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Executive Dirt

Dragons of Wendal Series:

DragonKin

Moon Shadow Series:

Ghost Shadow

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Soul of the Desert

Writing Links

Amazing Artist Assnezana, Short Stories and Translations

I’ve always wanted to have at least one of my works translated into Spanish. Never mind the why of it, but it’s part of my heritage and I always felt it was necessary. I had plans for how I’d get here, but sometimes dreams take longer than you plan and don’t come together quite the way you expect.

At any rate, I’ve been working with a translator on a fantasy short story called “Snitched, Snatched.” Getting it right in English was hard enough, now Gustavo Bondoni must tackle trying to get it perfect in Spanish. Luckily he is skilled as a story teller, and I’m counting on that skill to come through in “Snitched, Snatched.” He has his own short story collection out (in English) on Kindle: Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (20 stories.)

All of this leads to needing a cover that reflects the story, captures its essence and has a magic of its own. Enter Assnezana and her fantastic artistic talent.

You can find more about her here: Assnezana and see more of her work on Jaguarwoman.com and also on Dreamstime/assnezana .

She has some awesome artwork; more magical settings like the one in the cover, some aquatic settings and some fabulous garden settings. Check them out!

As for the story, look for it on Kindle in about a week if things go smoothly, two if they don’t! I’ll post more about the release date as it gets closer.

Author Self-promotion

Letting people know you have a book out without sounding like a car salesman (or looking like a forlorn girl scout selling cookies) is a delicate operation. Somewhat impossible at times. There’s a bit of cloak and dagger involved and perhaps some secret surveillance required before pouncing in, tying up the buyer, extracting their wallet and placing the order–all without them figuring out you are the perpetrator.

I don’t like to throw stones at other authors or their methods, but here is just one word of advice:

When a forum thread/topic specifically asks for no self promotion, Do Not Self Promote. Do not write and ask why self promo isn’t allowed. Do not add a signature line with your title. Do not rant against the unfairness of the universe. Do not call the original poster names. Do not make comments such as “you don’t rule this forum and here’s my book.” Quoting the right to free speech is not helpful.

If you must use aggressive or rude bullying tactics that make you look more combative than a badger tearing into a meal, you may as well go ahead and tie up the buyer and steal their wallet. I guarantee you the theft will be a more successful financial venture than spouting about your book. In a word, get over yourself. There are places where talking about your book is welcomed. There are places where it is not. Learn the difference and stop running naked through a church in the middle of a wedding.

Rant Over.

Posted: September 6, 2010
Filed in Publicity for your Writing

Book Giveaway – Dead Woman’s Shoes

fallgirldeadshoes THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED. The winner is:

Liliana of Maryland!!!! Your book will be on its way shortly. Thanks to everyone who entered; and a special shout out to Danna at her Cozy Blog for sending people this way!

In celebration of a new book in the series, I’m giving away a brand-spankin’ new copy of Kaye C. Hill’s first in the series, Dead Woman’s Shoes.

Kaye’s latest book, “The Fall Girl” is available for pre-order at Bookdepository. The release date is around August 12. Woot!!!

This contest is open only to US addresses–However–if you live in the UK, you’ve a little luck: Dead Woman’s Shoe’s is on sale at the publisher site: Creme de la Crime for only 2 pounds! Pretty darn good deal for a trade paperback! (You may need to scroll down to find Dead Woman’s Shoes.)

Dead Woman’s Shoes is a cozy/mystery with a lot of suspense and great characters including Kinky the chihuahua, a missing cat, a vet, a policeman, an entire drama club, and of course, an amateur sleuth, Lexy, who must sort it all out even though she is on the run herself! There are twists and turns, capers–-and many a thread woven into a completely captivating tale. Dead Woman’s Shoes made my list of top books for 2008. I fully expect “The Fall Girl” to make my 2009 list.

If you include your mailing address in the email, and you are selected as the winner, I will announce the winner and mail the book right away. If you don’t want to include your mailing address, I will attempt to contact you via email ONCE. You will have a week to reply with your US mailing address. If I don’t receive an email within the week, I will select another winner. Please enter only one time. Multiple entries will be disqualified!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the covers or the books (if you’re read them!) Earlier, I posted some info about the covers and how the publisher designs their covers.

Posted: August 2, 2009
Filed in Book Reviews, Travel, Writing Links

Dinner with Authors


If you could invite three favorite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?

I’d invite Frank Tuttle, Mark Twain and Patricia Briggs. Twain was an interesting fellow while he was alive; I think he’d make a fabulous ghost! Can you imagine the conversation? I wouldn’t expect him to bring a dish though. Egads. I don’t know what ghosts eat, but given where they come from, I just think it would be better for all involved if he left the samples…at home.

