Monday, October 31, 2011

Free Kindle Book: The Tough Love You Need To Get Published Now


Write That Book Already!: The Tough Love You Need To Get Published Now

From the foreword by Maya Angelou:"[T]he joy they promise in their prose makes me glad that I and other writers have been willing to make good writing our aim, and even great writing our dream." "How do I get my book published?"Good question. Lucky for you, publishing insiders Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen Goldmark have laid out the blueprint for what you want--your book. From transforming an idea into a manuscript to finding an agent to working with an editor to marketing your book, BookPage's Author Enablers are here to assist you every step of the way. And they've brought some backup with original insight from literary superstars like Stephen King, Amy Tan, Rita Mae Brown, and more.It's everything you would ever want--and need--to know about the industry from the inside out. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Critique Groups: Serious Business or Good Fun?

I have been plotting new stories.

This writing business overlaps itself and could make the sanest person’s eye twitch. While I’m working on one story, I need to have one or two others under consideration on an editor’s desk. Also while working on a story, I get edits and author alterations for a previous one.

By the time a book is actually in stores, I’ve usually written one or two more, plotted a couple, and worked on cover art information. So, when I have a book on the shelves, I have to go back and remind myself what it’s about to promote it. LOL Or even read it if I’m asked to join a reader’s group for discussion! Don’t laugh.

My friend Bernadette has been my critique partner practically ever since we joined RWA the same year in—confession time—1988. She remembers everything about every story anyone writes and can keep it all straight. I confess, her brain scares me. But then I scare myself. I read or critique for another person and forget what the story was about within a couple of weeks. I justify that by saying I simply have too much on my mind to retain it all. Don’t blow my comfort level by disagreeing.

I am a writer who appreciates a good critique group or partner. I've been in a critique group for all the years that I've been published—and most of those in a group that meets every single week. We go through stages: Levels of productivity, trying out techniques that work, members moving away and, of course, our process of screening a replacement.

It's serious business, this critique group thing. You don't invite anyone who isn't compatible. You have to respect the people who are going to offer comments on your work. For me it has nothing to do with published or unpublished; it has to do with work ethic, knowledge or willingness to learn, and enthusiasm. And another creative brain ain't nothin' to turn up your nose at.

I love my other brains. They are priceless during the brainstorming process—or when I'm stuck. Sure, I come up with the ideas on my own, and I put the pieces together and make all the decisions and write the story, but I only have one brain and one life experience. Getting feedback from other writers who have different perspectives and who understand the process of story writing makes their contributions invaluable.

Some writers don't like anyone else meddling in their stories—some find it changes their story too much. I go into the process with chosen elements I won't budge on, so the possibility of taking my story a wrong direction isn't a problem for me. I'm flexible about everything else because new perspectives keep me fresh.

If a writer in my group makes a suggestion for someone’s story that isn't considered, it's not because the thought was a bad idea; it's just because that idea didn't work for that particular story. There are no wrong ideas. We all understand that and nobody gets her nose out of joint.

We often use Pam McCutcheon’s brainstorming cards because they give us themes and traits for a starting point.

These people are my best friends. We share other things besides writing, and when someone moves away, we stay in touch. But we always remember why we are friends. We’re together because we’re writers, and our goal is to help each other write the best stories possible.

Thank you to the clever writers who have critiqued with me over the years! If you’re one of them, shout out a HOWDY!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

There's a Blogger Born Every Minute

Everybody has a blog and most of us subscribe to more blogs than we can possibly read, so what can we do to attract readers to our particular blog? Decide first if this is something you can commit to. You can't hold readers if you're not faithful about new content.

Carve out a niche for yourself: Brand yourself with color, a photo, graphics, content, voice -- anything and everything that makes your content and appearance appealing and unique.

Giveaways: Many readers leave comments if you're holding a drawing. Pick up an extra book or DVD and hold a drawing. Ask your friends for a book or a special craft to give away.

Articles: Currently on Fridays I post blogs on the craft of writing. I feature authors who write the same sort of books I do, whose books I've enjoyed, and books written by friends.

Create a special day (or holiday) event: A few ideas are Hero Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday or Favorite Book Friday. Come up with something unique to you. I hold a Christmas Tree Tour every year throughout the month of December and readers and authors send me photos of their Christmas trees. It's a huge hit and readers have come to anticipate it. I've even had a couple of editors mention it to me.

