Monday, March 30, 2015

On Your Mark

Wednesday is a big day in the blogging world. It's IWSG day, the first Wednesday of the month. And being April 1st, it's also the kick off day for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. You can still sign up for both. It's going to be one exciting, crazy day on Wednesday.

I have my posts mostly ready but I will probably edit many as the month of April goes on. News to share or add. We'll see how it goes.

In what I have finished, the first draft of The Warrior and the Professor is finally finished. Only took me a month longer than expected. Lots of work to do on it yet before it ever is read by my publisher. But it really is true that it's easier to fix a bad first draft than a blank page.

Other good news, we did our taxes this weekend. On the bad news side, because I'm a self-employed writer and my husband is also self-employed, we always have to pay in despite all the money we've had deducted throughout the year. It hurts to see the percentage of our money that goes to taxes and when we figure in all the taxes and fees we pay every time we shop, pay our phone bills, it really adds up. But that's a story for another forum. Just wanted to say 'ouch.'

I'm keeping this short today because the blogging duties are about to get long.

"Save three pieces of gold, and the fourth one will fall in your lap." Croatian proverb

And for those diving into to A to Z for the first time, another quote.

"Don't agonize, organize." Florynce Kennedy

Do you have a double post for IWSG and A to Z on Wednesday or are you combining them into one? Feeling organized going into the challenge? Finish you taxes? Wince or smile?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Monday was the huge theme reveal for April's A to Z Blogging Challenge. I already scoped out so many blogs that have great themes that I wish I would have time to visit every day. But I won't. There are too many others to explore. Check out the themes and Alex J. Cavanaugh's ideas on making friends. He has lots of them so take his advice to heart.

The first year I did the Challenge, I thought I would remember which blogs I wanted to continue to visit but I didn't. Now I keep a cool little lined tablet by my side and jot down the names of bloggers I hope keep up their wonderful content after April passes. I hope they will.

I'm still checking out themes but so far I've found numerous blogs about monsters, deities and mythological creatures. I love those. A few craft blogs where I'll note all kinds of things that I'd like to make. Others are doing movie, TV or books reviews. How can I resist that? Some are doing look backs at favorite eras or decades. Retro is always fun. Then there are the travel themes where I'll get to visit a lovely locale from the comfort of my computer chair. I can't wait.

But there is a lot to do in the meantime. I still have a few posts to finish up. As co-host, I'm checking out my share of the numbers. I wish some people would post something/anything before April first. On the personal front, I'm trying to finish the first draft of a novel I wanted to have done at the end of February. I'm a little behind. And I also wanted to have a start on the outdoor work except it keeps raining or snowing and it's never warm. No change in the forecast either. To catch up on all these things, I'm taking Friday off from blogging but I'll be back next Monday.

Here's a little grammar advice I found on She Writes. This quick little article was written by Annie Tucker and she makes it all easy to understand and remember. Should it be everyday or every day? Check out Annie's post.

"March is the month of expectation, the things we do not know." Emily Dickinson

No one know when spring will arrive in person instead of as a mark on the calendar.

In case you're worried about getting through some busy days ahead, here's some wisdom from The Old Farmer's Almanac:
When visiting a newborn for the first time, kiss the soles of its feet for good luck.

All my friends are too old to have newborns and my children haven't provided any grandchildren yet, so I may have to accost a stranger to get that luck.

Find any interesting themes at A to Z? Any chores that are piling up on you? Have any trouble with those one word vs two word situation Annie Tucker mentions? Ever kiss the soles of a newborn?

Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z Theme Reveal

It's time to let everyone know what your theme is for the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge. You can find the list for all those participating in the Theme reveal on this list.

Not everyone uses a theme but many people like me find it's a great way to come up with content for your posts. It can be challenging to make your subject fit into every letter but we're all creative in some way as bloggers. I changed my theme near the end of February and had to scramble in March to get everything done. I hope most or even all my posts will be ready today.

All my theme have been tied to being a writer and this year is no different. The idea came to me as I cleaned off some bookshelves and weighed which books I wanted to keep and which ones needed a new home. I did the same with my library of movies and TV series. Why did I keep the ones I did? Because I like to re-read and re-watch them. Some of the books are references though most are fiction. All of these different media have taught me something as a writer. One of the most common recommendations successful writers have for beginning writers is to read. Read a lot. And learn from that.

My theme will be a sharing of the books, movies, and TV shows that have taught me something that has helped my writing in some way. Most of the lessons are very short and few are profound. But many are fundamental. My posts are short, informational and hopefully interesting enough that some of you will check out my recommendations.

