Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Other Side of the Street

Since the Park District had spread chemicals in and around the small park where I usually walk my dog, Rascal, for over a week I took an alternate route.

Instead of walking around the park, we walked on the sidewalks across from the park. It was quite refreshing to see what I'd missed on the other side of the street. Along with catching a glimpse of the houses, instead of the park, I even came upon what looked like a squirrel party, where the homeowners had spread peanuts around their tree, and the squirrels were having a feast. No fears that Rascal would chase them. Now that she's close to ten years old, she doesn't consider squirrels worth the bother. They're just part of the landscape to her.

Anyway, I did find it intriguing and refreshing to change our course for a bit.

After finishing A Perfect Angel, which is the sequel to Her Handyman, I decided I really must complete Always Young, the last of the trilogy of the same name. However, at times my brain gets fried and I need a change of pace.

When that happens, I go to the other side of the street and work on Wide Awake, a good twin/bad twin thriller I'd begun some time ago and never got around to finishing. 

I'm not sure which of the books I'll finish first, but at least if one side fails me, I can still go to the other side and find some fascinating fodder to get my brain back in action.

What about you? Do you stick to one WIP, or do you sometimes cross to the other side and work on another?



Morgan Mandel writes romances, mysteries & thrillers.
Find them all on her Amazon Author Page at:

Find excerpts from all of her books at Morgan's Book Links:
Twitter: @MorganMandel

Friday, July 25, 2014

Finding an Audience as an Indy Author



There’s a very interesting post on PW at the following link about finding an audience as an Indy Author:


Now, in this case the discussion is by a YA author but the struggle for an indie author to find an audience and building a fan base has many similarities regardless the genre.

There are certainly unique struggles with regards to the different genres in how readers are approached, but just getting a reader to notice you as an author is still a hurdle even with all the social media and online options that exist.  In fact, there are sooooo many social media and online site options these days it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out in all the noise of all these options.

My main focus right now is to finish writing the novella and two novels I am currently working on so that when I do reach out to find readers I have more than just one published novel to offer them. 

Balancing a busy life with finishing a story – whether novella or novel – and setting up an online presence to attract readers is sometimes so overwhelming that it’s easy to just lose myself in my writing and put all the other “chores” of the business side of writing off until another day.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What An Experience: GSL Defense Training Course! by DL Larson






The closest I've been to guns has been watching them being misused on TV or at the movies. Hunting has not been a big part of my life, except for my father went deer hunting occasionally when I was a child. I remember going pheasant hunting once and thought walking through field rubble rather boring. My husband has shot a skunk or raccoon that tried to make a home in one of our farm buildings. I knew those critters were not healthy neighbors to livestock, so I wasn't bothered by the use of gunfire. Other than those small experiences, my life has been gun-free.

I've never feared guns, but I've never understood them either. I agree with our 2nd Amendment, stating the right to bear arms. I respect the fact we have a choice in this life to protect ourselves from harm. And from there, the line blurs and our reasoning and passion cloud the issue. I'm a firm believer that guns do not kill people. People kill people. I feel the same way about cars and drunk driving. Cars do not kill people. People driving cars kill other people. Will we ever stop drunk driving? Probably not. Will we ever stop people from shooting others? Probably not. But I do feel educating ourselves and others may help to some degree.

This brought me to taking a firearm defense class. As a writer, this education is invaluable. More importantly, my family and I learned an important lesson in protecting ourselves and over-coming the stigma of using a hand gun. Our trainers were professional, friendly and strict with safety rules. The thirty folks in our class each had a hand gun, their own or borrowed from the class instructors. We wore these weapons holstered and emptied of ammo all day.

The trainers were a mixture of regular folks with hundreds of hours of experience, a retired FBI officer, retired Chicago policeman, an attorney, a retired school teacher, farmer, business owner, etc. The diversity of their life experiences brought a well-rounded atmosphere to the training. Our classroom time was intense; we needed to know the consequences of using a hand gun. Our actions could save a loved one, it could ruin our own lives from the 'fall-out' of the incident. This was not a sugar-coated class. We learned using a gun or weapon of any kind should always be a last resort. Period.

