Monday, July 30, 2012

I wish I had sneakers for writing

I've got a pile of sneakers that are either in a pile on my kitchen or bedroom floor (depending on whether I've mopped in the past two days). Someone (I won't say who) makes fun of them, but they all serve different purposes.

Pair 1 -- Walking the dog sneakers. It's safer to traipse through who-knows-what than my default footwear -- boots.

Pair 2 -- Distance sneakers. I'm training for a half marathon. These are the newest, least beat up sneaks, so that I can keep my aches and pains (and blisters) to a minimum.

Pair 3 -- Exercising indoors sneakers. I've got cream carpets, I can't exercise in the bedroom wearing the same sneakers I run down horse trails in.

Pair 4 -- Out and about sneakers.  You know, the ones I can wear to the grocery store, etc.

I sometimes think I need sneakers (or their magical equivalent) for writing.

Pair 1 -- Writing funny, First Person Books (like CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN)

Pair 2 -- Writing dark and twisted books (like THE FIRST VICTIM)

Pair 3 -- What to wear when I'm trying to get the most from criticism, whether it's from my crit partners, my agent, my editor, a reviewer, or a fan.

Pair 4 -- Magical marketing shoes that make ALL the marketing stuff a snap.

Pair 5 -- Anti-procrastination shoes.....who doesn't need those?

Tell me Killer Friends: What kinds of sneaks do you wear? Which kind do you wish you had? (Personally I wish I had a pair that made cleaning the kitchen easier.....)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Beware the Internet Minefield

As much as I might say otherwise, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a generally optimistic view of the world and of cyberspace. I’ve been fortunate not to have encountered many of the problems that plague so many people who do business on the web. Writers/bloggers are especially at risk when it comes to putting themselves and their products out there, and often times, we don’t realize we’re only a click away from financial or professional disaster.

I came upon two stories this week that have not only made me cringe in sympathy for the authors involved, but also made me reconsider how I do things on the web.

The first is this story concerning an author and blogger who ran afoul of an unscrupulous review site.

Apparently after she submitted her book for review, the site informed her there would be a charge. Because she blogged about this practice, the review site owners it seems, threatened legal action and insinuated that they might engage in some retaliatory practices. Thankfully, sometimes the web can be a small place and word of their behavior has gotten around.

As a cautionary tale for authors, this reinforces the notion that we should all learn our rights as well as the rights of others with regards to what we can and can’t say on line. Just because someone threatens legal action doesn’t mean they necessarily have a leg to stand on…but in some cases they do, which brings me to this story about an author who received a takedown notice for a photo she used on her blog. 

Despite her immediate compliance with the request, she was sued for damages by the photographer. As much as I want to side with and defend the author who innocently used a picture, considering I have been the victim of numerous pirate sites where my work is uploaded and traded for free with no thought or consideration as to the hard work I put into it, and because those sites are often run outside of the country, I have little legal or financial recourse, I can’t very well come down on a graphic artist who’s angry about finding his own work used without his permission.

Lessons I’ve learned this week [and thankfully this was the easy way, through the experiences of others] are:

1) Learn your rights and know the definition of words like defamation, libel and infringement. Lots of people threaten to take legal action and often times it’s an empty threat,  but

2) be aware of when the threat might be legitimate and take steps to protect yourself.

What lessons have you learned from life on the web?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Juggling Books

Have you ever tried to learn how to juggle? It's harder than it looks. At least it was for me.

Last week I juggled books. Five of them.

1CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN --Answered emails and responded to Facebook posts and Tweets about.

2 - FURTHER ADVENTURES OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN -- Handed in changes to the Confessions sequel to my editor.  Worked on a marketing plan since it'll be released in October!

3 - BOOK ON SUBMISSION TO EDITORS -- (not a Hitwoman book) Discussed with my agent.

4 - WORK IN PROGRESS --   (also not a Hitwoman book) Finished up the first 1/3 of a new book and sent it to my agent. Bit nails, gnashed teeth, but all is well. She's loving it. More discussion.

5 - THE NEXT BOOK I WANT TO WRITE  -- I want to give one of the characters from FURTHER ADVENTURES OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN their own book. Maggie won't appear in it at all.  Made notes. Spent too much time thinking about.

So how did I do with the juggling? I called one of my own characters by the wrong name when corresponding with my agent.

What are you juggling right now?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

To debut or not to debut, that is the question...

Opinions! I need opinions here.

Tell me what you think about advanced promo.

I was always a little skittish about promoting a book too soon. I learned this from other authors who had learned the hard way that if you spilled too much info about your upcoming release too soon, you stood the chance of having the release delayed or, in some horrifying cases, pulled out from under you completely.

I've known authors whose books were tied up production for months when their editor left their publisher and they found themselves with a new editor who asked for sweeping changes to a project that had been only weeks away from publication. I've known authors who spent money on fliers, ads, even radio spots announcing their book launch only to have the launch delayed by weeks or months.

With self-publishing, I have only myself to rely on, which takes away some of the guess work. I know no one will ask me to rewrite half my book a week before its debut. I know my launch dates are as set in stone as I can make them, and if I don't deliver as promised, I know where I live, so I can show up on my doorstep and demand an explanation from myself.

