Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Last Saturday I went to the "I've always wanted to write a book" conference hosted by the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group. It was held at the Radisson Hotel just north of downtown Grand Rapids, and was our group's first effort at hosting such an event. I haven't seen any numbers yet, but my overall impression is that it was a success. There were several new faces there (by new faces I mean people I didn't recognize from either of the writers' groups to which I belong), and a few expressed interest in coming to our meetings. The agent who accepted pitches made several people very happy by asking to see chapters and/or full manuscripts. The panels I attended generated lots of good questions and detailed answers. And we had enough attendees to break even. Wonderful!
As with any conference, there were times when I had to miss something that interested me because another session took precedence. But the ones I went to were great. I attended (and moderated) Maris Soule's presentation on writing mysteries, and then went to Margaret Yang's time management session. The keynote speaker, Jacqueline Carey, followed this. Then we had a delicious lunch in the hotel's restaurant. After that, I went to a panel on e-publishing, followed by a Young Adult panel. This was followed by a Q&A session with an editor and agent, and then the book signing. That wasn't so successful for me (I sold exactly ONE book!), but it was fun schmoozing. I sat by Dr. Sandra Portko and we had a nice chat.
So, what did I learn? Actually I had a few things drummed into me that I knew but probably didn't want to accept. I waste a LOT of writing time. I need to make adjustments in order to grow and succeed. I am VERY lucky to be published by a publisher. I don't want to self-publish. I feel like I'm already putting myself out there more than I would like, and wouldn't want to spend even more time working on it. I learned that, should I decide to try and make the move to traditional print publishing, I must know my niche. Right now I seem to be all over the place. I have a long historical and several short contemporaries. Some of those lean toward mystery, and some are straight romance.
I learned that there are a lot of great people out there who are willing to help me succeed in my drive to have a writing career, but that I have to put in the time and effort. This goal of mine is starting to become more and more attainable. It's been a dream that kept getting pushed farther and farther back. But someday is now. I will do it!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
With Halloween right around the corner, people all around me are deciding what character they want to become for the evening. I asked my fellow Astraea Press authors this question: "If you could become any one of your characters, which one would it be, and why?" Take a look at their answers. If you find one you like, you can click on the author's name to read more about the story and find ordering information.
So please allow me to introduce my newest friends who have graciously shared their idea of a Halloween makeover!
Kay Springsteen, author of Lifeline Echoes and Elusive Echoes: I would be any one of the McGee women in the Orson's Folly series, because once their men fell in love with them, there was no one else in the world for those men. But of all of them, I admire Sandy Wheaton McGee (sexy bar owner and singer) the most because of her self-confidence and resilience.
Meg Mims, author of Double Crossing: If I could be a character in Double Crossing, I would be Lily Granville -- young, wealthy, and adventuresome. I am NOT any of these, LOL. I tend to be a "stay-at-home" and plenty chicken. Which is why I love writing characters who are so different and who live exciting lives!
J. F. Jenkins, author of Vala: Agendas: If I could be anyone from one of my stories, I would have to say it's a tie between two characters. First would be Jewl from "Vala: Agendas" because she's already a lot like me, but more importantly I think it would be super awesome to be a summoner. I'd probably have a little too much fun with that one. My other character of choice would be one of the flying dragons from the Dragon's Saga. Who wouldn't want to fly through clouds for a day and see the world?
S. G. Rogers, author of The Last Great Wizard of Yden: I've always admired artists; so much of what they do seems so otherworldly. So if I had the chance to be a character from my novel, I'd be Jon Hansen. His wicked artistic talent translates to something even more fantastic on the magical world of Yden...everything he draws comes to life. How awesome is that?
Sherry Gloag, author of From Now Until Forever (coming soon!): I'd like to be the heroine, Melanie Babcot, in my upcoming Astraea press book, From Now Until Forever, because she is a fighter, sassy, loyal and when she gives her heart it is for keeps.
