Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Price Points

With the explosion of indie publishing, there’s a lot of discussion about the proper way to price a self-published book. We’ve seen the success of authors who’ve priced their books at the magical $0.99 point – selling lots of copies but minimizing their profits per copy. Higher priced books now don’t attract as much attention when there’s so much out there to read for cheap or for free.
What’s the magic number? I’ve heard it’s $2.99. An indie pubbed book priced higher than that may get off to a slow start. But after putting months of work into a novel, shelling out money for professional editing, cover art and maybe even professional formatting, not to mention some promo, shouldn’t an author expect to make a couple of bucks per copy?
For me the toss up is quantity of readers versus quantity of money. Do I want $3.00 from each person who buys my book? Suppose that amounts to 10 – then I get $30.00. But if I can sell 300 copies at $0.99, I make $105.00. Sure, selling 300 copies at $3.00 profit each is much, much nicer, but is it possible when a thrifty reader can pick up so many books priced under the $4.25 retail you’d need to make a $3.00-ish profit per book?
Do I want 300 readers or $300? I’m not sure I can have both.
Some authors have established price points for themselves, setting novellas at $0.99, mid-length novels at $2.99 and full length novels at $3.99 or $4.99. Depending on the author’s popularity, those prices can work for some. For others it seems to be a daily struggle between discounts, coupons, and minute price adjustments designed to maximize attention to their product while keeping profits rolling in.
How do we decide what our books are really worth?
Speaking as a reader, I like cheap books. The economy is crappy, and being able to get my reading fix for a few dollars as opposed to $10 or $20 is awesome. I’m buying more books because they’re less expensive, I’m trying new authors because it’s an easy decision to spend a dollar, much harder to justify $7.99 for a mass market paperback, $12.99 for a trade or double that for a hardcover [if it’s on sale]. I generally don’t even look at ebooks that cost more than $9.99.
What do you think? Are authors selling themselves short by pricing at $0.99? Or are we finally equalizing the playing field? Will all these bargain-priced books flood the market with mediocre work, or encourage readers to buy more books? What’s your magic price? If an ebook costs more than $2.99 these days, do you feel it’s overpriced? Should there be a standard pricing defined by length, so you can’t get a full length novel for the same price as a novella or a 3000 word short story?

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's conference season!

The Romance Writers of America have their conference going on this week. Next week is Thrillerfest. It's conference season for writers.

I have mixed feelings about conferences. On the one hand, I never get what I expect to get out of a conference (I'm disappointed by an author I'd admired, I never landed an agent at a conference, haven't learned as much about craft as I've hoped to). On the other hand, I'm always pleasantly surprised by the unexpected gifts I end up with as a result of having attended a conference (new friends, great critique partners, discovering a "new to me" author).

I think that the key to have a successful conference experience is to go in with the intention of being flexible. I watch people scurrying around at conferences with every moment of their time scheduled and I feel sorry for them, because they might just miss some magical moments.


What about you? What conferences have you attended? Which do you want to attend? What have your conference experiences been like? Or if you've never attended one, whay not? What are your secrets for getting the most out of a conference?

I'll tell you one of my secrets: I sit in the back of the room and if I'm bored by a speaker, I walk out and jump into another workshop. I've stumbled upon some wonderful instructors because of this habit.

Friday, June 24, 2011

We have a Winner!

Congrats to Marsha Sigman who has won an ARC of Jennifer Hillier's CREEP!

The Synopsis and "that look"

In case you missed the announcement on Wednesday, Jennifer Colgan released her humorous romantic scifi novella MARRIED TO THE MIB.

It made me very happy.
I'm happy everyone has the chance to read it.
I'm happy Jennifer won't give me "that look" when I talk about having read it.

I'm sure you're wondering why she gives me "that look".

It's her own fault.

A while ago...a year...maybe more...time is relative for the Men In Black after all....I read they synopsis for this book.(I may have read the first couple of chapters too, but I don't want her to give me "that look" so I'm not going to say I did...just in case I didn't.) I was so engrossed in the story that months later I was CONVINCED I'd read the book....but she hadn't even written it yet (hence me getting "that look")

THAT'S THE POWER OF A KICK ASS SYNOPSIS....it can make fools like me think they've read something that hasn't been written yet. I now understand why agents and editors ask for them....they're not looking to read a synopsis...they're looking to "read" the book.

Understanding that doesn't help me hate writing them any less though.

