Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review for Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption

Just thought I'd give y'all a heads up. Terry Callister over at Books and Novels to Read gave Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption a 5 out of 5! What a nice way to end the year.

Keep writing and loving the Lord

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Interview

Just thought I'd give my readers a heads up. I was interviewed on Thomas Wilson's blog today. Read it here.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Night Before Christmas & the Indie Author

Merry Christmas to you all and here is your present. This is the last post for the S.H.I.N.E online. It makes my 75th post of the last 100 days of the year.  I'll be taking a break from blogging until after new year's day to focus on my backlogged writing so I'll leave you with this...

Twas the Night Before Christmas for the Indie Author
(Authored by me 2011)

Twas the night before Christmas, nothing could be brighter
Only one creature was stirring, and that was the writer.
My fingers were clicking the keyboard with care.
In hopes the new novel wouldn’t leave cupboards bare.

The family were nestled all snug in their beds,
While I furiously worked on the prose in my head.
With husband snoring loudly enough to wake the dead,
Had no idea the consternation he caused, or my dread.

When out of the monitor popped characters in distress,
I juggled them all like bills before the Congress.
My imagination ran wild within my brain,
My eyes bleary with severe eye strain.

The voices and dialogs filled my mind.
Homework, I thought was the way out of this bind.
When the sparkle of muse hit me, my thoughts did clear.
Deadlines approached and grew near.

"Complete this darn thing," I muttered in disdain.
The words I typed began the page to stain.
Furiously I work on the plot lines and subs,
If it was easy it could be done by any poor slubs.

Come on brain, get it in gear.
There is after all, nothing to fear.
Only agents and publishers who might say no,
But you can always self-publish this, you know?

Now syntax! Now grammar! Now characters and scenes!
On sentences! On paragraphs! On ink and paper reams!
To the end of the page I write with fingers flying,
Now, the end of the chapter I am spying.

As the midnight oil is burning low,
Eyes unfocused, outside a rooster's crow,
I finally type the words, “The end”
With aching back I stretch and bend.

"It is finished," I cried with exhausted breath.
I have often wondered if it would be of my death.
But it is finished I said again just above a whisper,
And sighed and nursed a fingertip blister.

One hundred thousand words says the word count on the screen.
This novel will be the best from an author not so green.
Tomorrow is Christmas and this is the best present yet,
It’ll be a best seller I hope and I bet.

A little break is needed to settle the brain cells,
But in weeks ahead, the editing tells.
Not! to whoever said that editing was fun?
It’s not really finished until this is done.

Then it’s on to marketing and selling the book,
It has a definite cliffhanging hook.
It’s great I say, with unabashed pride.
No, you say without being snide.

Social marketing is the ticket
Get me out of this sticky wicket.
I tweet, post, blog, and promote
Until I’m overloaded and broke.

I yell from the rafters, “Please buy my book.”
“Please won’t you have just a little look?”
Finally a sale has me up on cloud nine
Only to be dashed when it’s review time.

Such is the life of an indie author do tell.
There are moments you fall under a spell.
I’ll ride the sales to stardom and fame,
Or sell  a few copies, nobody knows my name.

A flash in the pan or a mainstay for sure,
Only  time will tell if my future's secure.
Many hats I will wear along the way.
I am a writer and I’m here to stay.

Keep writing my friends and you will know,
That success takes tenacity and is definitely slow.
Keep learning the craft, there is always something new
It will hit you right out of the blue.

I speak from experience, this much is true.
Of lessons I imbue, life stories long overdue.
 Indie writer forever, this  is in question.
Publishers right now have too many concessions.

To a prosperous new year I wish to you all.
 Congratulations, you have answered the call.
To be a great writer, you must learn the tricks.
May any hardships that befall you never stick.

It is my Christmas wish that you all be merry
Forget failure tasting like a sour cherry.
Be healthy, be happy and be of good cheer
After all coming up is a new year.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Taking a Break and Ranting!

No, it's not from writing but my KITCHEN! I've been hard at it for two days now. Now with the dinner tomorrow, I've been fluttering in and out all day long.
 So what do I talk about today???

I know let's talk about books and their place in society. No brainer, right?
Read any good books lately?
One that pulled you out of your world and into theirs?

Isn't that what being a writer is all about. How many of you get lost in the novel written world while writing? Come on, don't be bashful. Raise that hand. A little higher, and higher. Ah, there you are in the back of the room.

I took my daughter to see the second Harry Potter finale. The total cost for two-tickets, popcorn, drinks equaled $35 for a one time enjoyed event. Was it worth it? Yes, but think if you could experience the 3-D in words in a book you could read over and over again experiencing the whole thing from beginning to end for less. That's what books do for me.

The first books I ever read were the Dr. Seuss, of course. I believe it was "Are You My Mother."Then in school, it was Dick, Jane and Spot. Later, it was Treasure Island, The Hobbit, and a long list of other titles. All right so I grew up in the dark ages when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. I remember living in countries that DIDN'T have television and you know what, I didn't miss it. Books were and are my world. Nancy Drew always caught the bad guy. The Bobbsey Twins were always getting into some trouble. But it was entertainment. It was a world outside my own.

I remember the sheer joy of reading a good book. Being transported off to the pirate's island, middle earth, or wherever. With the advent of e-readers, it is possible to carry tons of books in a purse. So why aren't more people reading?

The electronic age is to blame. Atari created a Pong and Space Invaders video game and now it's X-Box. Books are way cheaper. The argument of today's generation is getting more active so what did they invent? WII and X-Box Kinects. We have a generation of kids who are so sedentary that obesity has reached astronomical proportions. Kids who would rather play video games, or watch television, or live on computers than actually live. Now, I'm not knocking any of these things. I do all of them, but where is the rationale and the mindset?

