Friday, August 30, 2013

Readers’ Guide to Buying Indie Books

indiebookBefore Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and the birth of the ebook, self-publishing (or more politically correct – independent publishing)  was frowned upon as a last resort for those whose writing didn’t measure up to the standards of traditional publishing houses.

But with platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Platform, Create Space, and Lulu, literally anyone can publish a book. Bowker Market Research reported earlier this year that self-published ebooks now account for 12% of the entire digital publishing market and as much as 20% in the sci-fi and romance market.

While some of these indie books are well edited, many, many more are not edited at all. Rife with typos, lack of formatting, and just plain, poor writing, these indies are often cheaply priced and uploaded at a rapid rate.

Traditionally published authors complain that indie books have caused the price of legitimately published authors’ works to plummet. Because the average indie title rings in at a whopping $0.99 to $2.99, (compared to the average publisher price of $5.99 – $12.99) buyers have been  conditioned to pay as little as possible and will often leave bad reviews that publishers’ books are priced too high or not worth the money.

However, many traditionally published authors are turning to independent publishing in order to have more control over content, cover, and royalty income, and are experiencing great success.

In this vast sea of competing titles, how does a buyer know which book are worth the money? Especially when poorly written and hastily produced books sit on virtual shelves next to high quality titles?

It is up to buyers to do their research before clicking the buy button.

Here are some indie book buying tips:

1. Do you recognize the author’s name? – Often, authors who have acquired the rights to their books re-release them independently. If a big name puts out an indie, you can just about bet the book had been thoroughly edited and that you’ll be buying a professionally produced work. Hint* Sometimes, when releasing a previously published work, the author is required to change the title. Be sure to read the blurb before you buy.

2. Does the cover look professional? – If the book has a poorly designed cover, the quality of the writing is most likely poor as well. Professionally designed book covers cost good money. If the author has invested in cover art, then they’ve probably invested in good editing as well.

3. Read the blurb and the excerpt. – This is probably the most important tip. Is the blurb well written? Intriguing? Free of typos? And what about the excerpt? Is the writing filled with passive voice and grammatical errors? If so, pass. If not, you might be in for a treat!

4. Read the reviews. – Reviews are subjective, but if the overwhelming majority warn the buyer of typos, errors, and shoddy writing, then the book might be one to pass on. On the other hand, if there are only glowing reviews that neglect to list details of the plot, information about the characters, etc., then you might surmise the authors’ family and friends have flocked to the site to give them rave reviews without reading the work.

5. Does the author have a professional looking web presence?  - Still not sure? Look at the author’s Amazon page and follow the links to their website, facebook, or twitter feed. Professional authors usually have well crafted websites. If an indie author’s site is sloppy, their writing is mostly likely sloppy as well.

7. Is the book competitively priced? – While professionally published authors conduct giveaways and sales to boost visibility, if all an indie author’s titles are .99, or less than 3 dollars, the indie book may be substandard quality. In comparison, professional authors might have two or three titles priced to move on a very long backlist of competitively priced books.


After acquiring the rights from a small press to my young adult paranormal, Eternal, I decided to release it as an independent title. I had established a name as a historical and paranormal author with several traditional publishers. The book had been well edited and had received fantastic reviews at the small press, but I felt I could do more with the title if I had control of printing, cover, and sales. I hired Tricia Pickyme Schmitt to design the cover, formatted the book for both print and various ereaders and released it in October last year.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00064]

Eternal

My hopes of having a normal life died when I did. Especially since my near death experience turned me into a clairvoyant with a disfiguring scar. Not exactly most-popular material.

Now, because of me, my whole family has been forced to move to some small town in Tennessee. My parents think a quiet new school and a new set of friends will heal me of the scars I carry both inside and out.

There’s just one problem. I’m being haunted by Jeremiah Ransom, the charming ghost of a Civil War soldier who lived and died in my house. His presence makes me feel perfect. As if there’d never been a wound in the first place.

But I’m afraid that loving him will result in my death all over again.

*Previously published as Haunted.