Tell us Killer Friends: What about you? How do you feel about the dreaded synopsis? Do you prefer to write them before or after you've written the book?



MARRIED TO THE MIB
Handsome, blue-eyed Spencer Ward stirs feelings in Dulcie Crandall that she can’t quite explain. Spencer feels it too, but he knows why pretty, vivacious Dulcie seems so familiar. She’s his wife.

Spence is a Man in Black, a special agent dedicated to protecting Earth from temporal and extraterrestrial threats. Three years ago, he met Dulcie, an alien abductee, during a daring rescue from an Umayan organ harvest ship. His employer, the Insterstellar Security and Time Agency, had Dulcie’s memories of their whirlwind courtship and alien wedding ceremony blocked before they returned her to Earth. Now ISTA needs the memories locked in Dulcie’s subconscious, and Spence and his half-alien shapeshifter partner, Ruben “Ruby” Throckmorton, have been assigned to retrieve them.

It should be easy, but will Spence be able to remain objective when the love of his life experiences total recall of the time she spent married to a MIB?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New release!

I’m thrilled to announce the release of my sci-fi rom-com novella, MARRIED TO THE MIB!




Handsome, blue-eyed Spencer Ward stirs feelings in Dulcie Crandall that she can’t quite explain. Spencer feels it too, but he knows why pretty, vivacious Dulcie seems so familiar. She’s his wife.

Spence is a Man in Black, a special agent dedicated to protecting Earth from temporal and extraterrestrial threats. Three years ago, he met Dulcie, an alien abductee, during a daring rescue from an Umayan organ harvest ship. His employer, the Insterstellar Security and Time Agency, had Dulcie’s memories of their whirlwind courtship and alien wedding ceremony blocked before they returned her to Earth. Now ISTA needs the memories locked in Dulcie’s subconscious, and Spence and his half-alien shapeshifter partner, Ruben “Ruby” Throckmorton, have been assigned to retrieve them.

It should be easy, but will Spence be able to remain objective when the love of his life experiences total recall of the time she spent married to a MIB?

Excerpt:

All around Dulcie, geysers of foul-smelling steam belched from dripping pipes. Unidentifiable machinery hissed, and lights flashed in macabre shades of crimson and purple. She wasn’t supposed to be here, hiding in this dank place all alone, driven by fear and some deep, desperate need to survive at all costs.

She’d come here, though, to escape someplace much worse. If only she could remember exactly what she was running from.

Just when she’d reached the point where her only option was to scream—not for help, but for the sheer, utter hopelessness of her predicament—he appeared. He swept out of the hot, churning mist, the broad-shouldered silhouette of a man backlit by a strobe of acid green. He reached for her.

Some strange instinct bade her to take the hand he offered, but rather than rise with dignity from her hiding place and let him lead her out of this neon hell, she flew into his arms, shivering and sobbing.

He murmured something soothing while she buried her sweat-dampened face in his neck. His scent curled into her lungs on her next shuddering gasp of breath, and she calmed. Strong arms lifted her from the darkness, and Duclie melted into his muscular caress. He smelled like sin, a curious mix of male sweat, danger and an intoxicating cologne.

There was something about that smell—familiar and wonderful—that told her everything from here on in was going to be just fine. She tightened her arms around him, and he scooped her up as if she weighed nothing. The steam faded then, offering a momentarily clear view of the place. This time Dulcie tried to pay attention to what she saw.

Miles of coiled wires, rusted pipes and twisted fingers of metal and smoky crystal stretched before them. In the still-shrouded distance a white light cut through the gloom.

“That’s the way out,” he said. His voice, like his scent, penetrated her weakened defenses and left her dreamy-eyed and breathless. Beneath her splayed hand the muscles of his chest, hidden under a black T-shirt, rippled as he strode toward safety. “We have to hurry.”

“Hurry.” She nodded, but for some reason all the urgency she’d felt a few moments ago had faded. She’d have stayed in his arms forever, cradled against his rapidly beating heart, cherished in his embrace.

“Hurry…” Dulcie awoke with that word on her lips. Again. This was the third time this month. She might have been more concerned about the details of the recurring nightmare, except it always ended the same way, with her daring rescue.



To read more about MARRIED TO THE MIB, you can visit:


Smashwords

All Romance eBooks

Amazon.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ARC Giveaway and Interview with Jennifer Hillier!