When I watch television, I admire the graphics, the storytelling, and a host of other things. I marvel at the ingenuity of the programmers for video games and the graphics...we've come a long way since Pong. Computers, which were once a way to work and increase productivity, have now become entertainment and socialization neccessity for the masses. Instead of going out and meeting, talking, and actually visiting friends- we have virtual friends. How many people know who their neighbors are? When was the last time you actually physically visited one of them? We've become a world of instant messengers, emails, and text messages.

1. a person who lives near another.

Oh great now I've got Mr. Rogers singing that song in my head!

I've read that most people will buy a book on recommendation from someone they know. But do we really know all those people we tweet to? Or FaceBook chat with?  Or a long list of sites we frequent on the internet? I've had "Friends" on the internet for thirty years. Some I've actually met in person while others I wouldn't know unless they introduced themselves to me in person. How far can you trust a recommendation from a person you can't look in the eyes, read their body language, or sit with you when things have hit the fan? They could really be an ax murderer in disguise. Maybe I'm just too old fashioned for my own good, but that's my two cents or maybe a dime with inflation.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Twas the Week Before Christmas

I awoke this morning in a chipper mood, wrote two chapters, had lunch, married a couple from Atlanta, and now I'm once again in front of my computer screen. I've read all sixty emails in my box, answered about half of them...the rest do not require an answer.

Now, I'm thinking of the Christmas Chaos otherwise known as Christmas Eve dinner. I bought a steamship round instead of prime rib. Don't know what a steamship round is? Think the hind haunch of a cow and a huge hunk of beef rarely seen out of fine dining establishments. You got's time for fixing and feeding the family.

While I had thought about buying a couple of Tur-duc-hens, I passed in lieu of a family favorite, roasted beast. The thought of how in Merry Old England the feasting at long banquet tables entered my mind. Then I thought about all those luscious creations out of a wood burning hearth and stand back amazed. We do put the tables together for Christmas and my 14x11 living room and 11x14 dining room become one huge banquet hall. All the older adults sits at the table...all thirty of them.  The children (20) have their own table in what was my office. A nice piece of plywood on the pool table works as a table. Two sideboards hold all the goodies in chafing dishes...there just isn't enough room on the tables after the china, glasses and silverware are set. Of course there is a long, low centerpiece of candles in goblets, evergreens, and poinsettias.

While feeding an army of family may not be everyone's idea of fun, for me it's a joy. Being a former restaurant chef has it's advantages. Poppers are placed at each charger with fan folder cloth napkins with a candy cane at the base. It's a major undertaking. I do an international menu of sorts. Of course there is horseradish sauce made from roots grown in a wine barrel in garden mixed with creme fresh and a little mayonnaise made in a gallon jug. Yorkshire pudding made from the yummy drippings of the beast. A shrimp pilaf, bacon wrapped asparagus sprinkled with a touch of Parmesan cheese and garlic, roasted red skinned potatoes, fennel, and carrots, almond green beans in soy sauce, and plenty of fresh yeast cresent rolls to go around (150 of them).

Dessert is another whole five-foot table filled with New York style cheescakes with three sauces, pies (3 types), my triple death by chocolate cake, a fruity, creamy trifle, my grandmother's cookie recipes baked with the help of our grandchildren, gingerbread with rum sauce, and my fruitcakes which were started around Halloween and allowed to soak in rum all this time. Needless to say, I started cooking and baking today.

All this takes place after Christmas Eve service with a traditionally late supper. Afterwards, the children open our gifts to them and the adults sit back and groan in contented fullness.We will sing songs of praises, maybe put in a Christmas DVD until late in the evening, several children have passed out cuddled in their parent's laps, and the older adults snooze a bit in the reclining sofas.

Eventually everyone will go home to start again on Christmas Day at my father's house with more food and gifts, and then off to various in-laws' houses. For the first time in decades, I will not be going to an in-law's house after my father's house. Another piece of Christmas tradition gone to heaven, but in our hearts they remain.

I hate to say this, but next year I'm breaking out the fine Chinet china and plastic ware. While I'm one of those wash as I go type cooks, the aftermath of this one dinner keeps us busy for hours. Not to mention a full heavy duty washer load of linens. So if you will excuse me...the timer just went off on my pies.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice and Hanukkah

Today is the Winter Solstice. It is dubbed many things: yule, the longest night, and midwinter. It is the shortest amount of daylight we will have all year here in the northern hemisphere.

It sort of heralds in the Christmas season for me. I've often thought if Santa Claus was to deliver packages in one night it would have to be the Winter Solstice.

On the flip side, in the southern hemisphere it is the summer solstice. The Ying and Yang of nature. Where there is an end there is a beginning.

Today there is a conjunction of religions. Today also marks the beginning of Hanukkah for those of Jewish faith and traditions. For the next eight nights, my friends will light a candle in their Festival of Lights.

So what is unique about this being both a pagan and Jewish holiday? It won't happen again until 2019. Have you given any thoughts to where you will be in eight years? I have.

In the year 2019, I will be happily writing away. I may even be a great-grandmother by then. All my grandchildren will be in school or graduated from seems like yesterday it was my own children were just entering school. Several will be of driving there is a scary thought. Quick get off the sidewalks! I will in all likelihood be an old, widow woman with cats. How's that for a cliche?

On the other hand I may just give my home to my children, buy an RV and travel to conferences, book signings, and assorted other things. That's the beauty of thinking of the future, it's something to look forward to. I may even be retired-retired instead of semi-retired. But it all depends on whether the Mayans didn't have it right about December 21, 2012.

