proofreader :) )

Never Enough Books

Posted in Books, Editing, Education, Proofreading, Writing, Writing Skills | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

An Independence Day of Another Kind

Since the 4th of July is coming up this week, I was thinking about the term Independence Day and what it means to fight for your freedom.

One of the coolest movies ever was “Independence Day” starring Will Smith, and one of the best moments in that movie was the speech given by the President, played by Bill Pullman:

“In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind.

independence-day-movieMankind — that word should have new meaning for all of us today.

We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore.

We will be united in our common interests.

Perhaps its fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom, not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution — but from annihilation.

We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist.

And should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice:

We will not go quietly into the night!

We will not vanish without a fight!

We’re going to live on!

We’re going to survive!”

Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!”

A great speech executed by Bill Pullman so flawlessly it gives me the goosebumps every time I watch it.

In the movie, while the term “Independence Day” referred to the human race fighting and overcoming an invasion of aliens threatening to take over our planet, today, I’m speaking on an invasion of another kind and on a more personal level. 

If someone were to ask you, what would YOU like to declare your independence from, what would it be? We all have something in our life that holds us back, invades our thoughts and the way we act. Whether it be something that manifests inside of us: a fear of the unknown, a lack of confidence in ourselves, or the way we look; something external: our environment, the neighborhood we live in, the job we have; or, bringing it in closer: the naysayers or the “none”sayers (those that give little or no support) in our family – mother, father, brother, sister, boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, close friends.

Most everyone has some fear, insecurity, or someone they feel holds them back and keeps them from attaining the goals or happiness only visited in their dreams. But, let’s face it – truly, isn’t the only one really holding a person back is that person themselves? Forget the fear, the insecurity, the external, forget the family members and friends – bottom line, it’s ourselves, plain and simple. No one really cares what we look like, and, if they do, they’re not someone that should be in our lives; there is nothing to hold us in the city we live, or that job; and, nothing that makes us stay with that family member(s) or be around those friends except us. We, you and I, make those calls. We possess that liberty and that freedom, thanks in no small part to the forefathers of this country.

Respect Yourself

This post is for you, but it’s for me, too. I’m just as guilty as the next person of holding myself back. I stayed in a couple of relationships longer than I should have; and, the rest … well, I use to attribute it to simple procrastination – things I knew I needed to change but put off until tomorrow until I realized the reason for the procrastination was fear and insecurity.

If I never start to change, I can never fail at what I wish to change. I was reminded of this when I spoke with an author friend last week and made the comment “Failure is a word used only for those who quit.” I should have added: “And, Failure is a word used by others about those who never begin.”

Every year on January 1st, a huge number of people make resolutions. They prepare a list, written or mental, on what they want to change about themselves. I’ve never known it to work.

So, this July 4th, rather than waiting for the next January 1st to roll around, again finding yourself resolving to make the same changes made the previous year, I’d like to make this Independence Day as a day you will fight for your freedom against whatever it is holding you back from becoming that person you know you were meant to be.

Do not go quietly into the night!

Do not vanish without a fight!

You’re going to live on!

You’re going to survive!”

Today, celebrate YOUR Independence Day!

Motivation

 

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Am I OCD on Editing?

If you’ve followed this blog, then you know I’m working on my first novel. my-1st-novelFrom conception-to-present it has seemed years, and, actually, it has been two years when the storyline first hit me, but of course, I haven’t been working on it the whole time. If you were to add the time I have put into the writing of it, I’m not sure it would even equal fifty hours. But, I’m happy to say I’m on a mission now to get it done and published so I can move on to the next book and the next after that. 

Since this is my first novel, I sometimes feel I’m going around my thumb to get to my elbow so to speak when it comes to getting the story down. I’m not a pantser. I’m trying to master that technique and I will someday, but so far I’m not even close. I write down the bones of the chapter – where I want it to go, go back and keep expanding and expanding until it’s almost there and then I go in for the edits. Chapter OneFrom the beginning of that chapter, I will re-read, add, delete, cut and paste sections to make it flow better in spots; complete the balance of the chapter and do it all over again with another re-read, add, delete, etc., until the magic happens…..the smile I get at the end of the chapter to know “it” is exactly where I want it to be.