Every year during A to Z, I end up with a list of books, music and movies that other bloggers have posted about. I complain about the growth in my TBR pile. Now it's my turn. I'm going to try and add some things to your TBR pile before April is over.

"My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read." Abraham Lincoln

Don't forget to check out more themes on the list. Do you think doing a theme is easier than not? Are your posts short or long? How much do read in a week? Fiction or non-fiction? What movie have you re-watched the most?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Blues

Are you kidding me, Winter? Just as we're ready to bid you good bye officially, you dump another round of snow on us? We're supposed to get up to six inches. Hopefully, that won't happen. I have my first crocus bloom yesterday. Stay away snow! Once again, Winter has won just like it did last year. We has our highest electric bill ever for February.

I'll be spending the weekend preparing the last of my A to Z posts. Don't forget, Monday is the theme reveal day. I'm excited to see what clever and interesting topics people have come up with. You can put your name on the list here.

The A to Z Challenge list is growing. Over a thousand and still time for it to grow even more. Lots of people have given advice and shared what worked and what didn't in the past. As co-host, I've been scouting out the blog numbers assigned to me and my team. I've encountered a surprising number of blogs that haven't posted for months and yet have signed up for the challenge.

Time to wake your blog up if you're one of those people. Lots of people will check out blogs on the list before April 1st. Give them something up to date to read. At the very least, make an announcement of your intent to participate in A to Z. You don't want visitors to think you're a one month per year flash in the pan. Get some new content up there.

My weekend will be a lot of writing now that the snow eliminates the yard work option. Even if we don't get much snow, it will be too muddy for outside work. With my husband and my sons stuck in the March Madness time drain, I'll have relative peace for hours on end.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Allen Saunders

I'm keeping that quote in mind. I'm behind on where I wanted to be as a few family requirements took up a lot of time this past week. Catch up weekend is here.

What are your plans for the weekend? Have your theme and A to Z posts ready? What is the longest break you've ever given your blogging? Do you watch March Madness? Get any snow today?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Christine Rains: Marketing Different Genres

I'm so thrilled to have Christine Rains here today to talk about marketing. Every writer wants to know more about that. If you been any where in the blogosphere the last few weeks, you're run into her Dice & Debauchery tour. Christine is not only a writer, she's a very busy mother and an amazing time management person. I'm not getting the day off. Please check out my post about planning for April Madness over at the A to Z Blogging Challenge Home. How does she get so much done? Here's Christine:

Thank you for hosting me today, Susan. It's a pleasure to be here.

Marketing is one of the most difficult tasks as an author. But marketing several books from different genres? It can be overwhelming. Some days there isn't enough ice cream in the world to make it bearable.

Over the past several weeks, I've been touring for my contemporary erotic romance series, Dice & Debauchery. This is my first adventure with this genre, and I've had to learn new marketing tactics along the way. At the same time, I've had to continue marketing for my other books.

Two different genres with two different audiences.

There are two ways to do this successfully:

1. Use a pen name. Separate your different genre books with distinct identities. Create independent websites, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages. It's double the work, but it will allow you to build a solid readership in each genre. This is good to do because sometimes when an author crosses genres, she turns some readers off.

I debated using a pen name when I wrote my Dice & Debauchery series. I went back and forth about it for a few months before I decided to take a chance and use my real name. This is why I went with the second marketing strategy.

2. Market the author instead of the books. What do you do best as a writer? Do you have lovely prose with flowing descriptions or are you clever with twisting the plot? Find that one thing that applies to all your stories and use it as a base for your marketing.

My author tagline is: “Twisting the tropes.” In all my stories, I take popular literary devices and themes and turn them on their heads. I love to surprise readers with these unusual twists and turns.

All my books are character focused and contain romances too. So when I went from urban fantasy and paranormal romance to the Dice & Debauchery series, I still was in a similar realm. I understand that not all my readers will want to read erotica, but there are those that do enjoy my stories from both genres. They're all just different aspects of me as a writer.

If you write in different genres, what type of marketing strategy have you employed?

Geek girl Morgan Reid has been to many conventions, but none that had her wishing it would never end.
 Dressed as their characters from the online game Steampunk Quest, Morgan and her best friend meet the other players for the first time in real life. Morgan's attraction to the gorgeous Dean Bradley is immediate, making it difficult to breathe in her tight corset. Even after a few dice shattering orgasms, she doesn't believe this can be anything more than a con fling. But Dean is making her feel things she's only read about in books. Can Morgan let go of her cool-headed logic and allow herself to fall completely for the perfect geek guy?

