Friday, November 28, 2014

Frantic Friday

Are you doing Black Friday shopping? Are you crazy? Hopefully, you're home like me in the warm thinking about shopping online. If you have a moment, check out my post at the A to Z blog. I'd appreciate some company over there.

One of the things I like about this day is no cooking. Lots of leftovers to be had. I'll probably drag out some Christmas decorations but otherwise, I'm going to work on my writing and preparing for the release on Monday of The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. Don't miss it.

With the start of holiday shopping, I expect lots of new electronic devices will be gifted to deserving persons. Like most writers, I hope the new owners fill their device with books. I hope they use all those Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble gift cards to buy my books. How will I convince them.

Getting 'found' is a conundrum. There are so many books out there and many platforms to buy them from. Most small press authors like me make the majority of their sales on e-books. In the USA, Amazon sells around 50% of digital books. Nook captures 15-20% as does Apple. Kobo and others split the rest. Kobo is based in Canada and actually edges Amazon out on their home ground. How does one get noticed among the millions of books available on each of those retail sites?

Were you expecting an answer? I have no understanding of why some of my books have been bestsellers and others not so much. I'm taking the advice of many to just keep writing and telling the best story I can. And check out the ideas on promotion found in the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. Learn how to use social media to grow your readership and some other unique ideas to market your work.

From The Old Farmer's Almanac:
A word to the wise is enough. English proverb

Did you go shopping today? Shop from home? Buying book gift cards or some new tech for Christmas? Have a word for the wise?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Even if you're not in the USA celebrating this day, I know you have things to be thankful about. Like most of you, I don't reserve this emotion for one particular day. But most of us will spend it with family, indulge in delicious food, and feel the special warmth of being surrounded by love.

Few people have perfect lives but sometimes I think I do. My husband is hard-working and loving. I have six healthy children. My two step-sons and daughter-in-law are everything I could wish for. My three sons of my own blood are successful and appreciative of everything we've done for them. My daughter is brilliant, driven and has the kindest heart of any one I've ever known. It breaks  my heart a little that she won't be home for the day, but I know she's following her dreams. It's our first Thanksgiving when we won't all be together though we knew it would happen one day.

I have a dentist appointment today and I'm thankful I can afford to go. I'm grateful I'm healthy enough to be able to shovel the snow we're supposed to get today. And that I have four-wheel drive to get to the dentist. I'm thankful for my warm house because I know there are people who aren't during the winter months.

Time to do some preliminary work for tomorrow's dinner. I know many of you won't have time to visit around today. I wish you safe travels, hot turkey, an afternoon nap and lots of leftovers.

From the Old Farmer's Almanac: A mature turkey has about 3,5000 feathers. Aren't you glad you didn't have to pluck yours?

If you have time to comment, tell us how far you're traveling. If you're not traveling, how many are sitting down at your table? Do you like the hot meal or the leftovers better? God bless you.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Oh, How I Miss You Blogfest

The bloggers you miss and the ones you would miss. 
List one to three bloggers you really miss. 
List one to three bloggers you would really miss if they stopped blogging. 
And then go let them know!

This are the rules for this blogfest hosted by three fine gentlemen. Andrew Leon, Matthew MacNish and Alex J. Cavanaugh. Visit any of their blogs and see the list of participants and perhaps follow some links to some blogs you may not have met before.

One of the first blogs I followed and admired was Straight From Hel by Helen Ginger. She posted a variety of things on a regular schedule including interviews, book reviews (really amusing at times) and shared insights from industry professionals. At some point, without remembering the details, Helen slowed down her blogging because of other demands on her time. I only realized about a week ago that I hadn't visited her for a long time. Stop by and check out some of the interesting posts by this wonderful lady. I've missed her.

The people I would miss most are my comrades in arms at the IWSG website. If any of these smart, energetic friends stopped blogging, I think I would quit also. I would lose all faith in the fellowship of blogging. I've learned so much from them and feel their support in all my blogging and writing endeavors. Love you guys.

Alex J. Cavanaugh
L. Diane Wolfe
J.L. Campbell
Michelle Wallace
Lynda R. Young
Joylene Nowell Butler

On another personal note, I signed a contract earlier this week on my second Warriors of Gaviron book. That makes my 18th contract for a novel, spread over three different small presses. My publisher wants to rush edits on this one so I suspect I'll be busy over Thanksgiving.