The economy is shaky at best. I have read quite a few doomsayers and those that debunk the theories. What if the worst happened and the economy did collapse, martial law declared, and assorted other conspiracy theories come to past? I'm glad I'm an author. I can play what-ifs and carry it to the extremes and nobody really gets hurt. What's even better is that it sells. But what if it really happens?

With all this stuff coming down the pike, the best option IS a zombie apocalypse. I mean think about shortages, zombies are slow and easily escaped if you keep your wits about you, and eventually they will decompose until they aren't a threat anymore...all you have to do is sit back and wait. You will be in survival mode and hopefully prepared for this eventuality. When the dust settles the population will be reduced, money won't mean a hill of beans, and all you have to watch out for is the other guy who survived. Simple, huh? Just thinking out loud here.

Happy Winter Solstice and Happy Hanukkah!

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Christmas Gift

Has it really been three days since my last post? I guess it has been. As we approach the winter solstice tomorrow it seems like the days are running together in my mind. Last minute Christmas shopping Hanukkah gifts for friends. Zwanzaa gifts for others...just too many things going on at the same time within a few days of each other. Oh, and writing. I'm so behind in my self-imposed writing schedule it's insane. Things which should have been finished in October are still up in the air.

But I have to tell you about the best Christmas present I received. I got it today from my husband... a new wedding ring set. I still have my old set, but the knuckle on my ring finger won't let me wear them anymore. They are after all only a size 4. The new set *sigh* the picture doesn't do it justice or maybe it's just these old fingers. There are twenty diamonds in the engagement ring plus the center for each year we've been together. He told me the center stone represented God and since He blessed him with me. He said the band has another ten for the next decade. There weren't enough tissues in the store for me.

The reason I got it early...well my husband doesn't drive anymore so I had to take him to the jewelers to pick it up. This year all our children were working and he was as excited as any kid on Christmas morning.

Before he put these rings on my finger I asked him, "Are you sure you want to do this? He told me, "Yep, I've had you around for twenty years and figure this would keep you mine for another twenty." Can we say "Awwww!" together?

This was the same man who knew I hate diamonds (my birthstone) in the previous twenty years because I told him "forever" was a long time in hell *my previous marriage). So what stone was in my engagement ring? An means "everlasting." In fact that's how he proposed to me...he said his love for me was everlasting. Now with this new set, it is forever. If it hasn't been hell by now, it won't change. Even though love changes over time, he still makes me laugh and smile. Even in his mostly incapacitated state, he takes care of me and I know he is my hugest fan.

When I look back over the years I'm surprised how quickly it went by. Time has a habit of zipping by when you are in college, working, and raising children. Now, it's grown children, an empty nest, and eight grandchildren. It's nice to still be cherished and loved.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

And the Fat Lady Sings...

Listening to Music While Writing

Do you listen to music while you write? Does that music find a way into your article or story, or does it distract you to insanity? First let me say, I normally like all types of music.

My family and I were celebrated our youngest daughter's twenty-first birthday in a local watering hole. We figured if she was going to have her first drink or drunken binge, family would be there to keep her out of trouble. Sounds like a real drag, huh? But wait...we were out on the dance floor to all types of music which had our daughters and their friends in shock. We old fogies cut a rug, we didn't close down the bar like our children did. Keep in mind we're in our late fifties. The most common comment was..."Those are your parents?!"  :)

There are some limits to getting older. Although I do remember a time when our youngest had gone to bed to be awakened late in the evening to the strains from the eight-track of Three Dog Night singing Joy to the World.  A certain young whippersnapper came out of her room and told us that SOME people had to be at work in the morning to turn that stuff down! Now, who's the old fogey? But I digress...

I listen to various types of music while I write different scenes. Not always classical, although I do use classical pieces when writing my blog. I learned if I listen to vocalists I'm too busy singing to the song rather than focusing on what I'm writing. I like the orchestra type music while writing. There is a wide variety for every mood, or juncture in writing...uplifting, sad, suspenseful, dramatic, cute and if you look at it, it has all the types of writing just to name a few.

For other writer's it may be different, but then, I'm the Abby Normal sort.It can be inspiring. Right now I'm listening to Schubert's #9. It's bright, perky, and suits the mood I'm writing in. When I write standard things like backgrounds, filler pieces, or the like, most likely what's coming through my headphones is something melodic and easy listening, like now. I find myself clicking my keyboard to the beat of the music with my head swaying, and my feet thumping in the rhythm.

When I'm writing about death, destruction, mayhem, suspense and impossible odds something more foreboding with tension works well.It raises my senses and allows me to feel the words. Like with the other piece of music my fingers pound the keyboard and my head nods up and down to the music. What I'm hearing interprets into what I'm writing. I sit upright, feel tense, and can't wait for the next words to fly from my brain to my fingertips. An example of this type of music is Holst's Planets, most notably "Mars, Bringer of War." Every note raises expectation so I write the same way. Every word I type lifts the tension in the piece.

Even with sadness, you follow the words and music through the piece. When I'm writing sadness, depression or lost soul passages, it has to be Mozart's "Requiem" or Beethoven's "Fur Elise." To me there is nothing so downcast or broken. It will bring tears to your eyes. When I look at my writing of these scenes, I want my readers to feel what the character is feeling.

By the end of the piece, because of the length of this type music, I find my productivity increases. Of course this is only during the first draft stage of any of my writing. At this stage, it can be rough around the edges but still have impact.

While listening to Beethoven, my typing speed increases because of the fast tempo of his works. Even the lulls are swift with almost no rests. By writing this way, I tire quickly with so much emotion packed into a short period of time. Imagine typing to Haydn's "Concerto for Flute and Strings"...quick, quick, quick. No, two finger typists could keep up. Luckily, I'm a eight-finger typist...I can't use my left thumb and forget my right pinky exists while typing.

