Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Ruthless Good by Susan Kelley


Read this great review for the third book in my Solonian Chronicles.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

One Good Woman Released in Print


Woohoo! My publisher released One Good Woman in print two days before Christmas. I'm thrilled to have it out so soon after the e-book releases. Even more, I hope there's hundreds of thousands of new owners of e-readers out there.

One Good Woman is the culminating novel of The Chronicles of Solonia, a futuristic series published by New Concepts Publishing. Two recurring but much loved characters from the first three novels, The Greater Good, The Lesser Evil and A Ruthless Good find their own happiness in a destiny determined from when they first met. I think readers of the first three books will be completely satisfied with the answering of questions raised by the first three tales.

I know of several of my readers who always wait for the print book but I'm really hoping some of the lucky people received their new Sony or other reader for Christmas decide to give one of my books a try.

How about you? Did you receive an e-reader for Christmas or did one of your friends? Did you buy one for someone? If you did get one, are you going to purchase some authors you might not have tried on print?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book Event Snowed Under

I spent hours preparing promotional material but Mother Nature had other ideas. We're at about 10 inches of snow and it's still falling. I'm sure it will be lovely in the morning but I would have liked to see it arrive tomorrow night.
Catherine at The Midtown Scholar Bookstore made the wise decision to postpone the huge author event she had arranged for today. She's going to put it together again in the spring. I'll be reminding everyone then and depending upon the date, I'll have another new book to sell.
Everyone be safe and don't let those men shovel snow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Signing Event!


I believe book signings are helpful for authors to get their name out there to the public and perhaps more importantly for making friends with booksellers. But for an author, signings can be hours of sitting, talking and selling oneself without moving a single book. I've sat, stood, paced around at numerous book events and wondered if my time wouldn't have been better spent sitting at my desk at home and writing.

But this Saturday I'll be part of the biggest signing event I've yet to attend. The Midtown Scholar Bookstore-Cafe in Harrisburg, PA., is hosting a varied and talented panel of authors for readings and promoting their works. There will be poets, literary fiction writers, nonfiction authors, one YA author, and closest to my heart, romance writers. Cate Masters will be joining me in promoting our published novels along with fellow Susquehanna Writer, Don Helin selling his suspense novel.

Catherine, owner of the Midtown Scholar has put together a terrific holiday affair including a free holiday concert.

I am a bit nervous about reading from my work and have yet to select the passages I will use. I hope those of you local to Harrisburg will consider stopping by sometime between 2:00 and 5:00 this Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another Book Contract!!!


I'm floating on air around the house, trying not to knock down the Christmas decorations. Medallion Press (Gosh, I love them!) has offered me a contract for Book #3 of The Futhark Chronicles. Beneath the Mountain continues the epic fantasy started on The Keepers of Sulbreth and Beyond the Gate.

The Keepers of Sulbreth is scheduled for release on January 1st of 2010, Beyond the Gate in 2011 and Beneath the Mountain in 2012. The yet unnamed fourth and final book in circling around in my head with the outline sketched out on paper.

To top off a truly wonderful week, I found another review for The Keepers of Sulbreth on Publishers Weekly. This time the reviewer was a teenager reading for PW. I can only say Bekah is a very insightful young woman with excellent taste.

Now if only I could get the manager of my local Borders to talk with me about a booksigning. Yeah, yeah, I know he's kind of busy now with lines to the back of the store for the holidays but this is important. LOL. I really want a signing early in January to catch all my former students before they head back to college. And so many people will be walking around with those wonderful gift cards from Christmas.

Later this week I'll be talking about the booksigning I have coming up next week at The Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, PA. Hope I see some of you there.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gift Giving


I remember when Christmas was easy. My boys were little and begged for the newest Power Rangers or GIJoe toys. The lego castle system provided a lot of pricey entertainment but still fit in the budget. We enjoyed shopping for our baby girl and all those doll things we'd never purchased before. Things have changed.

The boys are in college and one of them already out and working. My little girl is in high school. Gift requests now range to things like $60 games for Xbox 360 for the boys and a list of gift cards. The girl wanted a new indoor hockey stick, not too bad at $85 and driving four hours to pick it out. Oh, and the class ring of which we won't mention the price. But by far the worse gift list is from the oldest. A single guy working at a pretty good job, he doesn't want anything in particular. I'd rather he ask for something expensive.

I guess all mothers hold onto those memories of Christmas morning when your child opens that special surprise with a squeal of delight and joy. So every year I waste hours prying and pondering the perfect gift. And every year it becomes more difficult. So I'm busy worrying about it and haven't come up with more than one idea for one child so far.

Do you do this? How difficult are those adult children to delight? Maybe I should just wait for those grandchildren to come along and rediscover the magic of Christmas with them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

One Good Woman


My publisher, New Concepts Publishing, presented me with an early holiday gift. For whatever reason, they were able to move my futuristic romance novel, One Good Woman, up in the publishing schedule. Instead of being released next February, it is now available in ebook format from my publisher's site.

One Good Woman continues and completes my futuristic romance series, The Solonian Chronicles. Not only does this novel bring together two favorite characters with their own story, it wraps up the entire series with a message of hope and courage.

For those of you not familiar with this series, Solonia is a small colony composed of all women set in a future earth. The world has been sent back to a pre-technological era after an asteroid strikes the earth. Humans survive in small colonies and everyday is a struggle. Solonia believed they were the only survivors for centuries. When a wasting sickness devastated their male population, many of their men turned to a steroid like plant product and turned into vicious sub-human beasts. With their population slowly dwindling, the Solonia women turn to a band of shipwrecked colonists newly arrived on their continent. The Realm is composed of courageous adventurers. The blending of the two people strikes sparks as the cautious, distrustful women of Solonia dare to fall in love with the risk taking, heroic men of the Realm.

Each book starts with a historical account of the time as recorded in the work from one of the rebirthed universities of the time. Read the histories for all four books here.

My publisher as offered the first chapter free on their website and I've added another excerpt to my website.

If you've been a fan of the first three books, I know you'll love this one. I'm sad to see this series end. The Greater Good was the first book I ever wrote. After many revisions it found a home at New Concepts. I thank them for taking a chance on a new author and all the readers who also risked trying out an unknown.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's the Little Joys


Today I made one of my favorite purchases for my writing business. I purchased my 2010 day planner. I have so much fun looking through the different styles, comparing covers, and checking out all the extras. So many choices.

First of all, one must consider the size. The last few years I've gone with the smaller nine by six with a week on facing pages. I have to write small in those spaces though so this year I decided to go either with the bigger, full-sized model or the planner with one entire page for each date. It took me ten minutes to decide on the bigger one with a week on facing pages.

Then I have to look at the covers. I need something that will survive getting stuffed into bags and carried here and there. Last year I splurged on real leather. The same planner in the large style I wanted cost $25. I went with faux blue leather instead for $17.

I had to check out the extras. I don't really need those pretty maps of the world in the back but they were in all my finalists. My final choice had the usual conversion charts and information about other countries, population and units of currency. I need that as much as I need the world maps. Now it did have a wine vintage guide. They didn't mention the local wines I like to sample. Can't figure out why.

Of course I would never buy a planner that didn't have one of those little ribbons to mark my page and this one also has the rip-off corners. Last year's didn't have that so I'm doing that tonight.

Oh the joy of sniffing the brand new faux leather and marking the important dates in my new planner. Everything will be so neat for a while.

On the more serious side, filling in those dates in my planner reminds me of the goals I've set and the future I intend to pursue in my budding career as a writer. I have release dates to fill in for January, The Keepers of Futhark, and for April 30th, To Tame a Tiger. My planner reminds me I'm going somewhere, slowly but surely. And when next November rolls around and I buy a new planner, I'll have a release date to mark for January, 2011 for Beyond the Gate.

Do you love your planner as much as I love mine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First Review for 'Futhark Chronicles'


What an exciting day for me. The Keepers of Futhark will be released in January but today I read the first review. Publisher's Weekly posted a review and said many kind things about my book. One little zinger about the start of the book and then everything was roses. I hope someone uses those reviews to make their must read lists.

I know there's often discussions on blogs about whether or not people read reviews to determine their shopping lists for books. I often do just that. ROF used to have pages of book reviews though the space allowed for that in their new, recently rescued, magazine is much less. I bought one of my daughter's favorite books after reading a review for it there. My daughter and I both highlight books each month in RT and intend to buy them. Of course, Keepers won't be reviewed in RT because it's not a romance. The only beef I have with PW was the way they referred to the book as a romantic fantasy. I would rather term it an epic fantasy with a romantic subplot but I won't complain too much if some readers buy it because of the romance.