Chynna T. Laird, author of Blackbird Flies: Of all my characters, I think I'd want to be Payton from my YA novella, Blackbird Flies. The story is actually based on one of my real-life experiences but Payton made much better choices than I did in the same situation. He's stronger, more focused and surrounded with more goodness than I'd been. I love him. =)
Linsday Downs, author of Emily Dahill, CID chose her canine hero. When asked why, she had Dakota answer for her: Patty, come on get serious, to start with I’m sexy as all get out. Check out my beautiful soft brown eyes. Eyes that any woman could and would lose herself in.
Besides being every woman’s dream guy, I’m smart as all get out, have a great sense of smell. I can also out run and out think just about any human except Emily.
Let’s put it this way folks, I’m the best hero any author ever came up with. Oh, and I work for table scraps, as long as the morsels are sirloin or porterhouse steak tidbits.
Iris Blobel, author of Sweet Dreams, Miss England and Journey to Her Dreams: The character I like most in my books is Daniel, from Sweet Dreams, Miss England. He’s a wonderful character, the Peter Pan of today – he’s charming, thoughtful and kind. An Irish man who loves to live life. I’d like to be like him (though I’m getting better at being Peter Pan-ish).
Joselyn Vaughn, author of Hauntings of the Heart: I want to be Minnie Schultz, from Hauntings of the Heart and CEOs Don’t Cry, when I grow up. She’s strong, fit and confident and happy with where she’s at. And she’s a heck of a lot of fun.
Many thanks to my fellow Astraea Press authors for introducing us to their favorite characters! As for me, I'd like to be Francie, one of the main characters in Aegean Intrigue. As soon as I get the cover, I'll share it!
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Welcome! Here's a view of Mount Olympus in Athens, from world-work.net. Today I have another scene from my novella, Aegean Intrigue:
"I’m grateful for the dig opportunity. It’s the perfect excuse for leaving Athens." She frowned. "Of course, I will need to replace the income from the restaurant, unless you need another cook besides Dimitri." She turned her beautiful brown eyes toward him, and his heart melted at the hopefulness in them.
Alex cleared his throat, forcing himself to concentrate on the conversation. "With such a small crew, he shouldn't need an assistant," he explained.
Her face fell and the first seeds of doubt took root in Alex’s mind. If she was as guilty as Zotis claimed, why would she be so anxious for menial work? Wouldn’t she have been compensated for prior heists? Besides, she was the daughter of a world-famous scientist and a Hollywood actress. Surely she didn’t have to provide for herself? Something wasn’t right.
"Perhaps I can suggest something for now." Glancing to confirm he had her attention, he continued. "I'm sure the professor knows what he's doing as far as the actual dig, but he seems to be a bit unsure about electronic communication. Several of his reports need to be turned in online, and I know he would appreciate your help. There has also been interest in keeping a blog, so students elsewhere can see what we’re doing. You would, of course, be compensated for your time."
The glow lighting her face made Alex’s heart soar. He would have promised her anything to keep it there. But he quickly dampened his eagerness. He could not, would not, take on the responsibility for someone else’s happiness. It led only to heartbreak. He forced himself to remember the pain of that last betrayal. He looked away, only half-listening to Francie express her gratitude and promise to do her best.
It was going to be a long summer. If he had any sense at all, he would leave her now and go back to his office. Instead he heard himself ask, "Have you eaten lunch yet?"
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Friday, October 21, 2011
"Let's give 'em something to talk about" was the song I heard from the stage last night. The Bonnie Raitt tune is what my daughter chose to sing for her second round of Lakeshore's Got Talent. I like the song and thought it went well with her voice.
But the words were also special. It got me thinking. Although the meaning of the title refers to something different entirely, I thought about how they could apply to me. This weekend I'm attending the "I've Always Wanted to Write a Book" conference in Grand Rapids. We've got a great lineup of speakers and panelists. They're going to talk about everything from how to handle our stress to how to sell our books. We'll get to commiserate with other authors about the frustrations of getting published, and "get away from it all" at the beautiful Radisson Hotel on the banks of the Grand River. I can't wait!