We learned how to aim correctly. We learned how to unjam a gun. We learned how quickly an attacker can approach a person. We learned firing our gun at an attacker could be the worst thing we do in our life. It could also be the only way to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We learned to move defensively. We learned the difference between cover and conceal. We learned to never pursue an attacker who has turned away. We learned to always cooperate with the police after an attack. We learned we could become physically sick after an attack. We learned we might become euphoric at having survived an attack.

I learned I'm a good shot. I have good hand and eye coordination. My granddaugthers (12) were excellent shots as well. My husband came in fourth in our shooting. I kept telling him to put on his glasses and he finally did. Wow! That helped. He would have beat us all if he'd worn them earlier. Even as we joked about our marksmanship, the seriousness and respect for our surroundings remained.

I am now qualified to carry a concealed gun. I spent 16 hours in intensive training, passed the shooting test with a score of 29 out of 30. In order to pass, one has to hit the marked area 21 times. Our trainer, the Chicago policeman, stated I did better than many of his co-workers. The written test is quirky with legalize wording and I was very thankful the attorney in our classroom prepared us well. He and the FBI agent did much of our classroom training. Their stories and clarification of Illinois rules were not only interesting and provocative, they created classroom discussions. Even my granddaugthers were interested in all the topics discussed in our class time.

Will I follow through and start carrying a concealed gun? I doubt I would ever do that. I wanted to learn about hand guns. I became efficient with a semi-automatic weapon, something I never thought I would be capable of doing. I learned valuable life lessons on how to protect myself and my family, with and without a weapon. For now, that is enough.




Til next time ~

DL Larson
www.DLLARSON.com




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What's Your Website, or Don't You Have One?

Authors need some type of home base for readers to refer to. Perhaps, if they publish through Amazon, they consider the Amazon Central Author Page sufficient, but most authors strive for something reflecting their own tastes.

These days Blogger or Wordpress blogs, along with traditional websites can be used with success. Lately, since my new release of A Perfect Angel, the sequel to Her Handyman,  I've been promoting my contemporary romances a/k/a chick lits, I set up a website specifically for that type of genre. If you 'd like to take a look, here's the link:

http://www.morgandoeschicklit.com


What about you? Do you use a blog for a website or use the traditional method? Please say which one, and leave your website url, so we can take a look at it.


Find all of Morgan's romances, mysteries and
thrillers at http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com

Morgan's Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/author/morganmandel

Twitter: @MorganMandel

http://www.amazon.com/Her-Handyman-Perfect-Match-Book-ebook/dp/B0097EVXBK

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Read-Through Day

This past week I accomplished my goal and finished the first draft of my WIP. Yay!

Then I let it sit for a couple of days. Now it's time for an official read-through. I've never read the story from start to finish, and this one has been written piece-meal all over the place, so I'm curious to see how the story flows and if everything works. Are the characters reacting properly at the proper time? Does their emotional character arc work? Is the story in the right order?

I printed out a copy of the mss, punched holes, and put in in a binder for easier reading and marking. I've gathered my sticky notes, pens, and highlighter.

This stage of a story is a lot of fun. To take what I've created and make it cleaner, stronger, better. The story is told...now it's time to make it shine.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Family Secrets - coming August 1 - available NOW in paperback from The Wild Rose Press

Friday, July 18, 2014

Don't Stand Still



The world of publishing seems to be changing at a very rapid pace these days and to some extent I think the true winners may be those who maintain the portals to the books.  In this case I mean the likes of Amazon.

If you don’t know about it already you will soon that Amazon has finally launched its Kindle Unlimited program.  For $9.99 a month subscribers will have “unlimited” access to 600,000 Kindle e-books and 2,000 audiobooks, and you don’t need a Kindle device to access this material, you just need the app.

Hummmmm…..

So, the fight for providing access to books (both electronic and audio) keeps heating up.

Some comparisons have been made in that this move has been described as the Netflix equivalent for books.