For more information about Eternal click HERE.

Trade Paperback

Amazon | B&N | BAM | CreateSpace

Digital Ebook

ARE | Amazon | B&N | OmniLit

Do you read indie books? If so, what criteria do you look for in buying an indie title?

DEBRA GLASS is the author of over thirty-five books of historical and paranormal romance, non-fiction, young adult romance, and folklore. The recipient of the National Society of Arts and Letters Alabama Screenwriter Award in 1992, she went on to win the NSAL Empire State Award for excellence in screenwriting. She holds an MAed with emphasis in history from the University of North Alabama.

Debra is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Professional Authors’ Network. She is also a member of RWA’s Heart of Dixie and Southern Magic Chapters.

She lives in Alabama with her real life hero, a couple of smart-aleck ghosts, and three diabolical black cats.

Website: http://DebraGlass.com

For information about the Skeletons in the Closet Series or Debra’s Haunted History of the Shoals Ghost Walk Tour, click HERE.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Single Writer's Guide to Writing "Those" Scenes

DEFINITION : Naked - You don't have on any clothes! 

DEFINITION : Nekkid - You don't have on any clothes and you are up to something! 

I am certain most "normal" people visualize some scenario out of a really bad movie when it comes to how we writers go about putting a sex / love scene together. (When I say "normal" I mean non-writers. If you're a writer, honey, the "normal" ship sailed without you a LOOONG time ago.)

They see us lolling on our chaise lounge in Victoria's Secret lingerie dictating said scene to our half-dressed sex slave (sort of like the guy who delivers the Miss Drag Queen results to Rue Paul in To Woo Fong, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar "I don't know who he is, but if there's a snowstorm tonight, he's going on my tires!") pausing only to dip a strawberry in chocolate, sip some champagne and thumb through the Kama Sutra or Debbie Does Dallas to decided what happens next.

And if this is how you write your sex / love scenes, you go girl !! And post some pictures! If dressing in lingerie helps you to write a hot scene, go for it. Frankly, that stuff is too itchy, cold and tends to creep into places I don't want it to creep for me to write in it. Lest we forget, if lingerie is working correctly you won't be wearing it that long.  

There are some romance writers who love writing sex / love scenes. There are others who cringe at the thought of doing so. Either way, writing sex/love scenes is something all romance writers talk about at one time or another. We talk about it with our critique partners. We talk about it at chapter meetings. We talk about it in hotel lobbies at conferences and cause Microsoft conventioneers to choke on their lattes. Not that I'd know anything about that. 

You'll notice I use the term sex / love scenes - two terms for one act. And I firmly believe both types of these scenes are possible and plausible in a romance novel. If you don't believe it read Sherrilyn Kenyon's SEIZE THE NIGHT - Valerius and Tabitha's story. These two are definitely attracted to each other from the time she stabs him during a fight with daimons. (I don't think stabbing a guy in the chest with a big knife is in the Kama Sutra as foreplay, but maybe I missed a page.)

However, if you want a great example of that getting to know you sex, that 'please, sir, can I have some more' sex this is a great scene to study. For those of you playing the paperback version of our game the scene starts on page 129. The reason I know this is because my copy seems to fall open at this page on its own. I have no idea why. But if nearly getting nekkid on the stairs and getting down to business against the closet door isn't great sex, I don't know what is. Put Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" on the Ipod, light some red candles, knock back a few margueritas and you will be ready to write!

Of course for a real love scene, you need to start with a great kiss. Check out Loretta Chase's LORD OF SCOUNDRELS for a great "DAYUM!" kiss. Jessica bursts in on Dain, who happens to have a lap full of hoochie mama, and dresses him down before storming out. He chases her down the street in the rain. She yells at him some more. He decides the only way to shut her up is to kiss her. Well. Really well. Really, really well. And it takes a bolt of lightning to break them apart. Now THAT'S a kiss. 

If you need to see rather than read a great kiss check out the train station kiss from BBC's adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskill's NORTH AND SOUTH.