So for me, "Giving them something to talk about" means writing a killer story and putting it in people's hands so that they can enjoy it. It means managing my life so that I have the time and the skills to write. It means getting crafting the story in a way that it will catch a publisher's eye and sell it.
It means I want to be famous. And I want to do it now.
P.S. My daughter made it to the final round! Go, Robyn!
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Welcome! If you've been here before, you might have read previous selections from my recently accepted novella Aegean Intrigue. The story will be available sometime from Astraea Press. Here's another sample:
"The Project Director is coming today to give us more specific information. He is in contact with the major investors—oh, here he is, Mr. Alexandros Leonidis."
Francie turned her expectant gaze toward the door and felt her blood freeze. There had to be a mistake. The mystery man from the restaurant, the man who had rescued her from Kostos’ advances, was the Project Director? Maybe she should rethink joining this dig. There was really no question she would go, of course. It would be good for her resume. She needed the work, and she needed to get away from Kostos.
But would she be trading one problem for another?
Against her better judgement, her gaze traveled down the length of the man. A battered brown satchel hung from his left shoulder, conflicting with the polished, yet casual appearance of his clothing. Perhaps the satchel had sentimental value. Or perhaps he was a practical man, not requiring new things simply because what he had was worn.
Her father had had a similar leather satchel for his digging tools. He had used it long after it showed signs of wear, repairing the rips and tears. One Christmas, she had given him a new one, hoping to please him. He had thanked her, but continued to use his old one. During her last visit to his home, she found her gift stuffed in the bottom drawer of a cabinet, unused.
She forced her mind back to the present. The stranger from the previous night was definitely not Georges Vasileiou. Unlike her father, this man moved with purpose. His eyes were clear and focused. And right now they were focused on her.
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Friday, October 14, 2011
Last night I went to a talent show. The city of Holland hosted an "American Idol" - like event in which twelve participants showed their stuff, and three judges gave their input. Their votes, as well as the votes of the audience, determined who would go and who would stay. Of the eleven who started, one was eliminated. The ten remaining will perform again next week. At that time, the field will be cut down to five, and then on the third week the winner will be determined.
My youngest daughter was one of the eleven brave souls who got on stage and opened themselves to public scrutiny. And she was one of the ten who will perform again next week! So if you are anywhere near Holland, MI next Thursday, please come to the Park Theater at 7 pm and cast your vote for Robyn!
I've always loved hearing her sing. When she graduated from college, I was afraid my days of going to her performances were over. But she's realized she misses singing onstage and is pursuing other venues. I'm so proud of her. She's defining what she wants in life, and she's going after it.
What more could a mom ask for?
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Come and visit. If you leave a comment, your name may be drawn for a free book download!
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Welcome! This week I've decided to share a scene from one of my Works-in-Progress. It's a fun switch for me, writing about a couple a little closer to my own age:
“What do you mean, you don’t want to go? When we first got married, you said you wanted to travel and see the world because you’d never been anywhere!”
He shrugged his shoulders, but his hands continued to spread the mayo, meticulously covering the bread in precise strokes. “That was then. I’ve changed.”
She stared at him. “Who are you, and what have you done with my husband?”
Finally, a reaction. He frowned, a stern look that reminded her of her father. “Not funny.”
“I’m not trying to be funny. You told me you’d always wanted to travel, but never had the chance to when you were young. We promised each other we’d see the world when we saved up enough. So let’s do it!”
He laid the piece down slowly. A chill creeping up her spine told her that she wasn’t going to like what Dave had to say.
“I can’t do it, Sylvie,” he began. It had been a long time since he had used the name he coined for her in the early days. “I just can’t make myself waste all that money on a trip.”
“How can you say it’s a waste?”
He sighed. “We’ve been over this, Syl.” He picked up another piece and began to cover it with mustard . “There’s no reason we need to go to Mackinac Island. Yes, it’s pretty, and yes, the fudge is good. But we have pretty beaches less than thirty miles from here, and you make a killer fudge. So I don’t need to spend several hundreds of dollars to sit on a bus with a bunch of smelly senior citizens and ride four hours to sleep in an overpriced hotel and shop in stores for stuff I don’t need.”