Hummmmm….

There’s also reference to Amazon having an end goal of eliminating the traditional book business model rendering the delivery of books almost directly from writer to Kindle.

Hummmmm….

I say almost because as any self-published or indie author knows, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, some of the fastest growing businesses in the publishing world are those who provide services to indie authors.  Also, Amazon has its own imprints that rival traditional publishers.

Hummmmm….

Only time will tell if this is a good thing for indie authors or not, but more importantly it is going to be interesting and fascinating to see the impact on readers and libraries.

As Amazon’s website advertises the Kindle Unlimited experience, their message is to “Watch the journey unfold.”  I know that I will be watching.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

FREEBIE OF HER HANDYMAN ON FRIDAY, SAT. & SUNDAY! JULY 18, 19 & 20 - MARK YOUR CALENDAR

 

To celebrate the release of A PERFECT ANGEL, the second in my Perfect Match, 2-Book Romance Series, I'm offering HER HANDYMAN, the first in the series, free on the following days:

FRIDAY - JULY 18
SATURDAY - JULY 19
SUNDAY - JULY 20

In HER HANDYMAN, A TOILET FLOOD PROVIDESS UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES.
IN A PERFECT ANGEL, A REJECTION BECOMES A BLESSING.

*Click Each Title or Picture Above to Get to Each Amazon Page.

Each novella can be read alone, but you'll get more enjoyment by reading them in order.
BE SURE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS FREE OFFER WHILE IT'S AVAILABLE!


Like Chick Lit? Visit Morgan Mandel's Chick-Lit website at:
http://www.morgandoeschicklit.com

For All of Morgan's Romances, Mysteries & Thrillers, see
her Amazon Author Page at:
http://www.amazon.com/author/morganmandel

Twitter: @MorganMandel

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Goal!

No, I'm not a big soccer fan, even though much of the world is focused on the sport these days.

What I'm excited about is meeting one of my goals. A biggie.

My WIP is at about 27,000 words, a bit longer than I anticipated, and the first draft will be finished today. Yay! I have about five pages to go to finish a scene, and then that's it. For the first round.

Of course my work on the mss is far from finished, but accomplishing the goal of getting the first draft done is huge. Now I'll set it aside for a couple of days while we're out of town, and then I'll come back to it and do a read-through and begin tackling revisions and rewrites. From there I'll do several rounds of edits and maybe hand it over for a beta read.

The next goal will be to have it submitted by the middle of August when I go back to work. Now the timing of that might be tricky as if it gets contracted, I'll be doing book edits and galleys just when things are getting busy at work, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

But the first step is finishing up today...wish me luck!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Family Secrets - coming August 1 from The Wild Rose Press

Friday, July 11, 2014

Connecting with Readers – the Indy Author’s Greatest Challenge



This is one of the easiest times to become a published author yet one of the hardest times to make money as a published author, especially for Indy authors.  At the heart of the latter is the issue of distribution and connecting with readers, at least in my opinion.

In the early days of e-publishing, especially with Amazon, Indy authors were experiencing some pretty powerful sales and connection with readers who embraced the idea of reading books electronically.  Now the market is being flooded by everybody with a computer, a desire to call themselves published and the willingness to hit the submit button at a plethora of sites that offer to package and sell their work.

As with any product that goes from 0 to 60 in popularity it becomes more difficult for the consumer, e.g., the reader, to sort through the ocean of choices to get what they want.  Consumers/readers will fish in this ocean but how does an author make sure that it’s their bait the reader bites on? 

One way that seems to be working at Amazon.com is the packaging of a collection of romance novels for 99 cents.  I’ve dipped my toe in that water as a reader and in some cases I’ve been pleasantly surprised but in too many cases, I’ve been disappointed.  Still, I only spent 99 cents.  However, when I sit down to read a book, I want to make sure that it’s time well spent.

