Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Online Bookstore by Deborah Cooke a.k.a. Claire Delacroix

My Online Bookstore by Deborah Cooke a.k.a. Claire Delacroix


As the world of books shifts to digital, I’ve been thinking more and more about selling my digital content directly to readers through an online portal. My original thinking was
that I would sell my digital books directly to readers through this portal, essentially becoming another location for readers to shop. We like buying directly from producers. I go to farmer’s markets and art shows all the time, just for that reason, so marketing my books directly to readers makes sense to me.

I finally did something about this idea this fall for two reasons: the first is the trend to reading on other devices than dedicated e-readers. As readers enjoy their content on
phones or tablets, it seems reasonable to me that they’ll be less “portal-loyal.” Amazon is probably the best at keeping the bond between device and portal, but more and more
consumers know how to “sideload” content, and those using EPUB devices are even more competent at migrating content. (Really, there would be no pirate book sites if people didn’t know how to do this.) In the next few years, I anticipate that this trend will only accelerate.

Secondly, I found an e-store application that I liked. A Selz store (https://selz.com/) is easy to set up, has a graphic interface, and is geared to selling digital content. I had my basic store up and running in less than half an hour. The most time consuming part was uploading all of my content because I manage a lot of books. I integrated the store with both of my Facebook pages and my Mailchimp mailing list very easily, as well.

You can have a Selz store for free—just as you can have a WordPress blog for free—but I ended up subscribing to several features, including the use of a template, the shopping cart app and the ability to accept Paypal. (The default is to accept credit cards.) They’re working on a more sophisticated tax app, in response to the change to VAT in the EU effective January 1, and I’ll undoubtedly add that to my features as well. There is a lot of tracking and analytics available through their dashboard, so you can tell what’s working where. It’s a fairly young company, and I’ve found them very responsive when I’ve had issues, questions or suggestions.

Even though my store hasn’t officially launched, I’ve already noticed patterns in what readers find interesting and this has already modified my original plan. I decided to add some free content, so that readers could try out the interface without spending any money. For example, I have family trees and a booklist available on my website as downloadable PDFs that can be printed out, and have put them in the store, too. The bonus with the store is that even a free download is a “sale”, so those readers can opt into subscribing to my newsletter. (When they download content from my website, they just
slip away into the wilds of the internet.)

The store also offers me the opportunity to inventory the print editions that I have on hand. After more than twenty years as a published author, I have many older editions of books in limited numbers, and I also have readers who are collectors. This makes it easy for a reader to see what I still have available and also to order copies. (I still have to get the foreign editions listed.)

Finally, I’ve been making free downloadable excerpts available. These have the cover, blurb, an excerpt and buy links at the end for pre-ordering. Again, the content is available on my site, but not everyone wants to read it there. This way, they can pop it on their phone and read it wherever—then one-click buy, if they so choose. (Of the various portals, only iBooks allows the option of offering a sample file on a pre-order right now.) These are the most popular “products” in my store, and again, a download means that reader has the option of subscribing to my newsletter.

As might have been expected in a changing market, the way readers use the store is shaping my expectations for it. I can see lots of possibilities in making bonus content available to readers, especially content that isn’t suitable to upload to the online sales portals due to its length, format, or price. This could become another way of effectively and creatively interacting with my readers.

Come visit my online bookstore: https://deborahcooke.selz.com/

Deborah Cooke sold her first book in 1992, a medieval romance called The Romance of the Rose that was published under the pseudonym Claire Delacroix. Since then, she has published over fifty novels in a wide variety of sub-genres, including time travel romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, fantasy with romantic elements and paranormal young adult. Her medieval romance, The Beauty, was her first book to land on the New York Times’ List of Bestselling Books, and she is a USA Today Bestselling, nationally bestselling and #1 Kindle bestselling author. In 2009, she was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library, the first time that they hosted a residency focused on the romance genre, and in 2012, she was honored to
receive the RWA PRO Mentor of the Year Award. Deborah lives in Canada with her husband.

Learn more about all of her books at her website, http://deborahcooke.com

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What's in a Name by Bestselling Author Rod Pennington

What’s in a Name?

One of the fun parts of world creating is giving characters names that fit their roles. A perfect example is “Perry Mason”. He will “parry” the thrusts of the prosecutor while building the solid wall of his case one brick at a time.  The most famous is the computer “HAL 2000” from the movie/novel “2001, a Space Odyssey.” Go up one letter each in the alphabet from “HAL” and you get “IBM”

The Fourth Awakening is sprinkled with interesting names; some obvious, some not.  For example, what else would you call an editor other than “Mark Hatchet”? An editor’s sole purpose in life is to “
mark” up perfectly good copy and take a “hatchet” to a writer’s prose. Here are some of the others.

Penelope Drayton Spence.  For her first name I wanted something traditional which conveyed a sense of class. Brittany, Desiree or Candi with an “I” were immediately discarded. I quickly decided on “Penelope” the long suffering but amazingly loyal wife of Odysseus. Next was her maiden name. I wanted to use two famous South Carolina surnames names in my book.  Middleton Place and Drayton Hall are pre-Revolutionary War plantations sitting side by side on the Ashley River a few miles north of Charleston. In the early draft Penelope’s maiden name was Middleton instead of Drayton. Next was her last name. I went with “Spence” because it was close to “suspense”. That’s where the problem popped up.