I was speaking with one of my friends, who is also an author, the other day (one that has published several times over) and when describing my writing technique, he asked “You do edits as you go?” It got me to thinking, is that so rare? For me, at this time, I can’t write any other way.

Now, in case you’re wondering, when I say I’m going in and editing, it is to make it as polished as I can make it before I move forward to the next chapter. But, I’m no fool. It’s also getting a formal edit by a true editor. Someone I trust; that knows what they are doing; and who will give it to me straight and make me, and my novel, better than I could ever be alone.

If you are writing, or are going to write a book, I hope you plan on using an editor as well. I know of no one who can write a book, edit it themselves, and go straight to upload, thinking their book is as good as it can be without a second pair of seasoned eyes looking at it for errors. If you are publishing without an editor and have that thought “that it’s good just the way it is” – you’re wrong. Don’t go crying into your margarita and be surprised when only family and close friends are asking you when your second book is coming out.

After the editor is done, another person I plan on using is a proofreader – and if you’ve ever used one, you’ll know they often give you a few more edits. Hiring a proofreader, though, is kind of where I “get” the mentality of anyone thinking they can be their own editor. I do proofreading on the side. Why would I hire a proofreader when I am one myself? Believe me, the angel and devil going back and forth on that argument have gotten to be on a first name basis. But, I need one. I need that third pair of eyes – after I and my editor reads my novel for the umpteenth time, there.are.STILL.going.to.be.typos.misspelled-ceasar-saladI read an ebook from an author just a couple of months ago. Her book had been traditionally published first back in 1991 and republished on digital in 2010. In it, she had even placed a paragraph in the Introduction requesting that if a reader found any typos, to please email her at … to let her know. I found three typos. It’s going to happen – get over yourself – hire a proofreader after you’ve hired an editor.

Like I said in the beginning, I may be OCD on re-reading and re-writing now but I’m working on becoming a pantser. Each chapter I write, each blog I write brings me closer to that goal. In the meantime, I am keeping a backup of my WIP at each stopping point along the way and when I’m done it’s going to act as my scrapbook for me to go back and look at how my first novel evolved from beginning to polished finished.

I’d love to hear how you go through your writing process, to get that polished finish so please feel free to share by leaving a comment and become a part of this blog post.

In the meantime, I’d like to invite you to continue your reading about writing by visiting the blog created by @Damyantig: Writing on Writing.

On June 26, 2013, she will be showcasing Blood Land written by R.S. Guthrie. Just last week, Blood Land received a Gold Medal and won Best in Category in both Mystery Police / Legal Suspense and Fiction General in the 2013 Wise Bear Book Awards. If you want to see how a book should be written buy his book(s). And, whether you’re a new writer or already published writer, for goodness sakes don’t overlook his guideline book INK: Eight Rules To A Better Book. It’s not a book to read once and then place in your bookshelf but to stay within reach on a writer’s desk. Go read the reviews. You’ll see that writers who have already finished their WIP, and some even who have already hit that upload button, are going back after reading INK to make changes. It will make a difference in your writing and instill a confidence that you are truly putting out the best book you can. 

Thanks for reading.  As always…

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO MANY BOOKS

Posted in Books, Education, Writing, Writing Skills | 4 Comments

How Much Are You Selling Your eBook For?!

I was going through my timeline the other day on FaceBook and came across a post someone had placed, another author even, who said she would “… never again spend $9.99 for an ebook.”  are-eBooks-worth-the-moneyApparently she had recently purchased an eBook at that price and, it wasn’t that she thought the book was bad – Not.At.All – in fact, she thought the book she had just finished was good but, still, she felt she had been a victim of price-gouging. Paying that price for a paperback? Not a problem. In a heartbeat she wouldn’t have had a second thought.

Others chimed in to support her, agreeing that eBooks priced beyond $3.99 were too high since the cost is minimal to produce and there were no recurring costs; another, stated the only purpose of even having an eReader was to be able to buy books at a low price – unless it was for a non-fiction book.