I'll have a short post on Wednesday and visit you all between cooking and cleaning. Who do you miss blogging? Who can't you do without? Taking some days off from blogging for Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Freezing Friday

Wow, did winter slam up or what this week? I'm enjoying my fireplace and being home alone while all the menfolk are on a golfing holiday in Myrtle Beach. It's lovely. Besides getting ahead on my blog posts, I'm completing the rough outline for my next novel.

The other thing that has taken a few hours of my day is doing some food shopping for Thanksgiving. I make a list, go shop and then make another list for all the things I forgot to put on the first list. Not fun times though I love the day, I don't care for the shopping leading up to it. It's a great family day though. And that brings us to my Tolkien quote for the day from The Hobbit and Thorin Oakenshield.
‘If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.’
And some wisdom from The Old Farmer's Almanac:

Goods that are much on show lose their color.  Brazilian proverb

"Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they ever find." Dr. Samuel Johnson

Use cream of tartar as a cleanser to brighten stainless steel.

Hope everyone is warm this weekend or if you live north of me, I hope you managed to shovel your way out of your house. What are you working on this week? Have your shopping ready for Thanksgiving (if you live in the USA)? Ever use cream of tartar to clean?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Series Bible

I write my books in series and I love reading books in series. My fantasy series are one story arc carried out over three or four books. My romance series are each complete stories on their own but occur in the same world and always with connections between characters. For example, in my Recon Marine romance series, all the heroes were connected by being part of the same disbanded regiment of genetically engineered soldiers. My latest series, Warriors of Gaviron, deals with the three warrior survivors of an alien race who come to the rescue of distant Earthling colonies.

One of the ways I keep track of the fantasy and futuristic worlds I create is by starting what I call a bible for each one. I use small writing journals where I write things that are not the plot, but other details of these fictional places and characters. Each main character has their own page where their age, physical traits and a short note about their fears and goals. On the page after theirs are related characters like family or work colleagues, etc.

Other pages will have special vocabulary or descriptions of the magic or science in that series. There will be climate facts and geographical notes and even a map. In my science fiction novels that often take place on other planets, I need to know how long each day is, are there moons and how close the next human colony is.

As those of you who are published know, you might have to write something promotional about a book long after you've moved onto the next book. Looking over the facts in the bible always helps me get back into the heads of my characters. I like to use durable little journals for my bibles. This picture shows just a few of them. I pick them up for one to two dollars at stores like Michael's craft store, BAM clearance table and even Walmart during their back to school sales.

Like most of you who live north of Florida, yesterday was a brutal day temperature wise. Here's a picture of the cozy spot where I prepared this blog post and answered some emails. Only problem was that I had to sit on the floor.

Don't forget to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh and add his upcoming release, Dragon of the Stars, to your Goodreads list and enter a contest to win a copy.

Have you heard the term, 'bible,' used in reference to the writing process for series? How do you keep everything in your fictional world straight? Were you chilly yesterday? Some wisdom for The Old Farmer's Almanac: According to scientists, Wednesday if usually the warmest day of the week. Agree?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Books That Travel

I've been extremely busy finishing up The Warrior and the Governor, the second book in my Warriors of Gaviron series of science fiction romance. The past two weeks reminded me how fortunate I am in family. My husband has been super supportive as have my sons. My daughter in Morocco offered to help any way she can, such as guesting on my blog. I wasn't sure what to expect. As her habit, she far exceeded my expectations. The two of us share many things and one of our deepest connections is our love of books. She's been busy carrying that love to different parts of the world.

Books That Travel       

 Not too long ago, I found myself faced with a week-long vacation from my semester in Morocco, and I had nothing to read. I had not brought any physical books with me for my semester abroad because of space and weight constraints. I only brought my Kindle which I was obliged to leave with a friend so as not to deprive her of internet while I lived it up in Spain.

 Faced with such a depressing dilemma, I went to the small library of the cultural center I study at, and though this library is small, the biggest section is undoubtedly the fiction section for English language (there are also extensive French and Arabic-language literature sections). The first time I had seen this treasure trove I wondered how they had cultivated such a wide variety of books. But, of course the answer is simple: books travel. In fact, I think they even like it. It just might be one of their favorite past times.

 All of these books in the glorious and beautiful English language had been brought and left by students of the cultural center stretching back decades. Each one of these books set out on a journey and ended up in Morocco. I decided to check out two and let them tag along on my excursion to Spain.

 When I was in Spain, I adopted a book for my friend and decided to take it on a journey to Morocco and then on to the United States.

