Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thou Shall Not Resolve!

I've never really made a New Year's resolution and 2012 will be no different.  But despite the rumor the world is going to end before 2013 rolls around, I do have some goals.  Some are personal and I'll keep those to myself.  I'm a pretty self-motivated person so I don't need to post them to the public to keep myself going.

But by talking about my writing goals I know I'll get some good advice and encouragement from my wonderful readers.  Perhaps one of my goals will even strike a spark and influence someone else's plans.

My writing goals are few and simple.  One is promote more.  Two is polish up books #3 and #4 of my Futhark Chronicles and get them up and for sale.  Three is find a home for the first book in my second epic fantasy series, The Dragons of Morbunda, or publish it myself. If I get to all that, I intend to complete a new romance book for my publisher, New Concepts. 

I read somewhere, that goals are things you work for and dreams are things you wish for.  Well, in the dream category, I hope to attend the Pennwriters Conference this year.  I hope to develop a steady income with my self-published books even if it's a small amount. I wish to get a new laptop and maybe even an iPad.

So are you making resolutions? Goals? Or having dreams? What does 2012 hold for you if the world doesn't end?
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


At the start of December, I shared my excitement that a BAM was moving into the large store standing empty after the demise of Borders. I spent so many hours in Borders, writing in the cafe, browsing through magazines and enjoying ice coffee.  Even after I owned an eReader, I would purchase some books and carry a stack to the cafe where I would peruse the first chapters to decide if I wanted it as an ebook.

The first time I visited BAM, they had hurried their opening to attract customers on Black Friday. It was a mess and the cafe wasn't open.  Books were stacked sideways on the shelf and often in the wrong genre sections.  I reserved my judgement.  The second time I went in, the shelves were better organized though not very full.  I couldn't find a single book on my list of 'want to read.'  The worker in the cafe didn't understand how to make an ice coffee and called a manager.  I eventually asked for just an ice tea but they didn't have any.  Settled for a bottled juice.  I still didn't write them off. 

I went in before Christmas to get a requested book for my daughter.  Finally found someone to help me.  It was a new release by a successful author.  They had two copies on the shelf and none on the new release tables up front.  Okay.  My dear husband bought me a BAM gift card for Christmas so I spend a few hours in there yesterday.  I'm still disappointed at the number of books on their shelves. (They don't even have mine! LOL)  They have large, messy tables of clearance books that remind me of Sam's Club.  I walked around most of the storm to find an employee to ask a question about their calendars. 

My daughter and I spent an hour or so in the cafe while she decided which book to buy with a rare 50% off coupon.  We didn't buy a drink from the limited menu.  We went to Starbucks after ward for our favorites.  The cafe has too few tables, giving it a cold, empty feel.  And it is empty compared to how it was when Borders ran it.  And so was the parking lot, relatively speaking.  Borders at Christmas time was packed with the checkout line snaking to the back of the store. I usually had to park at the very end of the big lot.  Not the same for BAM.

I want to have a local bookstore, but I'm not a fan of BAM.  I'll still go on occasion, but it won't be a can't miss destination for me.  And as with my last post, I wonder if it can survive.  The service and atmosphere provided by BAM isn't comparable to B&N or the now-gone Borders.  Will they last? I'm not going to hold onto my gift card for long, in case I don't get to use it.

Some of you lovely readers shared your opinions on BAM when I first mentioned they were moving into my neighborhood.  I know BAM has taken over more Borders than just my own.  Any thoughts on your new stores? I already know L. Diane Wolfe's.  She's a smart lady and I'm starting to agree with her.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Lesson Perhaps?

My daughter and I went to the movies together, the first time I've been to the theater in a while.  Though I like the movie, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I remembered all the reasons I haven't indulged in a visit to land of the big screen for a while.

