Monday, December 09, 2013

New! The Basket Maker's Wife

I’m thrilled to present another facet of my writing, The Basket Maker’s Wife.

I’ve written romantic suspense, contemporary romance, western romance, psychic stuff and humor. The BasketMaker’s Wife leans more to women’s fiction with a little intuitive mixed in. It’s set in contemporary Missouri Ozarks, in a small town called Mill Haven—because there is a mill there.

The book is titled The Basket Maker’s Wife because Jessie, an elderly woman and the wife of a basket maker, is one of the story leads. White oak baskets, woven in different shapes for different purposes are just fascinating, and I own several.

Portions of myself are in every book I create, and The Basket Maker’s Wife is one of my favorites. This story is set in Missouri’s Ozarks, where so many handcrafters live, where backyard gardens flourish. In spring, Missouri’s redbud trees bloom, a burst of bright fuchsia color on the rolling hills.

The craft of basket making is passed down, as you can read in the story. The Basket Maker’s Wife concerns the Celtic trio: The Maiden, The Mother, and The Crone (Elder woman). Those are the three stages of a woman’s life, and I hope you enjoy the women, their lives and loves in The Basket Maker’s Wife.

The cast of characters is large and deep. Not all readers appreciate a large cast, but this is a community filled with different characters who impact upon the story. Mill Haven and its surrounding small farms have lots of heart as you’ll discover.

Nora, the woman in the center of the trio, is facing major crisises. Not just one life problem, but a whole list. I loved writing about Nora, Jessie, and “The Gift”, another woman.

I love this book and am writing the second and loving it, too. It will take some time to complete, but I am truly into these stories. It was a real stretch to write this book, so different from my others, a true heart and soul story. To be continued….

I hope you will want to read The Basket Maker’s Wife. You’ll find more news in my enewsletter, available for free subscription.

BTW, didn't the designer do a beautiful job? Love the cover!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Hot Tips for Winter Weather.

THE BASKET MAKER'S WIFE Now on Sale.

 Blurb: Safely hidden away from her horrifying past, single mother Nora loves her elderly friend, the inituitive owner of The Basket Shop. A young woman on-the-run arrives, and the three women's lives unite, changing Nora forever. Amid a cast of characters, Nora fearfully faces the past, a new full life, and the terror of a shocking gift that has waited for her....

Don't you just love this cover? I love the book/story, too. :)

More on that later, but here's some tips for keeping warm inside....
 
We’re expecting snow/ice/freezing rain and below zero temperatures, here in the Midwest.
I thought someone with an old house like mine, or maybe newer, might appreciate one or more tips on keeping warm and reducing electric bills. I have an all electric house, but really work to keep my bill down. In good weather, there’s weather stripping, well you know… Here’s some of what I do, and I hope you’ll comment on your tips:

·      Charge all necessary batteries/electronics in case of an outage. Keep extra non-charging ready.
·      Seal off any unused rooms. If the base of the door has a gap, place a rug/towel/something across it.
·      If a patio door is unused, block it off. If it faces North like mine does, even with insulating drapes, cold seeps through. Again, if unused, place 2” insulation foam against the glass, drapes over it.
·      I’m not a fan of floor-length drapes, but I have them. In hard winter, I check to see that they are not blocking off heat vents. Or that the heat is diverted out into the room.
·      Draft dodgers. Usually sewn in a tube to match the size of the window/door, they are stuffed with something to block drafts.
·      I’m lucky enough to have a fireplace insert, which I don’t that much as fire takes tending, and I’d rather write. Note: split wood takes fire faster, round wood keeps it longer. We have hard woods, which are the best. My wood pile is covered with a tarp, and some placed near a door for outages.
·      Ceramic slow cookers are best. They stay warm/hot for some time after the electricity goes out.
·      One of our local grocery stores just got zapped by shoppers and their bread shelves look empty. If you’re not a baker, do find one bread/biscuit recipe that works for you. You can bake bread as round on a cookie sheet, and the smell is wonderful!
·      Speaking of shopping: Preshop ahead of the last minute shoppers. I make my own soups, but have found that the cups of dry soup prepared with hot water are great for emergencies. Put some in your car in case you get trapped at work or in a motel, etc. They do not freeze.

If you have any keeping-warm tips, please sure in the comments? It might help someone, including me. :)

Thank you.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mr. Easy's New Cover

Here's a new cover for MR. EASY, courtesy of designer Jennifer Quinn. I love his new look and he's only 2.99.

Mr. Easy is now in epub, for those who loved him in paperback and want another date with him.

NOTE: For an ongoing list of my books, please visit my book page or Amazon Author Page.

Mr. Easy's Blurb:
Denied his only child since her birth, master angler Wyatt Remington has finally located his daughter and cute little granddaughter.

In disguise, Wyatt hopes he gets to know his daughter, who thinks the worst of him, before introducing himself as her father. Hey. What's he going to say? "Where have I been all your life? I am a nice guy, not what your mother told you."

But Tallulah Ames, alias "Stretch" the town's matchmaker, isn't letting this lech anywhere near her little chicks. She's a tall redhead, athletic, fiercely protective, and burned by love.