We’d need Frank Tuttle (kobobooks)in the mix because he’s used to dealing with ghosts. He’s written a number of ghost stories and a fabulous one about a banshee too. (I’m not inviting the banshee, Frank, no matter how well behaved she is. The neighbors already think I’m weird; I don’t need to add to the rumor mill.)


Patricia Briggs
(Kobobooks) has been a favorite author ever since I discovered “When Demons Walk” all those years ago when I was just out of college. The woman can *write.* I swear I’d read her grocery lists and possibly plagiarize them for the meal. Let’s hope if that happens that she can cook as well as write.

I know the question said I could only invite three authors, but I’d really like to invite Elizabeth Peters (kobobooks) if she’s free. She’s my favorite cozy mystery writer, has traveled all over the world and is an Egyptologist. I suspect that she and Twain could go on for hours entertaining the rest of us. Plus, she might bring an Egyptian dish and that would be very fun. She’s not very tall, so she won’t take up much room, although in the one picture of her that I’ve seen, she did have rather voluminous skirts. Do you think she hides weapons in the folds?

I’ve never based characters on people I know, except for maybe that one neighbor, you know the one. Who in their right mind goes out to get the newspaper in their underwear??? But after a dinner with the four writers above, I am POSITIVE that Twain the Ghost would make an appearance in a future book of mine. He’s dead, so he can’t sue. If he decided to haunt me in punishment, imagine what I could learn from him! I’d tease out all kinds of interesting facts–history, philosophy and since he’s a writer, I know he’d have thoughts on the afterlife. He must still travel about by train when he gets the chance. I know he could help make me a better writer.

I love writing ghost stories and paranormal creatures, but at heart, I’m a mystery writer. There will probably always be a crime or three to be solved and a touch of romance in every story I write. Love and mystery make the world go around.

So there you have it, a dinner party at my house. Who would you invite to yours?

Posted: September 22, 2012
Filed in On Writing, Reviews of my books

Does the Library have my Book?

Are you a published author wondering how many libraries carry your book(s)?

This link will tell you which libraries own what books.

If you’re looking for a book and your library doesn’t have it, ask your librarian about getting the book through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Most libraries charge only a small fee (about $2.50) to borrow the book you want from another library. The book will be delivered to your local library where you can check it out and return it.

The ILL program is good for fiction, non-fiction AND audio. Since audio is expensive, the program is particularly appreciated in this area!

Posted: April 10, 2007
Filed in Writing Links

E-Reader or Paperback?

This article is probably of more interest to writers and publishers than to readers, but there’s some interesting data for everyone. It comes from blogger SmartBitchesTrashyBooks who attended a conference where several presentations were given by various industry professionals, including one from Bowker and one from Goodreads CEO, Otis Chandler. I’m only going to pull a couple of quotes from her article as it’s very long.

From the Bowker presentation, I found this summary interesting (as reported by SmartBitchesTrashyBooks):

Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading was a presentation of data from the Bowker and Book Industry Study Group survey of, you guessed it, reader attitudes toward reading, specifically print (referred to as P) and digital (E) reading.

Highlights: Readers are switching from P to E but the number of people migrating has leveled off a bit, while those with e-readers still buy more books.

There may be a seasonal shift in e book purchase. e.g. Person receives digital reader as a gift at the end of the year, they buy a boatload of books in January, then their purchases level off. The data for the past year or so seems to support that hypothesis.

This doesn’t surprise me and my sales generally reflect this data. There was more from this presentation; click one of the links above to see what else SmartBitches had to say.

I found two or three bullet points from the Goodreads CEO, Otis Chandler, to be very interesting:

Goodreads has a community of 7 million registered readers, and is largest reader site in the world.

Some 250 million books are shelved at Goodreads

There was a 60% increase in shelving after the recommendation engine launched, and the recommendations engine is meant to hit the “mid-list sweet spot.” Angela James asked during the Q&A what the minimum threshold of ratings a book needed to have in order to be added to the recommendation engine. Chandler didn’t know the exact figure, but guessed it was maybe about 100 ratings.

There is a minimum level of user star ratings needed to be included in the recommendation engine.

My takeaway from these bullet points is simple:

I need 100 decent ratings for my books on Goodreads in order for the Goodreads engine to recommend my books to other readers on Goodreads.

That is a a LOT of ratings. This is why it’s important to at least add a star rating to your favorite authors no matter what site you use, be it LibraryThing, Shelfari or Goodreads. Amazon and B&N, of course, require not only a star rating, but at least a short review.

In short, people find books when they see the recommendations on Amazon, Goodreads and other book sites. Never think your star ratings don’t count. Don’t think your reviews don’t count. They very much make a difference!