Do you read reviews and allow them to dictate your must read list? Where do you find your reviews and have you ever felt misled by one?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

E-Book Break Through?

On page 17 of the December issue of RT Book reviews, Fan Forum, a few paragraphs posed the question of what 2010 might bring to the e-book market. Like many of you, I'm delighted when I see Sony advertising their readers on TV. A few weeks ago, my local Borders had a display only steps inside the door featuring the Sony reader. Apparently Best Buy will have e-readers in stock for the holiday rush. Hopefully many desperate or impulse buyers will have lots of bucks in their pockets.
Even with the increased advertising, availability and variety of readers out there, the same problem exists for all of them. The price. In today's economic climate, how many consumers will justify spending a couple of hundred dollars on a device to read books? Though I and many of my friends believe books to be a necessity, they really don't rank up there with food and shelter. And like computers, digital cameras, cell phones and all those other clever gadgets of advanced technology, you're likely to find a new, improved, super-duper, faster model of your chosen reader on the market before you even figure out how all the capabilities of the one you purchased for the price of a car payment.
Why aren't e-readers getting cheaper? The competition expands each day. Shouldn't the price come down as the manufacturers compete for the consumers dollars?
I suspect part of the problem is the lack of great sales. They haven't sold enough to saturate the market so they keep the price high to pay for R&D costs. But by keeping the price high, they may never sell enough. It's a circle puzzle.
I still don't have an e-reader, and I really want one. With two children in college, I'm one of those poor consumers waiting for the prices to come down.
What is your theory on the enduring high price of e-readers?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Retirement Plans


I'm not sure at what age I started looking for retirement from my day job. I'm a school teacher and I love the teenagers I teach but that doesn't mean I don't want to retire. I dream of being able to write all day long and not worry about money. Dream is the correct term.

The Reality is I have four children. One has graduated from college and paying for his used up what we thought would be enough to pay for all of them. Reality is that my husband and I didn't research college costs when our children were little and then keep up with the dramatic and ridiculous increases in tuition fees. Who could know his college would cost forty times what mine did?

Currently I have two sons enrolled in college and we're struggling along to help them stay there. For middle class families like ours and average students like my children, there are no grants, no scholarships and no help. We're on our own.

My husband is retired from teaching but continues to work at another job to see that our children can go to school.

Now I usually use this blog to talk about writing or my books so I don't want to disappoint you. Please buy my books and help my boys pay for college. If you buy six or seven copies of each it would be even better. Maybe you can give them to everyone for Christmas and stock up for those last minute birthday presents. Perhaps you can deduct the cost from your taxes as a donation to a scholarship fund for hard working and not very rich kids. Thanks.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Spice of Variety

Most writers are also voracious readers. We love the written word and not only when we're the one penning, I mean typing, it. Visit your favorite author's blog regularly and sooner or later you're going to read about her TBR pile. That means To Be Read for you lucky folks who read every book as soon as you get it. I have a small stack compared to some people I know. I glanced at it before starting this post, thinking about which book I might start next. Not that I'm ready to start another one.
Currently I have two different fantasy novels started. The Wells of Ascension is the second book in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. He's a must read writer if you love fantasy. The other fantasy novel is the fourth and final book in a series by Greg Keyes. The Born Queen is wrapping up his series, The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. I usually don't read two of the same genre at the same time. More likely if I'm reading two books one is a fantasy, my favorite, and the other is either a romance or a suspense novel. I even through an occasional horror or even a western in there as well as a literary offering. I have some favorite authors in all those genres but am open to trying new ones. My daughter even talks me into sampling her young adult books.
I believe it's important for an author to venture outside their chosen genre in her reading. Reading suspense has taught me to make my own story telling more edgy. Reading romance helps me keep my dialogue interesting and realistic. The few literary titles I select remind me how school reading requirements need revamped but also often introduce me to dark insights into human nature I can incorporate into my characters. The young adult books remind me how each chapter must move the story forward or you'll lose your audience quicker than your teen can text message 'r u maken food 4 nune?'
So what do you think? Is it important for an author to read across the spectrum or does it make a better romance writer to read only romance? Should a fantasy author stick with their own area? There are hundreds of books I would read if I had time. Do you as an author read what you don't write/

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Mom




I'm a little off topic today but my third son came home from college this past weekend. Those of you who are parents know of those times when your children suddenly leap to a new level of maturity. This son did that sometime in his last year of high school. It is so wonderful to deal with your children as adults. In my writing I find myself more likely to give my protagonists strong supportive families rather than dark upbringings. I love the relationship between parents and their adult children. I hope I can be as good a parent and a daughter as the heroes and heroines in my books.


Here's James at his graduation and my other sons helping his celebrate. Two of these boys are my beloved stepsons and the younger three are mine. I wish I could spread the joy of this day to all families.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another One Pushed Out of the Nest


Only minutes ago I sent out the second book in my fantasy romance series with TRWP, The Tigers of Salubria. Tiger's Mate is the story of another legendary warrior and the heroine who tames him.

To Tame a Tiger will be released in May of next year so it's a little early to post any excerpts and this second book hasn't even been accepted yet. Wish me luck.

My next project is to edit the third book in my fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles, with Medallion Press. The first book, The Keepers of Sulbreth is being released in January, 2010. Can't wait for that one. I'm starting Beneath the Mountain after the weekend. Between now and then I'm working on promotion and catching up on my TBR pile. I currently am yearning for my latest Elizabeth George, Careless in Red.

Look for an undated website, a few extra blog posts, a little more presence on facebook and twitter and updates on Goodreads.

I feel like I'm on a mini vacation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Read, Read, Read......

My teaching job pays the bills and I would love to write full time. But I do love those teenagers. What I hate, as do many of my peers, is the endless paperwork and dare I say it, INSERVICE. So today was our first inservice day and our district scheduled a speaker for the entire day. Now we've had these before and let me say everyone was a waste of money. I've been dreading it since I received the schedule. I took some magazines to the auditorium and a few other little pieces of work to occupy myself. We all did. I never looked at it.
This speaker dazzled us. Finally a person talking about education and using common sense at the same time. A speaker with data compiled by Bill Gates Educational Programs and not any teachers' union or political animal. What did we learn? America is falling behind countries like China and India. Their students spend nearly twice the hours in school than ours. Our students are some of the best readers in the world in fourth grade and fall to around 50th by the time they're in high school. Why?
It's a complex problem but a lot of it is related to our schools inability to change. I've been teaching for over twenty years and it is really the same. New names are given the same old methods.
I'm also a parent and want my children to be getting all the education they can. How can I see that happen? Something I learned to day; push technology use in your school and encourage it in your home. And make sure they read. Read. Read. Read.
As a writer, the more readers the better. As a parent, the more readers at my house, the better.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Book is Featured


I'm so happy with my publisher, New Concepts today. My very first book with them, The Greater Good, is being featured on their front page this month. Even though it was released a while ago, this exposure will hopefully boost its sales and that of the other books in the series. You've heard me rant about ebook pirates and what they've cost me. I admit to being depressed and discouraged by seeing my books being stolen but this has really cheered me up.

If you've never read one of the books in my Solonian Series let me give you a short over view. The series takes places in a furturistic Earth after an asteroid strike has sent the humans survivors back to a state of pre-technology when every day is a struggle to live. Humans have settled in small isolated colonies one of which is Solonia. Solonia is a dying settlement. Dying because all their men have succumbed to a wasting disease and only the women remain. In desperation they reach out to a newly settled colony. The Realm is composed of adventurers and warriors determined to explore and civilize their new settlement. In each novel in this series, one couple is followed on their uneven, rocky road to love.

Please visit my website to learn more or my publisher to read the first chapter. I have great hopes for ramping up the interest in this series especially since the fourth book will be out early next year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fall Approaches


Every August since I've tried make my way as writer becomes a time of stress and pressure. My bill-paying job is teaching. That means in a few days I'll be back on the job from 6:45 am until around 3:15 Monday through Friday. It will cut into a huge chunk of my writing time. Not that I write much during those hours during the summer months. During those times I do all the other things that chew up time. Laundry, yard work, cooking, cleaning, shopping and blogging to name a few. Starting soon I'll be doing all those things in the evening and those hours are my writing hours.

You can't hear me, but I'm screaming, "I don't want to go back to school." Now I love my students but I want to stay home and write. I want to finish this WIP and sent it out. I want to work on book#3 of The Futhark Chronicles. I want to find a home for First Dragon. But like so many writers I don't have this choice. Not only does the mortgage need my income but so does the college tuition of two children. Let's not even talk about food. Yes I have to work so we have that stuff.