Penelope Middletown Spence is a great name, but it would clearly never work. I really couldn’t see how the female protagonist could have the initials of “PMS”. Penelope Drayton Spence it is.

Michael Walker. The male lead got his first name from the Archangel “Michael”. Michael is traditionally viewed by Christians, Jews and Muslims as the field commander of the Army of God. “Walker” came from my wanting to convey that he “walks among us.” 

Hermes Project.  This one was a no brainer. In Greek mythology Hermes was the messenger of the Gods and the guide to the afterlife. He was the patron of boundaries and of those who cross them. Hermes was only one of a small handful who could enter and leave the “underworld” at will.  

Josephine Antoinette Middleton Rickman. Like Penelope, I wanted her wingman to have a traditional name. I also needed a first name which could have a cutesy nickname for the first book while she weathered her midlife crisis before reverting back to her more formal preference in later books. “Joey”/“Josephine” was perfect.  She inherited “Middleton” by default which gave me an opportunity to have some fun.  By making her middle name “Antoinette” she would have the same initials – JAM – as my co-author, Jeffery A. Martin. Alan Rickman (Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies and the hilarious villain in the first “Die Hard” movie) is one of my favorite actors so her married name was a tribute to him         

Noah Shepherd. Like the biblical “Noah” this character helps build the “ark” that carries the ship of state. His job is to “shepherd” the people on board without too much of a fuss.
Marcus Wolfe. This character is a warrior in the ancient Roman Centurion mode – wince the name of Marcus. Plus Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, suckled on a wolf. Like a wolf, he is most effective when he runs in a pack. He and his team are highly efficient.

Robert A. Smith. I wanted the grayest name possible for this character. He is one of a multitude of faceless bureaucrats who populate Washington. 

Senator Clayton Horn.  Remember the old “Looney Tunes” character of the loud roster with the Southern accent, “Foghorn Leghorn”? Senator Clay Horn.  

Amy Kindle. This character carries around in her memory banks information from thousands of books which she can instantly recall. Almost like an Amazon “Kindle”.

Dr. Carl Altman.  He is the brains behind the “Hermes Project” who has come up with a device which can alter man’s concept of spiritual development.  

James Steerforth. The few who got this joke rolled on the floor laughing. Steerforth plays the role of the Vegas magician much like mega-star illusionist David Copperfield. In the Dickens version, James Steerforth was David Copperfield’s best friend.  

In my “Family” books you meet the Charons. In mythology, Charon is the ferryman who takes the souls of the dead across the River Styx to the Underworld. This is the perfect name for four assassins who have sent more than their share of people to the afterlife. They work for “Sariel International” with “Sariel” being the name in Judeo-Christian as the Archangel of death.

Michael Charon. Like Michael Walker, he is also named for an Archangel.

Mother Valerie is named for “Valkyrie” of Norse lore.  A Valkyrie is a female who chooses which men live and which men die in battles. They are also lovers for mortal heroes. 
 
Olivia and Seth. I turned to Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and used the male/female twins Viola and Sebastian as a model. Much like Viola, Olivia pretends to be a boy. Seth is the little known third son of Adam & Eve who never got the same press as his older brothers Cain and Abel. Seth suffers the same fate and has to live in the shadow of his outgoing sister.

In the first Charon book, “Family Reunion”, I ran a contest to see if anyone could figure out the other trick I had used for names. Twelve of the characters were murder victims in Rex Stout “Nero Wolf” stories.

Gabriel Indweller is the male protagonist in my next book. Gabriel is another of the Archangel and “Indweller” is a seldom used religious term for someone living their life by a divine inner principle. What better name for an enlighten soul who has been granted the power of Iudex, Jurati, Carnificis by a group of the most powerful people on the planet? If your Latin is a bit rusty… Judge, Jury, Executioner.
    
For me at least, finding the perfect character name is one of the things that makes writing fun.

Don't forget to enter Rod's See Your Name in a Bestseller Contest!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Of Dinosaurs and Desperadoes - Writing "The Bone Feud"



 Of Dinosaurs and Desperadoes - Writing "The Bone Feud"
The journey that eventually led me to write The Bone Feud began when I was just five years old. Our local shopping center in Peabody, Massachusetts brought in several life-sized fiberglass models of dinosaurs on wheeled trailers and parked in their lot for kids to gawk at.

In the wide eyes of a five year old, these giant creatures were magnificent. It was right then and there that my lifelong fascination with dinosaurs began.

I immediately proclaimed that when I grew up I wanted to be an “archaeologist” and dig up dinosaur bones. My mother patiently explained to me that archaeologists don’t dig up dinosaur bones, and that what I actually wanted to be was a paleontologist. Later, my career path faltered when I discovered that science involves a lot of math, something for which I had no natural talent. But, I was a voracious reader, so becoming a writer seemed inevitable.

I began to write screenplays and moved to Los Angeles in my early 20s, where I spent the better part of ten years writing for film and television. Today I make my living writing and designing video games.