Big treat today! I've interviewed former Killer Chick Jennifer Hillier about her psychological thriller CREEP.

Welcome back, Jennifer. CREEP revolves around sex addiction, kidnapping and murder. How did you decide to integrate that particular trifecta into your novel?

Thanks for having me here, JB! It's nice to be hanging out with the Killer Chicks again!

Wow, that's a pretty dark trifecta, thinking about it now. Since I don't outline, I don't know that any conscious decision was made to have any of those elements in the story, other than the sex addiction. That I saw clearly right from the beginning. The rest of the story stemmed from Sheila and Ethan's nasty breakup. I really didn't know just how bad a guy Ethan was going to be until I wrote him. He definitely surprised me.


Your main character Dr. Sheila Tao is not the most sympathetic of characters, she’s a sex addict, involved in an affair with her teaching assistant, and is cheating on her fiancĂ©e who’s a pretty decent guy. Were you ever worried that readers wouldn’t feel sorry for her?

All the time! I love flawed characters, but there's a fine line between too flawed and plain unlikable. There was point in the third draft where I was so concerned about readers disliking Sheila that I completely changed her – I took out her sex addiction, I made her 100% the victim who didn't bring any of this on herself – and then I realized I'd just lost the heart of the story. Because I'd always wanted my heroine to be someone who made mistakes, who'd consciously dug herself into a hole ALL BY HERSELF and now had to dig herself out. I didn't want her to be an unwitting victim – I wanted the story to be about her redemption.


Conversely, imho, your villain, Ethan, comes across as a guy who’s been wronged. Sure he overreacts and all, but I think readers will understand where he’s coming from. Was this intentional?

Absolutely. The "creep" factor in CREEP is that, hopefully, you'll feel torn by your feelings for Ethan. On the one hand, you can totally understand his rage at his being rejected, but on the other hand, the way he goes about getting revenge is just over-the-top. The best villains, in my opinion, are the ones who get into your heads and make you root for them just a little.


Which of your characters do you most relate to and why?

Ooh, this is a tough one. I'd have to say Ethan! Mainly because I can relate to wanting something that badly, and being very determined to make it happen. Obviously, I'd never go to the extremes that he did, but a lot of his traits – jealousy, the desire to be in complete control of any situation, frustration – are all things I've felt.


How much research was involved in writing CREEP?

I spent ten years (prior to writing full-time) working in post-secondary institutions, and I was a psychology major myself, so a lot of the classroom and campus scenes in the book were taken right out of my own experiences. I did do a lot of research on disguises, and the types of materials you need to make a disguise effective. That was a lot of fun.


You obviously listened to a lot of Radiohead when writing this novel. Is music part of your process?

It definitely is. While I can't listen to music while I'm physically writing (a bit too distracting for me), I need music to help me stay in the mood. So I'll listen to my writing playlist in between scenes. CREEP was a dark and moody story right from the beginning, so there was a lot of Radiohead in that playlist, along with The Cure, and The Velvet Underground.

Can you tell us what you're working on now?


I'm working on CREEP II! Okay, hopefully the book won't really be called that, but since nobody liked the title I proposed for the follow-up to CREEP, that's the name on the contract, haha! You'll see some of the same characters from CREEP in this new book, but in either lesser or greater roles.


Okay, time for a quick round of fun questions:


If you could get away with it, what crime would you be most likely to commit?

When I was a kid, I always thought it would be cool to be a jewel thief. You know, dress all in black, sneak into rich peoples' homes, and take their shiny baubles without their alarms going off. Wow, just reading that makes me wonder what kind of kid I was!

Weapon of choice?

Ice pick, a la Basic Instinct.

You’re sitting on Death Row and you place your order for your last meal – what will it be?

I'd start with melted brie in phyllo pastry for my appetizer. Then my mother's pot roast, along with her macaroni salad. I'd wash it all down with a couple of peach Bellinis. For dessert, chocolate brownies and ice cream. Yum! I'd feel totally sick afterward, but hey, I'm dead anyway.

Chocolate or cheese?

Tough call. But since I can eat almost unlimited quantities of chocolate without getting sick (I can't say the same for cheese), I'll go with chocolate.

Tea or Coffee?

Depends on the time of day. I love coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon.

Beach or countryside?


Definitely beach. Nothing beats the sound of the ocean, the feel of the sand under my toes, and the smell of coconut sunblock.

Plotter or pantser?