Have you tried writing to music for inspiration? For impact? For stretching the imagination just one step farther than you were before you started. Try it some time. Put on a piece of music and imagine what the characters are sensing through the music.

I'm not going to make 100 blogs for the last 100 days of 2011 for the challenge, but this marks #68 with two full weeks to go until 2012.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Not the Size of the Boat, but the...

Now, that I've got your attention. Today I want to talk about the characters of your novel. I've talked about this before but it bears repeating.

Have you ever been exhausted after reading? The pace of the books was so fast that you, the reader, put the book down needing a nap? Yes, it's happened to me. That I gotta turn the page to see what happens next that every author wants to achieve but few do.

While writing have you invested your reader into your characters so much that they are there in scene watching and waiting to see what happens next? Can the reader relate to the character on some personal level? Whether you are writing aliens or ghosts the reader needs to relate to your character on some subconscious level. Think about the movie "Ghost" did you care whether Sam went into the light? Would he be able to prove his partner was the bad guy? Did your heart go pitter-pat and almost wrench out of your chest at the kiss? I know mine did. Can your readers see your character in this light?

I've been told too many times that in reading my novels, they unfold scene by scene like a movie. Well they are like movies in my head when I write them. I can see, feel, taste, and smell the scenes as if they are happening to me as I write them down. I have a very graphic imagination that is often three dimensional. In my nightmares I ask questions...I know it sounds strange, but years ago when I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) and the depression that goes along with it. I used to replay scenes in my head of things which occurred in great detail. What changed for me was learning how to control my dreams within the dreams.

But just like with writing, you don't get it right the first couple times you do it. It takes time and practice. I was pretty bad off for several years. Now, I use my dreams in my writing. The good ones, the bad ones, and the mind blowing awful ones get piece mealed into what I write. Now, everyone can relate to a nightmare. There isn't a person on this Earth who hasn't had one...even newborns dream.

In the tab above your will find an example of a character study I did for one of my characters. Take a look. Notice I've included music, art, books, faults as well as the usual character traits. It's all these little details which makes us as humans unique. It is also what makes your characters three dimensional. As a writer you take your mental image of a story, you mold the characters. It is giving birth to an adult or child. You become the DNA researcher who looks at this or that gene and determines what this character looks, feels, and senses about everything in their world. How they interact with others just like real humans do on a daily basis.

You may have noticed I include at least two to three images for any blog I create. I do this on purpose for several reasons. 1) It helps break up the space, 2) visual impact, and 3) because I can.

I realize that people are unique. While some may read and visualize without a problem, others need a visual cue to bring the point home. It's why early readers are heavily illustrated. Now in adult literature, you may put a small picture at the heading of each chapter, but it's your words that draw the images in the reader's mind. I'll finish this post with an excerpt from my upcoming horror novel to illustrate. It is complete and in the editing stage.

Excerpt "Zombie Apocalpyse: Travelers" All Rights Reserved

Kamaka’eha broke through the barrier and was inside the residence.  She sniffed the air.  The meat was close and her tongue ran across her parched, caked lips in anticipation. The others followed her inside.  Her limping gait carried her to the stairs and she took them one at a time as she climbed.  A scurrying noise from above caused her to quicken her pace. Something heavy was moved across the floor, anxious voices, and a stifled scream.  She reached the landing and walked to the first door. It opened with almost no effort. Nothing, the room was empty.

She inhaled again.  The scent was closer.  The rich, pungent smell of unwashed bodies.  She could almost hear the rapid beat of their hearts.  Yes, she thought, plenty of meat for her hungry band of beings. Kamaka’eha took another sinus full of the aroma…four or five distinct traces.  Groaning and waving her arm she urged her family forward. She stepped to the second doorway and pushed.  Blocked.

Yes, they were in there. She grunted with effort as she used her body weight against the obstacle.  The others joined her and the door moved under the pressure. A scream issued from the other side of the door and the sound of rushing feet running towards her filled her ears in the meat’s feeble attempt against insurmountable odds.  Two to one odds in Kamaka’eha’s favor, she definitely like the odds as she put more force behind her shove. Another two inches and they could eat.  The hunger gnawed at her insides.  The rage filled her mind fueling her efforts.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Apathy or Just too Expensive?

I was driving through various neighborhoods this year looking for one thing...Christmas lights. I figured it is now nine days (EEEEEKKKKK!) until Christmas. I even looked in my own neighborhood...almost nothing.

I know electric bills are high and the addition of lights just raise the numbers on the statement. But it's Christmas. In years past my own neighborhood was lit to the point of needing only three houses. There is something dreary about no lights on houses for the season.

While it rarely snows here in south Georgia, the lights were something I looked forward to. Now, I understand both moms and dads working. Heck wasn't I the one holding down two jobs with my husband doing the same and raising our brood of four? But even before we had money to buy any serious lighting endeavor, we always hung a wreath and strung lights on the porch. It was done for the children and the neighbors. It helped herald in the season.

I remember during my childhood at my grandmother's house, my mother taking cardboard and cutting out shapes of angels. They were actually cut from refrigerator boxes. My grandmother made paste from flour and water. We kids sprinkled glitter on them. These were hung with pride from the front porch of my grandmother's two-story home in Nebraska.  One of my aunts' boyfriends came over and strung the lights. It was a single, solitary string of large bulbs. Not much but it was Christmas. This was the year my father was stationed in Japan again. This time without us. We missed him terribly, but in my five-year old mind the lights were bright enough for him to see way over there. It gave me joy and comfort. It helped a lonely girl who wanted nothing more than her father to be home for Christmas feel some cheer?