 About the author:
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She's married to her best friend and fellow geek living in south-central Indiana. They have one son who is too smart for his parents' own good and loves to pretend he's Batman. Christine has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not reading or writing, she's going on adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. (South Central Indiana Fiction Interface). She has several short stories and novellas published. The Dice & Debauchery series is her first contemporary erotic romance.

Please visit her website  and blog

You can also find Christine on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

 Purchase links:

Thanks, Christine. There's always a lot of discussion about whether to use a pen name or not. You have the best reasons for not that I've heard. What does everyone else think? With all the social media insights, can a writer hide behind a pen name any more? What is a good reason to use one?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Chicken or Egg

If you have a chance to stop by IWSG today, I'm talking about how you decide which character is the main character in your story. Love to read your comments. One more week until the Theme Reveal for the A to Z Challenge. You still have time to sign up right here.

Today I'm posing the question to all of you. Which come first for you as a writer? The plot or the character? When your muse speaks to you, does it introduce a tortured soul struggling to overcome a painful experience or safe the world? Or does a complicated scenario or plot come to you and you have to invent the character smart enough to solve the mystery or strong enough to save the day?

For my science fiction romances, my characters are only vague ideas, but the difficulties facing them are the first clear thing I figure out along with their futuristic world. The enemy usually comes to me first and from there I figure out the heroes and heroines needed to defeat them.

For my epic fantasy series, I always fully imagine the protagonist first and the world and antagonist develop only after I understand the main character. Not sure why, but perhaps it's because in epic fantasy series, the challenges usually multiple and the stakes get higher as the series continue.

Hopefully, you'll be safe and careful on St. Patty's Day tomorrow. No green beer for me but I might lift a glass of wine in a toast.

I put the snow shovels away this past weekend and a few bulbs are pushing green shoots up through the warming soil.

In case you thought this winter was bad, at least this factoid from The Old Farmer's Almanac hasn't happened to you.

Once every 180 years, a meteorite might strike someone on Earth.

How do write, chicken or egg first? Drinking any green beer tomorrow? Any signs of spring at your house? Have your theme ready? Ever dodge a meteorite?

I might be a little late responding to comments and visiting blogs today. I returned my daughter to Boston after spring break yesterday and stay overnight for a mom/daughter sleepover.

Friday, March 13, 2015

One Good Catch

It's Friday the 13th. Again. Most of my plans for the upcoming weekend involve getting posts ready for the A to Z Challenge both on my blog and on the other two blogs where I'm a co-host, IWSG and the A to Z Challenge Blog home. I'm pleased to help Heather M. Gardner with the release of her novel. I'm sure the 13th will bring her good luck, not bad.

A little wisdom to take us into the weekend.
"A dog owns nothing yet is seldom dissatisfied." Irish Proverb

One Good Catch, A Maguire’s Corner novel

Ignoring a recent trauma that is affecting her everyday life, ER Doctor Kate Maguire engages in some high risk activities, but putting herself in these dangerous situations isn’t enough to feed her edginess. She needs something more. When her brother’s high school best friend comes back to town, it’s her chance for a ‘no strings attached’ fling with the man who still headlines in all her best dreams.

Rhys MacGrath’s days of one-night-stands are long over. The pro-football player might be side-lined at rehab for a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t mean he can’t admire and desire the all-grown-up, so-damn-hot, version of the tomboy he once knew. His sudden interest in Kate might be aggravating his best friend, who doesn’t approve, but it’s her indifference that’s driving Rhys crazy.

Everything heats up when Kate’s nosy nature sets her in the line of fire of an arsonist forcing them to deal with more than just the sparks igniting between them.

Heather M. Gardner's love of books began on the hand-woven rugs of her small town library where her mother worked. There she had a never-ending supply of stories to read at her fingertips. As a teen, her favorite genres to curl up with were romance and mysteries. When she started to create her own stories, they were the perfect fit.
Heather resides in New York with her best friend who is also her husband, plus her talented and handsome son. She is currently owned by four stray cats. Heather's a full-time mom, works part-time from home, a chocolate enthusiast, coffee junkie, cat addict, book hoarder and fluent in sarcasm

The Waiting is the Hardest Part  Twitter: @hmgardner  Goodreads   Facebook

Hope your weekend plans are a little more exciting than mine though I'll be really happy when all the posts are scheduled and ready. Do you know any dissatisfied dogs? And a little Pratchett to honor the loss of another icon of fantasy and science fiction. Starting to make me feel old. Do you agree with Terry's description of English?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Remember This

I think I started writing lists and making sure I jotted every appointment down around the time I had my third child. Our family schedules looked like a spreadsheet by then. And how over twenty years later, I need those list and notes to myself. Today I'm going to share some of these with you.