I'm a pantser who desperately wants to be a plotter.

First draft or edits?

Definitely edits. As much as I love the pure creativity that fuels a first draft, I'm anxious the whole time I'm writing it, wondering if I'm going to "lose" my story (because I don't outline). Edits don't stress me out as much because I've already got the story down, and it's amazing to see a rough draft turn all polished and shiny.

Thanks for having me, JB! I'd love to give away an ARC of CREEP to one of your readers. Anybody who comments below will be entered to win, and I'll select the winner by random draw on Friday, June 24th!





Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren't, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she's finally engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she's taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won't let her walk away.

Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex video that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancĂ© discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death. Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail . . . and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn't resist—who is now the monster who won't let her go.





About Jennifer:
Jennifer Hillier was born in Toronto, which is where she spent the first three decades of her life. When her husband was offered a transfer to Seattle, she didn't know which would be worse: leaving Canada or moving to the West coast. She spent her first few months on American soil bemoaning her existence and writing her first novel. Now nicely settled in the Pacific Northwest, the only thing she misses – other than family and friends – is snow.

Jennifer blogs at The Serial Killer Files. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and her official author website, www.jenniferhillier.org.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sizzlin Summer Book Bash

Former Killer Chick Jennifer Hillier will be back here tomorrow!
I've interviewed her about her upcoming Gallery (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) release CREEP and she graciously offered to give away an Advance Reader's Copy of the novel to someone who leaves a comment tomorrow.

Meanwhile.....

The First Victim has been out for a week and what a week it's been. I can't believe I'm saying this, but my book...MY book, hit the number one spot on the Carina Press Most Popular list!

I've been touched by the kindnesses of both friends and complete strangers who have helped to spread the word about The First Victim via reviews, tweets, Facebook posts, etc. My deepest thanks to all!


Lately I've been all about trying new things, so this week, I'm participating in a Sizzlin' Summer Book Bash to help author Misty Evans celebrate the release of her novel Soul Survivor. (Having read it, I can tell you it's a great story about soulmates rediscovering one another....after a very, very long time!)

It's a week-long virtual party with book excerpts, giveaways, games, and frivolity. Participating authors include Edie Ramer, PJ Alderman, Michelle Miles, Adrienne Giordano, Lacey Weatherford, Nana Malone, Tess St. John, Autumn Jordan, Ann Charles, and of course, me!

It'll be a great chance to meet some "new to you" authors, have fun, and maybe win a prize.

Don't be left out of the festivities. You can join Misty's Yahoo group by clicking here. Like any other Yahoo group, you unsubscribe any time you wish...but why would you want to?

Speaking of new things...

* Donna at Girl Who Reads reviewed The First Victim and asked me to write a guest post for her blog. (Her review can be found HERE.) So tomorrow I'll be over there, spilling details about the book I haven't revealed before.

** Jen Wylie interviewed me about The First Victim, advice I'd give to aspiring writers and how I take my coffee. That interview will be posted on Wednesday here.

Now tell me Killer Friends: What "new to you" authors have you read recently? And what made you decide to read their book?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Welcome, Ranger!

Because I don’t have enough to do, this week we brought home our new baby.

Ranger [short for Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger] joins his older brothers, Topper [Sir Toppington] and Onyx [Onyxander Dax]. He’s five weeks old and he’s already taken over the TV remote. He looks huge in this picture, but he's really the tiniest kitten I've ever seen. He makes my older cats look like mountain lions. His vocabulary consists of one word so far: 'Meeeeeeeek!' We figure that means: Help, I need something! Of course, he only has to say it once, and we're hopping all over doing his little feline bidding.
They say cats are like potato chips. You can’t have just one. Hopefully three is my limit. I have a feeling I’ve got my hands full now.
Tell me about your furbabies!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

No One To Trust – Geek Girl Saves the Day With Her Brain (Sort Of)!

Please give a Killer Welcome to my fellow Carina Press author, Julie Moffett!

First of all, thanks to Killer Chicks for having me! I’ve been perusing the site for a week or so and you guys look like you are having WAY too much fun. Exactly my kind of party. Your lively discussions and featured books also made me add more novels to my already teetering TBR pile.


Let me introduce myself. I’m Julie Moffett and I’ve been writing books since 1993. Well, actually I started way before that. In the second grade I wrote my first romance novel featuring Prince Valen and Princess Tina. They lived in a castle, fell in love and got married. All on Valentines Day. The girls in my class loved it; the boys held their noses. Go figure.