Before I left the film industry, around 2000, I read a nonfiction book by Mark Jaffe entitled The Gilded Dinosaur: The Fossil War Between E.D. Cope and O.C. Marsh and the Rise of American Science. It detailed the fascinating history of the events known variously as “The Bone Wars” and the "Great Dinosaur Rush." I saw, in its bones, the potential for a great action-adventure tale.

A straightforward re-telling of the story would have ultimately been quite depressing. These two men, Professor Edward Drinker Cope and Professor O.C. Marsh, were compulsive, jealous, driven men, and their bitter feud ultimately destroyed them both. But their feud occurred in the late 1870s at the height of the American Wild West. Cope and Marsh crossed paths with an amazing array of colorful characters who have been heavily romanticized in Western fiction over the years: Wild Bill Hickok, P.T. Barnum, the great Sioux leader Red Cloud, and many others. I saw wonder and magic in these events, and I became determined to make their story my own.

It began as a screenplay, and I took many liberties. I combined some events, and altered others. I compressed timelines and took artistic license with historical facts. When I finished, I had my agent send it out. I had some initial interest, but ultimately nothing came of it. So, I put it on a shelf, but I never forgot about it. I’d fallen in love with this story and these characters, and I was convinced it was the best thing I’d ever written. A few years ago I dusted it off and began to turn it into a novel. I knew, as written, it would be a short novel, and I briefly considered padding it out to make it a more marketable length.

One of my writing heroes, the great Elmore Leonard, said, “When you write, try to leave out all the parts that readers tend to skip.” His style was to leave out big descriptive paragraphs, keep things as lean and as fast-moving as possible, and reveal character through dialog. That’s what I tried to do. I wanted to create a novel that filled the reader’s head with images, and kept them compulsively turning pages.

My favorite early review said that one of the things they most enjoyed about The Bone Feud was that “It was almost like watching a movie in my head.” That was entirely my intention. I hope the rest of my readers feel the same way.


At the height of the American Wild West, two friends and scientific colleagues went to war. Each scrambled to out-wit and out-discover the other in a race to unearth the skeletal remains of dozens of previously undiscovered species of dinosaurs. What began with spying, bribery, and theft, quickly exploded into a bitter feud involving hired gunfighters, secret deals, and sticks of dynamite. Scientist-adventurers Edward Cope and O.C. Marsh inadvertently unleashed “dinosaur fever" across the globe, and their amazing discoveries became the subject of bidding wars by universities, museums, and even the great showman P.T. Barnum. Their story has never been told, until now.

THE BONE FEUD is an action-packed Wild West adventure based on real historic events.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mystery Writer and Forensic Analysts Asks the Question: When do you find the time to write?

When do you find the time to write?
Sheila Lowe, MS, mystery writer and forensic handwriting analyst

It’s the question people frequently ask and which drives me crazy (trust me, it’s a short ride). The next time I think I’ll respond by asking, “What do you do for a living?” And when they tell me, I’ll give them a knowing look and say, “When do you find the time to do that?” I’d like to think there would be dawning understanding on their face, but that’s probably unrealistic. Unless someone is an entrepreneur or in the creative arts, people in general don’t seem to recognize that what we as writers do is work and “finding time” for it is not an option; like any 9-5 job, it’s a requirement.

I’m lucky enough to have two careers. Handwriting analysis and forensic handwriting examination
still pay most of my bills and will probably always be my day job, but I’m working toward fiction writing taking on a bigger share of the burden. Looking back at January, which was without question, the busiest month I have ever had, work-wise (praise the handwriting gods!), it’s true that I did not get much time to work on my latest WIP. Court dates and my testimony cannot be postponed because I need to write another chapter. And when a woman calls with an urgent need to know about the potential for danger in the handwriting of a guy she’s seeing, it’s hard for me to say, “Sorry, you’ll have to wait.” Juggling all the moving parts can be a bit of a challenge.

I saw an article whose title suggested it could help one find time to write. No doubt it would have been an interesting read, but I decided to use the time I would have spent reading the article to do some actual work. Of course, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time I use daily on emails and Internet. I’m working on my self-discipline by not leaving Facebook open all the time (I find all those little “dings” letting me know someone has commented irresistible). Now I just check in from time to time and post a lot less. Same with emails. Have you ever noticed how they proliferate—the more you answer them, the more you get! Answering them less frequently seems to cut down on the pile waiting in the in-box.

It’s all about setting priorities, I suppose. For anyone serious about their writing—that is, trying to make a living by writing books—it can’t be a matter of “when do you find the time?” There has to be time (I know, I’m preaching to the choir, here).


My latest photo is posted with this entry. In connection with an interview I did for the Daily Express, a UK newspaper, they sent out a photographer who took 234 photos. This was the one I liked. Sad, isn’t it?! Needless to say, it’s not the one the Express used. Why do newspapers always pick the worst photos? Oh, never mind. That’s a subject for another blog.