By the time you get to @ 2:20 minutes in you will see what I mean. Can Richard Armitage kiss or what?

For this sort of kiss, and the love scene that follows you want some sensual music - try Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings - some soft lamplight, the scent of roses or gardenias and some hot chocolate or a great wine.

Delilah Marvelle, a great historical romance writer and a student of sex in history, says she prepares to write love scenes by making out with her husband and when she is good and revved up, off she goes to write the scene. I'm not sure all husbands would be as understanding! But it is a thought. 

I had a piano professor, at a Baptist college believe it or not, who gave a pretty good definition of the difference between having sex and making love. He was referring to a performance by a much touted young piano prodigy. The young man's teacher brought him down to a master class with Van Cliburn. He played a very passionate, showy piece with so much energy and flash he literally moved the piano across the stage. Once he was done and everyone had applauded loudly Mr. Cliburn said "You played that very well. When are you going to start making music?" My piano professor took it one step further. He said "Playing the piano is like sex. You can jump in the back seat of a car or tear each others clothes off on the beach and go at it like it's your last day on earth. Or you can lay down in front of a roaring fire and spend hours learning every inch of each other before you ever actually join your bodies. Either way the end result is the same. It's the getting there that decides what kind of music you're making."



The bottom line is no one can tell you how your characters are going to finally become intimate. The characters will tell you if you listen hard enough. And there is no right way to sit down and approach the writing of these scenes. It's not about the mechanics. It's not about how many positions you can squeeze into your book. (Some of the Kama Sutra stuff can land you in the hospital. Some of the Fifty Shades stuff can land you in jail in some states, but we won't go into that here!)

I think it's about what you want to tell your readers about romance, about what it is, how it starts, how it stays alive and wonderful, and how, with luck, it never ends.

What's your approach to writing "THOSE" scenes? Any rituals, must haves or must not haves? And how do you write love scenes when your own love life is non-existent or worse - not going well at all? 
 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nom de Plume: To Be or Not to Be?

            Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, Mrs. Leonard has accused my client of sexual harassment arising from the simple act of text messaging a picture of his pride and joy to her client. But yet, let me refer you to Defendant’s Exhibit One, her debut novel. Please highlight and circle every reference to the mattress mambo then render the verdict you find to be appropriate.

            And so begins a recurring nightmare I have that inevitably leads to the internal debate of whether I should use a pen name. I like my name. It’s mine. I answer to it when called. Sort of attached to it. But professional and privacy concerns make compelling arguments to become a superhero and adopt a secret identity. A nom de plume.

            In search of answers, I asked the wise women of Southern Magic who write under pen names for their advice. I posited five questions, and have summarized their responses:

  1  Why do you write under a pen name

The two primary reasons identified for writing under a pen name were personal privacy and professional anonymity.  Seems like I’m not alone in having a day job where my books could set tongues (and judgment) in motion.

However, more than one author responded the pen name was required by her publisher, either for purposes of branding (the author writing in multiple genres) or other reasons.

Unfortunately, more than one author noted her pen name came about because she'd experienced a stalker. In a world where information is a few key strokes away, their concerns are ones we should all share.

Finally, some indicated they went with a pen name because their true names were a little complicated or less marketable. Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) and Joseph Conrad (Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski) were in the same boat.

  2  How did you come up with your pen name?

Most authors chose derivations of their own name.  Some kept their first name while using their maiden names.  Others pulled from family nicknames.  A few used names of their favorite literary characters.  The common thread was that all the methods of choosing a name involved pulling from something personal.  Makes sense. If you are going to tie your writing career to an identity, make sure it means something to you.

One wise author pointed out the benefit not only of baby naming books but also the internet.  She gave the wise advise of searching domains for your possible pen name to make sure they would be available. Great idea! There is an actress who has my same name, and lawyers.com already owns the dot com url for name. 

  3  What are the pros of writing under a pen name?

Keeping your personal and professional life separate. A large number of the Southern Magic authors who responded extolled the freedom that the pen name provided them to write without the concern of what their friends, family and coworkers would think.

