T.M.I. in your novel…

mustache pixDid you ever have a conversation with someone who wanted to share a wee bit too much personal info a wee bit to early in your relationship? Mayhap, you didn’t really want to know about your new friend’s gynecological status or something along those lines? I have an ongoing disagreement with my editor about the topic of how much information should be delivered to the reader in the first few chapters. My editor’s perspective runs thusly, “the reader needs to know the basic problem, life situation and pertinent character history to he/she can feel grounded in the story and not overly confused.”

My perspective runs more along these lines: “I want to be confused as a reader. I want to be dropped right into that story and learn the salient bits as I go along.”

You see the conflict here? I feel the first way is too formulaic, reveals too much in the beginning that I want to discover later. The second way, however, can leave the reader confused and prone to putting the book down and never picking it back up. Balancing the two views is the path wherein genius lies and unfortunately, I haven’t attained that status yet!

What about you? Do you like to know the set up from the beginning or are you content to be adrift for a while? Would love to hear your opinion. giving away an Amazon gift card this month!

Best sellers…would you read any of these?

I am fascinated by best seller lists, because it’s like taking a peek at the pulse of the nation’s readers. Here are the top five print/ebook bestselling books according to the New York Times for this week.

1. The King, by J.R. Ward.Black Dagger Brotherhood continues as a royal bloodline is compromised by a grave threat to the throne.

2.  I’ve Got You Under My Skin, by Mary Higgins Clark.The producer of a true-crime show must contend with participants with secrets as well as her husband’s murderer.  

3.  The Fixed Trilogy, Laurelin Paige, for adult audiences only

4.  Shadow Spell, by Nora Roberts. In County Mayo, a falconer with an unresolved past falls for his sister’s best friend

5.  Missing You, Harlan Coban. Kat Donovan, an N.Y.P.D. detective, searches for the ex-fiancé who left her years before, and for her father’s murderer.

Interesting variety, no? I would probably not choose The King (not into vampire and paranormal) or The Fixed Trilogy (I generally skip imagethings with covers featuring scantily clad people doing unmentionable things), but I would probably give the Mary Higgins Clark book a read, and I enjoy most everything Coban has written. What do you think? Would you read any of the top five bestsellers on the list? Comments get you entered in the drawing for an Amazon gift card.

Can you make a living writing? Yes…and no.

imageThis question comes up often, as we all strive to do whatever we can to keep afloat in this tricky economy. Could I make a living solely on my writing income? Straight answer? Not where I live. In the San Francisco Bay Area with housing prices and cost of living being what it is, probably not. I also work part time as a third grade teacher and my husband works as well. That said, could I come close if we lived in an area that was less expensive…yes, and no. The answer is yes, if I was willing to do what it takes. What is that, you ask?

Continue to publish traditionally, but add more self published works. That’s doable, but I’d need to promote those self published works as vigorously as Harlequin promotes the traditional titles. That means, have professional covers designed, market them on Smashwords, Amazon and every other site that will carry them. Maintain a high blog presence and participate on book related loops/websites on a near daily basis to keep these little gems on the front minds of consumers. Am I willing to do that? No, sorry to say. Why? I love my teaching job and I want to be excellent at it, that takes work. I mother my two teenage girls and I want to excel at that, too. I strive to be a good wife and a helpful member of my church. Could I give those up and pursue a full time living as a writer? Yes, but I choose not to. Some people could no doubt do it all. I can’t, not if I want to do any of it well.

What about you? Did you ever make a choice that would bring in less income, but reward you in other ways? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Giving away an Amazon gift card this month.

Why an author’s first book is different….

imageDid you ever devour an author’s first book and find the subsequent books slightly different? Perhaps in tone or intensity, or level of quirkiness? I recently had a conversation with a gentleman about that very topic. What is the reason for this “first book”  phenomenon? From my perspective, that first book is your ‘book of the heart’ so to speak. It’s that story that’s been kicking around in your soul for ages and maybe it took a good two or three (or more) years to finally get it nailed down. Then a miracle occured and someone actually wants to pay you and publish the thing! Incredible. But now your writing is not completely “of the heart” anymore, it’s “of the head” as we seek to make a go of it in shark infested publishing waters.