I set a goal to finish Tiger's Mate before returning to school and I'm getting to it a little early today and planning on working late. Maybe this will be the one to allow me early retirement.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Piracy Stabs Me in the Pocketbook


You may remember my blog earlier this summer about ebook pirates. This week, the proverbial crapola hit the fan. I received my royalty statement for the second quarter of 2009. My third book, the one appearing on all those pirate sites, had many fewer sales than the first two books in the series.

The first two books, The Greater Good and The Lesser Evil, held steady with downloads and had a minor upswing in print sales. But that third book, A Ruthless Good, had not near the download sales as the first two books did in the same time period.

I'll blame a little bit of the drop in sales on my cover. The cover misleads one into thinking A Ruthless Good is an erotic romance when it's actually only a sensual level of heat like the first two books and the forthcoming fourth book, One Good Woman. But I truly believe it was the durn pirates that blasted my sales to the bottom of the financial sea.

What should I do? I'm going to ramp up my promotion and try to find those honest readers who believe in paying for merchandize instead of stealing it. I'm working on a plan right now so stay tuned.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Where and When of Blogging

I go through fits and starts with my blogging. On rare occasions I've had periods when I believe I have something to say everyday. I have a friend who does say something entertaining almost every day and I find that pretty inspirational. Then there are times when I'm deep into a project and can't seem to think of one little tidbit worth sharing. I know readers of my blog don't expect to learn the secret to publishing success and how to win the lottery against all odds, but I try to say something of some value or at least an interesting read.
So when should one post something? I tend to avoid controversy on this blog so you won't see any great last word on ebook vs traditional, taxing the rich vs the middle class, or even paper or plastic.(I use cloth reusable bags)
I do blog when I have a new work to promote or some other writing milestone, but many days I search the echoing emptiness of my creative cortex and find a blinking cursor on a blank white page. And I've fallen into a habit of blogging about once per week on either Monday or Tuesday whether I have anything wonderfully original to say or not.
During the summer months, I blog from my home computer but soon I'll be back at school. I'd like to blog on my lunch hour from work. But should I? Use of my computer at school is strictly monitored. So I might not.
I'm sure most people who read my blog have their own blog going. How often do you write a new post and when do you do it?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Still Feels Good


Yesterday I finally received the print copies of my latest release, A Ruthless Good. I was busy doing some major cleaning in a spare bedroom and didn't even realize the books had been delivered. I took a break to get my mail and there were the boxes on the front porch. I didn't open them right away but went back to my cleaning.

Then when I was ready to sit down and get back to my WIP, I finally opened the boxes. There it was, my work in print again. A book in my hands, everyword my own. The dedication in the front and bio in the back, all my own creation. I have three books already released and four more under contract. Will it ever get old? Will the thrill of holding those books in my hands go away? I hope not. Even if I eventually sell over a hundred books, I hope I still get excited to open those boxes and lift out the first, perfect shining copy.

My romance books sell more in ebook format than they do in print and maybe someday all books will be ebooks. I don't think that will happen during my writing career. I expect to savor more boxes of books and the scent that wafts up when I cut away that packing tape. Now all I have to do is figure out what I'll do with this cover during booksignings. I'm not sure how it would go over in a library.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

To Group or Not to Group

This past week, a member of our local chapter of RWA decided not to join the national organization this year which of course means she can't belong to our local group, CPRW. It was kind of sad but also completely understandable. Marie contributed a lot to our group and was supportive to all of us. But there were economic factors to be considered.
Belonging to RWA isn't cheap. Marie has her first YA novel coming out in the near future so she wasn't really a romance writer. At some point she weighed her options and decided she could better spend that big chunk of dues money elsewhere. How many more of us will be making such tough decisions in the future?
I admit to considering it. Though I have three romance novels published with New Concepts Publishing, one contracted with them and another contracted with TWRP, I'm concentrating on my fantasy writing. Would I miss whatever I get from RWA if I left? I'm not sure but I don't think I would. Would I miss what I get from CPRW? Absolutely. Unconditional support, a fount of wisdom from fellow writers, and the companionship of those who know what being a writer is.
I also belong to Pennwriters and have found support there not only in the yearly conferences but in other functions as well as their member loop. In Pennwriters I also have a chance to spend time with other fantasy authors. Recently I joined with some other local Pennwriters in forming a group blog, The Susquehanna Writers, and planning some group book signings. And Pennwriters is cheap compared to RWA.
So yes, I've been tempted to leave RWA like my friend Marie but I can't give up CPRW. Yet. I could change my mind in the future but for now I'll stay. The same issues causing controversy with Romance Writers of America plagues many writers groups. What to do with digital publishing? Where is the line between published and not? Is the group meeting the needs of all their members?
I write because I enjoy it and of course I hope to be wildly successful someday. My day job has lots of issues, stresses, politics and frustrations. I don't need that same kind of thing in my writing career. I've avoided posting about the discussions on RWA and really have followed it as little as possible. I don't have the time or the interest. I never get involved in the contentious discussions that come up on Pennwriters every few months about epublishing versus traditional, agent versus unagented and all the things that go around over and over again. I don't even read the posts when the arguments start.
I want to be a writer. I want to smooze with other writers. I want to help my colleagues if I can and know I can go to them for help. Mostly I just want to write the best book I can write.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Weak Week

I'm not getting much done on my writing this week, but I did get that wallpaper removed last week as I promised myself I would. And it was even worse than I'd feared. Twenty hours of frustrating work revealed a wall that should never have been exposed to the light of day. Read more about how that experience related to my writing life at this blog post. Fortunately, my husband does commercial and residential painting. Using a many step process, he somehow made those walls look like a new room. Still with all the help I've been giving him, I haven't done much writing. I'm about 10K into rewrites on Tiger's Mate, but I'm so tired in the evenings I can't seem to get much done.
And (my next excuse) my children's softball and baseball seasons are coming to a close and taking up a lot of time. They have been exciting games though.
I'm using the same excuse for not getting my website updated. I did work out though. My daughter helps me keep at that as she works out in anticipation of the fall field hockey season.
Vacation plans are looking more and more unlikely to come together as the summer progresses. If you want to know how the state budge impasse affects people like, I have two sons in college this fall and their tuition is going up. No one knows how much yet, but Penn State isn't getting any money apparently and it could be up to a 10% increase in tuition. There goes summer vacation for us. The college has to send their bills out this week at the latest so they're guessing how much they need to increase since they don't know what they're getting from the state. They're guessing at the upper end of needed increase. No surprise.
So I better get back to writing. Even my little bit of writing income is needed to help this year. If only that movie deal would come through. LOL

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day Late a Little Short

Didn't quite get all those goals this week. I only missed one though. I didn't get the wall paper done or the fence fixed, but I have a good reason. My husband was home. Now how does that make sense? If you knew my husband, you would know it is impossible to start such a project with him around. He really is handyman-challenged. His patience is less than zero. So this week, I'm putting that goal back on my agenda.
#1. I am going to remove that wall paper.
#2. I'm going to work out no less than four days.
#3. I'm do a little update on my webside.
#4. I'm going to start working on Tiger's Mate, book 2 in the series I have started with TWRP/

I've put my writing goal last this week because I must get that wall paper completed. I usually don't do this, but this week I must. Also, I've already met my June goals for CPRW. Our groups sets these for each month and makes them public. It's a great way to benefit from that peer pressure. I did't make mine in May for the first time this year. I did much better this past month thanks to the encouragement I received here. How important to you think goal-setting is to your writing and in other aspects of your life?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Book Signings: Victory or Crash and Burn?


Tomorrow I'll be going to my fourth ever booksigning. Currently only three of my books are in published and I'm still waiting on my author copies of one of those. So I'll only have two books available for this signing, The Greater Good and The Lesser Evil. A Ruthless Good is also out in print, but I haven't received any copies yet.

This is my first book signing involving my fellow Pennwriters and at an outdoor venue. I'm quite excited about the expected crowd and hopeful I'll see better sales than at my previous signings. So today I'm packing my 'stuff' with cautious optimism. I'm driving an hour and a half to reach the farmers' market in Hellertown, PA. At the least, I would like to earn my gas money back and hand out lots of promotion material.

I'm using the boxes my sons brought home from their college bookstore orders. The sturdy cardboard boxes were constructed to hold textbooks and have handles so they're perfect. But I have many more things to organize and stow in some handy-dandy carry baskets. I have some bookplates a friend in CPRW had made for me. I have the beaded bookthongs I designed and made myself. I sell them for four dollar apeice or give them away with a book purchase. It's a good deal. Then I have postcards/book markers from Vista print with my book covers and website information on front and back. Of course, I need my pens and my sales record book. Then is my little tin with mints in, not chocolate since we're outside, that I'll sit out if there's room on the table. I'm gathering one and five dollar bills from my husband and children so I have change to give to all those happy customers.