Wyatt is out to catch the keeper, Tallulah, and to have his family reunited. He's slow, methodical, and a delicious angler who's after everything!

Thanks for the great cover look, Jenny!

I hope you enjoy MR. EASY. I love him! And don't forget to check out my other books at my book page or Amazon Author Page.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Donna Fazano's New Release

Welcome, Donna Fazano, guest blogger. She's special, and she's here. 
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 photo DFRerelBanner_zpscb177693.jpg
Now with Montlake Romance - Release Day TODAY 12 November, 2013

On becoming a Montlake Author:
Let me tell you about my wonderful publishing experience! I have to back up a little bit… to this past spring. I self-published a romance titled Reclaim My Heart. The book received great reviews immediately, and it sold well from the beginning. Very well. In fact, during the first week of August I was enjoying a mug of coffee while perusing the USA Today Bestseller's List (my usual Thursday morning routine), and I nearly choked when I saw that Reclaim My Heart was sitting at #123 on the list. A couple of days later I was contacted by an editor from Montlake. She told me she'd read one of my books months before and had been keeping an eye on me. She said she'd read Reclaim My Heart and loved it. Now, what author doesn't love to hear that? She made an offer I couldn't refuse.

The Montlake editor and the design team loved the cover that was on the indie version of the book; however, Amazon had trouble licensing the rights to the image. So we searched for weeks before finding the picture that's on the current cover. I love it! And I hope my readers do, too.

I'm happy to be writing romance novels for Montlake. I feel wanted and appreciated, and it can't get much better than that in the publishing industry!
~Donna


Reclaim My Heart by Donna Fasano Cover photo 91D5bs609NL_SL1500__zpsbe57f93f.jpg

Title: Reclaim My Heart
Author: Donna Fasano
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Pages: 282
Formats: Paperback, eBook, AudioCD
ISBN: 978-1477817988
Purchase Now: Paperback § eBook § AudioCD

About The Book :


Sixteen years ago, Tyne Whitlock cut all ties to her past and left town under the shameful shadow of a teenage pregnancy. Now her fifteen-year-old son is in trouble with the law, and she is desperate for help. But reaching out to high-powered attorney Lucas Silver Hawk will tear open the heart-wrenching past in ways Tyne never imagined.

Forced to return to the Delaware Indian community where Lucas was raised, Tyne and Lucas are tempted by the heated passion that consumed them as teens. Tyne rediscovers all the reasons she found this man irresistible, but there are scandalous secrets waiting to be revealed, disgraceful choices made in the past that cannot be denied. Love is a powerful force that could heal them both—if the truth doesn't rip them apart.




Excerpt

From Chapter Two"Please, Lucas."
He couldn't dismiss the tone of those two small words, nor could he ignore the magnitude of emotion clouding her expression. He had no choice but to relent.
"Sit down," he murmured. He closed the door of his office and then returned to perch himself on the corner of his desk. He steeled himself before asking, "What's on your mind?"
She seemed to shrink a little as a thousand thoughts ran though her head. Seconds passed, and still she didn't speak.
Lucas witnessed the phenomenon almost on a daily basis. The people who wound up in his office often felt as if they were carrying the world on their shoulders. He knew her anxiety would eventually discharge, and from the looks of it, he wouldn't have to wait long.
Finally, she pressed her hand to her chest. "I can't breathe."
"Relax. Do you want some water?"
She shook her head, a lock of her long, platinum hair falling over her forearm. "No. I need to get this out. I promised you I'd hurry."
He couldn't keep his brows from arching a fraction. She hadn't kept her promises in the past. Why would he expect her to now?
Tyne ran her tongue along her full bottom lip, hesitated another moment, then blurted, "I need a lawyer."
Lucas closed his eyes and stifled a sigh. He could have guessed as much, of course. He'd worked hard to get himself into the privileged position of being able to pick and choose his clients. The last person he wanted to represent was Tyne Whitlock.
"A good lawyer, Lucas."
Common sense told him Tyne wasn't attempting to flatter him. She was speaking purely out of desperation.
"Look, Tyne—" Something made him stop. He sighed, and then he stood, taking his time rounding his desk and sitting down. The leather-upholstered arms of the chair were cool and smooth under his fingertips.
"I know some of the best attorneys in the city." He plucked a pen from the cup on his desktop. "And many of them owe me a favor or two." He reached into his inside jacket pocket, pulled out one of the business cards he always kept handy, and turned it over, poised to write. "Let me give you some names and numbers—"
"I don't want just any attorney." Her chin lifted. "I want you. Why else would I have come here?"
His gaze lowered to the small white card in his hand. With much deliberation, he set down the pen and the card, and then he looked her directly in the eyes.
Every muscle in her body appeared board-stiff.
"Listen to me—" he kept his tone calm "—when people find themselves in trouble with the law, or victimized, or wrongfully sued, or unjustly accused, they tend to get lost in a strange, I don't know, franticness. A recklessness that they almost always regret. Believe me when I tell you that no situation is hopeless, and circumstances are rarely as desperate as they might be perceived. Whatever trouble you're in, don't let panic and fear haze your thinking."
"You don't understand."
"I think I do," he rushed to assure her. "I see it every day. Honest, hardworking people finding themselves in dire straits. And this unfamiliar territory throws them. They grasp at help from the first source that comes to mind."
"But—"
"Just like that old adage warning that only a fool acts as his own lawyer, it's also foolish to choose an attorney in haste. You and I have a past, Tyne, and even though all of that took place years and years ago, the fact remains that we have a history. I don't believe I would be the best person to represent you in a court of law. You need someone who'll be totally unbiased. Let me give you some names. I'll make some calls for you myself—"
"Stop!" She lifted her hands and scooted to the edge of the seat. "You don't understand. And I can't make you understand if you won't shut up for a minute."
His eyebrows arched and the frustration in her statement had him leaning back a bit.
She frowned. "I'm sorry. Really, I am. I had to stew all day yesterday." She fisted her hands in her lap. "I didn't expect to reach anyone on a Sunday, but do you know that your firm doesn't offer an emergency number on the answering machine?" She exhaled with force. "I'm a nervous wreck just being here. Seeing you. But all that aside, I shouldn't have snapped at you. Please accept my apology."
He didn't react, didn't move. He just waited for her to continue.
"The thing is… what you need to know…"
Once again, she grew terribly cautious, and Lucas found that extremely curious. What the hell was it she found so hard to tell him? What kind of trouble was she in?
She blanched, but then her spine straightened. "I'm not the one who needs a lawyer. I want to hire you, yes. But I'm not the one needing representation. It's my son who's in trouble." A nerve at the corner of her eye ticked, but her gaze never veered from his as she added, "Our son, Lucas."