For more information on Sheila and her books check out her website at http://www.claudiaroseseries.com/SheilaLoweMysteries/
Follow her on Twitter at @sheila_lowe 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Meet Author Mark Ellis Whose Historical Police Detective Frank Merlin Gets Rave Reviews

   
After an interesting and enjoyable career in law and business I decided a few years ago to fullfil a long-held ambition and take up writing. To date I have completed two well-received novels both set in World War Two London and featuring my creation, the Anglo-Spanish Scotland Yard police detective Frank Merlin. The first, PRINCES GATE, has Merlin investigating the deaths of employees at the American Embassy in London in the early days of the war in January 1940. In the second, STALIN’S GOLD, published this year, it is September 1940 and Merlin enquires into the disappearance of a Polish RAF pilot as the Battle of Britain and the Blitz rage around him.
   My stories are fictional but set in a historical period which I have very thoroughly researched. Many hours have been spent reading the numerous diaries, social and military histories of the war. Biographies have also been a helpful source and many fruitful days have been spent in the London Public Records Office, Kensington Library and on the internet. I believe I have built up an accurate picture of a fascinating era. In this context, one of my most pleasing reviews came from the eminent bestselling historian, Andrew Roberts, who commented that ‘as an historian I can attest to Ellis’s impressive accuracy in his fine descriptions of Blitz-hit London of 1940.’ He was also kind enough to describe STALIN’S GOLD as ‘masterly’ and ‘compelling’ and to call Merlin ‘one of the most attractive characters to emerge in recent detective-thriller fiction.’
 
PRINCESGATE’s setting, early 1940, was called 'the Phoney War' because there was no real sign of war activity in London or the country, with some few exceptions such as rationing and the blackout, while British forces were not yet engaged in military action. This was also a time when many powerful and influential people were supporters of appeasement and favoured a quick settlement with Hitler's Germany. One such was Joseph P. Kennedy, the American Ambassador and father of the future President John F. Kennedy. He is joined in the book by other characters of the same mind, some fictional some not.
  In STALIN’S GOLD set seven months later in September 1940, the appeasers’ influence has waned, Churchill is Prime Minister, the RAF is valiantly fending off the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, and London is enduring heavy bombing in the opening weeks of the Blitz. One surprising fact about the Blitz is that the looting of damaged buildings and areas was rampant. Looters, RAF pilots, Russian crooks and spies and many other I hope entertaining period characters feature in this book.
   I enjoy mixing real historical figures with the fictional characters in my casts. PRINCES GATE features Joseph Kennedy, Cordell Hull (Roosevelt's Secretary of State) and various British politicians. 


In STALIN’S GOLD I have been a little more ambitious including, amongst others, Stalin, Beria, Churchill and the King and Queen.  Some have walk-on parts while others are more integral to the plot. Frank Merlin 3, currently being written and set in the summer of 1941, will have more of this mix.

For more information please visit Mark at http://www.markellisauthor.com/

And follow Mark on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MarkEllis15



Monday, October 13, 2014

Meet Author Dani Collins who loves Christmas all Year!


I’m so excited to be visiting StoryFinds today, mostly because I can offer you an early Christmas present! You can download my first Montana Born book, Hometown Hero, for free (Oct 14th – 18th)!


Hometown Hero is my first for Montana Born. Chase Goodwin, professional baseball player, returns to his hometown of Marietta to help his younger half-brother. Chase winds up in a small-town scandal with Skye Wolcott that goes big-time viral online.

Writing this story felt like going home to my own small town roots. I enjoyed it so much I signed on to write a Christmas story set in the same fictional town.

In Blame The Mistletoe, Liz and Blake meet at a cocktail party hosted by Skye and Chase, but it turns out that Liz and Blake know each other from a previous life. Liz’s ex-husband is the brother of Blake’s ex-wife. Liz has never enjoyed the season and she’s stuck in Marietta for the holidays. Fortunately, she has Blake to show her why Christmas is actually the best time of the year overall.

Dani loves to hear from FANS. 
Follow her on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DaniCollinsAuthor
Send her a tweet: https://twitter.com/DaniCollinsBook
Check out her website: http://danicollins.com


~ * ~

EXCERPT from BLAME THE MISTLETOE

“Uh oh, Liz. You have a decision to make,” Skye said, pointing above Liz’s head.

Liz looked up. Mistletoe.

“The girls made me hang it,” Chase said from behind her, referring to Skye’s nieces who’d been running around with the rest of the children this evening.

Liz’s gaze caught Blake’s on the way down from the little sprig and her heart skipped at the light in his eyes. Her brain grasped for a smart remark, but nothing came.

Blake stepped into her space. “I think we owe it to ourselves,” he said. “Don’t you?”

Swaying, she set her hands on the cold, brushed texture of his coat, feeling ridiculously small and girlish all of a sudden. “Because of our mutual experience with the Flowers?” she asked.

“Actually . . . ” His gaze narrowed as he stared at her mouth and started to lower his head. “Let’s not think of them at all.”


Friday, October 10, 2014

Why one Author's Love of Egypt Inspired her to Write Novels

So why Egypt?


I've been in love with Egypt all my life. By the time I was nine I had read every book on Egyptology in  every library in our city. I longed to go there, but life had other plans and I was a fully grown woman when I went with my mother (who became a camel thief, but that's another story) on a perfectly horrible tour.

Still, it was wonderful. I wandered the temple of Karnak in the moonlight, all too aware that my sensible Nikes were treading on stones that had known the touch of pharonic sandals. Egypt has a magic... Later The Husband proposed to me in a moonlit garden at the base of the Pyramids, and still later, we went back for an almost month-long holiday where we leisurely explored the country.