Even though we went to a matinee showing, the price for the two of us was still three times what we would have to pay on demand.  We skipped over the food stand, not only because the selections are so unhealthy, but because the prices of the fatty, sugary, salty snacks, are ridiculous.  The theater itself was uncomfortably cool requiring us to keep our jackets on and despite the stadium seating, a few people managed to walk in front of us during the movie.  The two couples sitting behind us talked through all the previews and the lady directly behind bumped my seat dozens of times during the show.  And did I mention, we sat through nearly twenty minutes of commercials mixed in with the previews.  The movies was supposed to begin at 3:10 and didn't start until 3:33 Though the seats weren't uncomfortable, they weren't my recliner either.  Then when the movie was over, I had to go out in the cold rain and drive home.

I've read numerous reports in the paper and online about the declining revenues at the movie theater. I wonder why?  Why should I pay the price to watch a movie I can get so much cheaper ondemand in a few months? Why should I waste money on horrible snacks when I can eat healthy in my own home and perhaps even indulge in a glass of wine during a movie? Why put up with rude strangers when I can watch a movie alone or with my family? Why drive out in the bad weather when I can set a blaze in the fireplace and wear my slippers?  Except for a screen bigger than my TV, what does the theater experience offer me? Nothing. 

There are still some movies I like to experience in a theater or that I just can't wait to see, but my movie going days are becoming fewer and further between.  I think the book industry needs to take a lesson from the slowly dying theater world.  What can physical book stores do to draw people in their doors?  Over priced coffee? Probably not.  Most people won't go in a bookstore just for the coffee when there's likely a Starbucks within a few blocks. Discounted products?  Borders offered some good coupons but BAM and B&N are less generous.  If their product isn't cheaper than ebooks or getting it from Amazon, why will people shop there?  If there are no workers to help me find things in the store, I may as well stay home and investigate it online myself. 

I've been reading lots of blogs in the last few days and smiling at the rave reviews by new owners of eReaders, tablets and the like.  The numbers show digital books sales are sky-rocketing. I love shopping for my books with a click here and there.  What are brick and mortar stores doing to make my experience there better than shopping while sitting at home? I don't have the answers but I wonder where booksellers will be in two or three years. 

Have you been to the theater lately? Do you shop at bookstores as often as you have in the past? Do you think either of those business will still be there in five years? Ten years?

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Writer's Christmas

I hope everyone had a terrific Christmas.  I'm exhausted from all the fun, games, food,(preparation and eating), staying up late catching up with everyone and non-stop cleaning up after everything and everyone.  In other words, it was wonderful.

But now it's the day after and time to make plans for the coming year.  A few changes I've incorporated already into my writing life I intend to keep.  For the last few months, I have stuck to my plan to exercise at least thirty minutes a day, five or more times per week.  I'm going to keep that up, for lots of reasons.  The second thing I've been doing lately is reading more.  I will keep that going.  I have a stack of books from the library I'm attacking at a steady pace of about one or two per week.  In between those two things plus my day job and my family, I'm concentrating on my writing. 

My wonderful family gave me some assistance in my plans.  My youngest son gifted me with an iTunes gift card to update some of my running music. I've been working out to the same songs for a few months so hopefully the new tunes will keep the old legs moving, maybe even a little faster.  My second son bought me a leather bound journal so beautiful I don't know if I can bring myself to write on its lovely pages.  My daughter bought me a multi-disk set of old John Wayne movies.  What better background for writing my fantasy novels filled with action and heroes?  My oldest son bought me a candle for in my office and a bottle of expensive amaretto to help me through editing.  My husband, bless him, bought me a BAM gift card.  There are so many things I can use that for, I don't know where to start.

So this next year, I'm going to strive for balance with family, my health and the advancement of my writing career.  How about you? Planning on more of the same?  Keeping what's working or changing things up?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cover Gratitude

Many authors know the feeling of helplessness when it comes to cover art. When you self publish you have control over what cover represents your work but even with small publishers, you may be at the mercy of the powers that be.  I've been lucky and liked all my covers but one.  My complaint about that one was the heat level.  The extremely risque cover wasn't equal to the sensuality level of the book and I thought it mislead readers.  Some probably purchased it expecting something erotic in nature and others probably didn't purchase for the same misconception.  I'm over it, though that book has been my worst seller of my romance line under the name, Susan Kelley.