I'll pack a bottle of water or two and some Rolaids for my heartburn. It always shows up at these events. What am I forgetting? What clever ideas will I learn from my fellow authors as they do their brand of promotion? Any suggestions on what else I might need?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Finally!


I accomplished one of my goals for this week. I had to share the picture. I really do love to cross-stitch but it has taken a second place to my writing. I've been working on this particular project for nearly two years. Now I did cross-stitch a few book markers during the same time. And I crocheted two afghans also.

Right now, my crafting project is an afghan for my son starting Penn State in the fall. I made one for all my kids in their college colors when they left home. Something of mom to keep them warm on a cold winter's night. LOL.

So here's my cross-stitch, the protector of small children fairy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Peer Pressure

I have twenty-four hectic hours to think about my goals for this week. Some are things I must do so there's extra incentive to get them done. A few depend on the weather so I might have to provide alternatives.
I like to put my writing goals first and all the other things second though that's not always the priority they fall realistically. By putting them first I can dream I'm a full time writer.

#1. I'm going to finish the artwork questionnaire for One Good Woman, Book Four in The Solonian Chronicles that I just contracted with New Concepts Publishing.
#2. I'm going to start work on Tiger's Mate, the second book I hope to contract with The Wild Rose Press. It follows the book I have with them, To Tame a Tiger.
#3. I'm going remove the wallpaper from my bedroom walls OR I'm going to put up two new sections of fence around my pool. Whichever the weather allows.
#4. I'm going to finish the cross stitch I've been working on over a year and take it to Michaels to get it framed.
#5. I'm going to vacuum and wash my car until it looks as good as it can look.

I love hearing how other writers set their goals. Add yours to my list and we'll help each other get them done.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shoot, Score, Goal!

A very busy week has passed since I set my goals last week. The good news is I scored a 4/5 on completing them.
I did finish Beneath the Mountain, book #4 in The Futhark Chronicles from Medallion Press. I did have a lovely over night visit with my mother where we stayed up too late talking and drank too much coffee.
I did work on that last, weedy, messy flowerbed. Looks better and I didn't get any more poison on my legs. Yippee.
I did try a new wine, well, a new Zinfandel. Isn't my favorite but the good news is I drank most of it anyway so I'll splurge for another new one this week sometime.
My lone failure was in working out five days out of seven. I only managed three though I could count the two hours I spent in the pool as a fourth. I used all kinds of muscles to keep my balance on that raft. Okay, it was only three workouts.
I'm going to wait until tomorrow to set my writing goals for next week. I have to thing which project I'm going to do next. In the meantime, I always celebrate finishing a book by reading something from my TBR pile that I've been putting off because I want to read it too much. Big decision. I have about four of them sitting there.
Another thing I always do after finishing a book is clean up my writing area. It's not too messy right now, but I can't really see any desktop either. So while that fourth book is transferring from my AlphaSmart to my computer, I'm going to shove some papers around. Thanks to my friends for the encouragement to reach my goals.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back to Goal Setting

For a while this spring, I was all about goal setting. Writing them down and posting them here really helped me stay on track. It's like a public confessional. So I'm going to do it this week because I really need to get back on track.

#1. I'm going to finish 'Beneath the Mountain,' book three in The Futhark Chronicles from Medallion press.

#2. I'm going to do an overnight visit with my mother who lives about 2 hours away and do it without guilt for all the work I'm leaving behind at home.

#3. I am going to finish the one last flower bed that I haven't weeded and tan-barked yet this year even though it's the biggest messiest one.

#4. I'm going to work out at least 5 days out of seven.

#5. I am going to try a new wine this week. Don't know what kind yet but I'm going to browse for it. (I won't drink the whole bottle in one night)

That's enough goals to get me started this week. I hope my friends put some pressure on me to stay on top of this. Hope you all have writing buddies who do that for you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Promotion Dollars

I was quite excited this week when I googled my forthcoming book from Medallion Press, The Keepers of Sulbreth, and found the retail catalog they send to booksellers online. I've heard they do a great job with it from someone who works in a bookstore. On my books page in the publication, the promotion my publisher will do for the book was listed. Among the venues listed were the online and print editions of Publishers Weekly. There were a few more places where they will promote my book upon its release. How thrilling for me.
My romances are published by wonderful small publishers who deal mainly in ebooks. All the cost of promotion are my own. With no advance how do I decide how much I should spend on promotion? This was especially true with the very first ebook I had published. I didn't know if my royalties would be in the thousands or the single digits. Yet if I didn't do any thing for promotion, I was assured of low sales numbers. And where could I turn for guidance? Even fellow authors are reluctant to talk about numbers when it comes to expenditures and profits.
Another difficulty is how to measure the effectiveness of my dollars spent. Sure I can check the hits to my website that come directly from a site where I'm doing promotion, but do those hits translate into sales? So far I've refrained from buying ads in major romance magazines like The Romantic Times. But with my first fantasy novel coming out next January, I'm tempted to join fellow authors in an ad appearing in the Realms of Fantasy magazine. Should I or shouldn't I?
It's a dilemma for sure. I wonder how authors in my situation decide what works, what doesn't and how do they decide how much to spend?

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Ruthless Good in Print


Today my third futuristic romance from New Concepts Publishing, A Ruthless Good, is available in print. I know NCP sells more ebooks than print, but it is so cool to hold them in your hands. Also, I'll have another book to sell at booksignings.
A Ruthless Good continues the saga of the Solonians and the Realm warriors as they overcome hardships in a futuristic Earth after an asteroid has destroyed most of the world's civilizations. Claudia Turan, introduced in The Lesser Evil as the hero's warrior sister, has her own story in this latest book. Claudia does things her own way and it only makes sense she'd find her man by discovering an entirely new colony. And what a man he is!
In this book, earlier characters such as Juston Steele, Brady Gellot and Cara appear to help Claudia find her dream. I hope you can stop by and visit my website or better, yet, stop by my publisher and read an excerpt.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What I Meant to Say

I've been trying for the last three days to finish reading over the final galleys for To Tame a Tiger. Why just trying? I made an entire list of things to describe the chaos of my life but Vicki Smith does it so much better than I. I think she's been living my life. (Isn't there a country song about that?)
Anyway, hop over to Vicki's blog and see all my excuses. But I did finish the galleys and sent the changes back to my lovely editor. What a relief. Now I can get back to writing, Beneath the Mountain, Book Four of The Futhark Chronicles.
Now as to what I wish I was doing this week visit my blog friend, Lori Myers, over at The Susquehanna Writers.
I really hope I have a vacation to write about this summer. But with two in college this fall, it ain't lookin good.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Working out or Working it Out?

I blogged over at The Susquehanna Writers yesterday about my time management during the summer months and how it stinks. One thing I do manage better in the warm months is working out. I love to be outside. When I have to be on the treadmill instead of on the road or the track, I have to have music or the TV on to keep my going.
Not so outside. All I need is one sticky plot point. Today it took me fifty minutes to work it out. Not only did I figure out the dialogue, but I put some scenes in order in my head. Now I know exactly what happens next. So my heart and legs got maxed out and I'm ready to pound out more mileage on the keyboard.
Is there an activity you do when you're stuck? What mindless activity provides the distraction you need for your creative side to start producing?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Names to Grab You

Have you ever read a book where the name of the characters stuck in your head long after you finished the novel? Like hearing a song on the radio in the morning and then carrying it in your head all day long even when you try to forget it. Naming a character can be very important for making a lasting impression with readers. I don't know about other authors, but I brood over characters names each time I start a new book. Especially in fantasy fiction, the name of a character should inspire an image of who and what that person is.
For instance, if the name of a character is Morag, the reader isn't going to be expecting this person to be the hero of the tale. Morag, sometimes spelled Mhorag, is a monster in Scottish folklore. In my fantasy series coming from Medallion Press, I've used many names from folklore and mythology for characters and beasts. Bayard is the war horse ridden by the male protagonist in The Chronicles of Futhark. In folklore tales of medieval France and Italy, Bayard is the name often given to Charlemagne's immortal horse. Bayard was faster than a normal horse and perhaps possessed of other magical abilities. Though the horse in my book isn't enchanted in any way, he is quite special.
A Gorgon is a monster for a variety of monsters from Greek mythology and perhaps with some Roman influence. I changed the name a little and endowed one of my monsters with the moniker of 'gordragon.' It's a rather enemy.
As a reader, do you assume certain images from a character's name? As a writer, do you spend long hours considering names for all the persons and creatures appearing in your works? Has a particularly clever name used in a literary work made a lasting impression?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now