About Donna Fasano

Donna Fasano is a three time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, and a Golden Heart finalist. Her books have sold over 3.6 million copies worldwide and have been published in nearly two dozen languages. Her books have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #17.

What others are saying about Donna’s books:
“…complex, funny, and realistic…” ~Wilmington News Journal

“Excellent!” ~Bookreview.com

“Could not help myself from reading excerpts to my husband and friends. This book is well written, the characters are real, everyday folks. It is very easy to identify with them. Donna Fasano is a talented author.” ~Elizabeth M. Caldwell on Amazon

“…a fast paced riotous look at family life today. Donna Fasano is right on target!”
~Donna Zapf, SingleTitles.com

Friday, November 08, 2013

Sleepless in Montana on Sale

NOW 2.99

Romantic Suspense:

SLEEPLESS IN MONTANA- Amazon

SLEEPLESS IN MONTANA - Nook

SLEEPLESS IN MONTANA - Smashwords

I'm in love with Hogan Kodiak and his brothers, Aaron and Mitch and even his father, Ben. (Every Ben I've known has been a good guy.) There's a lot of Montana men in this story and I wanted to share them for just 2.99!

Hogan is a worldwide artist who has returned to Montana to settle his past. When I reread Sleepless in Montana, I saw so much of my own love of art, color, shape, and noted how much of me was in Hogan as he studied his pieces.

Blurb:
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To protect the most vulnerable of the Kodiak clan from a killer, the embattled adult children and their mother return to the Bar K.

Hogan Kodiak, the eldest and the family’s outsider, is on his own ranch. Bitterly at odds with his father, he can’t rid himself of Jemma Delaney, his longtime nemesis, now the woman he desires. Determined to unite the Kodiaks and soothe Hogan’s troubled spirit, Jemma is no sweetheart as their romance fires up. As murder circles the Bar K, the Kodiaks untangle their past, their loves, and uncover the killer’s horrible secret.

Reviews:
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Sleepless in Montana seamlessly combines love stories for all the Kodiak family members into one intense and tightly packaged tale. Cait London delivers once again! Jill M. Smith, Romantic Times

“...entertaining storyline.” Publishers Weekly

Sleepless in Montana is an emotional, multilayered story that will linger in your mind long after you finish the last page. A must read! Sharon Laird for Bookbug on the Web

The succinct, non-communicative, native Montanan in me says, just read it. All About Romance, Liz Zink

This story was fantastic!...I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense. Delia Larkins, Old Book Barn Gazette
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I hope you enjoy the Kodiaks and their loves. Now only 2.99. 



Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Fall Update

The Ozarks wet summer produced a super great Fall. I drive and take photos when I can. Get prepared. I hope to paint this one day, whenever I can...

Karen Rose Smith has kindly gifted me with one of her many cat pictures, which is on my to-be painted list. Be sure to check out her on FaceBook and see those great shots. Linda loves cats. Who doesn't?!


I'm on Facebook, too, and Twitter, so be sure to join me there.

If you're looking for a complete list of my Amazon books, try this link.

Lady Desperado, a .99 cents western novella (humor) is now up and running, and Mr. Easy and a new one, are coming right along soon.

For more upcoming, please join my free e-newsletter.  Or write to me. I'd love to hear from you.

I love this cover by designer NajlaGamber Designs , don't you?

