Posts Tagged ‘books’

Last day to enter the January contest! How many books did you read in January?

In honor of this last day of January, here’s a review of Dangerous Tidings, my holiday release. I was greatly blessed by the plethora of kind reviews and extremely honored by all those who took the time to post one.

So how many books would you estimate you read in this past month? Post your number and you’re entered into the January contest for a book and gift card. Winner announced tomorrow! 

Five Star Review of Dangerous Tidings





Buy Link, Dangerous Tidings


Hobby quiz…which one is right for you?



Dog with suitcases

The more you know about a fiction character, the more real they will seem to the reader. What do they like to eat? Where do they spend their free time? When I create characters, I also spend time thinking about what sort of hobby they might enjoy. A hobby can tell a lot about a person. A current character I’ve created for a suspense novel enjoys fly fishing. How about you? Got hobbies? Just for fun let’s take a quiz and see what hobbies are recommended for our personality type! You share yours and I’ll share mine!

Those scene stealing animal sidekicks.

Dog with suitcases

Harry has his Hedwig. Dorothy has Toto and there would be no Lone Ranger exploits without the faithful Silver. Animal sidekicks can sometimes emerge to be the unsung heroes of books or movies.

It’s funny how a character that can’t even speak can take over an entire novel. This happened in my latest book for Harlequin Heartwarming. The culprit? Baggy the dog. Sure his real life inspiration won an ugliest dog contest, but I get plenty of emails and messages from Baggy’s fans. Here’s a little snippet in which I explain where Baggy came from.

Hey! Let’s see if we can make a list of animal sidekicks from books or movies. Add a comment and you’re entered to win the drawing this month. Giving away an Amazon gift card and signed book! Hi-yo, Silver!

Show me the money…a writer’s expenses .

moneyIt’s cheap to write books, it really is. All you need is a keyboard or a notepad and pen. Selling them, on the other hand, is the pricey part. I am fortunate to write for Harlequin who does an incredible job marketing my books. Still, I need to do my share to help in that endeavor, so here are a few things I feel are worth the money.

1.  A professional author photo. Yes, you need one. That selfie you took in Disneyland is not going to send the message that you are a serious author.  Trust me.

2. A website and someone to design it. Yes, there are people so amazingly talented that they can design a professional website without paying someone else to do it. I am not one of those people. My website guru designed my site and updates it for me. If I have any more children, I am going to name them after him. This will be awkward for baby Jason, if she is a girl. but that can’t be helped.

3. Conferences. Yes, they can cost thousands included travel expenses. Yes, they are worth the money for the learning and more importantly, the networking. Be sure to pick a well respected conference that’s been around awhile.

4. Memberships. I belong to Romance Writer’s of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. I get neato magazines and internet access to all kinds of people and information. Well worth the money.

5. Giveaways. The jury is out on how cost effective these are, because mailing fees are a killer, but I like to send out books and goodies to people. I really am incredibly honored that folks read what I write, so sponsoring giveaways on blogs, Goodreads and my own FB and blog makes me happy. And there’s no price on happy, is there?

Outside of basic living expenses, what is something you spend a significant amount on? Do you recoup the value in dollars or in some other way?

The power of ‘STET’…use it wisely!

So you’ve written that heart wrenching, lyrical tome and packed it off to your editor. Whew! What a relief…until you get it back, covered with notes and editorial comments. Sigh. Now we’ve got some choices to make. Do we accept the changes to our exquisite manuscript? Or do we scribble STET, a word which literally means ‘let it stand’? In other words, STET is a way of saying to the editor, “No. I don’t accept your suggestions. Leave the silly thing the way I typed it!” Naturally, we writers feel as though our writing was fine the way we typed it, no? The temptation is to scribble STET all over the place, so our genius will not be diluted in any way. In reality, good editors will suggest changes not to alter the author’s message or vision, but to make that message and vision more impactful. Yes, I grumble all the way through my editing phase, but you know what? Most of the time, the editors comments are right. I eat humble pie, and I incorporate their changes. Infrequently, I disagree with an edit that alters my voice or changes an important aspect of what I wanted to say. Then I employ the powerful STET, but only in special cases. So respect the mighty power of the STET and use it wisely, young grasshopper! Heroes

Do you have a job or hobby where folks offer helpful criticism? How do you handle that? Giving away an Amazon gift card this month. All comments are welcome!