As promised, Verizon delivered my new router today. It was just like the other big monster that brings my FIOS TV and high speed internet to brillant light all over my home. It was even easy to replace. So I'm back online and feel a great deal of relief. I can check in on my yahoo groups, visit facebook and stop in to tweeter. Life is as it should be again.
I was worried about promotion and all that daily stuff I do to 'keep my name' out there. But guess what? My web site had the average number of hits it always does. I don't know what to think about that.
In the meantime, my first fantasy novel, The Keepers of Sulbreth, is available for preorder at Amazon. Even if you don't want to preorder, I would appreciate a few tags. I'm working on book#3 in that series, tentative title, Beneath the Mountain. The second book, Beyond the Gate, is already contracted though I don't have a release date for it. Book #4 will be the final. It is an epic fantasy so it will have an epic battle for survival. Enough said.
Nice to hear everyone again. Can you hear me now?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Back in the Day

I had comitted myself to doing a lot of promotion this weekend including updating my website. I only work on my website from my desktop. I also had some big plans of designing some business card size promotion for pre-ordering The Keepers of Sulbreth, now that it is on Amazon. I vowed to visit all my usual blog haunts everyday and perhaps discover a few more.
Well, Thursday my daughter and I were watching a Lifetime movie on demand, one of Nora's, while I visited some blogs, and Kapow! The ondemand movie went off and so did my internet. I thought it was minor clitch but after checking my desktop and my son's laptop I discovered we had no internet. Two hours later, three times getting cutoff, Verizon told me my router took a fatal dive. I was not happy. They promised to sent one right away but with the holiday that means I won't get it until Tuesday.
So here I am at Borders, checking my mail, doing a quick blog and thinking I'm wasting an entire weekend of promotional time. So, quite dangerously, I started thinking. Is the internet all there is to promotion? Is that all I can do? Isn't there more to promotion than blogging, yahoo groups and facebook/twitter? While at Borders, I picked up the newest copy of Realms of Fantasy. It's filled with glossy book ads. I know it can be expensive, but many authors use it to promote their fantasy and science fiction books. Other magazines such as Romantic Times offer another expensive venue for advertising. So I wonder, back in the day, before the internet, how did beginning authors get the word out about their books? I know some newspapers will run a small blurb, but what else it out there?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Day and Age?

How long has it been since I had to visit the post office and shell out over ten dollars for postage? How long since I had to stand in line with my white envelopes, two partials, one full, and wait for my turn to put them on the scale?
How long until the publisher receives them? How long until I get a response?
Two days ago, I replaced my ink cartridge once, opened a new ream of paper and spent a frustrating hour addressing envelopes, lining up the partials just right, and then stuffing a full 400 page manuscript in the Tyvek envelope and fuming.
One of the publishers I submitted to allowed me to do it online. Every other NY publisher I considered requested three chapters by mail and one wanted the entire thing for a first look. And to save me money (laughing without humor) they're all going to shred my manscript if they don't want it. I only had to enclose a business-sized stamped envelope for them to send back their rejection. My 500+ pages will be recycled. Do they think when they send it back ot me I throw it out? Don't they know I'll send the same pages onto to the next editor on my list of hopes and dreams? Unless of course they spill their coffee on it.
New York is finally on the ebook bandwagon, but when are they going to get on the paperless submission train? When are they going to set up an automatic response system so I know they received my novel without including a little postcard? Isn't one press of a key to delete a rejection easier than shredding a pound of paper?
I know many agents have started to go the online route but so many of the big publishing houses have embraced this convenient and cheap method of looking at new material. Any thoughts on when they will learn?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Take a Breath

I sent those pesky edits off Thursday evening and can now take a breather. If I could afford an expensive bottle of wine, I would celebrate and bask in the peace of no current deadline. But I can't afford an expensive bottle so I'm having an ice coffee instead.
The knife pricking my peace is related to that lack of deadline. I have three books published, three contracted for publication within the next year, one with an editor considering an offer of an contract, but I'm still working the day job. I haven't 'made' it as a writer. At least not made it enough to make it my full time job.
I'm stuck in a curious and exhausting limbo at the moment. I work more than forty hours a week at the job that pays the bills and then I try to put in another forty a week as a writer. Last year, I wrote three new novels and reworked one old one. I'm tired. Tired of staying up to all hours of the night, tired of not getting to read all those lovely books by my favorite authors, tired of the weeds in my flower beds, tired of missing my running workouts, and tired of going to work every morning when I want to sit at my writing desk with a cup of coffee.
I want the big contract. The one that allows me to work only my writing job and not starve. The one that helps with college tuition for the kiddies. The one that sends my scurrying to my accountant on how best to invest it.
So tonight, even though I'd promised myself a weekend off, I'm preparing query letters to all those 'big' fantasy publishers and hoping. This is my best book ever. This is the one they will want. This is the one the SciFi channel will make a movie about. Maybe I don't feel so tired after all.
I know a few authors who are able to make it their full time endeavor. How wonderful for them. I know more authors who struggle along like I am. What would you do if you could write full time? Fresh coffee all day long? A set work schedule or make it up as you go along each day? Do you think you could keep your fingers on the keyboard for hours each day? Would you love it or would you get lonely?
I would like the chance to find out how I would handle writing when and for how long I wanted.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Diving In Again

I'm about to say good bye for another week or more. I received my first edits back from my editor for To Tame a Tiger. She said it's all pretty good and not much needs done, but it's still a 104,000 word book that has to be read slowly and carefully. So I might not be blogging for a little while.
On some other good news, I queried my editor at NCP about One Good Woman last night and she said 'sure, send it.' A response in less than 24 hours. You gotta love that. Andrea is so nice. She's usually very efficient also, so hopefully I hear back on that within a few months.
So I'm going to select a movie to put on in the background and then dive right in to breach once more. I hope to surface by the end of next weekend.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Victory









It's done! I completed One Good Woman and have it ready to send to my publisher, New Concepts Publishing, as soon as they tell me they want it. This fourth and last book in The Solonian Chronicles is perhaps the most uplifting and a perfect ending to the series. When I wrote The Greater Good, the first book in this series, I hoped it would be the first in a series if I ever found a publisher. The Lesser Evil flew off the keyboard while I waited to hear about my submission. A Ruthless Good was a story that had to be told. It made the world of Solonia a more complete world and also answered some historical questions. Favorite characters make appearances in many of the books and fans should have no trouble guessing that Brady Gellot and Cara search for happiness and a better world in the One Good Woman.

I'm back to working on the third book set in the fantasy world of Futhark. I know I might have to interrupt it to work on edits for To Tame a Tiger, but I have to keep busy. I'm also busy submitting my newest fantasy manuscript, First Dragon, to a number of publishers. I'm excited about that, but I dread the wait.


Thanks for all the encouragement as I worked so hard on this. Back to watching my Supernatural before I hit the Alphasmart and work on Beneath the Mountain.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Like an Arrow

I haven't updated this blog for almost two weeks. It wasn't lazinees or distraction from my writing career. It was the opposite. I'm nearly finished with my last rewrites and edits on One Good Woman, the fourth book in my The Chronicles of Solonia series that I have with New Concepts Publishing. I'm down to redoing the last three chapters which do need to have a number of things added, some scenes lenghtened and other plot points clarified so there are no lose ends. This book in the last in that series and I believe my loyal readers will find it very satisfying. But back to my recent neglect of my blog and even visiting the blogs of my friends.
When I'm closing in on the finish to a book, I tend to get completely focused on it. I want to work on it 24/7 until I type in The End. That's what I've been doing with every hour and minute I could squeeze out of the last few days. I've told my children they're on their own for more than one meal over the past seven days. I did feel a little guilty so today I baked some fish and made bread, but it wasn't exactly gourmet dining. So I''m going back to my book right now and work until my fingers start to bleed and my eyes dry out.
How about you? Do you ever get so focused on your WIP you can't think about anything else?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Hard Week's Work


Setting my weekly goals is really helping me stay on task. I did finish those edits for Medallion and send them back for The Keepers of Sulbreth. I had a wonderful editor who gently led me through the process.

I did go see the kids play their sports. Some excitement, some boredom and even a little sunshine instead of bitter rain.

I did some promotion on my yahoo groups. Does anyone know if that really does anything for sales or directing people to a blog or website?

I visited my favorite blogs most days. I do really enjoy that. It provides a real feeling of connection when I'm sitting at my chaos-plagued writer's desk and yearn for a gallon-sized goblet of wine.
Today I actually planted some ground cover around the maple tree in my front yard and squirted a little chemical death on a few stubborn thistles determined to crowded into my flowerbeds.
I'm calling last week a success in the goal department. I have to keep it going so forgive me if they're all starting to sound the same.
#1 - Get back to editing 'One Good Woman.' Yes, I've decided on a title for the fourth book in the Solonian Chronicles. I'm nearly half way as I hoped to be this month despite the pause to work on The Keepers of Sulbreth.
#2- Clean up my writing desk and organize my expense list and income spread sheet.
#3-I'm going to make my writer's meeting next Saturday, someway, somehow.
#4-I'm going to make some changes on my website. I think I have some deadend pages. Duh.
#5-I'm going to do a little more outside work. No promises on how much, just SOME.

Now #1 might have to be adjusted if I get my manuscript back from The Wild Rose Press to do first edits on To Tame a Tiger.
Thanks for all the support over the past two weeks. I'm going for number three.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Cover


I'm still working on my edits for Book#4 in The Solonian Chronicles, but I have to do a small interrupt here to show off my new cover for To Tame a Tiger coming soon from The Wild Rose Press.
Isn't it lovely? This fantasy romance is hopefully the first in a series and if all the covers are so wonderful, I'll be thrilled.
Now back to my weekly chores with one added:
Chore#FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT: meet 7 day deadline for Medallion on edits for The Keepers of Sulbreth.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Are the Chores Done Yet?

I've been very busy trying to complete my chore list. How did I do? Well, let's see. I visited my mother, did my Easter shopping, watched my children at their athletic events, worked hard on edits, and even updated my website. I didn't do the outside work. My excuse. It's so darn cold and 'unspring-like here in PA. I did do some cleanup in the garage. Does that count? I didn't sleep in every day until eight but I made at least seven each day so I'm happy with that. As far as drinking coffee, I took some of the advice I received from friends on Twitter. I sent for some cold-brewed coffee concentrate and I'm going to try it. It's supposed to have 67% less acid than hot brewed coffee. If it works, I'm going to buy the system. So I met that goal though the final results aren't in until I actually drink it.
Listing my chores helped me stay focused on doing them. I tend to work on only one thing at a time instead of trying to juggle all the balls at the same time. I don't like to juggle, but this week I did it and am pleased with what I accomplished. On the other hand, if I had skipped juggling I might have those edits nearly completed.
So my chore list for this week is shorter.
I have an athletic event to attend each of the next six days starting later today.
#1 chore-go watch the children
#2 chore-visit blogs and comment every day
#3 chore-do some promotion on the multiple yahoo groups I belong to
#4 chore-keep working on those edits
#5 chore-stop worrying about all the yard work I'm not getting done
If you have a chance, check out my updated website. It makes me feel like something I did this week for my writing actually mattered if my hits go up. LOL
http://www.susankelleyauthor.com

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On My Days Off

Like so many of you, the Easter weekend comes with a few extra days off that dreaded day job. That job that pays the bills but takes up time that I'd rather spend writing. Now I like my bill-paying job, but I could retire on one day's notice if I didn't need the money.
When I have a few days off though, I fill them with all kinds of plans. In my part of the world(PA), the weather has been miserable. Wind, bone chilling cold, and really, really no fun to work outside. I have a country home with lots of flower beds and landscaping challenges. There's rumor our day time temperatures might climb into the sixties.
Chore#1: I'm going to do some yard work.

This weekend is Easter. Even though my children are older now, they still expect things in their Easter baskets. We've never been the chocolate bunny kind of family. Little gifts usually grace their baskets with a few peanut butter eggs and some gum and a new tooth brush. And I still haven't bought a ham for dinner or any of the other goodies to have a big sit down family feast.
Chore#2: I have to do some shopping.

My dear 81 year old mother lifts a couple of hours away. I try to visit her once a month, but it's been nearly two months since last I saw her. Talking on the phone isn't the same. I have to use one of my days off to visit her.
Chore#3: Visit my mother.

My third son is a senior in high school and he has a big track invitational this weekend. My daughter plays softball for her high school and has a game against her arch rival and another game that should be competitive.
Chore#4: I'm going to watch my kids play.

I'm deep into edits on Book#4 of The Solonian Chronicles. I have no title yet, but it continues the saga of the futuristic romance adventures of some characters introduced in The Greater Good, The Lesser Evil, and A Ruthless Good. I'm about a sixth of the way done after only one week. Surely with a few days off, I'll get a lot more done.
Chore#5: Continue Edits on unnamed book

I swear I'm going to update my website. I promise. I am determined.
Chore#6: I WILL update my website.

Those of you that know me know I love my coffee but for the last two years, it's been giving me heart burn. I miss my coffee so much. Well a few of my friends on twitter suggested something called a 'cold-brewed coffee system.' I'm going to hunt one down.
Chore#7: I'm going to figure out a way to drink coffee again.

My last chore is something I've been looking forward to for weeks. I've been counting the days until this vacation so I can sleep in later than 5:30 am.
Chore#8: I'm going to sleep in until 8:00 each day.

I hope everyone has some time off. I didn't leave any room for reading, baking or surfing the net. I'm going to focus on the eight things above and hopefully when I go back to the 'day job' next week, I'll be feeling very proud of myself. Do you have plans for the weekend? Will you rest or try to squeeze so many things in you end up more tired than when you started?

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Process

All writers have their own process that carries them from idea to finished manuscript. I've read many blogs and sat through conference workshops about plotting or writing on the fly(pantsters) and I think I don't fit into either category. I used to write an outline but found I seldom followed it beyond the first two or three chapters. Now I guess I'm mostly a pantster. I roll the idea for a book around in my head for a while, usually coming up with the conflict and the resolution before I even figure out my characters. Then when I have that figured out, I sit down with my book bible.
My book bible is an inexpensive journal that I buy at a discount store. I usually have a few blank ones on hand. If a book is part of a series or set in the same world as another book, it goes in the same bible as the previous book. That book will have facts about the fantasy world, things like money, climate, politics, religious beliefs and even a map. It can be very important to keep east and west straight as well as keeping perspective on distances and other geographic items.
In the bible, I'll give each of my main characters their own page and jot down physical details as well as some emotional and historical things of interest. Then I'm use another few pages for secondary characters and antagonists. If the world is magic, I might use a page to describe those elements so I don't confuse them with a previous book. The bible stays beside my keyboard whenever I'm working on that book for reference and in case I need to add something.
Now I'm ready to write. I always know where to start and I know the ending. It's a matter of filling in that middle and making sure it doesn't sag anywhere along the way.
I write that first draft as quickly as ideas and time allows, and it IS rough. Often I find I needed to add something to chapter three to set up what happens in chapter ten. Or I decide I don't want to give away a plot point in chapter five so I can create more suspense until more is revealed in chapter fifteen. I jot down notes of changes as I go. So I type the mess up and print it off. Viola, I have a very detailed outline.
My next step may sound like it takes a long time but it goes quicker than that first rough draft. Using that first mess as a guide, I completely retype the book. All the big things, plot holes, loose ends, etc, get the attention they need. It's also the time I can check for all those dang words I tend to overuse as well as find ways to vary my sentence structure. Since I already know what I want to say, I find the words to show the action instead of telling it.
All this may sound time consuming, but it works for me. I can usually do my final draft of a 100,000 word novel in about eight weeks using this method. The first draft is likely to take up to 12 weeks. With each book I polish this way I get a little faster.
The point of this blog is not to convince people to write my way. I only want to explain one way that happens to work for me. I actually started this method after reading something Judith McNaughton had written about her method. Again not comparing my work to hers, LOL. I know many of us get frustrated when doing edits or trying to polish the same book several times. My advice is to experiment with different processes and find the one that is comfortable and works for you. I know some writers who spew out a first draft that is nearly error free. I envy them but I don't try to write like them. This works for me. What works for you? And have you tried different methods?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Decision Made

After a few days of dithering around, I'm taking some advice from friends and starting on the project I know is the right one to do. I've sent my 'dragon fantasy' out to a few more agents and made a list for the third, or is it fourth, round should all these choices reject me.
Tonight I'm pulling out the rough draft of my fourth book in The Solonian Chronicles, as yet unnamed, and getting to work making it saleable. I actually think it's a stronger story than the third book in that series, A Ruthless Good, though I won't know until I'm done. It is the last book I'm writing set in Solonia, the future Earth, but I have another series I hope to sell to New Concepts after this one. I only need about ten more hours each day so I can get to that.
I wanted to thank all my friends who gave me suggestions on what to dig into next. It's causing me some stress to have so many projects needing my attention. If my writing ever needed me to quit my day job, it is right now. However, letting go of that paycheck would mean I'd be writing in a tent and eating mac and cheese out of the book for dinner every night like I did my senior year in college. Still have some trouble looking at that stuff even though my kids like it.
I'm finding some excitement in getting this book(geez, I really need a name for it) finished. I do love my characters. My heroine is especially complicated and as the story unfolds, my hero turns out to have many layers beneath his seeming perfection.
I'll update the progress of the last Solonian Chronicle periodically and maybe even think of a title.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another One Down

I've set some challenging goals for myself this year, but I'm having some trouble deciding the order in which I should attack them. Two major goals have already earned the 'finished' moniker and now I'm taking a day to decide what to work on next.
To Tame a Tiger finally has found a home with TWRP. I'm thrilled about that. That company is super organized and constantly striving to improve everything about themselves from their customer service and what they do for their authors.
The second book in my fantasy series with Medallion Press, Beyond the Gate, is finally traversing cyper space to their docket with the expected edits completed. In the past three weeks I cut nearly three thousand words to make the writing tighter and do more showing and less telling. I think it's the best book I've ever written to this point.
Now what should I do next? The choices are varied and I want to have them all done before the end of 2009. Here are my choices in no particular order.
Book three of my fantasy series with Medallion Press, Beneath the Mountain, is about half completed. I had to set it aside to work on other projects. This is the thing I most 'want' to work on but it's also the one I probably have the least need to get right on. My editor at Medallion probably won't look at it until fall at the earliest as we work on getting the first book ready for its January, 2010 release.
Book four in my Solonian Chronicles with New Concepts Publishing is finished. That is the first rough copy is done. Unlike some of my writer friends, my first copy always needs tons of work. This is probably the one I should get right on because I'm sure they'll work to get it out as soon as possible since it's another book in a successful series. This is the last book in that series and I'll probably be pitching another series to them next fall. But for some reason, I'm feeling little inspiration to get started on this, perhaps because I know I have to major revisions to the first part of it.
My 'Tigers of Salubria series,(I hope it ends up being a series with TRWP) also has a second and third book completed and waiting for revisions. I hesitate to start work on that because I don't know how quickly TRWP press moves on looking at a second book when I don't even have a release date for the first one.
The last option is my newest fantasy book, First Dragon, that I completed a few months ago. I've been querying agents who like my writing and give my kind words but no contract. They want urban fantasy not sword and sorcery type. They think they can't sell it. So after months of frustration with those replies, I'm going to try and find a home for it on my own. Wish me luck.
Those are all my choices. I'm giving myself today to decide. Suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Where Have All the Hours Gone

So many of us are juggling jobs, kids, household chores and still daring to call our 'real' job as being a writing professional. Despite my determination to be an author, in high school and college, my academic strength was math and science. And I have to say when looking at all those jobs I listed above, the numbers just don't add up.
Let's start with a big time drain, that dreaded day job. Even if you love that job, it interfers with your writing time. Let's give that job at least ten hours if it's full time. An hour to get ready, half hour to get there, eight hours on the job and another half an hour home. So, 10.
Now, you probably have to spend at the least another hour in the morning getting the kids ready for school or the sitter and if they're very young, get them breakfast. So now the total is 11.
Once home from work you have a variety of things to do. Fix dinner, dishes, perhaps laundry, help the kiddies with homework or spend some good family time with them. If they're older, you may be spending hours at athletic endeavors, dance practice, music lessons or just on the road as the family taxi service. This is going to take no less than three hours and likely more. 14
The evening would be deeply upon you by now and you might think you have time to do some promotion, but it's time to put the kids to bed, read the little ones a story and do that softball uniform for the older one she has it clean for tomorrow. 15
Finally the kids are in the bed, the spouse asleep in front of a basketball game on the telly, and you can sit down in front of your computer. You visit a few blogs and update your status on facebook and twitter. Finally you open up your WIP and read the last few pages you wrote the day before. Probably it was only two pages at the most. You gather up the threads of your plot and finally find the emotion you want to instill in your prose when your jaw cracks with a might yawn. Three more hours so you're at 18.
You fall into bed and get up at 5:30 am to start all over the next day. You glance at the morning paper and see a health article on the minimum requirement for a good night's sleep is seven and you've been averaging five and a half to six. Geez, who didn't know that?
As a former math whiz, I know I don't have enough hours in the day to be all I want to be. But I won't give up and neither should you. There are days when I want to put it all aside because I have so many other things I could fill those precious couple of hours I spend at the keyboard. But I don't. I squeeze in every minute I can including writing this post while my favorite show, Supernatural is playing. When it's over I'm going to get back to the edits on Beyond the Gate, the second book in my fantasy series from Medallion Press. After I do at least twenty pages, I'll go get my six hours of sleep for the night. How many hours do you average?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My To Do List

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me on my to do list this past week. I nearly made it.
First the things I didn't accomplished. I failed at the squidoo page. Seems like it was a simple thing to do, but I didn't quite get it done. Sorry to all my friends whose blogs I didn't visit despite the best of intentions. Third failure was more personal as I skipped the treadmill twice.
I did manage everything else. It's such a relief to have my edits on To Tame a Tiger, done and off to TRWP along with all the other paper work. So it was a good week though very busy with long hours. I cut over 1000 words from Tiger without deleting any scenes. Hopefully I cut the right ones.
This week I'll be working hard on edits for Beyond the Gate, the second book in my series with Medallion Press. BTG is the second book in The Chronicles of Futhark and takes up the epic fantasy adventure in the moment following the end of the first novel, The Keepers of Sulbreth.
I also made a new list and some of it involves promoting A Ruthless Good. I've fallen behind in that.
So I'm going to go visit some blogs and then get to those edits.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What I Will and Won't Do This Week

I have so much stuff piled up on my desk there's barely room for my coffee. I keep writing reminders, lists, and stacking things into meaningly piles. I need to catch up, but I also need to finish up some other things. So I writing a public list reminder to myself of what I will accomplish this week and what things I will set aside until later.
#1. I will finish the edits on To Tame A Tiger for The Wild Rose Press.
#2. I won't waste any more energy or emotion complaining about my books being on all those pirate sites for free download.( But it makes me so mad).
#3. I will take the time and do the paperwork to join PAN.
#4. I will set up my squidoo page.
#5. I won't start reading the third book in Brent Weeks' shadow series because I can't seem to put his books down once I start.
#6. I will send all that paperwork off the TWRP and join their yahoo groups.
#7. I won't visit Facebook twenty times a night to see what interesting things my friends are up to.
#8. I will visit all my favorite blogs once a day and leave comments. They're so funny and informative.
#9. I will not under any circumstances visit Borders or any other bookstore this week including and not limited to online booksellers.
#10. I will get on the treadmill each day and run instead of walking no matter how many other things I can think of that I need to do.

I intend to stick to this list and complete all ten by this time next week. Wish me luck.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Sweet, Sweet Week

Where to start. The past seven days have been a whirlwind for me. On Monday, I was still fuming about the pirates stealing my three futuristic romances. I won't use all the words to describe them I've used in conversation when I discovered it. I did very little writing last weekend. Anger is not an emotion that lends itself to creativity. At least not for me.
But Tuesday morning I woke up at 4:30 in the morning and knew the path I needed my plot to take as I navigated my characters through their dark moment. And I still remembered it when I woke up again an hour later.
That was the start of a lot of good things. Checking my fantasy publisher, Medallion Press, in a moment of procrastination, I discovered my book cover had finally been put up on their website along with a blurb. It's so beautiful as you can see from the picture alongside this post. The blurb isn't the one I wrote and I wouldn't call it entirely accurate, but it's there. Here's the link if you'd like to read it.
http://www.medallionpress.com/blurbs/sulbreth.html

Later that same night, I discovered the book cover for my newest futuristic romanc release, A Ruthless Good, is on a list over at Goodreads for the hottest erotica cover. Now remember I was a bit distraught because my book isn't erotica and feared it would turn away my ususal readers or mislead new readers. But I'm not silly enough to cry about free publicity. Please go vote if you will.
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/531.Hottest_Romance_Erotica_Covers

As if the good fates hadn't smiled on me enough, the very next day I received an offer of a contract for a fantasy romance from The Wild Rose Press. I've heard so many wonderful things about this publisher, I can't wait to have my book in their lineup. To Tame a Tiger is the novel I had tied up in that bankruptcy mess with Triskelion even though they never published it. I was so afraid it would never see the light of a readers book light.
Continuing on my quest to make this one of the best weeks of my writing career, this morning I finished the first draft of my fourth book in The Solonian Chronicles, the futuristic romance series I have with New Concepts Publishing. This book is the last in the series that started with The Greater Good, The Lesser Evil and A Ruthless Good. I haven't titled this one yet and will tell you more about it later when and if I get a contract.
So I've met my writing goals for Febuary, snagged that new contract and had the joy of seeing that fantasy book up before the world. Everything is flowing.
Until last night. Did I tell you I think I destroyed my website?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Edge of Season

My writing has lagged a little this week. It's that odd time of year when winter is holding on with sharp, biting cold claws while spring wears away at it with added minutes of daylight and the increased warmth in the afternoon sun. I'm anxious to be outside, cleaning out my flowerbeds, trimming back my raspberry bushes before they get completely out of control and raking up the last of the old brown leaves that escaped last fall.
I usually do my promotional work when I first get home from school and then do my writing after dinner. But now when I get home, the longer daylight hours call to me. One day I cleaned out the garage instead of promo. Another day I washed my car and cleaned windows I haven't touched since last fall.
Things may get worse before they get better. The first day of spring sports practice is only a week away. My daughter plays softball and my son runs track so I'll be busy being taxi to and from practice as well as being number one fan. And in two short weeks, daylight savings time begins. How will I stay at it when it's light out even longer?
Do the seasons distract you? What is your best writing season or are you steady throughout the year? I know the holiday season slows most people down, but what about other times of year? You would think as a school teacher and having my summer months off, I would get a lot of writing done during June, July and August, but the opposite is true. I love the outdoors and near rain or cold to keep me at my keyboard. My alpha smart helps because I can take it outside and to sporting events and get some writing done. Am I the only one distracted by the great outdoors?
It's dark and cold now, so I'm going back to my WIP. I have to get it done before that time change.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Real Pirates Aren't Cool

First you might think of the bandits preying on ships of all sorts off the cost of Africa, but they're not the ones I'm speaking about. Though I admit, I don't understand why those ships don't mount some guns on their vessels. Those pirates are usually in some really small speed boats. It's not like they're in armored battle ships.
But back to my point. Yesterday I discovered all three of my books from NCP were available for download from a pirate site. Those SOBs were giving my books away right beside free downloads of The Dark Night and every other movie recently released on DVD. And considering A Ruthless Good has only been for sale for a few weeks, it was fast and evil work.
I've sympathized with other authors when their books appeared on pirate sites, but mine have never been there before. At least I didn't catch it if they were. It's so infuriating. I couldn't sleep last night for my fuming and today I took it out on my poor students at school.
Finally one of my colleagues pointed out the upside. If my books haven't been on a pirate site before and they are now, should I be complimented that I'm finally popular enough to make it worth their while to steal from me? Is that really reaching for the silver lining?
I think the more popular ebooks become, the more widespread the pirating of novels will become. Just as it's impossible to protect the illegal sales of video and music, I don't believe there's any technological answer to protection for authors. In the end, we can only trust the honesty of our customers to purchase our books through honest means.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Favorite Drink While Writing

I like coffee with my writing when it's light out. Any coffee will do but lately I've had to turn to heavily disguised ice coffee. After over thirty years of coffee abuse, my stomach has said 'no more' to that lovely, aromatic black fluid. I've tried every brand of java that promises mild on your stomach to no avail. So I'm stuck with the stuff watered down with cream and sugars. Sign....
After dark and into the wee hours, I change my drinks to wine or my very favorite, Disaronno amaretto on the rocks. I fine, caramel like sipping liqueur from Italy. Ahh...
So what do you have sitting on the corner of your writing desk. Something to pump you up with caffeine or mellow you out with alcohol?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Attack of The Winter Bugs

I'm not talking about insects. I'm talking about those colds, the flu, the sinus infections, and even mono at our house this winter. I don't think we've had a day in our lovely home in the last two months when everyone was healthy. As the lead management in the Gourley house, that has been a lot of stress and sleepless nights for me. Add exhaustion and stress and what do you get? An impaired immune system. That's right. After weeks of taking care of the rest of the gang, it caught up to me this week. What does that mean for my writing? One thousand words yesterday and nada today.
It's tough to concentrate on helping my hero and heroine escape their enemies when my chest hurts more than their injuries possibly can. What do I care if their hungry and thirsty when I can barely swallow? Do I care if they're going to have to swim across a wide, dangerous and cold river when I'm having chills and aches myself? Do I care how tired they are from lack of sleep when my coughing has kept me awake for the last three nights?
I'm trying to care, but I'm not sure I can wake up the creative juices today. Now that I'm done with my pity party, I thought I would post an excerpt to my latest release, A Ruthless Good. Perhaps that will help me get back to the next book in this series, The Solonian Chronicles. The fourth book is the last in this particular series. No worries though. Others are in the grand design.
Excerpt from A Ruthless Good


Roth struggled toward the warmth. Even if it was the fires of hell, he wanted to reach it. But something heavy weighed on him and held him back. Was he buried? Dead and under the dirt. Why couldn’t he move?
…….
"Hell’s shithouse. They’re ruined!" a strangely accented female voice cursed. She uttered more odd phrases in an angry tone.
A woman displaying anger? A woman cursing? Beyond the fire he saw trees. Roth slowly shifted his head a little to widen his field of vision. He was outside. Not far away he heard the purr of the river.
The woman wore a man’s shirt and pants. She held a boot in her hand and glared at it with a ferocity that shocked him. And her face, beyond the fierce scowl, was unlike any he’d ever seen. Angles and dimples, evident even now with her frown, combined into a work of art. An image of a goddess. And to heighten her divine appearance, her hair hung long and loose to her waist. It was made of silver. Not the dull gray color of old age, but the silver of a deity gracing Parlania with her presence. Her brows were dark, almost black, and her face unlined in youth. Her hands as she turned the boot about were long-fingered and strong while her wrist looked fragile. But a sword lay at her side.
She glanced over at him and shocked him into a gasp. Her eyes were the same silver as her hair, a color that could not be mortal. Perhaps he was dead.
"So you’re awake."
Her voice poured over him like the warm honey produced by mountain bees. And something about it made him very aware of his nudity beneath the mountain of blankets weighing on him.
"Can you speak? Do you understand my words?" She rose with a grace to mirror a dance move and walked around the fire to kneel by his head.
Roth tried to sit up, but the world spun sickeningly when he lifted his head.
"Whoa there, stranger." She pressed him back with a strong hand.
Not that she had need of strength. His muscles were as soft clay.
"Here, roll to your back and let me put something beneath your shoulders." She picked up more blankets from beside the fire and moved around behind him. She lifted the covers from his back to add the new.
"Son of a damned Savage bitch!"
Roth closed his eyes. Somehow having this lovely goddess see his ravaged back shamed him.
He heard her take a few deep breaths before she scrambled around to where he could see her again. She pointed to her chest. "My name is Claudia."
"Roth." It hurt his throat to produce the one rough, quiet word.
"Roth." She smiled and it did a funny thing to his insides. "Mia told me I have to get you to drink something as soon as you woke up. Do you think you could sit up enough to have something?"
He got his elbow under him enough to lift his upper body a little. The lash had curled around his side on some of its strokes, so it hurt to be on his side though not as much as being on his back would.
Claudia held a warm cup to lips while her other hand steadied his head. A fragrance foreign to him rose in misty tendrils of steam from the mug. He’d expected water or tea. He pressed his lips closed.
"It’s all right. I know you Solonians never had chocolate before, but I promise you’ll like it. It’s very reviving."
Roth liked the scent already, and what harm could a drink do? He was helpless. The woman didn’t need to poison him. She could strangle him or beat him to death with a piece of wood if she wished.
It tasted better than it smelled. It slid smoothly over his tongue and teased him with an unlikely combination of sweet and bitter at the same time. He took a few more sips before his strength failed. Claudia helped him ease down to his side.
She returned the metal mug to a spot near the fire and then settled unto the ground where he could see her. Her long slim legs folded beneath her in a move made erotic by the tight pants clinging to her thighs and hips.
She stretched out and picked up her wrinkled looking boot again. "I hope you can say more than your name, Roth, after I ruined my best boots wading out into that ice flow to save you."
She had rescued him? A woman? "Thank you."
Her frown changed to that breath stopping smile . How quickly her emotions changed, and she hid none of them.
"You’re welcome. I think I’m actually thrilled to meet you. We’d almost giving up hope that you existed. You’re worth a pair of boots. Maybe."
Her every sentence confused him. Who was she?
She reached out again and picked up the sword. "But first, you should tell me what happened to your back, and why you were drowning naked in the river."
She spoke with such authority, Roth didn’t know how to answer. She was a woman yet spoke with the stern command of a senior shepherd. "What are you?"
Her quick smile flashed at him again. "What? I’m the Realm captain who’s going to decide if you live or die if you don’t answer my questions. I can only think of a few reasons a man would be whipped almost to death. Might be I should have let you drown so you better start convincing me before we throw you back in that ice bath."




http://www.susankelleyauthor.com
THE GREATER GOOD
THE LESSER EVIL
A RUTHLESS GOOD
http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/aruthlessgood.htm