Another way to reach readers is for libraries to carry an author’s work.  Many libraries are embracing e-books at a growing rate and as I mentioned in a previous post, the big-name publishers are forcing the libraries to pay such a high price for bestsellers that it makes it difficult for libraries to purchase many of these books when their budgets are stretched so thinly to begin with, which means there’s wiggle room for Indy authors to have their work available through libraries.

I also mentioned in another post that OverDrive and Smashwords inked a distribution deal which means that a large network of libraries will now have access to thousands and thousands of Indy titles.  However, it’s the librarians who now have to wade through the ocean of titles, although the distribution deal does include help with creating lists based on attributes such as, you guessed it, bestsellers, that is bestselling Indy authors.  There will also be curated lists based on the most popular genres.

Speaking of genres, on the romance front, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) released their ‘Novel Engagement’ Romance App.  Here are some links to find out more about this:



While social media options have made it easier for authors and readers to connect, readers still have to find you.

Everyone is being faced with the challenge of standing out in the overcrowded social media world and authors are no different.  I’ve noticed that more marketing is going “old school” again to include postcards in the mail and advertising on television in order to stand out.

So, what does this mean for Indy authors?  Well, don’t overlook physically connecting with your local libraries to see if they have e-book options for their patrons and whether or not your book is on their list.  Many libraries band together with other libraries for their e-book programs, so this just might be one way for an Indy author to get her name and work in front of readers.

The moral of this story is that while some things change, some things remain the same.  Distribution has always been a hurdle for any type of author and even though technology has enhanced certain aspects of distribution, bottlenecks remain.  Finding readers is still a challenge but authors have a bigger collection of tools from which to choose. This could be good, this could be bad, and it could even be ugly.

In the end, the most important thing that any author should do, but especially the Indy author, is to write the best book they can and continue to produce so that once readers discover them they can stay connected.  This is my biggest challenge given that I have a demanding day job, teach and have to squeeze my writing in wherever I can.  Still I’m close to finishing my next novel and a holiday novella so I’m hoping that I can take my own advice soon and have my work in at least my local library by next year.

Writing – it’s not just a job – it’s an adventure!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Weary of Double Standards! by DL Larson

Most of our readers at BBB know I'm a librarian. I have the opportunity to chose any book I want to read at our library - just as any patron who comes through our doors. Last week I noticed one of my favorite author's book had returned to the shelf. It had been circulating since March and had arrived back in the stacks with no more holds, or folks waiting to read it. I grabbed it and brought it home.

That night I opened the book. It began ... 'It was ...' and things went down hill from there. The first page only had three paragraphs, all which were passive with 'was pulling, was just ...' I gritted my teeth and turned the page to find more of the same. The character 'was waiting,' another character, 'was about to ... and her hair was pulled...' I kept going, page three now. 'Traffic was ...' 'the event was a ...' 'she was involved ...' 'and now it was ...' 'And it was all ...' Two sentence later, 'Now it was ...'  'a crate was on ...'

I closed the book at the end of page three. This author, and so many others, make millions of dollars doing what they love, writing books. This book WAS not ready for publication. Whoever line-edited this thing needs a refresher course on action verbs and how to engage a reader, not disengage them.

If I had sent these three pages to an editor or agent, they would have skimmed over it without pause. It would have ended up in the 'no way,' pile as too amateurish and needs polishing. Instead this book has hit every major book store and library across the nation and beyond.

And so, yes, I'm weary of the double standard we mid-list writers face. Our work has to be perfect before anyone will read it, let alone take a chance on publishing it. Yet, this well known author skimmed through without tightening up the action. If a beginner writer were to read this book, they might think such passive wording acceptable, normal even. And then, they'd wonder why no one was interested in marketing their work.

I've concluded life is not fair. We all know that. I will continue to make my books as polished as I possibly can. It may not make the Best Seller List, but I will be proud of a job well done. I hope my readers race past page three to see what happens next. I pray they keep reading right up to the end and wishing for more.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

www.DLLARSON.com

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

They say truth is stranger than fiction, and I have to agree. The news headlines here constantly surprise me..

82 people were shot over the holiday weekend in Chicago, of which 14 died.