  4  What are the cons of writing under a pen name?

This is where the responses were great.  Here were some of my favorites:

  • I've had some Amazon bestsellers and have enjoyed some notoriety under my pen name, including best books of the year on various review sites. My latest release got a mention in USA Today and there's no one I can brag to about it.
  • Forgetting to answer to your pen name in a crowd.
  • You do have to get used to answering to a different name, though, and people who do know you under both names are never sure what to call you. I've been known to refer to myselves in third-person, which is kind of obnoxious but expedient.
  • In all honestly, I can't see many cons.  People change pen names so frequently now, due to the vagaries of the market or in order to write in a different genre, that many authors who began writing under their real name end up with a pseudonym at some point in their career.  I suppose that writing under your legal name offers some protection from someone attempting to copycat it, but other than that, it seems you should do what makes your personal situation easiest.

These answers also bring up the interesting etiquette question: when introducing an author who writes under a pen name in social situations, which name should you use? I always ask the author, but the few times I’ve forgotten I looked like the rudest person on the planet because I danced around the introduction until the author introduced herself.

  5 Any advice for those considering using a pen name?

The ladies said it best:
  • The time to do it is before you publish, when you're first starting to establish your "platform." You're marketing a brand, basically, so you need the brand established from the outset.
  • Keep it short and simple. If you are signing books, you don’t’ want a name that will take you a long time to sign.
  • Choose something that's easy to remember, easy to pronounce, and maybe slightly different from the "pack."  I've heard it said that one should choose a name close to the beginning of the alphabet to avoid "bookshelf fatigue."  Does anyone actually walk into a bookstore and look at all the books in a genre?  Or do they browse the first half of the alphabet and make some selections and then head to the check-out?  Something to think about, at least.  I've also heard that being close to a big name on the shelf, someone like Nora for example, certainly can't hurt your chance of being noticed.  In short, my advice is do what makes you and your family comfortable and happy.

What are your thoughts on writing under a pen name? I’d love to hear your answers and thoughts on these five questions.

Thank you to all the generous Southern Magic authors for the gift of their time and advice.

Friday, August 23, 2013

An Anchor in Cyberspace


Now that I’m writing for the middle grade market, I find that the great RWA contest circuit no longer works for me. Fortunately, the Internet is saving me from the sense that I’ve flown into a black hole and become. . .lost in space.
60s TV's Lost in Space was set in. . .1997!

Here’s a roundup of online contests and pitch opportunities I’ve discovered that go beyond the traditional (and valuable) chapter-sponsored romance contests like Southern Magic’s Linda Howard Award of Excellence for unpublished authors.  
  • Petit Fours and Hot Tamales is a group blog that includes a couple of Southern Magic members. Thanks to that connection, I found out about their annual Recipe for Success Write-Off, a month-long competition for the best paragraph of up to a hundred words. The grand prize: a 20-page--plus synopsis--critique from a literary agent. 
  • Former agent Nathan Bransford has a tremendous blog archive full of professional advice. He also sponsors the occasional Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Contest. Grand Prize: a partial manuscript, straight to an agent, no query. 
  • Savvy Authors presents regular online workshops, pitch events, and hances to develop community and online critique groups.
  • Anyone remember the blog run by an agent who called herself Miss Snark? The blog is no longer live, though the archived advice is still available. But an anonymous authoress known as Miss Snark’s First Victim (true story!) has created a wonderful writing community with regular contests and critiques. Coming up this fall is a contest I don’t want to miss--the Baker’s Dozen*. 
I haven’t tried the Baker's Dozen contest yet, but I intend to have a completed manuscript ready for it.  Entries run 250 words. Sixty entries make the first cut and go on the virtual auction block. Participating agents “bid” for the right to read the winning manuscript. Minimum bid? Five pages, all the way up to the full manuscript. Follow this link for the complete details. 

I believe in traditional queries and traditional publishing--and I’m game for novel ways to get in front of agents and editors. Do you follow any blogs or web sites that offer contests or critiques for unpublished writers, with possible agent or editor interaction as a prize? 

