Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Community


This is the picture that I posted on my Facebook page yesterday to honor my Irish roots. It was all in fun, but it also served another purpose. You see, I've had a friend has been really sick for the last week with the onset of Guillan-Barre Syndrome. It's a disorder when the bodies immune system mistakenly attacks the nervous system. Today, my longtime friend Kert lost his battle. The worst part is that it wasn't his first battle with it. He fought it 18 years ago and made it. Somehow, we all expected that this time would be the same. But despite the hope, we lost a good friend.

So why the pic? Because this was exactly what he would have done or liked. He would have enjoyed the sheer idiocy of it. So for him, I'm keeping my pic the same for the rest of the month. And for him, I'm going to talk about Community in writing.

You see, I come from a very small fishing community. The place itself is part of a larger town, but like most parts of Maine it is broken into areas. Mine is Cundy's Harbor. Several years ago I attended a workshop given by Jennie Crusie regarding Community as Character in writing. This sounds odd, but really it's such a big part of what we do. We create fictional places, populate them with fictional people and bind them together with fictional bonds. But as writers we know that all of this comes from what we see around us. What we've experienced. Those things that live within us.

I was blessed to have the upbringing I had. I lived in a town that was one main road in and out. No street lights, few stop signs, and everyone eventually knew everything there was to know about you. Whether you wanted it known or not. I still consider it home even though I haven't physically lived there for over 20 years. It's my safety net and it's the place I retreat to when I feel threatened.

The people that make up these kinds of communities are good and bad, happy and sad and they experience joy and loss.  They are the lady that runs the restaurant, the minister and his wife, the guy who heads up the volunteer fire department, the lady that rarely speaks to anyone, only waves from her window. It's my grandmother who lived in the house beside the road and across the street from her brother and his wife. It's Sid who sold us penny candy out of the case when we were supposed to be on our way to Campfire Girls. It was long summer nights spent out until the moon was high in the sky. It was getting one of the local boys to give you a ride in his skiff and it was Halloween parties when you mother played the fortune teller.

These are the kind of rich details that make up a community. They are the kinds of details that make people like me want to share that world with others. People like Jennie Crusie and Deb Macomber understand this. They know that people identify with it and even if they've never lived in a harbor, they can identify with it.

I hope I'm a better person for it and I hope that I can do it justice. For my friend Kert... you will be missed. If I had a glass I'd raise it. But maybe I'll just immortalize you in fiction. You'd like that. Best wishes friend. Say hi to my mom and I'll see you on the other side.





Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Cry for Help






I've been working hard on the revisions of Stealing Thunder and having a hard time with the ideology of the force that creates the backdrop for the storyline. My mind kept wandering back to an episode of Castle. The Scared To Death episode where he calls Wes Craven for help with a case. So far, I've replayed the clip multiple times and I think Mr. Craven just may help more than Castle get his butt out of this alive.



Enjoy!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Thoughts and Things

Last week was a very LONG week.

It started off with a trip to the hospital for a CT scan of my neck and ended with a houseful of teenage boys sleeping in all positions on my furniture. (BTW, the CT scan was fine.)

February may be a short month, but it feels tons longer here in Maine. Granted, we've had a lot less snow than my daughter is experiencing in Eastern Pennsylvania, but it's enough to make us feel as if it's never going to end.

Hubby is in heaven with the ice fishing. He's been ever weekend so far, but I'm not one to sit my cold butt on the ice. Give me a snuggly warm blanket and a coffee and let me curl up on the couch with my Kindle. Enough said there....

ABOUT THE WRITING
Total words last week: 298 (Stealing Souls) Yuck! But there were outside influences. (See above).

Speaking of Kindle, I ran a countdown promotion on OBSIDIAN and THREE TRUTHS last week. What is a countdown promotion? Well, I was wondering the same thing and after checking it out I came to the conclusion that it's another avenue for getting your books out there. You sign up on the KDP dashboard for a specified amount of days and it will offer your book at a discount for those days. The amount of the discount is graduated. That is, the first day of the countdown is the lowest price, and each consecutive day is a dollar higher. One of the books I went for two days and the other for three. I based it on the regular price of the book. If the regular price is 3.99, the first day would be .99. The second 1.99. And so on... The other part of this is that they are listed on a countdown sales list. I couldn't find the list. But I'm told it's there.