Write what you want to know…

snowflakeYep, I’ve said it before, but if I followed the old advice “write what you know” I’d produce some pretty snoozeworthy books. I mean to say, I’m an elementary school teacher who lives in the California suburbs. I drive a mini van. What I know, is not extraordinary by any means. Some authors carve a niche out of writing fiction about which they have a special expertise. Dick Francis, for example, was a steeplechase jockey so his horse related novels make good sense. (Sadly, I know nothing about horses except that Mr. Ed was apparently not a normal equine.)  Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, was a naval intelligence officer. (Yet another thing I know nothing about apart from what I learned watching Hogan’s Heroes). So what’s a writer to do? Explore what you want to know. Find a setting or culture that interests you and learn everything you can about it. That’s how I’ve come to know about the Peten jungle in Guatemala, and the secret life of the bald eagle. Rather than “follow your passions” you could embrace the philosophy of “follow something that might become a passion” and see where it leads. That has worked for me!

Do you like reading novels by people who are experts in their fields? Would love to hear some of your faves. Giving away an Amazon gift card for December.

Best gift for writers…and box turtles.

Let me introduce you to my writing partner, Boydie the box turtle. For several decades we thought she was a boy, until an astute veterinarian corrected that misconception. She’s been in our family for more than thirty years now and each morning she sits on her rock and watches me write. She’s an excellent listener and patient as the day is long. She believes in long naps (3-4 months minimum), enjoying the sunshine (on a golden morning in California, Boydie stares pointedly at me with her orange eyes until I get the hint) and most importantly, the art of perseverance. Boydie, like me, is not ferocious, nor is she particularly brilliant, graceful or athletic. She has survived for decades using her one shining gift, the ability to persevere. Sure she may get hung up in the shrubs, or stuck half way in or out of the bath, but nearly every situation can be overcome or at least improved by patiently pressing on. To persevere through difficulty is the turtle’s way. Who knew a box turtle could be so wise? blog motivationalDo you have an animal in your life that has taught you something? Do share.

Famous fictional moms…can you think of any?

In honor of our mothers, let us cast our eye towards the famous fictional moms who take center stage in books. Hmmm…er….well, I’ve got nothing. You? I mean the obvious fictional maternals come to mine as in Old Mother Hubbard and possibly Mrs. WeasleMomy, but really I can’t seem to think of many mothers who take top billing as protagonists. Why is that, exactly? Is there something about parenting that strips away the glamour and star quality of a woman? Must she either be a comic foil like Mrs. Bennet or a hopeless case like Hugo’s Fantine? How about T.V. moms? You’ve got your perfect types, June Cleaver, Mrs. Cunningham, Mrs. Brady, etc, but the strong women with realistic struggles to face? Mrs. Cosby, perhaps and the intrepid Edith Bunker spring to mind.

So in honor of this fine day, let’s kick off the May drawing for a Starbuck’s gift card. Can you think of any famous mothers of books, television or movie fame? Do tell!

The book biz is going down the tubes? No way!

Doom and gloom for the book business! Boy, I get tired of hearing all these depressing proclamations! Personally, I see some very positive things about this crazy industry so for what it’s worth, here are my two cents on the GOOD things happening for people who love books.
happy book
#1) There are more books available now than ever before. Ebooks, print books, iBooks, fan fiction. You name it and you can find it. There is also that old fashioned invention called, The Library. A whole world of prints books (and now ebooks!) available for absolutely nothing. Could there be anything better?
#2) Young folks are reading. Yes, I know they’re spending plenty of time texting, Facebooking and the like, but they are also reading online content. Unlike my generation, these pups have grown up getting their information via the screen versus the written page. That doesn’t mean they don’t value reading, they just do it differently.
#3) Online reviews are tools to point you to (or away from) books before you plunk down the dough. As someone whose books are constantly reviewed (by fans and haters alike) I have experienced both edges of the review, but as a reader, I am happy to peruse a few commentaries on a book before I purchase. I don’t always allow reviews to color my decision to buy, but it’s nice to be able to feel the waters before the money leaves my pocket.

So what do you think? Are these things you see as positives? Are there other things you’ve noticed about the book biz that please or displease you?

Everyone agrees on America’s best writer….don’t they?

prizeWho is the greatest American writer? No cheating now, you can only pick ONE. Publisher’s Weekly offered these choices on their poll. The comments on their website were fascinating to read. No Ray Bradbury, folks complained? No Margaret Atwood? Other were pleased as punch to pick out their favorite name from the list below.
Mark Twain
Ernest Hemingway
William Faulkner
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Henry James
Kurt Vonnegut
Flannery O’Connor
Washington Irving
Edgar Allan Poe
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Herman Melville
Emily Dickinson
Walt Whitman
Edith Wharton
T.S. Eliot
Arthur Miller
Tennessee Williams
J.D. Salinger
Joan Didion
Philip Roth
Saul Bellow
Toni Morrison
John Updike
Willa Cather
Sinclair Lewis
So which one would you vote for? Is there someone you feel is deserving of being on the list that isn’t there? Feel free to check out the link below to cast your vote. All comments get you entered in the February drawing for an Amazon gift card.