Lists: People love a list and will often post theirs. Favorite romantic songs, favorite romantic movies or comedies, favorite authors or new TV shows you plan to catch are just a few ideas.

Reviews: Give your opinion on books you've read, movies you've seen, who you think should be voted off American Idol, your choices on Dancing With the Stars, the Olympic performances. When you tag your blog with a popular tag, you'll get hits from people googling that topic.

Recipes: Family favorites or cooking for special occasions. Ask friends to share their favorites. Nearly everyone likes an easy recipe.

Photos and graphics:
1) I make it a point never to post a blog without a picture. People are much more likely to pause in their surfing and read if there's a photo. For a solid year I posted Photo Friday and featured only a photo I'd taken myself. It was a very popular feature.

2) Title your photos. Don't ever post a graphic or photo that is labeled simply DMS00087. Keep tags interesting and people doing google searches will find your photo and come to look.

Your photo: Keep it front and center on all promo. Seeing a face lets people think they know you. It's friendly and worth a thousand words.

Be professional: Published or unpublished, it doesn't matter, publishing houses you query will seek out your web presence. If you're published, your editors and the marketing department will look to see how you present yourself and use copyrighted materials. The publishing industry truly is a small world. Word gets around. Persons of influence can show up in the least likely places a year from now.

Don't make a scene if you get an ugly rejection. Don't criticize a reviewer who didn't get your book. Don't bash an editor or another author. Even if you remove a hastily-posted remark, you've left a permanent imprint in cyberspace that can't be completely erased. Even if you write humor, conduct yourself with class and dignity.

Enjoy: Most importantly, have fun and don't let blogging become just one more thing you have to do.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I saw Footloose the first weekend it was released. It took me this long to gather my thoughts and post about it, because I wasn't sure.

I wanted to love it, really I did. I love the original, and when I learned the casting for the remake it sounded great. I love Julianne Hough. But sadly, I was a little disappointed. The music was great. The dancing was great. However...

I'm always okay with an unknown, I mean that's where Kevin Bacon came from. But Kevin Bacon was hot. And sexy. And played a teen who came off as rebellious, but was good inside. Kenny Wormald played the same character, Ren McCormack, but less believably. He's a great dancer.

Julianne Hough is as cute as a button. A great dancer. A tiny little voice. Did I say cute? She couldn't hold a candle to Lori Singer's rebellious Ariel Moore. Even speaking the same lines, she was unconvincing as a tough as nails, almost obnoxious teen with serious issues.

And speaking of being a great dancer, I expected the writer/director to showcase Julianne's mad dancing skills. Disappointingly, they did not. She danced in the midst of all the others, and the spotlight dances were Kenny's. They did however show her in a lot of revealing short shorts and midriff shirts. I loved that she wore a dress almost identical to Lori Singer's to the prom.

I was disappointed with the language. Granted it got a PG-13 rating, but the script doesn't need the language to be powerful or entertaining.

Dennis Quaid did an excellent job with the part of the reverend, as could be expected.
The casting of Miles Teller in the late Chris Penn's role of Willard was the one brilliant choice in the whole movie.

Overall, I can't say I didn't enjoy it, because who can not get caught up in that music and the dancing? But I can watch the 1984 version with more enthusiasm - and I will.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Light Fixtures

This is why our kids think we're nuts:
We take down new light fixtures and replace them with vintage ones that sometimes, okay usually, have to be rewired. This is one we found a long time ago while browsing at an antique mall. It was under our bed for months, and now it's above the island (we're using the antique sideboard for our island - it has a marble top) and it's awesome. CLICK TO ENLARGE PHOTOS and you can sort of see the ceiling effect.

This one is in the living room. We found it at a rummage sale in a small town nearby. The young couple who sold it to us removed it from their home to put up a modern one. I think we stole it for something like $25. It's porcelain with roses painted on it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thinking ahead...

Right after Thanksgiving is when I start my Annual Great Christmas Tree Tour. I'm already thinking ahead to those beautifully decorated trees all my friends, family, authors pals and beloved readers will be sharing with me. Don't forget! Here's a little glimpse from past tours:

Victoria Bylin's tree in 2009

a gorgeous feather tree:

Elijah in a corridor at the hospital during a visit

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Cheryl St.John's October Release

October 2011
Harlequin Historical Christmas Anthology