So, how did the promotion do? Not bad. I did get some sales out it. Over all, they were more than I'd had on those two books for awhile. I'll take them. Will I do it again? Yup. I think I'll do it when I release Stealing Thunder. This will be a good promotion to help get the sales going for Stealing Darkness, the prequel novella.

OTHER THINGS
If you haven't heard the buzz about Marie Forces' latest book, ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, then you should check it out. Marie is the Queen of creating a following... right up there with J.R. Ward when it comes to the rampant devotion of her readers. But the devotion is well deserved when the authors consistently provide great books, satisfying stories and all within a reasonable time period. The other part that makes Marie successful is her accessibility. She is very down-to-earth with her readers, and they feel close to her. That makes for a great reader/writer relationship.

ON THE KINDLE
Well, I just downloaded ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE today, along with a novella from Deb Marlowe called A SLIGHT MISCALCULATION. I'm in the middle of reading TO TEMPT A VIKING, a Harlequin Historical from Michelle Willingham. So, it may be awhile before I get into the new stories.

That's it for last week. More medical test this week, but hopefully now that the birthday party is over and the tests are done I'll be able to get more writing done. Then again, I still have the taxes and FAFSA to do. :)

Happy Writing and Reading!




Saturday, February 01, 2014

A Very Good Deal!

I confess, while hubby and son are busy watching the Superbowl tomorrow I'm going to be writing or reading. Watching it on TV is just not my thing. Also, I work at a grocery store, so I know that tomorrow is going to be INSANE while people gear up for their munch-fests. But I know I can't be totally alone in my escape plan, and, since I figured this would be the case, I decided that it would be the perfect time for a Countdown Deal on OBSIDIAN and THREE TRUTHS.

How do Countdown Deals work? Amazon puts them on their Countdown Deal list for several days and the price goes from the lowest available to the current price. In the case of OBSIDIAN, the book is listed at 3.99 for Kindle Download. Starting tomorrow, Kindle will list the book at .99 for 24 hours. After that it goes to 1.99 for 24 hours and then on to 2.99 for 24 hours. I have the same deal set up for THREE TRUTHS, but for a 2-day sale since the listing price is 2.99.

I'll be interested to see what happens with these deals. Will there be others out there looking for reading material that will drown out the football hoopla? I hope so. Until then, I'll give you a little taste of what I have available.




When a boat explosion kills his best friend, U.S.Coast Guard Officer Jamie Rivard is lured into investigating the connection between his death and an undercover smuggling operation off the coast Maine. But going back to Maine means coming to terms with his brother's death while guarding his heart from a beautiful widow with troubles of her own -








Katie Talmadge is content with the sane, somewhat boring life she's created for herself. She may be a little lonely and her Salem flower shop may not be turning the customers away, but that's perfectly fine with her.
Simon Thorton's aunt has a little magical matchmaking in mind and she's got both Katie and Simon in her sights. For far too long she's watched her nephew mourn his wife's passing. But she's not above asking for a little divine help in guiding them into realizing that life is about taking chances, especially when fate, magic and destiny lend a helping hand.
With one week to go before Halloween, Katie and Simon's hearts are in the hands of a magic wielding godmother in a city that believes that ANYTHING is possible if you only believe! 










Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Dark Side of Paranormal





I think it was sometime around 2009 that my interest in the Paranormal really took quite a turn for me. I'd been watching quite a few of those shows... you know which ones, and found that I really didn't mind the idea of going into a dark place in the middle of the night and looking for things that scare most rational people. But it wasn't until my love of local legends gave me a chance to become involved with a local Ghost Hunting group that I was able to put those thoughts to the test. What was I thinking? More than once on an investigation I found myself giving my brain a shake. But still, I loved it. I investigated with the group for about a year, but for anyone interested you need to understand that it is a major time commitment. And, if you are like me and work a retail job, you'll find that it's hard to get the hours right. I still investigate, mostly on a request basis. I've been called in on a few cases and done some digging of my own. Have I see any ghosts? I certainly seen things (and heard) that I can't explain. It's a bit like becoming obsessed with something. It gets into your blood.