*Disclaimer: By mentioning the Baker’s Dozen this week in my blog post, I’ve qualified for a drawing for a logline critique. You can play to w*n, too, via blog, Twitter, or Facebook! Those of you who just got back from pitching at RWA know how important a logline is. Click for details on qualifying for the random drawing.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day Job Blues

It's that time of year again. All of the little ankle-biters are gearing up with freshly sharpened pencils, new clothes, and (for my older son's class) "at least 20 glue sticks." The older ones are groaning at the thought of early mornings and homework.

Oh, wait. That's me.

Yup, the day job is starting up again.

I know that I shouldn't complain. Most of my grad school friends don't have full-time jobs and I actually really love the people I work with. Plus, I have this schedule that gives me time (if I don't teach summer classes) to do nothing but write. Well, write and watch my kids, which usually just turns into watching my kids.

Right now I'm staring down the barrel of FIVE composition classes. That's five courses that each require at least 4-5 essays plus other written work to grade. *whimpers* And I'm making out my schedule, because I have edits due October 1st (*confetti*), another round on one of the books I'm working on editing for my freelance business in a couple of weeks (by a USA Today Bestselling author!!) , and a really odd Middle-Grade novel I started that is stalled at 22k words.

Good lord, I love being busy :O)

Now I just have to figure out how to balance it all.

How do you all do it? Are you a crack of dawn writer like Jennifer Echols? I know so many of you are full-timers like me--how do you make sure to make time to write?


Oh, yeah-  and while you're at it, how about coming on over and friending my author alter-ego on facebook?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Frankenstein and Horrarrrr!

If you're like me, you've grown up watching Horrarrrrr! movies. I'm not talking about the comedic types of film. I'm talking about the movies that kept you up at all hours of the night praying a creature of the night wouldn't sneak into your bedroom or grab you from underneath the bed. Aye. That be the kind, me hearties.


"There's nothing worse than the black spot."  
Captain Jack Sparrow



Back to the Horrarrrr! Peter Cushing, Boris Korloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney, Jr. perfected their rolls so well we believed in Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. To this day, we imitate these nightmarish standards while trick or treating or at costume parties. I once posed as a Vampire Pirate at a writer's retreat. (Nailed it too!)

But I digress... Frankenstein has always been a horrarrr favorite of mine. Poor guy didn't ask to be a jigsaw puzzle put together with mismatched body parts. He certainly didn't ask to have lightning bolts jutting from his neck or to be afraid of fire. Why, even Frankenstein's bride was afraid of his untameable nature. Mel Brooks is the only director who made Frankenstein appear intellectual next to Madeline Kahn's bride in Young Frankenstein. (That's Fran-kun-schteen, to ye what knows.)


Arrrrr! What does this have to do with anything? Me. You see I followed my compass to what I wanted most ~ to be free of pain. It's a long Horrarrrr! story, me hearties. One I won't bore you with. But just let it be known that I've been in pain for three out of the last four years due to neck issues. I've seen countless doctors who tested me for everything you can imagine. I've had neck surgery that seemed to fix the problem until two titanium screws broke in my vertebrae. (Yes, I really do have super powers! I CAN break Titanium in my vertebrae. Pirate!)

Two weeks ago, I had another neck surgery, this one more intrusive than the last. The doctors (because I needed more than one) operated on the front of my neck to remove the broken screws and the useless, previous titanium plate. They also had to replace another disc that herniated due to the unsuccessful nature of the first surgery. When they were done, they stitched me up and turned me over to operate on the back of my neck, where they inserted two rods on each side of my spine to secure discs C5-7 with 6 titanium screws. Apparently, a halo device was used to keep my head completely still during the entire process. How do I know this? I had half marbles on my temples and the top of my head where the halo-like apparatus had been attached.