I’ve written everything from historical to paranormal romances. I’m currently writing a humorous mystery action/adventure series for Carina Press. The first book is titled NO ONE LIVES TWICE and introduces geek extraordinaire, Lexi Carmichael. A former hacker, now gainfully employed at the NSA, Lexi is smart, funny and has zero social skills. So what to do when her best friend goes missing and a bunch of thugs start appearing in her life? Why employ the help of her quirky hacker friends and go about solving the mystery, of course. Except all those sexy secret agents are making it hard for a geek girl to concentrate…

The second book in the series is out now. NO ONE TO TRUST tangles Lexi in another mystery, this one featuring a missing technological genius. All the clues point to her and she has no idea why. Can she figure out her connection to the difficult brain child and navigate her increasingly complicated love life before it’s too late?


Did I mention that the series is humorous? I love books that make me laugh. If a writer can elicit a smile, chuckle or make me giggle out loud, I rate the book as a winner. Laughing makes me feel good and I like leaving a story with a smile on my face. How about you? What Killer Chicks can save the day AND make you laugh while they are doing it?


Now, to whet your appetite, I’m offering up an excerpt from NO ONE TO TRUST:


When I was seven, my older brother Rock gave me a camera for Christmas. The science of photography fascinated me—the angles, depth and lighting. But I was more interested in how the camera worked than in what I was pointing it at. Fast-forward a few years and here I am, a twenty-five-year-old, single, white, geek girl who can’t take a decent picture of anything.


I’m also a semi-reformed computer hacker, a numbers whiz and a girl with a photographic memory. The whole photographic memory thing is totally overrated, though. Every human has the physiological capability. Most people just don’t have the film.


Lucky for me, I’ve got the film, but I’m also stuck with a geeky reputation. Counter to the stereotypical image, I don’t wear thick glasses held together by duct tape and I no longer own a pair of high-water pants. On the other hand, I’m no Miss America—just your basic tall, skinny girl with no curves and long brown hair. I double-majored in mathematics and computer science and have zero social skills. These days I’m employed by X-Corp Global Intelligence and Security, as Director of Information Security or InfoSec for short. It sounds impressive and maybe it is, but I’m so fresh in the job, I can’t be sure yet.





Thanks again for having me and happy reading!!


NO ONE TO TRUST

NO ONE TO TRUST (audio book)

NO ONE LIVES TWICE


NO ONE LIVES TWICE (audio book)

Julie Moffett is a bestselling author and writes in the genres of historical romance, paranormal romance and mystery. She has won numerous awards, including the prestigious PRISM Award for Best Romantic Time-Travel and Best of the Best Paranormal Books of 2002. She has also garnered several nominations for the Daphne du Maurier Award and the Holt Medallion.


Feel free to keep up with Julie at the following social media outlets:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Julie-Moffett-Author/123804877633091
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JMoffettAuthor
eHarlequin: http://community.eharlequin.com/users/julie-moffett
Julie’s website: http://www.juliemoffett.com
Julie’s blog: http://authorjmoffett.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Editing and Weeping

I spent my staycation weekend editing – mostly a freelance job, but some of my own work as well. [That’s where the weeping comes in].
It wasn’t that the edits were so tortuous, in fact they were fairly simple – I need someone to police my comma usage and I’ve already apologized to my editor for insisting on using the word ‘wracked’ instead of ‘racked’ on occasions too numerous to count. Some things I’ll just never learn.
The weeping came in the rereading of some of my scenes. There’s a chapter in Interview with a Gargoyle where the villain, a witch hunter named Percival Blake, finally seeks his redemption in attempt to break the curse that’s stolen his life. EVERY SINGLE TIME I read this scene, I’m reduced to tears.
It’s both cathartic and a bit embarrassing. I mean, I wrote the darn scene, after all, you wouldn’t think it would have that effect on me after the gazillionth time I’ve read it. Nevertheless, tears stain the print- out. I’m a big ninny.
I must confess, I love stories that make me cry. If I can shed a tear for the plight of a character, even the villain, I’m hooked. I’ve always envied other authors the ability to wrench that kind of emotion from me with just their words. I’m still stunned when I can do it myself.
I’ve got scenes in The Matchmakers and Uncross my Heart that also make me misty-eyed every time I read them. That’s how I know these three books are my best work. I poured everything I had into them and I only hope I can keep writing books that move me the way these do.
Have you ever written a scene that made you cry? What about scenes by other authors? Tell me about your favorite tear-jerkers.