Viola today, I received the cover for my newest romance novel, A Tiger's Courage.  The artist, Alex DeShanks, got it exactly right.  Hair color and length for the protagonists is correct and the overlapping pictures capture the desert setting of the story.  To top it off, the title and my name are both in this exceptionally cool font.  I love it!

Do you have a great cover story, good or bad?  How much say do you have in the final appearance of your book cover?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hell Week

I don't say much about my day job except to mention when it's cutting into my writing time. This week there are some exceptional things going on. For instance, out of six people in our department, three are going to be absent most of the week. It will be challenging and hectic, not good for coming home and jumping right into another job.

I also must do some Christmas shopping this week. My husband is taking some of the burden off and buying some things for the adults on my list.  I also did some shopping online and the gifts should arrive on my doorstep before the end of the week. 

I'm trying to get Beyond the Gate, Book#2 of The Futhark Chronicles, up on Smashwords and am running into the same situation as before but now I realize it's not all my fault. If a lot or people are trying to upload at the same time, it does strange things and claims you've made an error.  I still get frustrated.

This Friday, New Concepts Publishing, my romance publisher, is releasing my latest fantasy romance, A Tiger's Courage.  I had work to do for that. Sorry to complain but I needed to vent a little.  I do need to stock up on the wine this week and perhaps even the strong stuff. 

Is holiday planning or the day job work load infringing on your writing time? Any big events happening with your writing before the end of the year?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Insecure Writer: Read More=Write Better

I don't know any writers who also don't love to read. Probably lots of writers even enjoy reading more than writing, especially when they're stuck on a plot point or in the middle of dreaded editing. Like many writers, I have numerous projects going.  I have a book coming out in about ten days. I'm busy getting my second book in my epic fantasy series out into the world of online retail.  I want to make even more new friends through insecure get it. Lots of stuff. And that's only my writing work. Lets not get into the coming holidays and my house being the only one on the blog with no outdoor lights up yet.  Or the day job.

But I have a stack of books from the library I want to read.  I have friends putting out new books nearly every week I want to read. My son bought the first two books in a fantasy series I'm dying to read. And yet there's the guilt of all those hours with my nose in a book instead of my fingers on the keyboard. We all feel it when we indulge when work awaits.  But we also all know that to be a good writer, we need to read. 

I believe we need to read alot and widely.  I write epic fantasy and fantasy romance, yet I read all kinds of stuff.  I love suspense. I'm a bit of a science nerd so I like to delve into scifi.  I really want to travel to the stars especially since I read in the paper today that scientists are pretty sure there are lots of other worlds out there capable of sustaining life as we know it.  I like historical fiction. Some of my favorite authors write mystery and keep me up to all hours reading.

I know reading these various genre, reading famous authors and newcomers, reading YA and adult, all this will help me in my own writing.  So put the guilt away and think of reading as a form of study and education, making you a better writer.

So how big is your TBR pile and will you be pulling a book off of it anytime soon?  Do you feel guilt when you read during your writing time?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Absent For a Few Days

Sorry I haven't been around much this week to visit blogs despite my intention to use that new smartphone to keep up with you all.  I'm been deep into getting Beyond the Gate, Book #2 of The Futhark Chronicles, ready for publication.  Some of you were with during my last attempt to self-publish the first previously published book in my epic fantasy series.  Now I'm about to delve into those same frustrations again.  Yes, I bought a few bottles of wine today. Just in case.

I can't help but dread it despite all I've learned from the first time. Hopefully by next week at this time, it will all be behind me and I can start on the promotion for my next romance coming out in a two weeks.  A Tiger's Courage is the third book in The Tigers of Salubria fantasy series from New Concepts Publishing.  My publisher is hosting a chat and lots of contest giveaways next Saturday. More on that later this week. 

So think of me now and then over the next few days as I pound my head on my desk and use words not usually heard in my writing office. If you notice me visiting your blog everyday, it means I'm too distressed to work on what I should be doing.