So why haven't you strung your lights this year? Is it Christmas apathy or just too expensive?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bad Review and Wondering

I did my monthly search for my novels through the various sites they are listed through today. I found a one star review for "Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption." Now normally this would not bother is after all just one person's opinion. This reviewers comments were about syntax and the use of quotation marks instead of apostrophes. She talked about a lack of continuity. About the author's right to put things out there without editing.

This really got under my skin. I painstakingly edit my work. I may miss a few things here and there, but really what this reviewer was talking about isn't what I wrote. She cited text which when I look back at the original PDF file before conversion to isn't the same. I actually bought a copy of the Kindle version and she is is all messed up. It reads like an illiterate person wrote it.

Whole sections of text and words are moved down or up several lines which makes what you are reading nonsense! I am irritated beyond belief! All the apostrophes are now quotation marks. It looks like trash. Now, I know I'm not perfect, but this is outrageous to me. Has anyone else had this problem with this books?

I've gone so far as to download the rest of my books onto my Kindle to read. God, please don't let them all be like this. But I've heard from others on my other books and none of these style issues were mentioned so I think I'm safe. I want to say thank you to Misselaineous "misc." for pointing these errors out to me.

Now the question I have is...if I pull the Kindle version and redo it...will the results be the same again?

Visonary or Marketplace & the Indie Author

Today I read an interesting blog by Rachelle Gardner about two types of authors. It doesn't matter if you are a standard published author or an indie author for this one and it got me thinking.

What type of writer are you? Are you the visionary or the marketer? And does it really matter?

The visionary writes based on their vision of what makes fiction. They write what they know. They write from the heart. This is their main focus. They are hoping to find kindred spirits in the marketplace to match their vision of what they produce.

Visionaries don't care about what is hot in the market. They write because it's in them to do so. I'm one of these. I write from the heart.

This goes against everything standard publishers and agents base their livelihoods on. The business bases their projections two years in advance...that's about how long it takes for your completed manuscript to appear in bookstores. Projection is a crap shoot at best. The reading public have a way of circumventing all prediction models.

For example, Tom Clancy.  He created the genre of techno-thriller. Well he may not have created it but was darn successful at it. He followed his vision. He wrote "Patriot Games" and "Hunt for Red October." He couldn't sell it. It was initially published by Annapolis Press. A small first run, but he was finally published by a publisher. A funny thing happened and the business of publishing didn't see it became a blockbuster. I can name quite a few authors who have followed their vision, struggled with publishing and then hit it big. They are flashes in the pan and became role models for thousands of wanna-be writers. Put up on a pedestal for all to see. C.S. Lewis was cautioned he was committing literary suicide when he wrote the Narnia series because it was faith based. They were visionaries. They had a story to tell and believed that the market would adjust.

On the flip side is the marketplace writer. This writer writes what's hot. They travel the tried and true model of what sells. Ellery Quinn, Beatrice Small, Barbara Cartland, and even fan fiction all fall into the marketplace writers. Yes, some of it is very creative. Does it sell? Yes by the armloads. It's a numbers game.

Every business has a mixture of a base selling item, hot sales, and the no sales. It's a gamble. Who would have thought a posthumous published manuscript would sell into a best-seller? "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larrson.

Is it possible to marry the visionary and the marketplace into a happy union?

I believe so. As more and more indie authors enter the arena the reader's voice is uncensored. The choices of reading material are endless. The visionary has a toehold into the marketplace formerly governed by the standard publishers. The need for entertainment by the masses increases as stress of the everyday world builds. The readers want to be entertained. They want to be carried away from what they know and face daily into the realm of fiction and even nonfiction.

So the indie author throws his/her/heshems hat in the ring. Is it a gamble. You better believe it. While e-publishing and self-publishing is in it's tantrum throwing toddler stages, like children it is growing up fast.The stigma of being self-published is fading as a new market emerges. It's the birth of the visionary's marketplace. Where a visionary can celebrate the union with the marketplace and find happiness.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Kind of Christmas Tree

I was surfing through Facebook today and ran across a picture of a true book lover's Christmas tree. The picture was on Gale Chapter's facebook page. This is a Christmas tree dear to my heart.

Now I don't know about the rest of you authors out there, but I'm an avid reader of books. It is past the addiction stage and almost to the obsessive compulsive stage.

I did a rough count of titles when I was changing around my kitchen became my living room, my living room became my kitchen, my office moved from the back of the house to one of the front bedrooms. My library, yes I actually have one in my home and consolidated most of it. Are you drooling yet? Just a wee bit jealous?

Then you are my kind of people. Anyhow I digress. I counted over 5,000 books. They are about fifty-fifty between nonfiction and fiction. Some were bought, some were given to me, and others just migrated into my library...I'm not sure where they came from originally, but they appeared in the stacks. Some are cherished mementos of my childhood now cherished in turn by the grandchildren. Others were given to me by other authors in payment for editing services. But my most cherished collection is my author signed, first edition shelves. These are people who cared enough to inscribe the books they sent or I bought with personal messages to me. Not the standard "Best Wishes" but a personal note a small piece of them. Included on this shelf is the first Bible my mother bought for not a first edition, but a cherished one.

I roughly did a count on the books in the picture...subtracting 1 book from each of the 29 layers with a base of a minimum of 25 books assuming the inside is hollow..roughly 700 books to make this tree. I could make SEVEN of these for my home with what I have in my library alone. But like most people I don't have all my books in my library...some are shelved in my living room, bedrooms, a whole collection of cookbooks in my kitchen, my office has how-to's on writing, general reference books and assorted others including my own titles...figure another whole tree from the outliers.