Nevertheless, I still worry that I won't be able to pull all this off as flawlessly as I imagine. So my question is, for a January release, when would you start to promote your book in earnest? I don't mean just mention that it's coming out, but releasing cover art, possibly exerpts or other snippets to whet readers' appetites?

I always felt, if I saw something about a book that looked interesting, any promo was wasted if I couldn't immediately go and buy the book because odds are I would forget about it if I had to wait months to get it.

So, hit me with your best promo advice - do or don't, is six months in advance too soon?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Character Growth and Regression

I'm a big fan of the television series SUITS.  I love the fact that there's very little in the show that's black or white...every moment, every line of dialogue, every nuance is fifty shades of grey.

This past week I loved what they did with the character of Louis Litt (played to perfection by Rick Hoffman). Here's the thing about Louis. He's smart, he's driven, and he can be funny, but he doesn't have the slick polish of his co-worker Harvey Specter. So while Harvey gets the respect of everyone and is made partner in their law firm, Louis ends up bullying the young associates. He's one of those characters you love to hate.

But in the span of this episode we felt sorry for him, he grew, he did the right thing, and we respected, maybe even liked him.

I've got to say it worried me for a short time because I'm rather fond of him being the office's resident antagonist, but then the writers did something brilliant....

They had the character regress to his former bad behavior (with good reason).

That's what makes a character interesting to me. One that can grow and then can stumble (and hopefully grow again). Not one that learns his/her lesson once and ends up being perfect.

Tell me Killer Friends: How do you feel about characters who grow and/or regress? Who are  some of your favorites?

ETA: Just an FYI that there's a coupon for 20% off certain romantic suspense titles from Carina Press (including THE FIRST VICTIM) over at Just Romantic Suspense

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Quest for Perfection

This week the members of the Indie Romance yahoo [] group were talking about this fantastic blog post by author Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The post is a bit long, but well worth the time to read it if you’re an author of any type of fiction because it gives authors something we don’t get very often – permission not to be perfect.

Ever since I started writing, I’ve been inhibited to varying degrees by the desire/need/imperative [pick your favorite noun] to be perfect, to create a book that will impress an agent, an editor, a million gazillion readers, my mom…and most of all me. I can’t even think about how many words I’ve deleted because, in my own estimation, they were utter crap. I can’t count how many half written stories I have lying around that make me cringe because they’re not what I envisioned them being. They didn’t shape up to be perfect, so I abandoned them.

The ones I thought were as perfect as I could get them went on to be published one way or another and I’ve been telling myself for years that it’s all the time I’ve spent honing my skill as a writer that led me to be able to tell the treasure from the tripe in my own work. Now…I’m starting to wonder if maybe it wasn’t skill as much paralyzing fear of not being perfect.

I spend a lot of time rereading my work, editing, fixing, changing…in essence perfecting what I submit for publication, and through it all I worry that someone out there will find the mistake I missed. I beat myself up over edits because I’m constantly shocked that I could miss such silly things that a crit partner or an editor picks up with ease. I agonize even more over my plots, my dialogue, my narrative…is it good? Could it be better?

Reading Ms. Rusch’s post hasn’t led me to decide I can’t make a mistake or made me start subbing and pubbing every line that flows from my keyboard to my screen, but it has made me take a step back and consider that I have yet to read a perfect book. Even books I love by authors I aspire to be like are not perfect. If letting go of the need to overwork something, letting go of the belief that if I just read it ONE MORE TIME I’ll have a shot at engineering the elusive flawless manuscript means I’ll get more done, sleep better at night and have a little more fun doing what I do…I’m all for it.

How about you? Does the need for perfection in your writing stymie you? Do you think you can let go of the need to be perfect?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Books into movies -- which ones work?

The other night, I finally got around to watching ONE FOR THE MONEY. Heigl's "NJ accent" almost ruined the whole thing for me, but once I got past that, I thought it was a decent adaptation. Not the best I've seen, but one that was true to the tone and story of the book it was based on.

This got me to thinking about other movies based on books I've enjoyed. The first five that came to mind were:

The Harry Potter films
IT (the mini-series with Tim Curry as Pennywise)
A Time to Kill (It's not my fave of Grisham's books, but I think it's the best adaptation)
Bridget Jones' Diary
Gone Baby, Gone

IT Pictures, Images and Photos">

My least favorite book to movie adaptation is WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.
I HATE the movie, love the book.

Tell me KILLER FRIENDS: Which books turned into movies do you love? Which do you hate?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth!

Due to technical difficulties, JB couldn’t be here on Monday. She’ll be back on 9th.

As for today, I hope everyone has the day off and gets to enjoy some BBQ and marshmallows.

My plan for the day is to do some writing and have a nice, quiet evening. Dinner will be a new shrimp recipe* I'm dying to try with brown rice, and dessert will be watermelon and chocolate pudding pie.

Olive Oil Baked Shrimp

2 lbs large, raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 TBS chopped garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 TBS lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper [the recipe calls for 1 TBS red pepper flakes, but I don't like them]
3 TBS chopped parsely
1/3 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 375. Combine all ingredients in an an oven safe saute pan and bake for 10 minutes.

It sounds so easy I couldn't resist.

If you celebrate the 4th of July, how are you spending the day?

*I got this from last week's issue of People magazine