But right now, I'm headed for the kitchen to make chicken soup, for this cold rainy day. That's chicken broth with onions, garlic, chives, and my potstickers for dumplings, plus rice noodles. Yum.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lady Desperado: Western Novella



LADY DESPERADO: Western Novella

Harp, Montana 1880

The stagecoach robberies are blamed on Raven, a masked man, wearing a cape, an eye patch and a large plumed hat.

Tough cattleman Grayson Steele has to catch the Raven, who has stolen The Book, which contains his infamous teenage art work.  Exposed, The Book could ruin his political chance. His only clue, a feather scented of gunsmoke and oil leads him to gunsmith Olympia Hutton.

In a slumped, timid clerk-like disguise, tough westerner Gray is immediately hired by Olympia.

I think you'll enjoy this humorous take on a man who has met his match in "Oly", the only woman who does not want him...

Read the first portion in my WHAT'S NEW PAGE and I hope you'll want more. I haven't written that many short stories or novellas, only a few, but I really enjoyed writing Lady Desperado.

My thanks to designer Naj Gamber Designs for the great e-cover. My e-newsletter, available for free My e-newsletter, available for free subscription contains more upcoming works.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Writer's Visuals and Ideas

 Writers often use visuals, i.e. maps, pictures of movie stars, settings.

While visiting family in Lexington, KY, my young friends had toys that might be used as visuals by writers.

The house scene with little people could easily be used by mystery writers. Doll houses have been used a lot by sci-fi and horror writers. The girl who owns this arranges the people all the time. I watched her and thought, she's thinking of stories, of how these people should look, or where they are and their activies. It was interesting to watch her arrange these toys. I wondered what went through her mind as she studied the arrangements. Was she thinking of her own life and what she would do?

To me, she looked almost like Alice in Wonderland, as if she could step into this tiny toy and become part of it.


This spacecraft consists of over 600 pieces and the boy who put it together, did it in an hour. I see all sorts of Starwars and Space Pirate stories coming out of this toy.

The beautiful girl with her long waving hair is a study in herself, the meticulous/thoughtful way she handles the toys.

You can just see adventure in the boy's eyes as he handles this ship. You have to wonder where he'll go and what he'll see and what vehicle he'll use in future times.

Both toys and children were extremely interesting studies that I'm sure will pop up in one of my stories somewhere. :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall is Writing Time

*If you're looking for great pie pumpkins, get these dull, ugly babies. They are really bright orange on the inside and have thick "meat". Cooked, sieved, mixed with ingredients like molasses for pies, the taste is surpreme.
   
It's that time of year… Nanomonth, pumpkins, autumn leaves, etc. Writers get busy, invigorated by conferences, hyped up by holiday sales.

My nearest writing groups are excited about Nano/Jano. I thought about doing it this year, to finish a Work In Progress (WIP). In reviewing the WIP, I had the synopsis already, a partial done, and notes.

I don’t know how many are outlining their month long writing projects, but I thought this might help someone: When I first started to publish, the purchasing editor wanted a numbered paragraph outline. 

She wanted 10 chapters (I started in category).
It’s a good basic outlining process:
·      Place 10 numbered paragraphs down the page.
·      Each paragraph has 2 sentences. A.) what happens in the story and B.) what is happening in the relationship.
From that, the story grows.
   
I do more plotting now, but this basic still holds. You can do 20 chapters, etc. But halfway, say Paragraph 5, that is the midpoint. The story has to grow up to the midpoint. It has to continuing growing. By the last chapter, the storyline/romance had better be completed, the questions answered.

Everyone has their own plotting method. There’s the old plotters vs plungers deal, where one type of writer will plot heavily, while the other just jumps into the story. Both have value. I do both.

I’ve used plotting software. Some of it is too complicated and you lose writing energy conforming to the software. I’m fond of PageFour by BadWolf Software (they create good products, i.e. SmartEdit and NameGenerator). However, currently PageFour is only in PC. Their trial software is great. I’m so hoping they move to Mac. I’ve done tons of work on that program, which is especially great for keeping series information straight.

One program I liked isn’t around anymore, or maybe it is. It was a Brown Bag program in early PC time. Basically designed with Frames, the author listed all the main things/plot points that should occur in the story, then dragged them into whatever Frame suited—this is along the lines of a 4 act play, so 4 Frames.

The SHAPE of the story is different from mystery to romance and mystery is different from suspense. All good things to note when plotting.

Plungers, just write. Not that you write Dreck, but Dreck is really important to get started to get this vehicle up and running.

You know you’ve got a good story when you’d rather work on it than watch your favorite TV show. You know you’ve got a good story when it feels like it has a heartbeat. 

If you can tap into that heartbeat, don't let anyone take that excitement from you. Best to all you Nano/Jano writers.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Experiencing Your Character's Story

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My First Attempt at Homemade Laundry Soap. Who knew?!!

As a writer, I value a variety of experiences; they enrich our stories. Like other readers, I've read about settings that I've visited and the book was way off. I try to keep authentic. Plus I'm just a person who likes to do stuff.