Oh my goodness, don't you ever throw anything away? Yes, I actually donate several hundred a year to nursing homes and assorted other places where the people value books.

I bought a Kindle a couple of months ago. Now with any technology things change over time. I mean computers are obsolete by the time you buy them it is changing so fast. I've got files still on floppy 5.25 disks from my first computer. Heck I even still have a case of programming punch cards!While I've grown quite a different type of library on my Kindle over the past few months...nothing beats my hardbound physical book collection. The written word carries on for centuries...look at the Dead Sea Scrolls, the books of the Bible just to name a few. How many pixels will be available next year when another new fangled book reading device dawns?

Keep in mind I e-publish too like most indie authors. I'm not knocking the e-publishing world or the readers. But for me, there is something special about holding a book in your hands, caressing the cover, turning the pages, the smell of leather (yes, some of my books are actually bound in leather), the musty smell of aging paper that sounds with crinkles as you finger each page...I gotta have it.

Yes, I'm an addict. I'm addicted to the written word. Speak up if you are an addict too.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Beginnings at the End of the Year

Well folks it's almost 2012. Eighteen more days and we put an end to another year. It is also the end of my experiment.

Here are some numbers to chomp on...

Digital sales for all my novels is a larger portion than I expected. While I've sold or donated over 2,500 e-copies of my novels, including children's, I've actually pocketed the change from over half that. All in all, not a bad investment. No money down and reap the benefits of my labor. But you know what they say about money...the more you have; the more that flies out of your pocket.

The costs of this year's endeavors... 1 new computer, three ink cartridges, 1 case of paper, internet service for promotion, postage, copies of books given away for contests, servicemen, and reviews...the experience as a whole...priceless. This doesn't include house repairs or medical bills faced this year, but I actually have been able to pay my mortgage this last quarter so I'll consider this experiment a success.

What was gained...a whole bunch of new readers for my blog, new followers on facebook, and new avenues of promotion like twitter and goodreads. I only thought I knew marketing. I've learned a lot about e-marketing a product.

Now comes the end of the year, the time when I pull out all the receipts and get them in order for tax season...yeah I know Uncle Sam has his hand out too.

But this year I have a surprise for him...a huge deduction in solar power renovations. That pretty much wipes out my tax bill and puts me in the negative income bracket. I was at the point of being between a rock and a hard place with the power company with my husband on electrical based life support. The power outages have been horrendous for us this year. Whether it was a transformer blowing in the neighborhood or an accident taking out part of the grid. :) The expense of repairing my office that the insurance did not cover...this is why I keep my home office instead of using my living or dining room to write in. Oh and my new computer...cha-ching! Either a 179 write off or deduction for 3 years.

Now, comes the decision time...will I continue to self-publish or try and break into standard publishing. I've had offers from three publishers on my zombie series since the first one was published. Yes, it is exciting. Yes, my books will probably find a bigger audience. Yes, I can take off some of the hats I wear. But will I?

I'll have to let you know later after the second zombie book is edited. There are pros and cons to either path I choose and requires thought. A year ago I would probably have jumped at the chance...maybe. I still have personal issues which are still open. I still am a bull-headed Taurian and want my own way. I'm not unreasonable mind you, just sort of set in my ways. :)

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Inspiration for Authors

I read Janet Reid's blog, but don't necessarily agree with her on most points, but today's blog or note was terrific. There was a link to a site which was inspiring and I thought I'd pass it along before I get my new computers.... check it out here.  Sean Ferrell did a beautiful job of helping an author through a bad spot.

In case you don't know, Janet Reid is a literary agent.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Kindle Select...Opting Out

I got the email about Kindle Select and actually gave it a lot of thought. I am opting out.

What scares me about the program...
While it sounds can they actually predict the earning potential on such a new program? Yes, they have been in business for years as a online book seller. Yes, they have a track record. Yes, they say you can opt out any time after the 90 day period.  It all sounds too good to be true and you know what they say about things being too good to be true.

I published all my novels in both Smashwords, Kindle, and Createspace for paperbacks. Yes, I do understand the powerhouse Amazon is becoming. But exclusivity? Does this mean they will start promoting my books? Uh huh! They are just lending my books. They are not actual sales.

Right now through Smashwords, my novels are available in all formats. It doesn't matter whether you have a kindle, nook, or whatever or not. You can also download for your computer. The sales on these other devices are small, but that isn't the point.  The point is it is available to all readers. I also noticed I picked up a few new U.K. readers who join the U.S., Canada, European markets this past month. Welcome all. Who am I to tell everyone to get my novels you HAVE to buy a Kindle?

Currently, I have five manuscripts in the works for publishing next year plus two other possibles. If I sign an exclusive contract...yes this is a legally binding contract with some stiff penalties, what will happen to the new novels and nonfiction I want to publish? Although the contract says 90 days, there could be long reaching tentacles reaching for the new ones. Yes, I do understand I have the option to cancel, but didn't I just slap the other retailers in the face by opting in? Can we say monopoly? If I ever make best seller on Amazon (albeit unlikely), as it stands right now that prestige carries over to other retailers thus more sales in those markets. With Kindle Select it's one street and one marketplace.

If I wanted to sign an exclusive contract I would have submitted my novels to my NY publisher.

Now, I could see the benefits to an unknown newly published author. It would get your product (novel) into more hands possibly. There isn't a track record to go by at this point. So you may be on the cutting edge of a new fangled thing.

While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I just see the broader picture. The picture painted is rosy, but I know after a year of semi-humping my hinny off in self-publishing, it is not that easy.  There is never a quick fix which works in the long run. It takes hard work. It takes learning the trade of publishing and marketing. It takes business savvy. It takes learning the craft of writing and storytelling to the best of your ability and keep learning new angles. This is not the business of if you write it they will come. It takes building an audience, developing relationships, and experience garnered over time.