Now, there will be deadlines (because a second book must follow the first with a reasonable period in between to carry our readers along.) There will be lessons learned from the first book that we now apply to the second. There will be planning for the third book perhaps, and the next series after that if we’re going to seriously pursue a writing career.  Unless you are producing books regularly, both readers and publishers will forget about you.

Will the author’s next books be sub par? No, just….different. I have gained skill as a writer with each book I produced and I’d like to think I’m a better writer now than fourteen years ago, but my writing will never be quite have that “book of the heart” feel again.

Have you ever noticed an author’s books changing over time? Does that bother you? Or, on the other hand, do you sometimes feel that a book series can be too “cookie cutter,” mere duplications of the first book? Would love to hear your comments. Giving away an Amazon gift card and a signed book this month.

Silicon Valley takes a risk…on TV.

moneyWe’re not quite in Silicon Valley, but you can see it from our backyard. Kidding!  In the great cerebral think tank that is our high tech Silicon Valley, we’ve got Stanford, we’ve got Hewlett Packard. There is Oracle and of course, we’ve got your Google and Pixar. This heady, high powered, profit driven culture, lends itself to an intense, soap opera style TV series, doesn’t it? I was surprised to hear that the HBO writers have decided on a different tact with their new series ‘Silicon Valley.’ They’ve banked their success on a comedy, a la The Big Bang Theory.

You’ve got your geeky software engineer, a dot com millionaire and a new music app that could be worth millions. The show will no doubt play on the stereotypes (engineers lacking social skills and greed driven titans) but will the series make Silicon Valley a place where viewers want to hang out? Time will tell, but one thing is certain. Producing a comedy is risky business. One person’s funny is another person’s idiocy. As HBO goes out on a limb and reaches for that elusive laugh, it’s just the kind of risky maneuver that Silicon Valley was built on. Kudos on that gusty move!

What did you think of the show? Are there any comedies on TV that you enjoy now or have in the past? What makes them funny in your view? Would love to hear your comments. Giving away an Amazon card this month.

Awww, nuts. I’m a dorky villain. How about you?

imageOh sure. It’s great fun to examine our heroic qualities, but let’s face it. We’ve got issues, people! That’s why the villain in fiction stories are so darn important. They’ve got to be incredibly bad, yet relatable! If there isn’t some tiny piece of naughty that we can understand, that villain is no good, purely cardboard. I’ve taken one of those “which villain are you?” quizzes and sadly, it’s too true. Was I a brilliant archnemesis type with fearsome mental prowess? Er, no. Was I a villain with ferocious powers that makes mortals tremble at my feet? Um, not really. Who am I? Drizella. You know, Cinderella’s ugly stepsister. Sigh.

Sadly, this is probably truer to life than I’d like to admit. Drizella is not exactly drop dead gorgeous. Check.

Drizella is prone to ugly feelings of envy and discontent. Check.

Drizella can be mean. Oy. Check.

So which villain can you relate to? I would love to hear your thoughts. If you have a moment, you can hop on this website and take a fun quiz to find out which Disney villain is the best match for you. Please tell me there are other Drizellas out there! Giving away an Amazon gift card and book this month.













Are you Harry Potter? Juliet? Find out here.


Harry Potter, I have been. And Juliet, too, though with much more practicality than our fair Capulet. How about you? Have you ever been so involved in a story that you imagined yourself as the hero? Or maybe you’ve just had one of those days where you’d love to step into life of your  favorite fictional hero.  Below are some reasons why I have been Harry Potter.

1. He’s a geek. Really. No one would pick him for the school rugby team (though his Quidditch skills are awesome). He’s not an intimidating physical specimen and his strength is a mental one. Go Harry! Carry the banner for all the pale, scrawny, types out there.

2.  Harry means well. He really does. He wants to defeat evil, support his friends and represent Hogwarts to the best of his ability. The trouble is, it’s sometimes really HARD to know the right path to take. One way and you’re helping your friends. Another, it’s the whomping willow.

So what fictional character can you relate to? Here’s a fun idea. Hop onto this website and find out which literary character you are most like. Would LOVE to hear about your findings! Giving away an Amazon card and a signed book this month!



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