Currently, I’m working on a long term project and my heroine can really use my latest experience—making laundry soap. (Do you know how many times I’ve typed soup, when it should have been soap? :))

This snagged me/got me started reading recipes on Internet, and there are a lot of them: In today’s economy, money saving tips are great. With small children, my neighbor’s daughter makes homemade soap.

I thought I’d try this as it doesn’t look too hard. (EZ as pie, really!) There are all sorts of how-tos online. Basically, I didn’t have a 5-gallon bucket; I went with a large Animal Crackers container (not good). The stuff turned out to be a gel/pudding thickness and a lot of it.

Using ¼ cup per wash load, these containers of soap should last a while, or even a half cup. One take was that it cost .04 per load. I do know the ingredients yield a lot and are around $6 here in SW MO. That $6 goes thru several “experiences”.

The advantage is not only $, but no heavy scents—unless you want to add them. Plus, you’re not getting a lot of chemicals you don’t want. The basic 3 ingredients recipes are combined in different strengths.

Every recipe on Internet seemed to have different strengths, proportions to water, but the 3 basics are a bar of soap (FelsNaptha is laundry soap. I’m using Ivory next time), Arm&Hammer Washing Soda and Borax 76 oz. size.

The directions: Slowly add grated soap into boiling water and stir slowly. My big old French wooden spoon did nicely.

NOTE!!! Grate very finely to help dissolve better. Some directions said to use a food processor. I grated and measured onto a paper plate.

Add the soda and Borax, stir. Add warm water as directed and stir. Let set overnight. Mine gelled right away. Next time, I'm dissolving the soap in water in a smaller pan and then adding to a graniteware pot I found in the basement. Jugs with handles, small ones, or a vinegar jug work best, because shake before using. Or I have to.

Later. It’s always later when you first try something, right? Later, my neighbor gave me a great recipe she’s made for years.

Result: this laundry soap is cheap and really, really works well. 

We learn by mistakes and for this first time, I learned that I would use more water in the grated soap soup. I think I’d like more slime texture than gel. Next time, I’ll add baking soda for a sweeter wash, and maybe some lavender oil. On the other hand, using something other than FelsNaptha may produce another product.
  
Those with HE washers posted that they use this homemade laundry soap, and some said in the liquid form (there are dry recipes). I have an old washer that did just fine with the liquid, but caution those with HE washers to read the material.

Here's a big nod to Budget101.com for her comment below on Laundry Sauce, made in the microwave. Be sure to read.

If you have any recommendations about homemade laundry soap, I’d appreciate them. Correction: My heroine might need them :). I can just see her trying to give the extra amounts away to her neighbors like I'm doing.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Using Photos 4 Story Ideas

 

If you’re hunting for book ideas, stock photos hold super ideas.  
 This is one of my own photos, BTW. I can just look at a photo and spin a story around it. I think I'll lighten it. Photoshop Elements has been a great addition to my writing tools.

In my mind's eye, I remember/see this old wooden windmill on a Kansas drive. Those blades were shot and missing, but I wondered who had lived there, and their stories.

Or I saw an Amish girl riding her little pony, alongside the country road. Her skirts had blown aside, exposing her jeans and boots beneath. I did get a book out of that one.

Deviant Art is a super idea shopping place, great artists. Spend some time there.

Two of the artists I’m currently fond of are Olly2 and Conrado at Bigstockphoto.com If you like the photo and graphic work of special individuals there, search: Contributor:Olly2 or Contributor:Conrado

I don’t know why I love you, Grunge Background, but I do.

Here are some super artists/designer premades:

Editor and graphic artist Jenny Quinn at HistoricalEditorial.com does super work. And she’s likely to know the perfect period costume, too.

So those are a few of my haunts. I also take a lot of my own photos and get ideas from them. It’s that old Audio or Visual Person Thing.

I hope you enjoy the tour and come up with lots of story ideas. If you do, create a story toy box like I did, always at the ready when you're story hunting.

For that story box, I use PageFour on a PC and NoteSuite on a Mac. Any words that create a story, i.e. Homecoming are stashed in there, with a Good Title list, plus any particular characters I'm using in a particular story. When writing for 2 publishers, I had to sometimes come up with stories quickly and there was my Toy Box. :)

I'm adding another drawer to that Toy Box and that is the links/URLs to stock photos that churn stories for me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Writers: Which Way To Write Signs

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Season of Truth: Chloe, alias The Fireball, comes back to stir the dark past. Michael Bearclaw has waited to settle an old debt with her...

The other day, a friend and I were discussing our next writing projects. There are just some writing projects that I have to try, and I am.

But she had a problem: Her style and books are immensely popular now, but she didn’t want to continue writing in the same subgenre.

This is a Writer’s Big Deal. If you’ve built a readership, and you shift away from it, those readers may not follow; thus, income may not follow. At this point, writers have 2 choices: 1.) Try to keep on writing the same material—though it may not interest as much, feel as fresh and exciting as it once did. Or 2.) Take that leap into the unknown.