Huh?

Is it just me that thinks this is ludicrous? I certainly hope not.  

If consumers (and that includes authors since we are readers as well) feel it’s not only fair, but Justified, to pay an author of a book anywhere from zero to less than $4.00 a book, we will NEVER get the price point up to where it deserves to be. I was one of the schlups who bought the hype and paid $9.99 for the Fifty Shades eBook. After I read the first book, I couldn’t believe the poor writing, and figured heck, she’s got to have improved by Book 2, so I paid another $9.99 for that one. (And no, I didn’t give her a third chance.) Not once, and I’m going to repeat that…not one time, did I regret spending the money – only the time I devoted in reading it.

minimum wage(1)And, let me put this out there before anyone thinks otherwise: I work a 9 – 5 job each week, come home and write sometimes until almost daybreak. I’m not rich by any standards. But, here’s another thing about me: Writing is not a hobby, I HAVE to write. It’s my passion. Maybe those fellow authors who complained choose to write as a hobby and they don’t see their time and effort worth any more than a couple of bucks. I don’t know – I just don’t get it. I hope that my books, the ones I toil over, become sleep deprived over, have little contact with friends and family because of, can support me one day. That’s my goal and, I believe, most serious writers’ goal, but we’re not going to meet that goal on being paid less than minimum wage for each eBook sold.

In case you weren’t familiar with the latest info, the Federal Minimum Wage is now $7.25 for ONE hour’s work. So, in essence, the price of an eBook doesn’t even merit a one hour’s worth of pay at minimum wage. Minimal cost to produce? (If I could embed a laugh track here, I would.) How about the umm, I don’t know, five hundred+++ hours it took to write the book from conception to editing to the formatting that goes into uploading onto the various outlets for sale; the author’s own out-of-pocket cost for a proofreader, an editor, a cover designer; and, at the end of the road, the split you give to the eBook retailers for their share to sell on their site. And, I haven’t even gotten to the cost of advertising a book.

I’m not throwing it out there that the cost of eBooks should be a standard $9.99 but I AM saying, why not? Why should the price differential be significantly different from the paperback? I beg to differ that the (only) reason you own an eReader is to buy books at a cheaper price. ebooks and paperbooksI bought mine for the convenience of downloading a book right then and there when I wanted it; to be able to read it outside in the sun; to read it in bed with no lights on; for the light-weight feeling compared to the weight of a 400+ page book; to be able to place it in a stand and touch the screen to flip a page while I’m eating dinner or, putting together a recipe from a cookbook I’ve downloaded; and all the other amenities included: highlighting, instant dictionary, instant find; all my books stored in one handheld tablet. You’ll notice I didn’t mention any reason was because the price of the book was lower. What kind of sense does that statement even MAKE when you’ve shelled out anywhere from $100 – $200 alone for your eReader.

I haven’t even touched on being able to lend books you’ve bought with another friend; to check-out eBooks from your local library; to join Amazon Prime and “borrow” one book a month. eReaders offer so much more than to just “download cheap books”. For not having any kind of wait time to receive and begin reading your book within minutes of purchase; and/or, to receive a book within minutes of its publication should in and of itself justify a price-point equal to a paperback. Your cost benefit? No shipping and handling. 

We’re getting there. Two years ago, it wasn’t even called a promo for your book to be in the “Free” bin. It was where everyone started, particularly if you were new to publishing. Those days are now a bad memory. Even now, 99₵ is only seen when you have it on promo and frankly, I hope to see that go by the wayside within the next year as well. With the “Click to Look Inside” feature on Amazon and B&N, readers are becoming accustomed to the fact that they don’t have to take a chance on an unknown book or author anymore.

Click-to-look-insideI can’t tell you how many books whose description enticed me, ready to buy it, only to use the “Click”, read a few chapters, and change my mind. Money, and reading time, saved.

As independent authors, I would hope some unification could be achieved to continually keep the price train on a forward incline; and, to support each other in this effort. While I don’t expect a huge royalty with each eBook sold, neither do I expect that a fellow author consider any price as gouging. 

Never Enough Books

Posted in Books, eReader, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments