Saturday, October 29, 2011

Great Trip

From Facebook
My daughter and I had hours of fun on our trip to visit UNC.  I believe she's decided to be a Tarheel unless Boston University or George Washington University come up with some big bucks in scholarships.  Even during the horrible traffic around DC there and back, we managed to laugh and keep our spirits high. And we got home in front of the Halloween snow storm.

Hopefully, I'll catch up on blogs and get some editing done today before this wet, heavy snowfall brings down the powerlines as predicted.  We have enough firewood in to keep the chill off one room if needed.  Usually I found the first snowfall of the season lovely but getting it in October kind of takes the charm off the experience.

The only good news is the weather will keep me at my writing work. 

While in Chapel Hill, my daughter and I did our usual routine of investigating any local independent bookstores we can find as well as Barnes and Noble.  We found a terrific store called Flyleaf Books.  My daughter invested in two thin books of French poetry published in the 1920's and I found an early book by an author I've been meaning to sample.  If she decides to attend college at UNC, that store will see us again.

We also made our tour of the coffeeshops. She's of the Starbucks generation but I was thrilled to find a Caribou Coffee shop.  I like Caribou better and their cafe was very comfy.  I wish we had one of their places around here.  Today though is a hot chocolate day.

So Caribou or Starbucks for you? Snow or sunshine today? Hot chocolate or hot coffee or wine?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

From FB
So much to do, so little time. The housecleaning will have to wait. I'm traveling to University of North Caroline today with my daughter for a college visit.  We did a lot of visits this past summer and this is the last school on her top three list for us to check out. Financially it's the best fit as compared to George Washington University and University of Boston.  And it is warmer.  I'll be out of blog touch for two days until Saturday.

When I return, I have to jump on my edits for my next fantasy romance. Courage of a Tiger will be released in mid December from New Concepts Publishing.  I hope to have the edits done by Monday. Then I need to dive back into the edits for Beyond the Gate, second book in my epic fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles. 

Two weeks from Saturday, I'm part of an author panel at a local independent bookstore, The Midtown Scholar.  I'll be speaking on writing fantasy and romance. I'm excited but I have to put together a 5-7 minute talk and be ready for questions. I'll also get to sell my books. (Remember all those remainders)

It's the end of the grading quarter at work so I have some extra work at the day job.  But I love being busy and having deadlines.

How busy are you for the upcoming month? Have you visited your local independent bookstore lately?

Monday, October 24, 2011


A little while ago, I reclaim my rights to my fantasy series from the publisher who had broken my contract. I know I did the right thing by taking them back. I decided to self-publish since the original publisher had already released the first two books and I didn't expect to be able to find a new publisher for a series already started.  By next year at this time, I'll let you know if it's worked out in any financial way.

One of the ways my first publisher broke my contract was when they decided they wouldn't publish my second and third book in The Futhark Chronicles in mass market paperback as well as ebook.  The first book, The Keepers of Sulbreth, received excellent reviews and sold rather well.  After I took my rights back, the publisher offered me an opportunity to buy the 'remainders' of the print run of my first book.  I'd heard or remainders but didnt' realize my book would have any. 

Of course I had to purchase huge quantities to get the massive discount and pay a big shipping bill.  They had over a thousand, but what did I need that many books for? What could I do with them? I purchased a much smaller quantity to use as prizes, send out for reviews and even sell a few at the rare booksignings I have at independent stores.

I've compiled a list of reviewers to send some free books to and today I thought of my blogger friends. I know some of you have already purchased my book(thank you, I love you all) but for my bloggy friends who would consider a review, I'm offering three FREE print copies to the first 3 people(in the USA) who email me at:

No strings or promises required. Hopefully, you'll like The Keepers of Sulbreth enough to say something good and maybe even purchase the second book.  I'm waiting to hear from you.  In the meantime, I'm almost done with the edits on book#2, Beyond the Gate.  Then you all can read about my exploits with Amazon and Smashwords again. LOL

So, have you ever had any of your books go out of print? Have you purchased remainders? How many of your own books to you have sitting in the corners of your house?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Simple Problems

Sorry for dumping frustration after frustration on my bloggy friends. I actually keep personal problems to myself but I know my blog readers will understand the issues I have with my writing career.  Most of you have been there, done that, and offer advice and sympathy. 

Some things I've been working on are taking much longer than I expected. Much, much longer. There are other projects I'm anxious to restart and really dig into but I can't until I've dealt with my current frustrating work.  It keeps me awake at night, but today I took a deep breath.

I'm not as successful or prolific as some authors I know.  I don't have a 'big' contract with a traditional publisher.  No writing conferences are asking me a year ahead of time to be the keynote speaker. My laptop is old and slow, my desktop older.  My printer has some trouble pulling the paper in. It really doesn't like the expensive stuff.