This is a Major Deal. The material MUST excite the writer, ignite him, to be good. That story has to pump along like a heartbeat, carrying the writer in a fast stream as the story grows. Sometimes it’s a slow start, filled with murky drek, and you just have to chug along, trying to find that pulse. Sometimes it’s a different POV (point of view), a dead body dropping in to change direction. Sometimes, it’s just pushing away the clutter to find that good strong stream to carry you.

I’m working with my backlist now and seeing that certain themes have held true in my writing, though I’ve been all over the romance subgenre landscape (except sci-fi and fantasy). I’ve usually written to please myself wherever I drifted. I’ve loved my stories like children. (I have some unpublished children’s stories, etc. right now, waiting for me to edit.)

But my friend-writer had some life struggles as we all do. Despite her popular style, she just didn’t feel the same about her stories. She’d tried to write in that same vein, flopped around in some other stuff, liked it, flopped around again, pushing for that good comfortable feel of her kind of story.

IMHO, flopping around is healthy. Try this, try that. Get comfortable. Settle into what you want to do. That may be an editor’s biggest fear, too, when that writer starts to explore, needing a change to stay fresh. Editors of publishing houses like predictability in their stable. It takes a while to build a readership, those sales, and starting anew with different material can endanger sales.

Some writers write the same story over and over. They sell well. They have an established readership who depend on the same kind of story from them. It’s valid, because their readers love it. And they're comfortable in that same basic story. But another writer might wonder and hope that their stuff stays “un-cookie cutter like”. So this is a fear for some, writing the same kind of novel, genre/subgenre.

The Bottom Line: We, my friend and I, talked about her situation and it came down to this—for her—SHE HAD CHANGED. Her life had changed, she’d been through some trauma and she did not FEEL that unique material as she once had. She wanted to move on. Or try to move on, to find that excitement again.

If we have changed from material written before our life changes dramatically, does that also change the need to write in different directions?

This is a huge decision for an established writer with a readership. But it's also a decision for any writer. If life has changed us, it may change the material we write.  Or not.

I hope this is helping someone out there, because these are tough decisions--where to lay down our time and energy. That's a big deposit, so we weigh it carefully, our own Season of Truth.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Details: Making Changes

Changing from years of PCs to Mac is not easy. Repeat: Not Easy. And it's costly, because of changing systems/programs and Time Involved.

The Situation preceding the change: My XPs (a Dell desktop and a Sony Vaio laptop) were great, but dying and something had to give. They were old friends, the Dell usually up in the morning and running most of the day. The Vaio used for travel and supplemental--and when I wanted to go somewhere away from my writing corner.

Getting a new PC would have easily worked. My programs would have transferred, especially my favorites: PageFour writing software for plotting, etc. and SiteSpinner, a website program, both dedicated PC programs. At this point, I am missing both greatly.

There's always a fix, right? Currently NoteSuite, an organizer is working well for transferring PageFour files into Folders, i.e.: characters, timeline, places, plot, etc. I think NoteSuite will be great for organizing contract, too, i.e. reversion clauses/dates, etc.  This Mac app currently cost 4.99 and is touted to be the replacement for Evernote. I looked at Evernote and passed. I looked at Scrivener, which is far more complicated than PageFour. In the Mac Apps store, there are a number of writing programs, and I did get Pages.

Sad to leave SiteSpinner by VirtualMechanics. But with a name domain, I can transfer my website and my blogger account to WordPress in one bundle. Wordpress Websites have a lot of plug-ins and for now, I'm looking at the template TwentyEleven for WordPress. My blogger posts will be transferred right in (they tell me:). I have yet to take this on, as I'm still transferring files.

How do you transfer PC files into Mac? you ask. Here's how I did: Packed up my dying desktop, took it to the store, and they shoveled the guts-files into a big fat folder, called Moved Files. This Folder has everything in it. Pictures, Downloads, everything... plus my writing stuff.

Why did I move from PC to Mac? you ask. Because I shopped long and hard. Every one of my machines has really put in the work for way over 28 years. I've had them configured. But when I went shopping, online and at stores, I was not happy. When I called the online sales, not happy with service.

I looked at i7s and i5s and ignored i3 Intels. With graphics as a goal, I wanted quadcore. I wanted a good screen. Note: If you ever want to test the coatings on a screen, turn it off and hold it up by a florescent tube. Most likely that reflected image is wavery. Then, most of the laptops in the stores heated up. Desktops usually have better fan systems than laptops, but that can be debated, and a fan riser can be added to a laptop. But. My personal preference: I don't want a machine that heats.

The most important thing about buying a machine is how you are going to use it. I create more on a desktop situation. However, laptops can be docked or hooked to a monitor, and I thought about that. Even with an external backup drive or the Cloud/Dropbox, whatever, I have never been comfortable with taking all my hard work traveling. However, people do it all the time.

I am not a fan of laptop keyboards, because they are not ergonomic. My old lumpy does miles and is good for my hands. Gosh, if you don't do anything else, get an ergonomic keyboard for the miles your fingers type. You can hook those to a laptop. Some people pack not only their laptop, but their keyboards, too, for extended stays.