 I came back from my stint in Spain early to sojourn in a small Moroccan beach town called Essaouira. As I strolled the souk one day it suddenly appeared like a blessing from the Literary Gods. A sign that said “Livres/Books” with an arrow pointing down a friendly-looking alley. In the friendly-looking alley was a friendly-looking bookshop where books dominated floor to ceiling. I can only assume they were all merely taking a brief rest before continuing their travels.

 I communed with a few of them, and inquired silently about their stories. For example, how did a book about the Sand Creek Massacre end up in a small African beach town? Did all of the Tom Clancys travel to Morocco with the same person? The creations of Robert Jordan, William Faulkner, and Agatha Christie have all touched Morocco in some way, and I am sure many other places as well.
Kelley on a camel in the Sahara

 The explanation for this extraordinary phenomenon is actually quite simple, though it does not make it any less extraordinary. Books travel. All the time, always. With worn and tattered pages and with crisp new pages. Through the internet and via e-readers. They get stuffed in purses, packed in suitcases, and tucked under arms. The most important part of a book's ability to travel, however, is that they always travel in your heart and mind. After you read a book, even though that particular book may continue its travels to touch the life of another person in a totally different country, it has left its mark on you. Whether you are reading a book or writing one, just know that one day that book might end up being a light to someone in a small Moroccan town or its name might be spoken in the stillness of the Saharan Desert. All books are books that travel if you just give them a chance.

Kelley Gourley is a junior at Boston University studying Arabic and International Affairs. Currently she is studying a semester in Morocco where she also teaches English to unwilling college students. Her personal blog can be found at The Open Roof.

Do you visit bookstores when you travel? Have you ever visited a bookstore in a country other than your native land? Any surprising finds? Are you as lucky in familial support as I am? How cool would it be to find your own novel sitting on a shelf in non-English speaking country? Do you love books even half as much as Kelley? 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Flying Friday

No, I'm not flying anywhere but time is flying by. This week has been hours and hours of writing. Fun but time goes by so fast when I'm writing the last chapters in a WIP. If things go well, I'll be typing The End within a few days.

In case you missed it, the new A to Z Blogging Challenge Team for 2015 was announced yesterday. I'm proud and a little intimidated to be one of those team members for the first time but also very excited. Expect me to encourage your participation when sign up time comes along in late January.

With my writing life so busy, I've been very particular about any hours I spend watching TV. The only show I even try to watch live is Once Upon a Time. Usually I catch up on demand of shows like Scorpion, Hell on Wheels, Person of Interest, Grimm and Sleepy Hollow. Add White Collar to that as that show starts its final season run of only 6 episodes. Doctor Who also will get my hour of time at some point. That averages out to about an hour per day so that's pretty good. The only new show that has caught my eye this year is Scorpion. I will add Hannibal to the list when it comes back on.

Wisdom for The Old Farmer's Almanac for this week:

People who live in big cities produce the most earwax.  Mmm. Noise or pollution, do you guess?

Hiccup cure: Sniff ground pepper to produce a sneeze.

Cold rice and cold tea are bearable, but cold looks and cold words are not. Japanese proverb

The wind from the northeast, neither good for man nor beast. For those of us suffering the Polar Vortex

I saw so many emotional videos and blog post honoring veterans this past week that this quote is for the comfort of all of us.
In valor there is hope.
Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Roman historian

I really have to make sure I get the same kind of planner next year. It really entertains me and is very roomy for me to scribble all my notes into. I'll be shopping for it as soon as the 2015 planners fill up the bookstores.

Good luck to all the NaNo participants as you reach halfway tomorrow. Go get 'em.

Do you use a planner? Do you have a favorite? Have a favorite cure for hiccups? Do you live in a big city and suffer earwax buildup? What are you working on in your writing?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Past and Future

Yesterday was Veterans Day here in the states. I always feel a sad mixture of pride in those who and are now serving, worry about those in harm's way currently, and loss at those who are gone. I miss my father more on Veterans Day than any other day of the year. Like many WWII vets, he seldom spoke of the war, but he lost friends there. And those that came home built something great. Hope you thought about those vets for at least a little while yesterday.

My daughter has been getting more blogging experience and wrote an interesting post about her trip into the Sahara. They were fortunate to be out on the sands when the first rain storm in seven years rolled through. I'm counting the days until she comes home. Skype isn't the same as sharing my desk with her while we keep each other from getting work done. Skype isn't finishing each other's sentences and laughing until we cry. Oops, there I go again.

Today, Pat Hatt is guesting on the IWSG Blog. I don't know what his topic is but I know it will be interesting and informative. Stop by and meet Pat if you don't know him already.