This is not the 1960's of the one-hit wonders of musical groups. You, as an indie author, are in it for the long haul...multiple titles, notoriety, and the love of the craft. It's entertainment that can be revisited and cherished like the teddy bear or dolly of your youth. I have books which I enjoyed as a child that have been passed down to my children and grandchildren. That's the overall goal of writing...the love and the continuation.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Twiddling my Thumbs

I sit today wondering what I'm going to blog about. I twiddle my thumbs. It's a mean feat for me. I had both of them broken by my auto air bag during a head on collision a few years back. Pressing the space bar is easier because they stick out straight so typing became a breeze once the splints came off. Nope I never got casts. I had to have custom splints made because up until the last week the swelling was a constant problem.

I'm basically waiting, very impatiently I might add, for my the 10th for my new baby...not a real computer. It's strange when I look back over the decades. Those of you who remember I started writing on a typewriter. Now, I find myself lost without a computer. It just makes life so simple. The same went for my microwave, my cell phone, and a host of other technological advances I've reluctantly adopted over the past thirty years.

My computer is my bookkeeping, my tax worksheets, my calendar, my internet, most of my communications these days, and my job all locked up inside of it. So when my hard drive on my desktop died a horrible death, but not without warning, I was able to store everything on flash's amazing what this small USB drive can save in 18 megs. And it has no moving parts! But it doesn't handle the clothes washer very well as my daughter found out.

  I've talked before about backing up your data. It is so important. Have you backed-up your hard drive lately? Have you backed-up your blog? Have you got back-ups for your back-ups? I do. In fact I do a triple whammy. One on each of two computers (which I lost 1), one on flash drives, and one on an online service. I am positively anal compulsive about my back-ups. So much of our lives today are computer based.

My husband asked me about the benefits of buying an i-pad or some such device. I told him as far as I knew he would work fine for him because it wasn't a regular computer computer. He just surfs the internet when he's awake and reads the articles. But for me, I need the full functioning type computer. I do a lot more than just surf with mine. Yes, there are tons of aps, keyboards, mouses, etc for those type devices, but I don't see the need.

But then again... I felt the same way about computers, microwave ovens, and cell phones.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7th~Infamy and a Sense of Pride

Today is December 7th. I don't get political in my blog, but seventy years ago Pearl Harbor was attacked. The quote which has lived on was by Franklin D. Roosevelt..."A day which will live in infamy."

Now I have a different take on the whole Pearl Harbor attack which may raise an eyebrow or two...a sense of  pride. Until recently, I used to be bad mouthed because of my views on the attack. In fact in school, I was beaten. Yes, a whole lot of people died and the U.S Pacific fleet was crippled. They should be remembered and mourned.

So why a sense of pride with this horrible event? My grandfather was an engineer. He designed the prototype for the bombers which attacked Pearl Harbor. This is where my pride stems from. That such a small island nation, such as Japan, could have the courage to play David with a Goliath  is awe inspiring. Now, that history has been rectified and it is known that this truly wasn't a sneak attack, but America's way of entering the war has made this sense a pride a little easier to voice.

I take pride in my family and their achievements. This is part of my personal history as well as every other American's. But mine is a dual history both Japanese and American. Having viewed the history of WWII in books, museums, and having family who lived in Japan during the war, I've heard first hand stories both sides. A truly rare resource perspective, at best. In my travels, I have been belittled by small minded people because of my heritage. My heritage is a proud one. One based on family, honor, and values which comes from a history of thousands of years back to the Shoguns and Samurai.

What I never really never understood was why the U.S chose to put Japanese Americans in internment camps? Aw heck, why pretty it up...concentration camps. Yes, with the second word you get the ugly image of the German variety, but if you read the descriptions of the camps in the U.S. you will find a whole lot of similarities. These were American citizens!

Americans didn't confiscate property or forcibly remove Germans from their homes? Weren't they at war with Germany also? The rationale seems a bit skewed to me. I would have lost more family if they had done that. I'm half German and Japanese. It was a mistake and based on fear. No good decision is ever based on fear and paranoia.

Memories make you what you are today. This is one of mine.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

How to Get an Agent~NOT!

I know many of you who are indie authors may still be looking to get and agent and a standard publisher. Why not walk on both sides of the street. Many known authors do.

But at times to writers searching for an agent it's like a two step shuffle of queries and rejections. Don't take it personally. An agent's job is difficult and tedious at best. It's like mucking out a barn only once in a great while do you run across something truly precious, but still you wear high boots and gloves.

They may believe in your work but may not be sure of how to sell it...this would be the best option in regards to a rejection.There are several agents blogs about why they accept certain manuscripts and not others, how to query, how to submit and assorted other topics. Check them out.

Above all do not give up. You wouldn't want an agent who only half-believes in your novel. You definitely don't want one you have to pay to even consider representing you. Just like finding a mate for life...the road is long and sometimes very lonely, but when it's right it's fabulous!

I found this satire about how to get an agent. I know plenty of reputable agents and they DO NOT behave this way. It is is funny and not based on actual agent behavior although there are some manuscripts they might want to behave this way about.


Keep writing and loving the Lord. Just don't submit it to this guy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Working Both Sides of Your Brain & the Indie Author

Writing is all about using both sides of your brain. While each of us has a predominant side we excel in very few can excel in both.

We struggle trying to train our weaker side into shape as we do various tasks within the writing arena. Creation, analyzing, editing, formatting, plotting, and just typing it all out uses either side.