I chose a desktop Mac after a huge amount of shopping time because it suits me now with a lot of graphics ahead of me. The service is great and local. "Local" is a big deal when you live remote.

The killer for Mac would have been--if my printers wouldn't work. Thankfully, HP keeps their drivers up to date.

Basically, when you make up your mind to be happy with an investment, you'd better make yourself happy.

Making yourself happy involves setting up a machine for your needs. That involves a lot of wiggles. Suggestion: Do not make major changes on deadline--unless you have to, such as in my case, a hard drive going out on an old, overused machine.

I'm still wading through this change. A program called Parallels, which I am not going to use, offers both PC and Mac in one unit. Thought about that. Dismissed it for now.

At this point, the wiggles are getting less and I'm getting the program preferences adjusted. I'm hoping this change is one time only.

And I'm never, ever going to let a machine get so old that it's dying before getting something newer.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I'm starting to feel just like the heroine on Silence the Whispers cover.

From the past month or so, I've been shifting from an old dying PC (really old) to a new Mac. In case you don't know, all the stuff from the old machine are brought over in one folder. From there, you have to start sorting and fixing and birthing the new machine into something you can work with.

I've just spent about 2 solid days getting some of my email going. Only 1000 messages came down in that month. Lots of hours spent with techs. (I love the one with the name, Ben. You can always trust Bens.)

Meanwhile, back at the fort, I just have one more backlist book to send the copyreader, who's very good, btw. I'm updating this historical, my first and may be the last of the backlist. I have a new book waiting for an edit and some short stories.

Just one more historical after a couple years of learning more about this new eformat and wrangling with publishers, who are also publishing some of my books.

This is when the food fest starts, folks: when the wiggles aren't wiggling. Plus I'm gettting ready for a house move.

Don't forget that I'm a regular at Facebook and Twitter. Love both of them. I'm also at Goodreads. Hey. During this, I lost 1000 FB people and a lot of time.

Hopefully, everything is running smoother now. A little, anyway... thanks to Ben. :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Publisher/Agent Contracts: Eight Tips

I'm sorting contracts today. Hopefully, I've learned a few things since the start of my career. Here's a few tips from many years of various major publishers and agents. They are from a writers POV.

Disclaimer: All situations as different as individual writers. Most of us do the best we can, given the situation. Keep in mind that if you are just getting a look from a publisher or an agent, that you may have to take what is offered. Or not. :) Some publishers use a boilerplate. That means it is set in concrete.

Rule Number One:
Prepare for the divorce, prior to the marriage--or check the exit policy. This exit policy can be extensive on BOTH sides.
Be concerned about rights and payments. Now, with indie publishing, reversal rights are extremely important. Here's a good clause: If payments to the writer do not meet X-amount (be reasonable here) within 2 pay periods (Using May and Nov in traditional publishing), then all rights revert to the writer.

The writer may have to go after that, i.e. send a formal request letter. Use certified. In many cases, the publisher obliges with just an e-mail request. When terminating with Agents, put it in writing.

Number Two: Try to retain control of the next option book. You may want to sub somewhere else and if the publisher holds the next option book, which is pretty usual, but then does not want it, the writer could lose a good sale. Do not give an agent the next option book privilege.

Number Three: Try to get Bonus Clauses. That is, if the book sells over X amount, your percentage goes up.

Number Four: Try to get graduated advances per multiple book contract.

Number Five: Input to covers. Try to get some cover input.

Number Six: Some publishers/agents want exclusive submission. If they do, limit the time. Three months is a good average time, no more.

Number Seven: Watch the e-book splits. For example: If a publisher has a 50/50 split, then submits a book to Amazon, Amazon takes their percentage from the writer's 50%. If you have an agent, their take is in there somewhere.

Number Eight: Try to get as many free ad copies as possible in your contract. If those ad copies are deficient, or if you buy your own from the publisher, make certain that they are in good format. Or they will be replaced.

Additional Tips:
1. Scan all reverted right letters. Scan into special folders for easy finds. Scanning is good.
2. When contracts use Book #1, 2, etc., as soon as the book is titled, write the title on the contract.
3, If you are an established author with a lengthy reverted backlist, do not offer all of them at once. Test the waters with a few. If you're not happy with the publisher, you can move on with the rest.
4. Keep your pertinent business mail/e-mail. CC: yourself on replies. Or keep in a special mailbox that can be easily saved for reference.

Let's go back to Rule Number One. Clarify that exit policy with both publisher and agent.

Do you have any tips you'd like to share?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shark Week in Review

I think Sharknado caused one of my strangest weeks yet. We all have these times, when the usual is flipped, like seeing sharks hurling through the air, biting helicopters.

As a story writer, the unusual week is not good. We like our little safe worlds, where we can sit in our favorite spot(s) and create away, rolling in our stories, living our characters' lives.

With a computer going down and a new one purchased on Monday, this week was like those weird Sharknado scenes. The choice between a laptop and a desktop was difficult, but I settled for the desktop, a Mac. Uh-huh, decided to change from 20+ years of PC to Apple, an entire change, which hasn't been too bad. While I can't compare, I don't think it was any more difficult to learn than Windows 8.