**Edited to add the Print version of Uncross my Heart will be out in December and it’s now available for pre-order!

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's here! The First Victim is now available!!

Woohoo!!!!

The big day is here and I’m giddy with excitement. It’s the release day of The First Victim!!!!! (excuse my exclamation points -- I'm excited!!!)

Reviews have started coming in and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

From GoodReads:

“There wasn't anything I didn't like about The First Victim, everything was spot on! The characters were wonderfully depicted, the pace was swift, the plot was well thought out, the climax had me biting my nails, and the resolution left me fully gratified."
This is definitely a romantic thriller I would recommend!!!! I give it two very chewed on thumbs up!!!! “

And…


“I give this book 5 stars! It is a book I just couldn't put down. I loved how it kept me guessing who the antagonist was. I also enjoyed the realistic problems the two main characters faced as they found ways to overcome them.”

If you have the time today, please check out the interviews I did with Jennifer Hillier and Angela Henry. I had a blast answering their questions!

Tomorrow I’ll be over at Liz Fichera’s guest blogging about Books as Friends.

Wednesday I’m at the Carina Press blog about the things that scare us!

My deepest thanks to everyone who helped me create this book, but especially my wonderful editor Charlotte Herscher and my critique partners Cynthia Valero and Jennifer Colgan. You guys rock!




She was like all the other victims. Naked, flawed, helpless…
Fifteen years ago, Emily Wright barely escaped from a serial killer dubbed the Baby Doll Strangler. She wants nothing to do with the small town she grew up in, but when her father is hospitalized she reluctantly returns home to care for her teenage sister.
When a friend of her sister is killed and left in front of Emily’s house, Emily begins to relive the nightmare she endured long ago. Soon she realizes that her sister too is in danger from the killer – and the only person who can help is the man Emily left behind: Deputy Bailey O’Neil. Together, Emily and Bailey must discover the killer’s identity before he claims his next victim…


You can now purchase your copy (wow, it feels surreal to say that!) at:

Carina Press
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Working Staycation

Let me start today’s post by thanking JB for taking over for me on Wednesday. I was swamped, and she jumped in and let me have a couple days to get my act back together.
Now I’m all caught up and then some.* This weekend I get a ‘staycation’ [one of those new fangled words for things that didn’t used to exist a few years ago – or at least no one thought to give a special name to a couple of days where you don’t go to work and you hang out at home…well, they did, actually, they used to call it a ‘weekend’. And then someone decided it needed a better name, so now it’s a ‘staycation’] Anyway…
As every mom knows, there’s not much restful or productive about the average weekend which usually includes catching up on all the stuff you didn’t have time for during the week. Yeah, that’s usually how my weekends go.
This weekend, however, is different – because my peeps will be gone. Hubby and the kids are off to the AnimeNext convention in Somerset. It’s an annual pilgrimage, led by daughter who aspires to professional Cosplay.
So while they’re off watching anime and studying Pokemon evolution, Full Metal alchemy and how to survive a zombie apocalypse, I’ll be home – cozy in my air conditioned living room, writing like mad, editing like crazy and feasting on gourmet goodies they don’t like, for instance lobster ravioli and bruschetta chicken with asparagus.
I’ll have full control of the TV remote [Buffy Season 7 marathon], full authority over when to eat [no one whining asking ‘when’s dinner!?’, and I can set the ambient temperature any way I want and no one will complain that it’s too hot or too cold.
My husband doesn’t really get why I prefer not to go with them. They have a blast – which is awesome. And so do I. I would pay for a weekend like this if I had to, but for free it can’t be beat.
Have you been on a ‘staycation’? Tell me about it!
*Edited to add, the ‘cation’ part of my staycation is getting smaller and smaller. I just got edits for my October Samhain release Interview with a Gargoyle, which need to be completed in a week, and I have my cover art for my upcoming indie published book Married to the MIB [stay tuned for more on that shortly] and I’ve just been approved to upload books to All Romance ebooks, so my titles will be available there soon as well – so much to do, so little peace and quiet.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Turning real life fears into fiction

JB here. Jennifer will be posting on Friday!

The First Victim has some pretty scary scenes in it. I'll admit I used some of the things that unnerve me in real life in the story. Hopefully it makes the story stronger.