Aye. I can see you're wondering what this has to do with Frankenstein. Well, I feel like Frankenstein's bride without the gray stripes (thanks to my hair dresser!). I've got a barely noticable scar on the right side of my neck from the first surgery, a 3" incision on the left side of my neck and a 4"-5" incision on the back of my neck. My rogue informs me I can claim these as battle wounds, which is a perfectly acceptable excuse for a pirate, don't you think? He also informs me that all I need are lightning bolts. Sad, but true. I cannot help but be a lily-livered swab about this. Yes, I know the scars will fade and that the important thing is my pain is gone (except for recovery). Alas, my imagination has taken flight, leading me to places I don't want to go. All I know is thank goodness I own a lot of scarves. ;)


 
 


 
Am I living a Frankenstein movie? Let's see there is: Bride of the Monster, Frankenstein's Daughter, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter, Frankenstein Created Woman, Lady Frankenstein, Frankenstein's Great Aunt-Tillie, The Bride, and Frankenhooker. (Look away, yon pirate. Look away.) Or could I turn this into a Regency money-maker: Frankenstein & Sensibility, Mansfield's Frankenstein, Frankenstein & Prejudice, Emmastein, Frankenstein Abbey, Franksuasion.

The great thing about putting all this behind me is now I can start writing again. Yes, folks. The muse isn't competing with pain anymore and I'm really looking forward to standing back at the helm with adventure and mayhem on the horizon.

Do you have any advice on hiding neck scars?


Katherine

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Winner of Friday's Alicia Hunter Pace Post

Congratulations to Jamie Farrell! She won a $10 gift card to Starbucks for commenting on Stephanie Jones's (half of the Alicia Hunter Pace writing team) post from Friday.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Doesn't he look magical?

baseball player photo: baseball player baseballplayer.gifDoesn't he look magical?  I thought this would be a great image for the Romance Magicians blog. He is so sparkly that he could be a vampire!  It is no secret to anyone that both halves of Alicia Hunter Pace are big football fans, after all we are from Alabama.  What you may not know is that I grew up in a baseball crazy so while I don't follow baseball as much as I once did I still enjoy the game. I go to local games often and try to go to at least a few bigger games a year.

We have written a story with a football hero and loved every second of the process. It was great because we were writing what we knew and loved when we wrote Scrimmage Gone South! Then this summer we got the opportunity to write a story that had something to do with baseball for our publisher, Crimson Romance.  I was excited right away. I could smell the hot dogs and pop corn in the air.  I could hear the crack and pop of the bat hitting the ball.  I was all in immediately, but  Jean wasn't sure that we knew enough about the sport to write a story with a baseball element.  This was a super excuse for me to get us tickets to a baseball game! So I took her out to the ball game!  We went to see a Birmingham Barons game and got to sit in the fifth row almost right behind home plate.  It was GREAT!

This really put us in the mood to write the story.  The sights, sounds, smells and feeling in the air helped put us in a baseball frame of mind that really made the story easier for us to write because we had gotten into the baseball mood!

Yesterday we got the call that we had been selected to be in the anthology that our story was created for so I guess this process worked!  We were just so excited.  

So if you are a writer, do you ever do things to put you in a frame of mind to create a story?  I am sure many other creative people use life's experiences to jump start the creative process. I know that many people like to play music as they create, but I was wondering if anyone engages the other senses?

I look forward to hearing from you all about how you put yourself into the mood of your stories.  I know the blog is late today because I missed the clue bus so one lucky commenter will win a $10.00 gift certificate to Starbucks.

Alicia Hunter Pace-Stephanie

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Going PRO


At RWA Nationals, I enjoyed walking around and reading everyone’s name tags. On the bottom of many of those badges was a little blue strip with the letters PRO printed on it in white. I wanted one. This is my plain white name tag. It was boring, so I dressed it up.