But, I have numerous contracts for my romance books with a pretty great small publisher, New Concepts.  I have been invited to be part of an author panel at a local independent bookstore. My laptop is still kicking and I'm buying more memory for it.  And I don't really need to print out much stuff so I'm not investing in a new printer anytime soon.  Things are going okay. 

Sometimes I overthink problems when the solution is simple.  My new mind set is to keep it simple, step away when I get frustrated and ask for help more often. 

On the good news front, I read in our local paper today that a 'Books A Million' is taking over the location of our late Borders.  I've never been in a BAM, but I'll be thrilled to have a bookstore close to my house again(and a coffeeshop).

Can any of you tell me about BAM? What's your most recent simple solution?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Words I Need

I hate Smashwords. It's official. I spent a half an hour today with one of our school's tech teachers asking her what the heck a 'field code' is and how did it get into my manuscript?  Smashwords told me I need to fix it, but I don't know what the heck it is and can't see it.

So I've interrupted editing work on my next book to try and figure this out.  Major frustration and headache.  I enjoy the funny pictures and quotes I find on facebook. How am I relieving my stress?

Watching 'Revenge' helps. I love that quirky,creepy show. I'm feeling a little vengeful  A little exercise.  The last few weeks of stumbling through self-publishing has really increased the intensity of my workouts.  I feel so good about the weight loss right until I sit down at the durn keyboard again. 

Tonight I'll be putting on some music, perhaps the soundtrack for 'Lord of the Rings' since I feel kind of like the guys on the horses trying to break the siege of Gondor.  A little fight music, some hot coffee and I'll be ready to tackle the mystical problem Smashwords has told me I have.

Anything frustrating you lately? Have you ever heard of 'field code?'


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Give Away

I write in two different genres.  My first love for reading and writing is epic fantasy. I love the medieval settings and the combination of swords and magic.  But I have found it more difficult to market my fantasy books than my romance books.

Most of us know the numbers.  Over half of all genre fiction being sold is romance.  Romance writers do lots of promotion and there seem to be more places to buy or request exposure for your book.  Coffeetime Romance in a great site and my favorite it The Romance Studio.  An author can join TRS and do lots of free promotion.  One of the promos involves giving away one of your books and gaining a list of names to add to a mailing list should you want to keep one. 

I've promoted my romance books on TRS and Coffeetime.  Did it help sales? I don't know.  I also don't know of any such promotional sites for my fantasy books.  So today I'm giving away a print copy of The Keepers of Sulbreth at TRS.  It's the first book in my epic fantasy series but I'm searching out all avenues of promotion and hoping for the best.  You can hop over to the book-a-day giveaway page and sign up for a chance to win it. 

Do you know of any promotional or review sites that do for fantasy books what TRS and Coffeetime do for romance?  Have you ever paid to promote your book. Was it worth it?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward

Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh, we have another great day of sharing and networking. Today a whole bunch of bloggers are 'paying it forward' by linking to three other bloggers who have helped us along the way in our career paths.

I'm sure many people are having the same difficulty with this as I am.  So many people have helped me, how should I narrow it down to three?  There are a group of people who helped me early in my career and a large number of people who have helped me recently.   So I'm going to combine some of the old and the new friends.

Natalie Damschroder is my 'go to' girl for so many things.  She really knows her way around the publishing world. I've sent her lists of questions and she gets back to me right away with the answers.  She's a multi published author, a busy working mother and a good friend.  I met her through my local chapter of RWA back in the days when I was a member.  You can meet her at Indulge Yourself.

In my recent venture of reclaiming my rights to my fantasy series and self-publishing it, I again turned a fellow, local writer.  Cate Masters might be the most prolific writer I know.  She has self-published some of her novels and was indispensable to me.  I might have sent her a dozen emails to ask her advice and help.  She also finds time to blog nearly every day.  I can't say enough about her knowledge and willingness to help other writers. She's also the driving force behind a group blog formed by numerous writers from central Pennsylvania, The Susquehanna Writers.

Someone who might not even know how much she's helped me is L. Diane Wolfe.  If you have a book to promote or want to know anything about blogging, publishing or just read some speculations about where this crazy business is going, you need to visit Spunk on a Stick.  And you'll get a good laugh at least once a week.  Probably Alex and Diane gave me the most clues on how to grow my blog audience.  Thanks.

I hope you find some more great blogs to follow with this little blog fest.  I'll be visiting lots of new blogs but I won't catch up to everyone until Saturday because I'm going to visit my son at college(PSU) today. Can't wait to meet some new friends.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It Takes All Kinds

Not all writers are the same.  We have different processes, work at different speeds and certainly write different stories.  We're different in lots of ways, age, sex, political beliefs, and even our nationalities. Yet when we get together either online or in person, we usually find lots of things we have in common.