That's where the idea for THE EGYPTIAN FILE originated. At El Kab there are old tombs that have been open since the Middle Ages, tombs still lively with paint. One of them also has a graffito, long reputed to be early Phoenician, since shown to be a degraded form of demotic. For some reason that sparked an idea of using the graffito as part of a key to solving a mystery. How does one use a two-thousand year old graffito as a clue in a modern mystery? (I'm not going to tell you how, but it does work!)

Every romance has to have conflict between the hero and heroine; every mystery has to have a puzzle that needs solving. After much stewing and (to the discomfort of our traveling companions) muttering, the story of THE EGYPTIAN FILE finally started to come together. Melissa is an art dealer suspected of being an antiquities smuggler, who comes to Egypt to retrieve a file left by her late father. David is a professor of Egyptology who is working with a task force to catch an antiquities smuggler. Of course they end up together, running across Egypt in fear of their lives from both a corrupt task force and a murderous rival who wants the file at any cost. Their adventures are great fun.

I got permission from Dr. Dirk Huyge, head of the El Kab dig, to add a tomb, as things go on in that tomb which should never go on in a real one! Also, the prototype of the hero David really exists. He was our Egyptian security guard during our group's Death March through the ancient quarry of Geb-el-Silsilla (that's another story, too!) and perhaps the best looking man I have ever seen.


I could blather on about Egypt and this book forever, but this blog has a 500 word limit (which I think unfair; some of us have difficulty saying 'Good Morning' in less than 500 words!) so I had better quit now. I hope you enjoy THE EGYPTIAN FILE and perhaps through it come to share a little of the love and fascination I feel for that ancient country.

For more information on Janis check out her website at http://www.janissusanmay.com/
or tweet her at https://twitter.com/JanisSusanMay

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Let's Talk Copywriting

Let’s talk copywriting!


In the past six months I’ve turned down two authors looking to showcase their ebooks on StoryFinds. Why? Because the work they were submitting sounded really familiar to me. I then did a quick google search with some key words and viola found what I believe to be the original ebooks on Amazon. I, of course, contacted the “real” authors to let them know about this and have since blocked the authors trying to pirate material already published. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. When I mentioned this to my other author friends they weren’t shocked and told me it happens all the time. Really?

So this got me thinking about why authors need to copyright their material. The main reason for copyrighting your work is to prove it’s yours. That may sound like a simple thing to you, the author, but to the court of law, simple has nothing to do with it. To ensure, without reasonable doubt, that you wrote your book it’s highly recommended to copyright your work. This creates a public record, which is then searchable by the courts and basically everyone in the world. And without that copyright you can’t sue someone for stealing your book or your
work, your setting, your world building or your characters.

So when should you copyright? Usually immediately once your final book is ready or within the first three months after publication. The good news is that US Copyright law is recognized in 167 countries.

How to file for copyright? This is easy. Go online to the  U.S. Copyright Office. They will ask you to file the “best edition” so this is why you might consider waiting for your final copies from your publisher or your final copy you’re uploading to your distribution sites.
 
Costs? About $35 if you file on-line with the U.S. Copyright Office. If you mail in your work and the registration forms, the fee is $45.  
 
Turn Around Time: If you file on-line it’s about six months and up to a year for paper filings. However, keep in mind, you are legally covered based on the effective filing date of the registration is the date that it arrives at the U.S. Copyright Office, not when they process it.
 
Another great resource for authors is The Authors Guild which provides key information on copyright issues.


By Renee D Field, Founder, StoryFinds.com

Monday, September 1, 2014

Character Hijack!

Character Hijack! by Sue Perry

Sometimes a character overtakes an author. This is not new news, but I never expected it to happen to me.

I know I'm not alone in this: however much my books distort or transform reality, they always build on a foundation of personal experience. As far as I can tell, that foundation exists for all writers and I bet it's the reason that books - even the wildest fantasies - always teach us about people.

Now, my way of creating characters is probably not a universal strategy, but I'm sure I can't be the only author who proceeds as I do: I scatter my attitudes and feelings across multiple characters. In fact, I can go back to a book later, combine all the characters, and get a decent sense of the me who existed when the book was written, in all my contradictory glory. I don't do the scattering consciously but so far it has always happened, as it has in my latest novel, Nica of Los Angeles  the first book in the speculative detective series FRAMES.

Here's the wrinkle. Sure, I'm everywhere in all the characters, but my main character Nica has hijacked my writing. Of course she narrates the novel - that's her job. But she has also been writing my blog posts. My book reviews. And my work emails. This started midway through the first novel. I tried to shut her down during the hiatus between volumes, with limited success. Now that I'm deep into the writing of book two in the series, I feel compelled to channel Nica, because it keeps me in touch with my narrator. But I miss having a separate identity and I wish she'd stop making waves that I get stuck riding.

Or do I? I confess I wouldn't mind being more like Nica. She's a lot more flexible and adventurous. We're both smartasses, but somehow she's funnier. She acts fearlessly, regardless of how afraid she might be. She's innately upbeat and optimistic, despite a slew of personal tragedies and the very noir world she inhabits. Perhaps I should just be grateful that I haven't been visited by her nemeses, Warty Sebaceous Cysts. And relieved to know that Nica can't take over completely, because she's not a writer.