I’ve completed the application and have all supporting information ready to send to Romance Writers of America for my PRO status. For those unfamiliar with the term, PRO status is for members of RWA who are pursuing publication. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve sold a book, but you’ve submitted and are waiting for the call. The PRO Community of Practice focus is less on craft and more on the business side of writing.
The “proof” I’m providing is a letter of “receipt of submission” from one publisher and a rejection letter from one agent. I’m going for double coverage. Also, I’m sending a CD of the manuscript. That little bug in my ointment means I have to visit the post office, get a special envelope, and send everything. (I don’t know why I hate going to the post office. They are always very nice at the one near my house.)
It will be worth it in the end because I will be validated on some level. My husband says I’ll be bonafide. Now, if I could just get him to stop saying, “You can buy _____ when you sell a book.”

If you’re a PRO, how did it make you feel to gain that status? If not, is it something you hope to achieve?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gettin' Philosophical on Release Day (& Win Elysian Fields!)

Today's a Happy Dance day--the third book in my Sentinels of New Orleans series, Elysian Fields, is finally and officially OUT! I seriously love this book, so I'm at that nail-biting "what if they hate it" stage.

Elysian is my seventh novel to release in the last sixteen months, and I've spent some time this past couple of weeks reflecting on how my life has--and hasn't--changed in this roller coaster of a ride. Admittedly, much of this reflection was done under the influence of vicodin (more on that later), but a few stray observations on release day.

* I feel incredibly blessed to have found a new career at this point in my life, and one totally unexpected. I never planned to write novels. Had Hurricane Katrina not blown my life upside down in 2005 while I was living in New Orleans, I doubt I ever would have written a word that wasn't part of a news or feature article. I like to say it's a God thing, because I sure don't know how it happened. It's ironic, in a way. I've moved all over the country pursuing my career in educational publishing and three years after Katrina, I ended up back in my home state counting the days (approximately four years and seven days and...six hours) until I'm able to retire and write full-time. *Makes note to find calendar so I can start x'ing off days in red.*

* The publishing world has changed radically between November 2009, when I signed my first
publishing contract, and yesterday, when I reached terms on a new secret project (oh, I want to talk about it so badly but I can't). In 2009, self-publishing hadn't gotten big, and it still carried a stigma. I still don't think it's a particularly good idea for a new author to self-publish--it's too darn hard to get "discovered"--but now I think the career of the successful author is like a three-legged stool, with a leg in traditional publishing, a leg in small-press publishing, and--once a backlist and a following are in place--self-publishing. That's today. In four more years, who knows what it will look like?

* I laughed yesterday at what I imagined an author's life to be like as recently as five years ago. Travel! Money! Glamour! Of course, my laughter was fueled by painkillers after spending two hours being tortured by my dentist (the ironically named Dr. Bolt) that sent me home with two fewer teeth, three new temporary crowns, an abraded tongue, and a helluva toothache. Or would that be a toothless ache? Today, perhaps as you're reading this, glamour-puss author is sitting in a staff meeting, hearing about the way our annual operational plans should be formatted to put in binders for our upcoming board meeting. Tonight, I'm talking to a guy about repairing my rotten backyard fence. (To be fair, however, I'm getting to head out for New Orleans next month to do a panel and book-signing at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance annual trade show. Travel! Glamour!)

All in all, I love this new, unexpected twist in life and wouldn't trade it for anything. So as I bask in the glow of a new release, I wonder--will it ever get old, this feeling of excitement? I think probably not. Thanks for sharing it with me!

Have a publishing question or a question about the series? Leave it here and be entered for a signed copy of Elysian Fields (or an earlier book in the series), or if you've been a really cool cat and already have them, a $10 Amazon or Book Depo gift card (or your etailer of choice). I'll announce the winner as a comment on this blog on Sunday, August 18.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Oops! Again!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Where are you, kitty cat?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Rie Warren; New Release: In His Command


Please join me in welcoming back the fabulous Rie Warren! She is a fabulous writer and friend--and I *wish* I had her energy and vivaciousness. A woman of great wit and sharp observations it is always a joy to be around her.

Thank you for coming back and talking about your newest release!

IN HIS COMMAND: Released August 6th by Grand Central Publishing/Forever Yours

Lets dive right in:

Tell us about your new book. What was your favorite part about writing it?   

 IN HIS COMMAND is the ultimate ‘forbidden love’ story!