This brings me to the pic above. For those of you don't recognize it, it's Pennhurst Asylum in Pennsylvania. The young woman in the picture is my daughter. She's always ready to jump and go on adventures with mom. This was taken a couple weekends before Halloween and Pennhurst was gearing up for their Haunted House. They didn't appreciate the little side trip I took to get the pictures, but it's on the bucket list of places I need to go. Some of the reasons are highly personal, especially when it comes to the rather traumatic past of the institution. But there is that adventurer in me that is just begging to get out there and investigate. Hopefully soon.

I'll keep you all updated!



Friday, January 10, 2014

Grief in Storytelling


I'm hard at work on STEALING THUNDER. The number 2 book in the Darkness Paranormal series that I'm writing. As in STEALING DARKNESS, this book deals considerably with grief. It's a recurring theme for most of my work, mostly because of the truth of the emotion. In STEALING DARKNESS, the grief is over an unseen loss and how it relates to her own inability to save someone. But in STEALING THUNDER, the grief has several avenues. The first is Graham's coming to terms with the loss of his mother, a loss he thought he dealt with long ago. For Grace, it's watching a friend slowing fading away. And for a little girl, it's dealing with the grief of watching her mother die and knowing there's no way to stop it.

People automatically think that grief is something that happens after death. But in fact, from the moment we realize the finality of a situation we are forced to deal with our own mortality, and the inevitability of loss. I've often heard people say that it must be easier to deal with a sudden loss over one that we see coming, but truly grief (in all it's forms) is never easy. The wear on the body, both physical and mental is what make the time span so significant. The wear and tear on the heart is what makes us all human.

The only way to make the grief any easier is to accept it for what is and the process for what it brings. It will take as long as it takes and no one will ever have the same experience. And the best preparation is to say all the things that you want to say. Tell people what they mean to you. Take the time to make them a part of your everyday life, and never forget or overlook those tiny moments that become huge blessings.  





STEALING DARKNESS: Book One of the Darkness Paranormal Series

Kindle Edition: Available from Amazon

Minn Sterling ran away from Crescent Lake to escape the psychic legacy left to her by her mother and to protect her heart from the man she was too scared to love. But when three women are mysteriously killed and the only connection the police have is her psychic link to the killer, Minn has no choice but to face her fears and run back into the arms of the one man who believes in her enough to catch the killer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another Tale of Ebook Pricing

Almost a year ago I wrote this nifty little blog post about pricing on ebooks where I talked about the taco pricing (read it to get the full meaning) and how we shouldn't undervalue our work. But then, I went and did just that. I was convinced that if I priced OBSIDIAN at just .99 it would be picked up as a hot seller and spark interest. It did... for the first couple of weeks. But then, after time, the sales started lagging. There are any number of reasons why a book will languish in medium-ville. Not enough publicity. Not enough word of mouth... I can't really say why the book lagged in sales. I originally put it off to the fact that it had already been out as a hardcover for some time. I wasn't really sure.

Anyway, recently I pulled Stealing Darkness back from Smashwords and the places that they distribute to. I didn't like the lack of control. The total facelessness (not a word... I know) that I was finding by going this route. I love being able to see what a book is doing. I love being able to tweak my works and maybe even change the direction of my sales. I wasn't getting that ability anywhere but at Amazon.

After I pulled it back I knew that a couple of things were seriously needed for the book to succeed.
The first is a new cover... I am glad to tell you that I have it in my hot fingers. The second was that I needed to look at the sequel again and determine what had held me back from publishing it. It was done. But either I was unhappy with the direction the story took, or I lost confidence from lagging sales... either way, I had shot myself in the foot and I needed to correct it.

So, here is what is coming up...

On Friday, August 23 the price of both OBSIDIAN and THREE TRUTHS will be changed to $5.99. I can't promise that they will remain this price, but they are both full length novels, and as such deserve a price that reflects the blood, sweat, tears and imagination I put into them.

Date to be announced: STEALING DARKNESS will be reissued with a hotter content and an even hotter cover. Seriously! This cover is amazing!  Also this will be coincide with...

Date to be announced: STEALING THUNDER the second book in the DARKNESS PARANORMAL SERIES and a longer book, featuring Grace, the middle Sterling sister and a very hunky hero named Graham Wolfe. This one takes place in one of my favorite places, the Smoky Mountains and North Carolina. Stay tuned for more...