So how did I do it?

In early drafts, Emily was terrified of elevators. I'm not terrified of elevators, but who hasn't gotten into one and realized the stranger their now locked up with is downright creepy?


In the final version I exploit the following things that make me uncomfortable:

- a country road at dusk (shadows and strange noises, oh my!)

- a movie theater (who is hiding in the shadows? Yeah, I'm not a big fan of shadows, lol)

- being responsible for someone you love, but having no idea how to protect them (Emily goes home to take care of her younger sister)


Of course I'm not a master. The are many others who do it much better.

Thanks to Stephen King I'm not overly fond of Saint Bernards, clowns and snowstorms.

What about you Killer Friends: What real life fears of yours have your favorite authors exploited? Have you ever developed a phobia BECAUSE of a book?

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's the Final Countdown!

Remember when you were a kid and the last month of the school year seemed to last f-o-r-e-v-e-r and then the summer vacation flew by supersupersuperfast? That's how I'm feeling right now....though which I'm feeling at any given moment is anyone's guess.

THE FIRST VICTIM will be released one week from today. It's taken forever to get to this point...or at least that's the way it feels. I came up with the idea for this story ten years ago. (See? I told you it was forever.)

People keep asking me if I'm excited and here's the honest answer: Up until now, I haven't been. I've been overwhelmed with so much work (good stuff, some of which I hope to tell you about soon!) that I haven't really had the luxury to sort of bask in the satisfied glow of having reached this goal. It doesn't really feel "real" yet...I'm hoping it does by next Monday, lol.

This very kind of review from B.E. Sanderson gave me my first taste of what the "real" experience will feel like. She said, "So, if you enjoy Romantic Suspense with the flavor of Allison Brennan and Roxanne St. Claire, get thyself over to Amazon or Carina and download a copy."

As did this interview I did for The Big Thrill.

Just so you know, I don't spend ALL of my time talking about THE FIRST VICTIM. Make sure to check out my guest post at Magical Musings on Thursday. I'll be talking about The Five Books Every Woman Should Read.

Help me out KILLER FRIENDS: Tell me about a time you've felt things in your life were going too fast...or perhaps too slowly. How did you cope? I suck at "being in the moment". Any ideas about how I could better appreciate this exciting time?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Now what?

The other day I was talking about writer’s block and what comes after THE END. Inevitably what comes after THE END for me is a bout of ‘Yikes, what am I going to write next?’ but before that – there are some important things that need to be done.
As an editor as well as a writer, I actually look forward to tearing into my completed manuscript and making changes. That period of fixing and polishing, dreaded by many, is actually my favorite part of the process. Now I feel like I have something to work with – so much easier than looking at a blank page and trying to create something from nothing.
Here’s the process I follow after I type THE END.
Step 1: Cool it – once I’m done with a manuscript first draft I leave it alone for at least three days, preferably a week. The more distance I put between me and those last six letters, the better perspective I have when I come back to it.
Step 2: Print it – I do most of my writing on the computer now, and I don’t use a lot of paper, but once I’m finished, I print out my draft for two reasons: 1, I can see mistakes better on a piece of paper than I can on a screen, and 2, I feel better knowing I have a hard copy. It’s one final defense against a computer crash, a back-up disc disaster or who knows what.
Step 3: Color it – I break out my red pen, my purple pen, my green pen etc, so I can color code layers of edits, POV etc.
Step 4: Break it down – I start reading my story in small, manageable pieces, making changes as I go
Step 5: Chart it – I usually write a sentence to a paragraph describing each scene I’ve written. This will form the framework of a synopsis when I’m done
Step 6: Fix it – Once I’ve gone through the whole ms, I make changes on the computer and read it through again.
Step 7: Read it – once I’m done with my initial changes I read the whole story over and look for more things to change
S
tep 8: Repeat it – Back to step 6 and 7 as needed until I can’t find anything else I want to change
Step 9: Crit it – now I send the story out to someone willing to read it and give me feedback, and when I get it back I go back to Step 6 and 7 again

Are you tired yet? By now I am. At this point I’m usually so sick of my story I can’t even stand to look at it again. At least I’m almost done.

Step 10: Kick it out the door – when I’m satisfied I’ve fixed everything there is to fix, I submit it and forget about it. Now it’s time to write something else.
What’s your ‘After THE END process?’