As currently envisioned, Nica of Los Angeles is the first of four novels. I guess I'd better come up with some additional FRAMES story lines, in case Nica never goes away.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Writing & Prison - What they have in Common


By Ed Griffin

I started writing at the same time I went to prison as a volunteer teacher. This was in a maximum security prison in Wisconsin. I still had a lot to learn about writing, and a lot to learn about prison.  
            The main thing I did in prison was listen. The guys wrote little things and I praised them for their effort and made little suggestions. The men were happy that a teacher seemed to think what they did was worthwhile. After every class, one by one they said “Thanks for coming, Ed”
            One day a man stood up in class and started babbling about how it was the rocks on the shore of Lake Michigan that caused him all this trouble. It was their fault he was in prison.
The other guys said things like, “Come on, Rocco, we’ve heard this before. I was getting a little nervous. Rocco kept on and addressed the seven men in the class as if they were hundreds.
A young man in the back stood up and walked to the front. I knew his name was Brian. He took Rocco by the arm, and said, “Come on, man, I’m going to help you.” Rocco grumbled a bit, but sat down and was quiet. Brian sat right next to him. I knew that if I had trouble, these guys would help me out.
In 1988 my family and I moved to Surrey in British Columbia. I offered to teach in prison there. “Thank you for your offer, Mr. Griffin, but we have a complete college program in our prison.”
I was impressed. I knew that education was the true way out of crime and here was a prison that went beyond high school completion and offered men and women a change for a college degree. I thanked the official and said I would stay in touch.
A few years later the university program ended. What killed it? Complaints from some people said, “These convicts are getting a free college education and I have to pay a lot of money for my daughter’s education.”
One official I talked to claimed that the university was teaching things like history and writing when they should have had courses in welding and the like.
I called and volunteered again. This time they accepted my offer. I started teaching in Matsqui prison in 1991.
I always had a good size class. I knew that I wasn’t creating a lot of writers, but I was giving men a chance to do something creative. There was a saying, “When I write, I’m not in prison.” In other words they were carried into lands of mystery, fantasy, science fiction and so forth.
One man was a real writer, Mike Oulton. He was a person who gets a few ideas from a teacher and then takes off on his own. Mike was doing eight years in Canada for importing cocaine. He had already done two years in a Mexican prison. He, himself, was not a user. In fact he told you could never trust a junkie.
Mike and I decided to write a book about prison. I, the outsider, would be totally against prison, while he, the insider, would say that prison helped some guys. Our book would be called Inside-Out, the Story of Prison.
We were half finished with the book when Mike came up for parole. Everything looked okay until the morning of the hearing. His case worker reported that a cellphone was found in his part of a double cell. “It was hidden in a sock and Mr. Oulton used the cellphone to make drug deals.”
“It wasn’t even my sock,” Mike said. He didn’t say anymore because that would be against the con code of not telling on another person. However, everyone knew that Mike’s roommate was not to be trusted. Mike’s caseworker opposed his early release. Then something unusual happened. Mike’s previous caseworker stood up. “I know it’s impolite for me to comment on another caseworker, but this is a mistake. Mike has completed all his programs and has everything lined up for release, a job, a half-way house, and contact with a parole officer. We all know who the real guilty person is, but Mike will never say his name.”
The parole board rejected his early release and gave him a year and a half more in prison, at a cost to taxpayers of 50,000 dollars.
Mike said to me, “I’m rewriting my part of the book. I want to call the book Dystopia, the opposite of Utopia. Prison is a place where men are torn down but not put back together.”
What did I learn in my twenty-four years as a teacher of creative writing? That writing helps some people find out who they are. Writing brings hope to a place where there is no hope.
I went to prison every Friday morning. It was like I was standing by a river and men were floating past me. Occasionally I reached in and grabbed one man and worked with him but many more floated by. I knew in my heart that I should go upstream and find out why these men were floating down the river.

I never did that, but I know I made a difference for some guys. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Why did I start Romance Me! Radio?

by L.C. Giroux

My sister would tell you it is just one more step in my plan for world media domination. But no, that wasnt actually it. Romance Me! Radio started as a podcast about romance where I planned to talk about new romance book releases but also ways to incorporate more romance into our real lives. Book boyfriends will only get you so far. It has evolved after too many conversations that began with My audiobook is out! Now how do I promote it?

If you look around there is no really good way to promote audiobooks. Listeners of audiobooks certainly read the amazon reviews that are included on audible.com but an audiobook has added elements that you wont hear about in an e-book review, the narrators voice being the biggest but not the only one. Production quality comes up, even how a book translates to audio is a factor. Excess dialogue tags can be deadly in audio.

With Romance Me! Radio, I hope to fill the gaps. Listeners of audiobooks may well read reviews but we already know that they like to hear their content. A podcast is the perfect medium to reach them. Podcasts are available on all the devices they already listen to their books on and can be enjoyed while they are doing all the things they do while they listen to their books. Podcasts are free and format agnostic (they dont care where you buy your books)

In trying to explain my idea to my scientist husband the best analogy I came up with was early MTV. You know, before it was nothing but reality shows. In the early days, the record companies created videos as promo tools. Mostly they just sat there never used. MTV came along and said we can take those and build a cable channel around them. Everyone thought they were nuts until The Police and Michael Jackson, along with a slew of other artists, had some of the biggest albums of their careers based on the popularity of their videos. Im hoping Romance Me! Radio can do that for romance audiobook authors.