AND, JUST BECAUSE I CAN'T RESIST... there is a little teaser in the back of STEALING THUNDER about the third and final book in the DARKNESS PARANORMAL SERIES. The title isn't quite decided upon (I can't make up my mind), but this is all Nevi Sterling's book and it's set in New Orleans! I'll let you know more when STEALING THUNDER is released and keep watch here for more info.

ONE LAST THING!!!!!! I'm going to be doing a giveaway this Fall, so stay tuned. You never know what may happen next!



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Feel Good Read and Just .99 on Kindle!

Magic, destiny and fate… Katie Talmadge has had her fill of all three while living in Salem, Massachusetts. But when a mysterious woman promises to change her life with three fateful truths, Katie begins to believe in a magic that can only come from the heart.



Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Mayhem, Dangerous Intent and a Removal of my Precious Sanity... And that's just this week

Can I pick 'em, or can I pick 'em?

This should be a smooth sailing week leading to the luxury of a vacation, but instead I find myself surrounded by chaos and wishing for the soul enhancing dance of quiet writing time.

Should be easy. Right? You would think so, but even the best of intentions can be derailed by a family on the move toward the edge of reason and chaos.

Let me explain...

Hubby is hard at work, running lengths of beautiful bronze metal up on the roof. He trudges up and down the ladder, laboring in the heat, while moaning over the fact that he wasn't born to be a carpenter. The roof is truly glorious and it's going to be wonderful come this chilly, snow-laden winter. Especially, when he doesn't have to get up there and shovel off the roof. This is only the beginning of the chaos that will be River View for the next couple months. Electricity is getting updated and there are new windows and doors to be installed. I'm even getting a new kitchen floor if we can ever agree on just what will withstand the constant flow of teenagers in and out of the door.

And then, there is the daughter who is returning for her third year of college. I spent a lot of time this summer repeating the words, "Your 20 now and I can't tell you what to do, but..." which usually was a reminder to put her laundry in, clean her perpetual chaos out from underfoot or move her car out of the path of the first vehicle to leave in the morning. I miss her dearly when she goes to college, but there is a reason why they grow and leave and it's usually just to preserve a parent's sanity.

Son has started football. Again. This last year has been a year of amazing growth. In his case, it's means a growth of about a foot. At 14, he's 6'2" which should make him the largest on the Freshman football team, but alas, he's not. He's still growing, so stay tuned. In the meantime, we have the daily washing of the football gear, the running back and forth to practice and trying to fill the endless well that is a teenage boy's stomach. Not an easy task.

And through it all I have undertaken the task of writing a new story. I put aside the other stuff and have decided to take another direction. This is book in a week and I'm trying to find a way to meet my measly goals. Keep your fingers crossed for us here at River View... our sanity is in short supply. I am endeavoring to keep a better visual of my progress here, prompted by the frequent posts of Cherie Priest as she chronicles her writing and life. I enjoy her chaos. I hope you can find some enjoyment in mine.

Until then, happy writing!



Friday, July 26, 2013

Coming Back from Beyond? Booksellers and Ebooks


“In this market, you could actually pick up market share simply because you’re the only major bookseller left,” ~John Tinker, a media analyst at the Maxim Group

The above quote is from a July 22 article from The New Yorker, entitled "Ebook vs. Pbook" by James Surowiecki. (Great article! follow the link).

Ultimately, I prefer to browse the shelves of a bookstore, roaming among the aisles and picking up books at a whim. I confess, I have a Kindle. I actually love it, but a few things became abundantly clear to me when I started purchasing books for it.

1. Having an ereader appeals to the hoarder, or the instant society that has overtaken us all. No longer do we have to wait in anticipation for the next installment when we find a new author. We are able to browse amongst their backlog and find something else to ease that need for a read. But am I alone by saying that I will probably never read half of the books I downloaded. Once I got a look at the first page and was able to get a feel for a writer's style, I found that many of them were not to my liking.

2. Not all ebooks are created equal. Just as not all paper books are of the same quality, the same could be said for ebooks. Enough said.