Many of you who read my blog have also reviewed my books–I can’t say thank you often enough. Your reviews and kind words keep me going.

Your reviews and star ratings–not just for my books, but for all your favorite books, make a huge difference in whether or not these books find an audience.

Last but not least, the Goodreads team put the slides from the presentation online for anyone interested in details about how and where readers find books to read.

Posted: March 30, 2012
Filed in Publicity for your Writing, Writing Links

E-Readers

Obviously, what with two three books out on Kindle and other formats, I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about the availability, pros/cons of the different readers and so on. I’ve been pretty surprised at how many formats there are and also how many places are selling ebooks. I knew it was a growing industry, but didn’t realize there was a kind of undercover cult following.

At any rate, there are actually some pretty good reader applications for the PC (or laptop in my case.) I didn’t think downloading a reader application was really necessary or helpful for reading online, until I downloaded them and tried them. All three of these readers are free downloads. My favorite is mobipocket.

Mobipocket also sells ebooks. To get the reader, click on the software tab and then download whichever application you need. In my case, I downloaded the PC application. It’s a spiffy little app, with nice buttons, easy to use interface–and the best part–when it loads a book, it has a nice DARK font. (So far as I know, you can change font sizes with all the apps, but with the defaults on mobipocket I didn’t need to.) The format is a nice, book-shaped one. I’ve read a couple of books using the mobipocket software and found it easy to use (just using the page down or page up; you can jump ahead or back using the scroll at the bottom.) I like that the scroll bar tells you how far you are along in the book (page numbers are meaningless because you can change the fonts to a larger or smaller one.)

Another neat feature that sold me on e-readers–it keeps my “place” in a book when I’m reading. Even if I close the application, when I go back in and open that book–bam, takes me right to where I left off. This is an excellent feature.

Next up, I tried the Stanza reader. This is the one known for use with the iPhone and iPod, but they have a desktop version as well (tabs along the top of the link.) This reader presents a narrower “book,” probably because it is optimized for small devices. The default font isn’t as dark. The formatting (which is often due to the conversion software) isn’t always as “neat.” But the Stanza was easy to use. It loads fast and presents an easy to use “book.” No issues, but not quite as “pretty” as mobipocket. Instead of a “library” of books you’ve loaded, you just open a file like you would with a normal application.


Adobe Digital Editions
, like most Adobe products, seemed more complicated than it needed to be. This is the one application that had trouble with my converted files. It locked up opening the EPUB files–I have no idea why. I had to strip out formatting, reload the files and keep my fingers crossed. Obviously something in the original file (probably old HTML code) was causing some sort of problem. There was no way to troubleshoot the issue. Once I stripped formatting, and reconverted, the file loaded.

It was nicely readable. The interface was confusing to me, but I eventually figured out how to create my “library” and open the books to read. The Digital Edition automatically downloaded the covers (mobipocket and stanza did not.) This was perhaps the standout feature for Digital Editions because the cover, more often than just a title, reminds you of what the book is about, or at least gives you a clue as to why you downloaded the book.

For now, I’ll probably use the mobipocket reader. Most of the readers read multiple formats. This is helpful since not all ebooks come in the same format. Of course, if there is DRM on the book, it’s possible that none of the apps will work. Some books with DRM end up tied to a specific reader. At the moment, I’ve solved that by only buying non-DRM books. This limits my reading selection somewhat, but it isn’t as though I’ve run out of books to read.

Edit: Barnes and Noble also has a free reader for the PC (and Kindle is going to provide one in November or December!) The Barnes and Noble product was not very intuitive–took me a while to figure out how to load a book! But it isn’t bad once you get going. Probably the easiest way to get the B&N reader is to click on an ebook and download a sample. You have to login, but it then gives you the option of downloading the reader. When I downloaded my copy, B&N offered me 5 free classics! I don’t know how long that offer is good.

Edit #2: Kindle now has a reader for the PC. I took a look at it and can’t complain. I want this reader mainly so that I can test my own books–how they look and formatted, etc. BUT so far, Amazon has some awfully good freebies that publishers give away as promotions. In the past, you had to have a Kindle to access the books. Now, I can download them and read them on my PC. Some of these deals are free, some are a low price. Either way, I win!

Posted: September 14, 2009
Filed in Project E-books

Favorite Writing Websites

     
     

  1. Science Fiction Writers Association Scam Check Good site to check for info on agent backgrounds.
    • Related scam check blog Just a lot of common sense posts and commentary on things going on in the publishing world.
  2.  

  3. Fantasy and Paranomal author Holly Lisle: Archives have excellent writing tips and useful info from this published author.
  4.  