Sylvia counted to ten. At least, she thought she did. She may have missed a number or two, but she was so angry she wasn’t sure. “Okay, then. Where would you like to go?”
Another shrug. “I don’t need to go anywhere.”
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Friday, October 7, 2011
I've been a published author for about three months now. I've received one statement of sales, and they were not bad for the first three days. But then the following month there were absolutely none. It's definitely not a blockbuster hit. I've seen other authors crow about the wonderful reviews they've gotten from other bloggers. I've googled my title and pen name and gotten exactly zero hits. So I finally coerced my son-in-law to write a review, which he very graciously did. I got a rating from him as well as two friends who read the book. So now I actually have a rating.
I set up a facebook author page and now have sixty-six "likes". That makes me feel good - I know other authors who have been writing longer and have fewer likes. I don't get many reactions to things I post there, but at least some people are seeing my progress. It keeps me motivated.
I volunteered to be interviewed at a fellow author's blog. That went pretty well. I advertised it on my facebook page as well as my own wall. I sent out email notices to both my writing groups as well as a few family members who stubbornly refuse to get caught up on facebook. Result? I got a four "likes" on that, but no comments. The interview itself got five comments. Samantha, the hosting blogger, told me there were sixty-some hits. So there were a lot of people looking at the interview, but not many who offered reactions. And I got several email responses from one of the writing groups congratulating me.
I moaned about this to my kids last night (neither daughter had seen the facebook announcement about the interview!) and they both assured me that lots of people read things without commenting on them. I had to think about that. I'm often asked to rate an online purchase and don't. I read other people's books and don't often rate them or write reviews. Sometimes I assume my thoughts aren't going to matter to the author, especially if it's someone who is famous. I mean, what difference is my opinion going to make, especially if there are already five hundred comments? But I guess I'll have to re-think this. Especially if I notice there aren't many other people who have weighed in.
So, my friends, if you have read The Legacy, or any other book written by a beginning author, please take some time to give feedback. Go to Goodreads, or Amazon, or Barnes and Noble and leave a rating and/or a review. Let the author know what you think! Your comments WILL be appreciated. And I will make more of an effort to comment on things my friends post.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Welcome! I'm taking a break from my historical romance to celebrate the recent acceptance of my contemporary Greek island story, entitled Aegean Intrigue, to Astraea Press. This is my second sale to that wonderful publisher. Here's the opening scene:
He was staring at her again.
She knew it, despite his outward lack of interest. His long, lean frame was draped casually into the wooden chair in the outdoor section of the Appolon Grill. Dark shades covered his eyes, but the jet-black eyebrows above them rose and tilted her way every time she moved. Unlike locals, who occasionally threw friendly greetings her way, this man stayed in his seat and silently watched her.
Francie Vasileiou bent her head and focused her attention on the textbook in front of her. Inwardly, she was flattered by his interest. But she reminded herself she was here in Athens to further her education, not to find a man. She sipped her water and struggled to ignore the man and concentrate on the words on the page.
The warm breeze calmed her nerves as she sat at her usual table in the back corner of the restaurant. Most tourists preferred to sit at the outer edges of the seating area, with a view of Mount Olympus and the spectacular sunset. But here, next to the kitchen, she was not distracted by the conversation and the view. The light from the kitchen allowed her to continue reading until Kostos closed down for the night.
Her job here at the restaurant was perfect. She worked enough hours so that she could pay her living expenses, and when she wasn’t cooking or waitressing, Kostos allowed her to use one of his tables for studying. Even with the commotion from the kitchen and the restaurant patrons’ conversations, this setting was much better for concentrating than the noisy apartment building where she lived.
It took some effort, but finally the words on the page became concrete ideas, and she was transported back in time to the world of ancient Greece, to the time of the patricians. The structures on the Acropolis were not ruins but proud, gleaming works of art. Toga-draped people walked the dusty streets, while the less fortunate hawked their wares from makeshift stalls.
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