3.Nothing can replace contact, human nature and good-old-fashioned communication. This is the true gold behind any successful bookstore, their ability to connect with the readers and give them what they want. No matter how good the marketing material, nothing beats good word of mouth. And if you can get an enthusiastic bookseller behind you... you can ride it to the bestseller lists. This is what the smaller bookstores do well. They don't have the money to back them or the distribution, but they do have the ability to connect.

I tend to think of the downsizing of the bookseller trade as being much like the end of the dot.com push, or the 80's more-is-more, that so many company's had to find a way to recover from. Barnes and Noble is not dead. I don't believe that the Independent Bookseller is dead. I think there is room for everyone. We just need to figure out where that is. And there are lessons to be learned from both the demise of big chains like Borders and the nail-biting hanging-on that B&N has managed until now. There are lessons to be learned from all those smaller stores that closed. And there are lessons to be learned from Amazon, the consumer, and the authors. Starting over is always an option. You only fail if you don't keep trying.

I don't believe that books will ever become obsolete. There will always be those who prefer the joy of holding it, turning down the pages and reveling in the anticipation of an adventure. There's room there for all. We just have to find the common ground and learn from those around us.



Saturday, July 13, 2013

The State of the State (Or The Current Business of Books)

It's been awhile since I've posted on the business of books, but recently I started reviewing my past experience and how the business has changed since I got into it 20+ years ago. Here's just a few of the revelations that I've discerned.

1.
In the beginning, (read: pre-internet) so much of the contact between authors and booksellers was a carefully constructed dance that required the help of multiple personages at the publishing houses. Promotion was based on previous sales and often those authors in the dreaded mid-list and (gasp!) below didn't qualify for much in the way of help from their publishers. It may still exist today, but for many it is a catch-22. Sales= $valuable sales promotion dollars and new authors with previous sales record = $0. From a business plan standpoint this idea makes sense, put the dollars where they will be the most effective. But somewhere along the way the authors that had to work hard for their sales and put blood, sweat and tears into promoting their babies came away with some hard won knowledge now that there has been a shift in the market, opening up new avenues with indie pubbing, etc.


2.
With the amount of BIG booksellers, chains such as Borders and Barnes and Noble, experiencing dwindling markets, there is once again an opportunity for local venues to gain ground again and in some cases see the return of the local bookstore. Those that held on despite the presence of big box stores are seeing resurgence from customers who long for the friendly bookstore next door to get their addictions fed. But this is also the opportunity for those large chains to take a step back and appraise market needs. Clearly their sales are touched by the emergence of alternate publishing methods, but that doesn't rule them out entirely. Adaptability is the key to any business and perhaps taking cues from the rotating market will enable them to once again gain ground. Personal relationships, quality product and services and attention to detail. These are the things that hinge a great business together.

3.
An eye on the future is what is needed if both authors can continue forward. It seems that no matter how many times I say it there is still a need to put it out there. This is a business and authors who aren't willing to learn the business take the chance of being left behind. It's more than setting a brand for yourself in this market. It's about taking the time to research and understand. I know authors who run the gamut between not wanting anything to do with the business side and those who understand it better than the experts themselves. Nina Pierce would be an excellent example. She understands markets, trends and best of all... cause and effect. She gets it better than most I've talked to and better, she's willing to share her knowledge if you ask.
So the question remains... where is the market today? It is still evolving and clearly if I knew what the answers were I'd have the keys to the kingdom. But for those with their eyes open, there is a big wide world out there waiting.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Got Something for Tall, Dark and Insanely Hot?




Run, don't walk to your computer to get your copy of Tiffinie Helmer's Wild Men of Alaska. This boxed set is worth the price with not one, not two, not three, but four hot romances designed to have you researching plane fares to Alaska.

Impact starts with a bang when the man who arrested Wren makes an appearance once again in her life. He's been waiting for her...

Everything is Moosed-Up when Eva finds herself in the tiny Alaskan town of Chatanika. She needs the escape and the town needs her medical expertise, but nothing can prepare her for Lynx enters her life.

Dreamweaver is a surreal, ghostly love story that turns the tables on romance from the other side. Don't like ghost stories? You'll like this one...

and in Bearing All, enemies can be so much more dangerous when there is love as the prize.

Check out all these great stories and an added bonus of a preview of Edge, her first book in the Romance on the Edge series.

I can't wait!

Midnight, strange mystic hour, when the vail between the frail present and eternal future grows thin.
~ Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe



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