The store tech moved my files into the new computer. Some couldn't be moved, and the old PC had just enough juice to be able to send the files e-mail. I still have to transfer the command keys to my ergonomic keyboard. Yes, the keyboards are different, but this old keyboard has really helped and I'm keeping it.

SW Missouri flooded in that same week. One day the road to town was blocked off. It's a mess down there and people had to be evacuated. My rain gutters clogged, and getting the ladder out and cleaning them wasn't fun.

Because thunderstorms were frequent, I would just bring up my new computer and have to bring it down and unplug. I unplug. This after seeing stuff fried elsewhere with surge protectors installed. I unplug. So all week, plug/unplug, work awhile, hear thunder, bring down. (We had sunshine on Saturday, our first.)

My story waiteth for its world to be set right and to begin wherever I left off. Okay, one of my favorite programs isn't going to work on this new baby. I'm hoping that Bad Wolf Software will come through with the programs I love. Then my website program won't work either, so that has to be resolved, and a Bluehost tech helped me with plans for that.

Along the way, several other writers really helped this week with how-tos. Writers share/hand down. I hope to repay them for their time and effort. That's a little unspoken/written word, folks, and you're hearing it here: If another writer helps you individually, that's taking their time--and they're probably glad to give it--but if you can some day, try to repay them for that chunk of time and energy.

YouTube is super for how-tos. Anything you don't know how to do, like change these keyboard commands, YouTube has a video.

Moving along with installation of new programs, what is this thing, and eyestrain, the week has passed with decisions to change this blog mightily, this after years. (BTW, I sucked out writer how-tos and hope to make a free download.) It's time to refresh.

Saturday brought that sunshine and a beautiful writers program, presented by Toni Somers of Sleuths Ink (mystery group) in Springfield, MO. This may have been the most unusual and mind provoking program I've experienced in years of attending writerly stuff, including conferences. Her program: Three Elements in Bible Stories (And Throughout Literature).

Somers really stirred the audience into thinking about plots and what books used these plots. Her theme was that there isn't anything really new. As writers, we put our own spin on these plots, make our own characters. The program was thought provoking and stayed with me for hours. I hope Somers will share this program with other writers.

I refer to all of this unable to get back to my story as Novel Interruptus in another post. Since I've been dealing with office and home reorganization for some time, writing has slowed to a molasses flow. Last night, all souped up with Somers' talk, I dived back into my suspense, which is about halfway finished. If I can just get these keyboard commands switched, if I can just get my blog changed to another format, if...

And it's all due to Sharknado. Have you ever had a week like this, slogging through things that need to be done, while your story is hanging out there, waiting?

Friday, August 09, 2013

Films: Overused Love Scene

Since it's shark week, I've decided to post a gripe, which is....

Over-used, zip for romance or even compassion, and wish it never happened so-called love/sex scene...

One of my favorite TV shows just used it. I've seen it too many times and wish whatever producers, etc. are signing off on this stuff, would do a re-think. It's done so much that I wonder if they need ratings and pull a standard out of the bag.

By this time, after so much repetition, they should leave it in the bag.

You know the love/sex scene: Hurry up with sex. Scrape the dishes off the table. Man dives in for sex. Woman wraps her legs around him.

Before I tell you how this over used scene could be fixed, let's count the ways that this scene can cost women viewers. Be prepared :):

1. Generally foreplay hasn't happened. Tenderness is zip/nada. Most women like some anticipation, some appreciation for who they are.

2. Ok, unless the couple is younger, middle-age people are likely to have back problems, etc. Yes, there are realities in body movement. What could be worse that a guy's back out of whack, after quickie lovemaking? So then the woman--if she is able--has to help/tend him. It's ye old, you play, you pay.

3.  OR: The very weight of the top player, if a man, could really hurt a woman's lighter physique.

4. Who's ever on the table, especially after a meal, is going to get salad in their hair and dressing, etc. on their clothes. The ground zero player is usually a woman, and probably won't like that very much.

5. The top player could be stepping in garbage or broken glass. If salad dressing, etc. has been spilled, his shoes could slip and both players could end up rolling in whatever.

6. At any rate, the table must be sturdy.

7. After play. Good golly. Where's any brush of romance in the table clearing sex scene?

The simple fix:
Depending on how sensual film makers what to go, leaning in close, hands on face, lifting for a kiss gives a lot to said romance--even if there is no romance, but some measure of tenderness. The man picks up the woman and carries her out of viewers sight--presumably to bed, where they can linger in the after glow.

!!!The plus to the man carrying the woman--if he can--is this: It presents a romantic picture. If she snuggles in close, etc. she can be very feminine. It presents him as a warrior, and here's where the old Captive Bride theme appeals to women.

OR: She tantalizes or pulls him slowly out of viewer's sight. This gives her a lot of presence, the power of attraction, because the stronger male lets her.

Yep. There's a lot more to filling film/viewer minutes space than drawing that table scene off the shelf--the dusty shelf.

What do you think? Any un-favorite scenes that are too often repeated?