Currently I am featuring audiobooks from authors who are working with readaromancemonth.com. After August is over, I will kick off September with week long intensives with a new author featured each week. For this period I will have an interview with the author, a first chapter excerpt, and possibly an interview with the narrator of some of that authors books. The goal is eventually to have a half hour weekly podcast where listeners can hear more about all the different aspects of the books they love.

You can find show notes and other information about Romance Me! Radio at www.romancemeradio.com You can listen to podcast there or subscribe through iTunes at: http://bit.ly/1pPKEL4

If you are interested in discussing how you can work with Romance Me! Radio contact me at romancemeradio@gmail.com


Owner, Podcaster








Saturday, August 9, 2014

How a New York Times Bestselling Author Switched to Being Self-Published

SWITCHING HATS: HOW I WENT FROM BEING A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR TO BEING SELF-PUBLISHED
It was 1983. I’d just moved to New York City from California with my two young children, my typewriter and no child support.  I needed to find work – pronto – or we’d all starve. At a party I was approached by an attractive flight attendant who confided that she moonlighted as a call girl. She tried to recruit me, with promises of big money. I passed.  I wasn’t that desperate.  

I signed with a book packager instead. I kept the wolf from the door in those early years by churning out teen romances for small five-figure sums and even smaller royalties. But you’ve got to start somewhere and 

I’m proud of the part I played in helping launch the successful Sweet Valley High series, even if my name is nowhere to be seen on any of those titles. It was decent money and, more importantly, I could count on a monthly income. My kids and I didn’t go hungry.  I didn’t have to sell my body to pay the rent. And writing those books was instrumental in honing my craft. By that I mean the most basic skill of stitching together a beginning, middle and an end.

I was nevertheless thankful to go on to bigger and better things. With my first adult novel, Garden of Lies, I found a wide audience and my name was on the cover. It enjoyed a 12-week run on the New York Times bestseller list. This despite the fact that I’d been warned by publishing veterans that green-colored book covers don’t sell. (The way I saw it, that only meant my green-colored book cover would stand out from the pack.) I was too na├»ve then to know my early success wouldn’t simply continue to grow. I failed to factor in the vagaries of publishing, the economy, or the human factor (I was married to my agent then, whom I subsequently divorced).

What I envisioned as a steady upward trajectory was a roller-coaster ride instead. Corporate mergers, industry shifts, recessions, the musical chairs of editors coming and going – I’ve seen it all. Finally, it reached a point where I could no longer subsist on my royalty income.

I should be depressed, right? But I’m not. Here’s why (besides the fact that my current husband is wonderfully supportive in every way). While I was floundering in traditional publishing, along with a bunch of other authors like myself, a revolution had been taking place in the digital world. Indie publishing had arrived and it was no longer the back alley of publishing but a place where you could proudly hang your hat. Opportunity was knocking and I took heed. 

Bones and Roses, the first book in my Cypress Bay mystery series, is the answer to the question I’d asked myself back then: What would you write if you were on a desert island? If there were no publisher/editor expectations to be met?  I’ve always been drawn to the mystery genre and even penned a teen series in the 1980’s titled Who Killed Peggy Sue? I enjoyed reading mysteries and realized I would write one for the fun of it even if I never saw a dime from it. It was thrilling to me that even I didn’t know whodunit till halfway through the writing of the first draft! 

Writing the book was the easy part. The biggest challenge was when it came time to wear my publisher’s hat.  I was such a newbie I barely knew the meaning of SEO. But I’m a quick learner and one of my strengths is knowing what to tackle and what to delegate. At the suggestion of an author friend I signed with INscribe Digital to distribute Bones and Roses.  They have expertise and relationships with the various e-tailers I couldn’t hope to replicate on my own.
Next up, cover design. After pursuing some dead ends I hired the peerless Mumtaz Mustafa, who’d done the covers for several of my backlist titles, to design kickass covers for Books #1 and #2 of my Cypress Bay mystery series. She did an awesome job, as I knew she would. I ended up with two covers any publisher, traditional or otherwise, would be proud of.  The lesson is this: You get what you pay for.  Book design is not an area in which to skimp. Go with the best you can afford.

Editing is another must.  I’m smart enough to know I’m my own worst editor, so I hired a team of professionals, Samantha Stroh Bailey and Francine LaSala of Perfect Pen Communications. They’re both authors themselves, so they came at it from an authors’ perspective, and it was great to have two pairs of eyes. I highly recommend them.

For digitizing I went with Polgarus Studio. Jason from Polgarus delivered in a record two days and did a great job at a great price.

With the approach of my pub date I knew I needed some marketing muscle, so I hired a whiz of the biz, Lauren Lee, with whom I’d worked in the past.  She guided me through the shoals and did online outreach while I did my part in becoming more active with social media and blogging. Hiring someone to assist with marketing and promotion isn’t essential if you yourself are adept at that kind of thing, but I’m a beginner so for me it wasn’t optional. I’m smart enough to know that word-of-mouth only works if you get the word out to begin with.