*Dianna Gunn, promotions specialist with the now closed Musa Publishing, is our guest on the IWSG blog. She's talking about how working with a publisher has helped her own writing career. I know she's given me some good suggestions and insights into marketing.

*My post on Monday about blog housekeeping before the A to Z starts received lots of comments and some really great suggestions that I have to share in case you missed them. First off, my fellow A to Z co-host, John Holton, liked my suggestion about making sure any links in your post open in a new tab and don't carry people off of your blog. John is a clever guy and has constructed his posts so they appear on his Wordpress and Blogger sites at the same time. So John put together a 'how-to' post to make sure your links do as I suggested. And he gives concise instructions for both types of blogs. Visit his post if you don't know how to do this already.

*Maria Zannini, one of my blog time blogger friends, commented how she sometimes find interesting bloggers by what they say in the comments. That is so spot on. When you see someone leaving thoughtful and insightful remarks about a post, you just might want to check out that person's blog. Thanks, Maria, for that helpful idea.

Maria's post on Monday was about having friends. It really spoke to me. Since I've become a full time writer, I go days and days where I only leave the house to exercise (or shovel snow). I speak to no one except my husband and whichever of my children are around. And I don't even notice that I've been so isolated and I never feel lonely. Good or bad? I'm going to try and get out more, meet friends for lunch now and then if for no other reason than to wear some of those clothes hanging in my closet.

Don't forget if you're about tomorrow, there's a Twitter chat going on for the A to Z Challenge. Use the hash tags, #azchat or #atozchallenge. We'll meet on Twitter at 1 to 2 pm and again 8-9 pm EDST.

Do you keep lists or scribble notes to yourself? Have you found interesting bloggers through comments? Ever feel lonely when you haven't left the house for a while? What's the longest you ever spent without leaving your home? Did John's post help you?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Blog Housekeeping

April and the A to Z Challenge will be here before you know it. Whatever your reasons for running a blog, we all hope we'll gain more followers and receive lots of comments. Writing interesting content if one of the best ways to keep people coming back to your blog but here are a few little housekeeping items you can work on between now and April 1st.

Do you have links along your sidebar? Perhaps to your Twitter or Facebook? To your author's page on Goodreads? Buy links for your books? Do they all work. Now is the time to make sure they will take someone where you want them to go.

Do you list some of your favorite blogs on your sidebar also? I have found some of my favorite blogging buddies on other bloggers' sidebars. Is yours like mine and has a few friends who haven't posted any new content for weeks or months? Perhaps it's time to take them off and add some new favorites.

What about the other pages on your blog? Most people land on your homepage but hopefully some of them will check out other parts of your site. Are they up to date?

Do you have a tagline near the top of your blog? You want to share a short phrase that tells visitors what you're about. Invent one. You'll need it for other things also.

Have you made it easy for people to follow your blog? I have visited so many blogs that I want to follow and can't find the follow thingy because it's so far down the page and perhaps even at the bottom. Have that near the top. Especially if you're keeping your A to Z posts short.

Another thing that you want is for any links you have on your blog to open in a new tab and not carry people away from your blog. You want them to explore the things you've shared but you don't want them to leave before they've arrived at the end. Let the link carry them away, but after they check it out and close it, your blog is still there. This is simple to ensure on blogger but I don't know about wordpress.

This is the part where I confess, "Do as I say, not as I do." for some of my advice. I need to update my other pages, especially since I lost two publishers. The blogs on my sidebar need updating. I've added a few more favorites but I really could take a few non-active blogs off.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Final Freezing Friday

Last day of bitter, freezing cold. I hope. If my knee isn't too sore from shoveling snow yesterday, I'm going to exercise outside anyway. Unless the roads are still icy. Our neighborhood wasn't plowed until around four in the afternoon so there was no chance for the roads to clear before it froze. And did you know that chucking snow involves a lot of twisting at the knees if you're saving your back? My orthopedic surgeon explained that to me last winter as he injected it with cortisone. Took a record five cups of coffee, two large mugs of tea and glasses and glasses of water to get me through moving this last snow.

Onto brighter things for the weekend. Tomorrow morning is my local writers meeting. I love the members. They're so upbeat and supportive. There's none of that clique stuff and not getting along going on with our group. Our president is speaking about goal setting and since my plans for the year have recently been shaken about, I need to hear some of that.

