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Showing posts from September, 2020

Writing in the Time of Covid

Forgive me for word-playing on the title of one of my favorite books, Love in the Time of Cholera , but Gabriel García Márquez won’t mind. I’ve finished my book titled we are but WARRIORS (No initial caps), even created the cover (posted) and formatted the paperback. Clap, clap. My problem is I’m not sure what I want to do with it. I’ve self-published nine mystery/thriller/suspense novels. All at one time or another have been an Amazon bestseller, one was a Kindle Scout winner. I haven’t published a new book in almost two years. I’ve worked on my current novel off and on for a few years, mainly because there are political aspects that I felt might change, so I picked it up and put it down, over and over again. Now it’s finished. Do I want to go my usual route, try for an agent, or send it to a publisher that doesn’t require an agent? Would I be wasting my time with the two latter possibilities? If I choose one of the latter two, why? Is it for the validation a self-published book

Moving Forward While the World Stands Still

This morning, I read Pat Stoltey's excellent post on the Colorado Writers Collaborative . Because I was a Colorado writer for many years, my curiosity was piqued. If you have not read her article, I suggest you do so, whether or not you are in Colorado and especially if world events have neutralized or totally drained your creative juices. When I was raising my children, I looked forward to the time when I could sit down unhampered and transfer all the stories running around in my head to a written format. "Unhampered" means unbridled, unrestrained by circumstances, and I needed that freedom to write. The children long ago reached adulthood, their youngsters are grown, and most of them have grandchildren. So what's the excuse now? Circumstances change. Mates die. Homes are gone. Families scatter. Estrangements shut down communication. Incentive wanes. Minds and bodies grow weary with age. Illness saps energy. Depression suppresses creative expression. The li

Are You Tuned in to the Colorado Writers Collaborative?

When this coronavirus pandemic lurched on to the conference and convention scene, live events all over the world were cancelled. We writers, just like the rest of humanity, had to stop in our tracks, go home, and scrap the schedule. Our calendars began to look pretty empty. But then planners and managers got creative, online opportunities grew like wildfires (sorry, that reference is very painful for some folks these days), and we social butterflies jumped on board. We found new ways to indulge our occasional attacks of extrovertness, see the smiling faces of our friends and acquaintances, and connect. In Colorado, three major writerly conferences were cancelled: Northern Colorado Writers and Pikes Peak Writers in the spring and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold in the fall. Not to be sabotaged by a nasty virus, the brilliant minds at these organizations, with additional support from others such as Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime Colo

Advertising Merchandise

I have to admit I am not a hoarder of book advertising merchandise. Every month charities inundate our mailbox with with canvas totes, mailing labels, note pads, pens, calculators, blankets, pins, calendars, greeting cards, even nickles and dimes. However some readers love them. And they must be somewhat successful or the charities wouldn't keep sending them. 1. Should you include merchandise items as part of your marketing strategy?   It depends.   Do you make personal appearances (pre-quarantine and hopefully again post-quarantine)? Do you go to conventions, writer meetings, book clubs? Do local independent bookstores or libraries allow you to display items along with your book? Do you have a mailing list? Do you hold contests and raffles and giveaways? Can you afford it? There may or may not be a return on investment. You may want a few instead of hundreds. The allure of  Free Stuff Christmas is only three months away, so they also make terrific presents. 2. Do you h

How to Surf a Trend

La horde - Surfers riding a wave in Paea, Tahiti Photo by Brigitte Bourger / CC BY-SA, WikiMedia Commons Have you ever been tempted to drop what you're currently working on and instead try and catch the latest trend for... zombie apocalypses, sparkly vampires that stalk women decades younger than they are , epic alternate-history fantasies with dragons and excessive violence against women , epic alternate-history fantasies with Highland tartan and excessive domestic violence , mainstream bondage erotica with excessive abuse of one particular woman ..., angsty teenagers leading rebellions against dystopian governments, etc., etc.? If you were able to rub shoulders with acquisitions editors, agents, and traditional publishers, and ask their opinion of the ideal time to jump into a trend, they would probably tell you, "Five years ago, unless your name is [insert bestselling author popular in the trend you're talking about]." In the traditional publishing industry

What's in the box?

There was great excitement in the Neal household this morning: our library books were delivered! Stick & Fetch Investigate: Barking Up the Wrong Tree, audio book; Magnolia Moon; Elle the Thumbelina Fairy; Tom Gates Super Good Skills (Almost), audio book; Maths in 30 Seconds; Kidz Bop 2019 CD; and Pokémon guides X2 Here, we have been under varying but strict stages of lockdown since March. My kids, in Grades 6 and 3, have been schooled remotely from home for most of that time (they only went back on-site briefly for a couple of weeks in June). The library has been closed, and I felt sorry for my little bookworms as they read and re-read and re-read the books we have at home. But our library has done everything they could to try and keep their service going during this insane year. During the first stage of lockdown, they organised a click-and-collect service. We already had the option to reserve books via the website and pick them up from a dedicated shelf (perfect for busy

Book Launch Dos and Don'ts

First off, one should not schedule the pre-order release of a book, then promptly be pretty much out of commission for a couple of weeks. That is the big DON'T on the list. Early in August, I got the edits back from ALTO Editing for Desperate Season , and sent the manuscript to a professional to format the book for Kindle and paperback. I already had the new cover, so it was good to go as soon as formatting was finished. Luckily, about the same time I set up some ads in advance at sites like Kindle Book Review and Kindle Nation Daily . A friend offered to feature the book on his blog if I sent him an excerpt and the ordering information. I put all that together right away, except for the link to order. That I could send later. Here is the sample at Caleb and Linda Pirtle's terrific website where they promote other authors as much as their own books, which are quite good, by the way.  It's a good thing I did all that work early on, because I got slammed again w

Creative Character Descriptions

I’ve spent most of my time during the pandemic getting my next book ready for publication. To be honest, the only thing different about this particular time of my life is my concentration isn’t worth a damn. I keep switching back and forth to the online newspapers to see what’s happening, putting my work on hold as I get lost in the confusion. I have managed to finish the book, though I’m still nitpicking it. When our brilliant webmistress, Elle Carter Neal, put my book, The Scent of Murder , up on the blog as a Friday Read, it got me thinking about how to describe our characters without really describing them in the usual way. Then, as I was listening to an audio in the car, another example caught my attention. That’s when I thought about how writers describe their characters. In many cases, a few words can tell the reader more than a full paragraph. Some writers like John Sandford, of the Lucas Davenport Prey series, describe what every character looks like and what he wears on the