Now that the book is out there, only time will tell if the proverbial wolf will return or if its banished for good.  But I’m hopeful. Either way, I’m doing what I love without having to sell my body or my soul.    

* * *

New York Times bestselling novelist Eileen Goudge wrote her first mystery, Secret of the Mossy Cave, at he age of eleven, and went on to pen the perennially popular Garden of Lies, which was published in 22 languages around the world, and numerous other women’s fiction tiles. Bones and Roses is the first book in her Cypress Bay Mysteries series. She lives in New York City with her husband, television film critic and entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon. Keep connected with Eileen at her website, www.eileengoudge.com.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Six Authors Learn to Work Together to Create a Summer Lovin' Series

Summer Lovin’ Series

What do you get when you combine six authors, a laptop, and a stack of ideas as high as the Rocky Mountains?  A brand new Summer Lovin’ continuity series set it the Canadian Rockies, of course!

Cathryn Fox kicked things off on July 7th with CRASHING DOWN, the first of six stories with each book releasing two weeks apart.  “I must say, I’m very excited about the entire series.  Not only do we have characters making appearances in each others’ stories, and a beautiful mountain resort as the backdrop, these books have everything readers love in the New Adult genre: love, sex, angst, betrayal and pain.  I’ve written over fifty books and I’m often asked which is my favorite.  It’s a hard question to answer, but I must say CRASHING DOWN is at the top of the list.  I didn’t hold any punches with my tortured hero, Noah.  I let him act the way any twenty-one year old emotionally wrecked guy would act, and I really hope my readers come away loving him as much as I do.”
Available at:


Audra North followed on July 21st with LOSING IT, and here’s what she has to say about the collaboration. “I was so excited when Cathryn and Jan invited me to be a part of the Summer Lovin’ series. Not only did I get to collaborate with two writers whom I already knew and loved; I got to know new authors, as well! It’s funny, because I thought of our group a lot as I was writing my story, LOSING IT. The heroine, Emery, is afraid to get close to others because she has a lot of trust issues. As a result, she doesn’t have any friends, and her life is pretty lonely. Definitely not like the fun, chatty group of authors in the Summer Lovin’ series! Luckily, Ryan, the hero, teaches her how important it is to open up and let others in. It can lead to wonderful opportunities!”
Available at:

Renee Field showcased  LOVING LIES on August 4th.  “It’s so cool that the Summer Lovin’ series is a mix of Canadian and American authors.  It truly gives us a unique flare when it comes to writing new adult romance. With our diverse backgrounds, ranging from marketing, nursing, journalism, editing and finance, we all bring something new and unique to the table, and I can honestly say it’s been a pleasure to brainstorm, and work with these talented ladies. There wasn’t a diva amongst us, and when we ran into scheduling conflicts, we were all willing to make changes to accommodate each other. While writing LOVING LIES, I fell in love with Blake, a young man just finishing his university degree and trying to find his way in life while making it rich only to discover that love and life’s lessons have a way of derailing those set goals.”
Available at:


Jan Meredith releases on August 18th with TAMING TESS.  “Collaborating with these wonderful women on the Summer Lovin’ series had been a blast as well as a blessing. You never know when or how you’ll meet someone who will become important to you. You could be next door neighbors, or live hundreds of miles apart, but if Fate wants you together, she will find a way and you may as well sit back and enjoy the ride. Cathryn and I met during NaNoWriMo in November of 2012 and became critique partners and although we’ve never physically met, we’ve become great friends. In TAMING TESS, Tess travels from Nashville, TN to Canada, and Stone Cliff Resort to escape her past only to find a former soldier from Montana with a wounded soul searching for a moment of peace. What they find may change their life forever.” 
Available for Pre-order on Kobo:                                                                                                             

Lilly Cain follows on September 1st with SURVIVING NIKKI, and the series came at just the right time for her to return to daily writing. “New Adult is a breath of fresh air; it’s jumping back into writing without a parachute! When we first talked about writing the series I found the whole thing fascinating – how we could write our own books yet tie them together with theme and setting. I couldn’t wait to get started on SURVIVING NIKKI. And it’s been fun, meeting some new authors and working with a few (Cathryn, Renee and Sara) who I’ve known for a while. Doing what you love is so good and it shows in the end product.”
Available for Preorder on Kobo:

Last but not least Sara Hubbard releases SAVING SULLIVAN on September 15th.   “Speaking of diva’s,” Sara says, “There is one member in the group, (who’s name we shall not speak of, but it starts with a C!) that insisted I change the name of my heroine because she didn’t like it. I didn’t mind, because the book was so much fun to write, sneaking bits in to match up with the previous plots and falling in love with my hero. Since four of us have known each other for a while, writing together was comfortable, but I’ve found great new friends in Jan and Audra. It’s been an experience to share laughter over the Internet in a group where despite our distances and our different backgrounds we share a commonality in the love of romance. And now I get to share SAVING SULLIVAN, a story that I love, with everyone else!”

Available for Pre-Order on Kobo:

Please sign up for our facebook page where we’ll be holding contests and talking about our series.  https://www.facebook.com/SummerLovinNewAdultRomance

For more information about the Summer Lovin’ authors please visit their websites!