On to other good news, I'm getting pretty excited about my A to Z theme as I work on posts. I hope I can tell you in next Friday's wrap-up brag a little about all my posts being done. And I'm well over half way into my first draft of my current WIP and that makes me happy. I'm almost to the part, the last quarter, where I always write fastest.

On the home front, my daughter will be home on Saturday night for spring break. We already made plans for almost every day. And then I'm going to drive her back the following weekend and spend the night. We made plans for that night too. Sunday is my youngest son's birthday so we'll probably have a house full of family all day. It will be cards games all day long and lots of teasing and picking on one another. That's how we do it.

Don't forget about the start of daylight saving time this weekend. I do love it when it stays light later in the day.

"Self-praise smells bad." Swedish proverb

Are you getting your posts ready for A to Z? Ever had a cortisone shot? Knees are as bad as in the ankle. Had to reevaluate your goals lately? Did you remember it was daylight savings time? Met anyone lately that stank of self-praise?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IWSG: Marching Onward

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for IWSG blog hop. This brain child of Alex J. Cavanaugh, this monthly fest is a chance to share encouragement with other writers or ask for some propping up for yourself. Please join this growing group by checking out the others participating today or chiming in on the Facebook page.

Today, I'm also guesting at Sharon Ledwith's blog, I came. I saw. I wrote. Sharon is one of my fellow Musa authors. Even though our publisher closed their doors less than a week ago, Sharon has already found a new publisher for her books. She's that kind of 'keeping on swimming' person. I'll be talking about how to build your blog audience, most of which I learned from people participating in IWSG.

If you stopped in here on Monday, you read the news that both publishers who had contracted my epic fantasy series have closed their doors. It was a double-whammy smack for February. I had a pity party for myself for about three days. (No one else showed up to the party even though it had wine.) Then I went to work searching for a new home for my two series. Not every publisher will take on reissues and some don't want fantasy. The epic fantasy market is a strange one. A few 'big' names do really, really well while newer writers have trouble being found. Check out the local bookstore where George RR Martin's books take up two shelves of space.

It could be worse. Back at the start of my writing career, a publisher who had two of my romances under contract declared bankruptcy. My rights were tied up in court for months with no assurance I would get them back. I learned then that those bankruptcy clauses in contracts don't really mean anything. At least this time, my publishers cared about their authors enough to do it right.

But I'm going forward with the belief that I will find a new home for those series and the motivation to finish the third and final book in the one series. There are so many avenues available to writers these days. I won't give up on them. And my romance career as Susan Kelley is still going strong. So while I wait for answers to my queries, I'll be working on the next book for my romance publisher.

"If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it." John Irving

"Nature, time and patience are the three great physicians." Bulgarian proverb

Also, don't forget that tomorrow from 1pm to 2pm and 8pm to 9pm, there is a chat going on about the A to Z Challenge on Twitter. Use these #'s.
Hope to see you there with questions, ideas or just an introduction.

Do you know any publishers who take on reissues? Are you familiar with Sharon? Care to share any horror stories of your own about publishers closing? Do you agree with the above quotes?

Monday, March 2, 2015

In Like a Lion

Today I'm introducing my Dragon Soldier team over at the A to Z Blogging Challenge and giving the day's advice for enjoying April during the challenge. And don't forget that Wednesday is IWSG posting day.

My mother had many sayings passed down from her mother and grandmother. Every March she would remind that if March comes in like a Lion, it will go out like a lamb. Since we had a bit of winter storm yesterday, I'm hoping the kinder weather shows up tomorrow. March was named for the Roman god of war, Mars. Let's home spring wins the war against winter.

If you were born in the years, 1938, '50, '62, '74, '86, '98, then you fall under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Tiger. You are forthright, sensitive and possess great courage. Is that you?

Another bit of wisdom from my trusty Old Farmer's Almanac is that it takes three weeks, on average, to form a good habit.

Now for the news that is already going about the internet but how it personally affects me. About three weeks ago, I received a letter from Crescent Moon Press telling authors that they would close their doors at the end of March and return all book rights to authors. I wasn't shocked to hear this as they had become extremely slow at answering emails and other signs.

I decided it might be for the best and decided to query Musa Publishing to take on the fantasy series I had with Crescent Moon Press since they did such a professional job with the series I had with them. To my dismay, on the day my book was to be released by Musa, I received a similar letter and returning my rights to me as on last Friday. This closing did shock me and made a sad end to February. I won't even go into all the frantic rearranging I did for the promotional things I'd planned for that book release.

I bet you can guess what my post will be about for IWSG on Wednesday.

Any Tigers here? Ever heard my mother's bit of wisdom for March? How long do you think it takes to form a good habit? Did you have any worse career news than I did in February?