It is the year 2070. Generations ago, the world was annihilated by catastrophic environmental events. The survivors were driven to live in big city centers ruled by the Company. To rebuild the world’s population, the oppressive Company had one rule: all homosexuals must be exterminated.

Commander Caspar Cannon has a stellar military reputation—and a life-threatening secret. When a revolution rips through the territories, Cannon is ordered to escort Company executive Nathaniel Rice to a secure location. For months, the commander has harbored illicit desire for Rice, knowing he cannot act on his attraction. Privileged, polished, and groomed to one day take over the Company, Rice is drawn to the rugged, military man. Yet Rice has his own mysterious agenda, and he knows their love can be as dangerous as the wasteland they must traverse.

Now leaving the besieged city behind, the two men embark on a journey that becomes a minefield of sabotage, betrayal—and forbidden passion. But when danger catches up to them, can Cannon trust the secretive man who holds his heart—and his fate?


Hmm, my favorite part about writing it? The sex! No, I’m kidding (sort of). It was creating this very gritty love story about two men dangerously attracted to each other, and wrapping it all up in a world of lies, betrayals, and war. What I like is you have an ability to world build and place the reader smack into the middle of things. You can *feel* the grit--that to me is exceptional!

Are there more books in this series?
Why yes, there are. ON HER WATCH comes out April 14th, 2014! A third book is contracted and I’ve started toying with ideas for a fourth  That is awesome you have a couple of books contracted--lots of celebration (and late night writing?)

I've asked about your writing process before (and OH do I want your energy..maybe if I hang out with you more it will rub off) so let me ask about what is your favorite part of your writing process? The idea or the writing?
The writing, definitely! I spend a lot of time sitting up here in my woman cave chuckling madly—sometimes bawling my eyes out too—with my characters. The process of writing is organic to me (even though I am initially a plotter) so the story evolves and grows and shifts while I write it, and that is exciting.  I can understand this, and the fact the story touches you means a lot to me as reader and writer.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me about four months to write IN HIS COMMAND. I’m a very quick writer because I don’t strive for perfection on the rough draft. My goal is to get the story on ‘paper’. Then I fill it in, clean it up, cut-cut-cut (cry-cry-cry, ha ha), and polish it until it’s pretty.  I think this is fabulous, I am trying to work on pouring it out on paper. You know, I'm going to talk to you more about your writing process in a future post (purely for selfish reasons mind you). 
What are you reading now?

I just started reading Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series because I come across her name a lot and have never ventured into her books. I figured I better see what she has going on, because I do write paranormal too.  That sounds very interesting! I have heard good things about those books. *hangs head* I have yet to get to them. 

I like to ask fun things. So--what's your favorite meal?
This one is easy! Hand down: fresh-from-the-lobster-pound, Maine steamed clams with melted butter and a great big plastic bib for my sloppiness! I could just slurp those suckers down all day long.  Oh now you made ME hungry. YUM! 
Thank you Rie for stopping by! and I really want you to come by again. 
You can check out her books at (click on the name):
GOODREADS          ITUNES         AMAZON       BARNES & NOBLE
 You can find the fabulous Rie here (Click on the word)
WEBSITE                    TWITTER                  FACEBOOK
Rie Warren Bio:
After earning my degree in Fine Arts, I promptly gave up paintbrushes and canvas for paper and pen (because being a writer is equally as good an idea as being an artist, of course it is). That was fifteen years ago, my writing career started! With a manuscript of super epic proportions! Safely stored under a lace doily in a filing cabinet. Possibly in England . . .

Since then I’ve done this and that, here and there, usually in the nonprofit arena, until I returned to my dream of being a writer. Even though I bask in the glorious southern sunshine as often as I can, I’m mostly a nocturnal creature adjourning to my writer’s atelier (spare bedroom) in search of my next devious plot twist or delicious passionate tryst. 
No matter what genre or gender pairing I’m writing, I combine a sexy southern edge with humor and heart–and a taste of darkness. I hope you enjoy!