  5. Thriller and mystery author J.A. Konrath: writer tips; marketing your book tips, very informative author blog. Here’s a link to a download that is basically an e-book of his publishing experiences, tips, advice, etc: Konrath Ebook
  6.  

  7. www.Ralan.com great website that lists most of the short story speculative fiction markets
  8.  

  9. Writing tips–bad writing, bad habits, do’s and don’ts
  10.  

  11. Kirsch’s Guide to the Book Contract by Jonathan Kirsch.This should be required reading for any author. Even if you have an agent, this book will really help you understand how contracts work, how much you can expect to be paid and how “rights” work. A must read.
  12.  

Posted: July 25, 2006
Filed in On Writing, Writing Links

How Far Do You Read?

I found this article by Kobo and the New York Times really interesting. For people who use an e-reader and who sync their books via Amazon or Kobo (or Nook, etc) the companies can tell how far you read, how fast you read and whether you finish a book. Kobo took the data and broke it down by genre:

Keeping Tabs on Books

The chart is most interesting, although I loved the part about how many people bought Gone Girl, but didn’t read it because it just goes to show how many people have to buy the “in” and popular thing at a given time.

Personally, these days with all the freebies out there, I start and don’t finish a lot more books than in the past. But I’ll stop any book that is boring or upsetting me.

How about you? Do you finish what you start? Do you differentiate between the free books and the paid books?

EDITED TO ADD: Valentine’s Bargain on the reader
Kobo Aura Reader is on sale for 129.

Posted: February 7, 2015
Filed in Writing Links

In the Name of Writing

writingWe writers do a lot of research. Sometimes when researching one question (like how to get graveyard dirt out of a shirt) we find other interesting tidbits.

This past month, I came across a number of articles about people who don’t use shampoo to wash their hair. Some of them don’t seem to wash their hair at all, but I believe the general consensus is that shampoo has some rather harsh chemicals so there is a set of people trying for a more natural product. Being a writer of great curiosity, I decided some experiments were needed. First, I tried washing my hair with my home crafted bar soap. That was okay, but it’s rather hard to get the bar to give you an even amount of soap. Plus, my bars are super moisturizing. They also have a pH that is good for your skin, but a tad alkaline for hair. My hair was so soft and silky it was flat and clumpy (in a clean, moisturized clumpy way, of course.) The next week, I tried my liquid soap. That was better and infinitely easier to use. But it’s a thin liquid because I don’t add all the extra chemicals of the regular soap from the store. It has a lower pH, but after a few days of use, I still think it’s too moisturizing. The moisturizers build up on my long hair, leaving a dull, flat hairdo.

I gave up on experiments for a while until I came across another article that discussed using vinegar or baking soda. Hmm. My mom used to give me a vinegar rinse now and then when I was small. I’ll try it! I decided. I used apple cider and warm water. Hmm. Hair felt very clean and…silky. As in very silky. I could tell that if I tried it a second day we’d be right back to super-moisturized. I like silky as much as the next girl and we ALL know that heroines in romance novels have the silkiest of silky hair, which pretty much ensures that the guy in the novel puts the heroine on a pedestal treating her like a goddess forever…so while the concept was quite tempting, I reminded myself that romance novels are fiction and it was MINUTELY possible that husband:

1. Wouldn’t Even Notice or
2. Might not put me on a pedestal so much as put me out to pasture because my hair had taken on the properties of something best left outside.

Next I read about lemon juice or baking soda! Aha! More things to try. I didn’t want to do lemon juice because my hair is highlighted. I didn’t want to end up with blonder streaks. In the past, my curiosity has accidentally turned my hair into “calico cat” colors…so I went with the baking soda. Nice! Silky but with LOTS of body. We are talking, “this could be bedhead sticking up if I keep blow-drying it” body. It was still easy to comb and manage, and my head felt nice and clean with the baking soda wash/rinse.

I think the baking soda would work nicely as an in between day cleanser. You can still have a clean head, but cut back on shampoo chemicals. I am not ready to go “all baking soda every day.” I’m also not ready to go without washing my hair every day.

I thought I’d mention it because I hear that if you have dry, damaged hair and can’t or don’t want to shampoo every day, there are alternatives. Baking soda or vinegar make work well for you. Which one works best probably depends on the water in your area and your hair. These make nice rinses. The baking soda adds more body, but less shine. The vinegar shines things right up, but I’d say there’s less body. I really like chamomile tea as a rinse. It takes the tangles out and doesn’t add any heavy moisturizers. It can lighten the hair some if you leave it on rather than rinsing it out. I haven’t tried combining the baking soda with chamomile, but it might be worth a shot.

Rest assured, I am out there, experimenting. You never know when I might need the information for a book.

Posted: March 15, 2014
Filed in On Writing
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