Just this morning a pregnant mother of five was driving on the Dan Ryan Expressway, and was shot and killed, a year after her brother had also been killed.

A man visiting his son at Cook County Jail ended up being trapped in the room for 31 hours, and had to break the sprinkler head, before the Fire Department came, and he was finally set free. That one puzzles me. How come no one noticed he was in there? Don't they have cameras and guards to monitor them? Were the guards sleeping that entire time? What else could they miss?

Another strange one - A Chicago co-author of a book about how to survive the Running of the Bulls was gored by a bull in Pamplona.

One glimmer of good news I discovered amidst all the appalling stories. An 11-year old missing girl was found.

The list goes on. If you're like to read more about these particular stories, you can find them at this Chicago Tribune link:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/

Often I've heard that authors have a wild imagination, and much of what we write can't possibly happen. After reading these stories, I wonder.

Anyway, if you suffer from writer's block, the news is a great place to start looking for inspiration. After that, you just might become unblocked!


Find all of  Morgan Mandel's mysteries and romances
at http://www.amazon.com/author/morganmandel

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/morgan.mandel

Twitter: @Morgan Mandel





Sunday, July 6, 2014

Filling in the Holes

One thousand three hundred sixty-five.

That's how many words I wrote yesterday. Earlier in the week I probably wrote twice that many. So since mid last week I've written about 5,000 words. (I don't know the exact count, since I didn't look when I picked up the mss.) Maybe to some, this doesn't sound like much. If you're one of those people who can pound out thousands and thousands of words in a day. But for me, it was pretty spectacular. Not so much for the weekly word count, but moreso that this is also my yearly word count. I haven't written anything (aside from edits on my upcoming release) since early January. So for me this is huge, massive, colossal, and more.

I started with a read-through of my very 'dusty' WIP. It pulled me back into the story and gave me a point to start. Since then, I've done a brief outline of the story: what I have, how long each chapter is, and I jotted notes on what I thought was missing. At this point I figure I'm roughly about twenty pages from the finish. Which is right around those 5,000 words-ish. So if I can have another week like this past one, I'll be finished with the first draft of the story. Again...for me...super cool and exciting. I've been writing the story piece-meal. I already had a scene toward the end, but middle parts were missing. So those twenty pages/5,000 words will connect the dots and make the story cohesive.



Then it will be time to do some revising. No editing per se yet, but tightening of the story, making sure things are consistent, making sure I'm deep into both characters' POVs at the proper times, refining word choice, etc. After that I'll jump into copy edits.


After being away from my writing for a long, long while, it's really fun to be back in the flow again. I keep a notebook handy by my bed at night just in case an idea comes to me that I don't want to forget come morning light. In fact I have notes all over the place on whatever scrap of paper happened to be lying around at the moment. It's times like these I want to bottle up and put away, so on those days when I've just about decided to give up on writing, I can take it out and remember why I love it so much.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tornado Hits My Hometown! by DL Larson

Our town was saved from total disaster even though many homes like the ones above were severely damaged in the tornado that swept through my hometown, Earlville, Tuesday evening, July 1, 2014.



No one was seriously hurt, Thank you, Lord! Many, many large trees were twisted up and trashed around as if they were twigs. It will take awhile for the town to look normal without the beautiful shade those trees provided. Clean up started immediately. The Red Cross swooped in and supplied many needed meals and provided other supplies for families in jeopardy. That charity, plus neighbors surging in to help made it all so much more bearable.  

Most folks were without electrical power for a few days. Cell phones were charged on car batteries otherwise they went without phone service as well.

The 4th of July will be bittersweet in Earlville this year. Some may picnic and others may leave town to relax away from the clean-up. But I'm sure many of us will be talking about the trauma our neighbors endured. Talk will include the devastation of loss of property and the sheer blessedness of lives spared.

I'm thankful to be a part of a community that helps their neighbors. I know too, Earlville is not much different from the rest of the wonderful folks in small towns across America!  We are a nation blessed with good people.

Have a fun and safe 4th of July!!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

www.DLLARSON.com