I can actually focus my brain on both sides at the same time. I have no idea of what my average brain use percentage is, but I'm betting it's pretty high. I've been in Mensa for a few decades. The last IQ test I took ranked me at genius level. No, I'm not bragging even though it might sound like it.

As a writer, I've found that I'm an observer and participant in life. I shop, cook, clean, work, and a host of other things just like the rest of the seven billion people on the face of this Earth. But there is a high attention to detail. For example, today I was in Dollar General. The elderly woman, with brilliant blue eyes and the prettiest silver hair I've ever seen, in front of me was fidgeting with her oxygen cylinder. Now there were several people in line and none thought to ask if she needed help. Afterwards I sort of chocked this up to nobody caring or too busy in their own little worlds to notice what's going on around them.The woman's regulator was on the fritz. I set it to continuous flow and and she was fine. But I digress.

Your left side of your brain is your analytical, logic side. In writing I use this to sequence events, organize my writing into a coherent state, and edit. I catch repetitive phrases and words, which irks me to no end in mine and others writings. I'm a stickler for details.I play the devil advocate. I double check facts before putting them into my writing.

Nothing is worse than having a reader come back at you with "You Are Wrong!" At least it is to me. The only thing worse is them telling you your book was trash in my mind. We as writers after all are here to please ourselves and our readers. Aren't we? If something is sloppily done, does it irritate you? It does me.

The right brain is our own little world as writers. It's our imagination, our creative juices, and the big picture. This is the overall plot of our story. Our basic concepts for our stories are formed here. We can see it, taste it, and hear it.

As a writer, this is where I feel for the characters in the story. I will put myself in the character's place.  The small voices in my head (the characters) will yell at me if they wouldn't do or say such things. This is also our basic of basic plot lines. You know the ones I'm talking about...the big seven. Man versus man, man versus environment, man versus machine...yada yada yada.

Writers are truly a different breed than the average Joe. They exercise both sides of their brains at the same time. We write in ordered chaos. We push the scientific boundaries. We suspend belief. At least that's what good writers do.

Have you exercised both sides of your brain today?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dead Horses Don't Gallop

As a writer have you ever written your way into a corner? I have plenty of times. I've been looking through my works in progress and a couple of works still in the planning stages. Even with all the homework and research I do prior to writing...I still get stuck. I'm sure I'm not alone.

I'll be about 20 K into a story line and then hit a brick wall. Not an ordinary brick wall...this one is ten feet high and as far as the eye can see. Usually at this point I only have a couple of options...

Try editing and rewriting. If it's really bad then it time to cut my loses and quit. I've always heard you can lead a horse to water, but can't make him drink. This is true. If a horse doesn't want to drink you can stick his whole head under water and it will drown before it drinks.

The same goes for writing. You can agonize over words, passages, chapters, and even WHOLE manuscripts...if it don't work then it isn't going to.  It's the smartest thing I've learned about this craft...when to say "enough" and quit trying to make a dead horse gallop.

It's a hard realization to make. But why beat a dead horse. You want your novel to be a galloping stallion in the marketplace. To shine, to be the best it can be, and sell!  If you think the story isn't right, you can bet your readers do too.

So what do you do with your ugly baby? Do you weep copiously as you feed your paper shredder what may have taken you months to write?

Nooooo! I hear you. I keep my ugly babies. Even with horrible manuscripts there are a few gems in there. I've been known to cut favorite passages out and paste them into a saved document. Little scenes and snippets can be altered into another life in another story line.

Remember as an indie author, you are more than just one book. The pieces become a collage of a novel you can write...the galloping horse. As a child in school, I image you cut pictures out of magazines and pasted them together to form a new face...that's exactly what I'm talking about doing with your dead horse. The creative process is just that a process. Not everything is bad. You may have written one gorgeous sunset, one character who will not be shushed, but the story is all wrong for it. Write another story. Weave that sunset or character into the new story line. Above all...

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Look Back

Today is December 1st...already.

I'm fast approaching the end of my year's experiment with self-publishing. What have I learned???


1) I always knew word of mouth was the best advertising...but growing that word of mouth is challenging.

2) Pre-promotion is critical. Building the anticipation factor is critical. Someone sees an ad/mention (twitter)/posted link (facebook), and a host of other cyber sites a large number of times before they will buy your book.

3) Participation is crucial. If you aren't are forgotten. I've had several months of ups and downs as far as my participation in blogs, interviews, chat sessions, forums, and assorted other things. The best laid plans are often side it has been for me these past two months.

4) The best selling self-published authors made their marks in standard publishing first AND then moved on to e-publishing/self-publishing.

5) Sales can be exhilarating and disheartening at the same time. I've gone from nothing to almost 1,000 copies of my books in people's hands. Not a huge number by standard publishing scales, but not too shoddy for someone who went about this backwards.

6) Pre-write three or four of your books you want to self-publish BEFORE you publish the first one. You will feel less like you are behind the eight-ball.

I've made a lot of mistakes and had a mediocre to moderate success this year. Only mediocre effort was put forth not knowing the ropes prior. The main success comes in actually publishing again. I've had a long hiatus from publishing and missed it. I have more reader contact this way than the other. Not just fan mail, but actual interactions which is a change. I'm actually interacting with fellow writers more this year than I have in the thirty years prior which is fabulous.

More on this later. My computer is still iffy...9 more days and counting.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Addition to the Murphey Saga

 My eighth grandchild was born this evening. He is my miracle grandson. One that never should have made it, but did.

James Henry Waters IV was weighed in at 7 lbs 12 ozs, 20 inches long. Both my youngest daughter and he is doing well. He has all ten fingers and toes...I know I counted and kissed each one.

This old grandma is just tickled blue and beaming!