Did you know that the A to Z Challenge hosts run a blog all year long. On Thursday, they'll be introducing the new hosts for next year's challenge. Stop in tomorrow and meet them.

Some good news from my publisher. My latest science fiction romance, The Warrior and the Biologist, sold lights out on Amazon last month. She urged me to finish that next book so they could get into edits. Pressure.... but of the good kind. And in the way those things happen, all my other books had excellent months on Amazon as Warrior pulled them upward with it. Warrior has spent most of the past six weeks in the top 20 of science fiction romance. I would do a happy dance if I weren't so tired from raking leaves.

Did you do anything special for Veterans Day? Do you know Pat Hatt? Do you follow the A to Z blog throughout the year? Have any 'good' writing pressure lately?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Eric Juneau: Culture in World Building

I met Eric Juneau recently through my promotions person at Musa Publishing. He writes speculative fiction that is a little big science fiction and has a touch of fantasy. He's guesting today and talking about world building and emphasizing the culture of a made up world. He raises many interesting points. Here's Eric:

I am finishing the final draft of my next novel. This is the revision where I go through with a fine-toothed comb and look for repeated words, grammar mistakes, things the spell-checker didn't catch, etc. This is an alternate Earth fantasy novel, where it evolved on its own path, with its own history and geography. It takes place in a parallel reality, with a self-contained evolution of humans and civilization.

It's not until this revision that I realized one of my characters yells "JESUS CHRIST!" right in the middle of the climax.

It's funny how easy it is to miss that sort of thing. That's one of the difficult things about settings in the far future or a non-Earth Earth.  They are free from all the mortal cultural trappings, like Jennifer Lawrence, the World Cup, or TSA security. It also means none of our history, like King Arthur, Renaissance paintings, or Star Trek.  We reference pop culture and past culture so often it becomes second nature to us. MST3K, South Park, and The Simpsons have influenced our mindsets so much it's hard to make two sentences that don't have some root in world culture.

I think that's why good fantasy is so popular and bad fantasy is so common. People want to fall into different worlds, worlds that are not their own. But to do that is really, really, really difficult. You have to purge your world of all human influences, starting from dinosaurs and all the way forward. Of course, it's way too difficult to create a whole world history from start to finish. So you have to cut corners, abbreviate. But things will inevitably be missed when shortcuts are taken.  That's just part of the deal.

So how do you deal with this? I don't know. I haven't found a quick-and-dirty method for discovering human influences. You just gotta scrutinize it, think about "would this make sense if I was in this world"? What do people wear when they swim? Do they have trunks? Bikinis? Any pyramids? Do hurricanes exist? Did someone remember to invent steamboats? World-building's a tricky puzzle. I recommend doing as much as possible before writing. Not only will you more firmly set yourself in this world, you'll also have the mentality of your characters when you write.

Here's a short blurb from Eric's Novel

Gene is a rogue-for-hire, using his one-man ship to make a decent living on the flooded Earth. His AI companion, Stitch, does most of the work of their salvage and smuggling jobs. Life is good. Until a mermaid crawls into his ship’s exhaust port. Now everyone wants to know what this fantasy creature is doing on a dying planet. Gene has to choose between protecting her and keeping himself safe.

Thanks Eric for the interesting post. You've given me some things to think about. 
Check out Eric's Blog: AuthorQuest
Connect with him on twitter
Connect on Google +
Or check out his Amazon Page

Ever read a science fiction book where a referral to modern culture took you out of the story? Ever have to invent your own curse words for your speculative fiction? Do you expect to have an AI companion in the future like the hero of Merm-8?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Business

Cold weather is moving in. I have a busy, busy week with a lot of writing things on the schedule but also with outside work to do. We live in the country with about an acre and a half of ground. Along with my one son, I spent a lot of hours spread over two days digging out stumps from trees the weather had knocked down. Then we hauled some branches to the township recycle center and burned some other. Tired muscles but a real feeling of accomplishment.

In the writing field, I spent some time getting to know a few fellow Musa authors by way of a wonderful promotion coordinator. You'll meet a few of those authors over the next two months. I'm very excited about the value of the content of their guest posts.

I also had a very entertaining Skype conversation with my daughter studying in Morocco. Living and working in that country has made her really appreciate America and her family's work ethic. She's finding that the mindset she grew up with isn't the norm for a lot of the world. The college-aged people she teaches as part of her studies, believe that Americans are all just naturally rich. They don't understand the connection between long hours of work and what we have. For her, there really is no place like home. Her roots are middle class American. The Tolkien quote this week is for her.

“Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” 

And wisdom from The Old Farmer's Almanac:

"The chief enemy of creativity is 'good' sense." Pablo Picasso

Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry,
Will cause snow to gather in a hurry.   Not too soon we hope.

Babies born a day after the full moon enjoy prosperity and longevity. How was the moon when you were born?

And tomorrow is National Cappuccino Day. Sounds good.

Thanks this week to my friend, Ava Quinn, who taught me how to do something on my blog I didn't know how to do. She's one of those amazing people who has young children, works a day job, takes on volunteer responsibilities and still writes and keeps up her blog.

Have you had outside work to prepare for the coming season? Feeling the burdens and pride of that good old American work ethic or wondering where it's gone? Seeing the squirrels busy outside your abode? Know Ava? Having a cappuccino tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG: November

The first Wednesday of the month means IWSG. This blog hop is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh and is now more than three years old. By visiting the IWSG blog, you can find links to all the participants. Participants will share their insecurities and/or offer advice and encouragement depending on their needs this month. Please join in this warm, welcoming group.

I've commiserated with a few fellow writers when we've had books with disappointing sales. Sometimes the books were independently published but others were published by small presses or even the big NY boys. And reports from RWA National Conference in July and two weeks ago from the NJRWA conference, that editors and agents no longer want paranormal romance. A lot of my friends write what RWA categorize as paranormal but RWA defines it broadly so it includes any kind of speculative fiction. The national organization, and I assume editors and agents, lump sci-fi, fantasy and futuristic in with vampires, angels and demons. Yet, the most recent Romance Writers Report has the 2013 statistics showing that over 22% of readers claim paranormal romance is their favorite sub-genre. This is of interest to me since my most successful romance novels are science fiction romances. I haven't heard of any small presses claiming paranormal is dead. Romantic suspense is the leading category.

Other stats shared include that 21% of the adult fiction market goes to romance and that publishers generated over a billion dollars of revenue last year. Only the thriller genre edged out romance for most sales dollars. Almost half that revenue comes from E-book sales.

What do these stats tell me? Popularity of genres waxes and wanes. I will continue to write what I enjoy reading and not try to follow a trend. Christian Romance and YA romance had the lowest percentage of readers, yet there is and will always be a market for books in those categories. With almost half of romance readers buying a book every week or even more often, a lot of books are being sold. When asked, romance readers claim the most important factor in selected a romance to read isn't the sub-genre but the story itself.

The lesson of the stats? Write the story you want to write. If only 22% of readers are interested in your novel's category, then make it a great story so that all those millions that make up that percentage will want it.

Have you heard any recent reports of a certain genre gaining or losing popularity? Do any of the things I've shared above surprise you? Are you surprised how much of the book market is romance? When do you think E-books will outsell print?

Please remember to visit the rest of the IWSG participants. You'll find lots of interesting posts.

Monday, November 3, 2014

What Do I Say

"I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it." Voltaire

Please remember to vote tomorrow. Remember, no complaining if you didn't bother to vote. I know many of the elections seem like a choice of two evils, but find the one you deem the lesser.

At my writer's meeting this past Saturday, we had a guest speaker, Tere Michaels, speaking about the The Hero's Journey of the Relationship. I've read and heard about The Hero's Journey almost since I started writing. But as I listening to Tere, I realized that there is always something to learn from a knowledgeable professional. She said a few key things that will help me make my current WIP a better book.

Somewhere on twitter I found a link to an article about color in marketing which led me to this article, When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? It was very interesting to read how before the 20th century, the common practice was for all children under the age of six to wear simple white dresses. It quoted another piece from 1918 that suggested pink was a good strong color to be worn by boys and blue was a dainty color for girls. It wasn't until the 1940's when society switched that up. There's a lot more interesting research about society and the gender assignment of colors and fashion in clothing. None of that had a thing to do with my writing but it was interesting. I do tend to make clothing more unisex style in my books. The one article did say that blue is the favorite color of the majority of people.

Thought I would share another new cover for the reissue of my Tiger series book. Tiger's Mate is the second book in the series. I enjoyed writing it because it's a bit lighter than the other two books in the series. My publisher is offering it for sale only on their website for the first month.

Don't forget to visit IWSG today and be ready with you post for Wednesday for the usual monthly blog hop.

Are you going to vote tomorrow? Ever read The Hero's Journey? Do you dress in the 'accepted' gender color?