Promotion, editing, character development, sagging middles, time management, and oh yeah, promotion. We give each other advice, encouragement and help each other promote.  Yet we're all different people engaged in similar struggles.  This Friday, October 14th, lots of us are going to thank some of those who help us by participating in Alex Cavanaugh's Pay-It-Forward blog day.

Perhaps you can join in and thank some people who have helped you.  Even if you don't join in, please visit and perhaps find some new fun blogs to follow. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Magic: Do You Believe?

I write fantasy so I have to incorporate some magic in there.  Many readers of fantasy want magic to be the center of the story and to some degree it has to play a role large enough to distinguish my created world from this one.  But how much magic?  How powerful should the magic be?

I first fell in love with the fantasy genre in junior high school when one of my teachers lent me her copy of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.  I didn't think about it then, but now that I write my own books, create my own worlds and define the laws of magic, I wonder about that story.  How did the Rings of Power work? Why couldn't the elves and wizards combine their magical powers and take on the Dark Lord? How did the One Ring rule them all?

I can still enjoy the books without knowing these things but I do wonder.  I've read other fantasy novels where the magic of one side seems so powerful it seems they should be able to win with a wave of their hand.  But that would make for a short book.  There must be some limitations to the magic or at least to the person or persons using it.  The author gets to determine those limits. 

Is the magic limited by the strength of the wielder?  Or is the use of magic limited by the damage to the entire existence of life if it's overused?  Is the magic limited by some force on the opposing side? Is the magic limited by the knowledge of the magician?  What is the source of the magic? Can it be used up?  Can its use injure the user?  Are there moral reasons for limiting its use?

I would think writers of science fiction have to ask similar questions about technology in their novels.  There have to be limitations or it's no fun. 

Have you read a novel where the magic or technology was so overwhelming in its power it ruined the novel?  What limitations have you used or seen used in an effective way?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rain, Snow, Sleet and Hail

One thing I have learned through the terrible weather of the past year, the mail doesn't get delivered during floods or ice storms.  Not that I blame anyone.  Roads were impassable and too dangerous for anyone to be traveling. 

But after our last natural disaster, the flood, we've been enjoying some lovely fall weather.  It's been tough to sit down at the old writing desk and get to work when I want to be outside and soak in the sunshine.  I do love the outdoors but for the sake of my writing, I'm almost looking forward to the gloom of winter.

I don't mind spending hours at the keyboard when it's cold out and the wind is howling around the corners of our country home.  Give me a hot cappuccino and a fire on the hearth and my creative side gets rolling too.  December, January and Febuary are my most productive months.  I usually start a new book around the first of the year.  This year I'll be finishing the one I started last year. My new work has been side-tracked by my venture into self-publishing.  Now that I've navigated the ropes once, I hope to get my next three books in The Futhark Chronicles up and available with fewer headaches and many fewer hours.

The need to rake leaves, bring some wood in for the winter and do late season weeding are going to distract me for a few more weeks, but then the season of writing will move in with a frigid howl. 

When is your best season for writing? What seasonal chores distract you at this time of year?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Out of Touch: Insecure Writer

October already.  There's no end to the subject matter I can pull up to address my insecurities. One thing I've felt a lot of in the past three months is being out of touch with other writers.  Starting in July, I've had on and off computer issues.  Viruses, malware, unidentified issues that have kept me off line or forced me to use the old slow desktop.  Some days I only had time to visit three or four blogs and my posting fell way off from about five times a week to one or two times.  I felt out of touch with the writing community I've come to count on over the past twelve months.   I felt alone.

I don't mind being alone 90% of the time but even when I am, I know other writers are out there, just a few clicks away.  When I didn't have a computer, I was cut off.  I couldn't visit the blogs that make me laugh, the ones that teach me something, the ones I can just totally agree with it and maybe even add something to it in the comments.  It was a temporary situation but there are still moments when I feel I need to do more to keep in touch.

A few of the local members of the statewide group, Pennwriters, meet once a month at a local library and have a critique session.  I've only made it once since I decided I must have some actual face time with other writers but I'm determined to get there more.  By joining this fun blog idea of Alex Cavanaugh's, I'm making more friends and being comforted by learning I share the same problems in my writing career as other authors.  Sign up and share your insecurities.

I have a few friends I know I can email when a specific problem or question arises. Many people gave me advice and pointed me to the information I needed to self-publish my book on Kindle. (Nobody had been able to tell me yet how to get through the logjam on Smashwords any quicker though).

There are ways to keep in touch even if you can't attend meetings in person.  I'm still building an online circle of support and hope I provide a little to others.  So stay in touch.  When you feel frustrated and all alone, check out your bloggy friends or other online groups.  Investigate writers' groups on your area, usually they have notices in the paper or maintain a website, and try to get some face time.  Even attending booksignings can put you in touch with other local writers.

What do you do if the isolation of being a writer starts to get to you? What's your favorite way to stay in touch with fellow authors?