Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Sunday, September 28, 2014

SOLD!

There's been a bit of Happy Dancing going on in the writing world for me lately!

Last week I signed a contract for my tenth title with The Wild Rose Press. One Great Night is a 30,000 word novella for the Champagne Rose line. This coming week will be devoted to first round edits and filling out cover and manuscript information sheets so the project can really get rolling.

The boxed set for The Corral series is heading toward completion. We have a tag line and ideas for the cover art.

And, I've 'sold out' of my first order of copies of my latest release Family Secrets.


Even after the death of her husband, Erika Garrett is still close to his family. She vows they'll never discover he was cheating on her. She's content with her play-by-the-rules life until Chase Stewart re-enters her life.
Chase is divorced from Erika's sister-in-law and wants nothing to do with her family or they with him. If it weren't for shared custody of his precious four-year old twins, he wouldn't be a part of their lives at all.
He has no desire to marry again, so the only thing he can offer Erika is a secret summer fling. But when the secret is uncovered, can either of them ever face the family again?


So...yay, yay!, and YAY!!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Friday, September 26, 2014

More on Finding Readers



The question of where to spend money and time as a writer in pursuit of finding and keeping readers goes on.  I’ve joined many organizations over the years, attended lots of writer’s conferences, given speeches and more, but it seems that a writer can work really, really hard and have little to show for it.  Maybe that’s why so many people give up on their pursuit of becoming a published author.  The publishing part is easier than ever before.  The finding readers and making money part is harder than ever before.  Go figure.

There are a number of solid organizations that can help with the pursuit of finding readers but they may not be affordable for most authors, especially those just starting out or just starting to build a following.  One of those organizations is the American Booksellers Association which has a strong reputation and following in the bookselling world.  You can sign up for a free newsletter but to become a member you will have to pay.  Here’s the link to their website where you can find the dues structure:


I do think networking is important which is why conferences for writers and/or fans can be quite beneficial.  Organizations such as Romance Writers of America, as mentioned last week, are also helpful and supportive when it comes to networking but, again, it requires a financial as well as time investment.  Social media sites and services can help a writer’s book or career take off but again, there is an investment and with regards to social media, the biggest investment seems to be time.  I think Jane Friedman discussed this very eloquently on her Blog at the link below:


She highlights the site Goodreads which has continued to gain momentum and stature since she wrote the blog entry sited above.

And then there are hashtags!

If you’re using social media then hashtags are an important part of your arsenal.  To see just some of the hashtags writers commonly use check out the link below:


There’s even a hashtag organization:


And you thought that all you had to do was write!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Preparing for a Writers Workshop for 4th Graders! by DL Larson

I'm excited to share my knowledge of writing with other writers, but to host a writers workshop at my library at the request of the 4th grade teachers, has my two worlds crashing together in a symphony of beautiful music. It's a dream come true, well almost. The scheduled day is next Tuesday. We have one and a half hours together. I will lead the workshop along with another youth librarian who has agreed to help with moral support and crowd control.

The biggest hurdle is space. Our library is small, but the children's section boasts of four good size rooms, with numerous book shelves, dvd stands and various cushions and chairs taking up a great deal of space. No conference room at this library, we will have to make do with spreading out on the floor, at least for the first part of the presentation.

I have no idea where these children are in their writing development, so I've opted for a basic overview to help them realize the tools they need in order to write. I've called it a writer's tool kit. We'll talk about such items as imagination, conflict, plot, high stakes, strong verbs, setting, heroes and villains, and the reason the main character must keep going. I've prepared a survey for getting to know a character. We'll do an outline together so they will see how to take one idea and turn it into a plot. I made a plot/problem/progress sheet for students to realize who does what as their story progresses along. Another topic I added is genre. We'll discuss how a writer might blend different genres together.

Since their theme is about Halloween, I plan to read an easy reader version of, 'The Headless Horseman.'  Since it is an adaption of the original story by Washington Irving, I gave myself leeway to dabble with the story for the sake of learning. Each child will take a page and find weak verbs, strong usage of words, etc. Then they will do a mini rewrite, using strong verbs and vivid images in order to understand the editing process first hand.

We'll talk about writing a first draft and how to build from that. We also want to allow time for the kids to work on their own stories. They can browse the stacks and displayed books to examine how other authors write. We'll set up plenty of tables so kids can spread out across the many rooms.

I've made plenty of copies of the topics we'll discuss, along with 'Tips for Writers.' Each child will go home with plenty of knowledge on how to proceed to the next step in their writing journey.

I don't remember having a writing assignment like this when I was in 4th grade, let alone 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th. Writing in those days was very structured. Noun, verb, noun ... with an occasional adjective. We dissected more sentences than we ever wrote and I always wondered when I would ever need to do such a thing to a sentence. I can safely say ... never! I also never related writing sentences to writing a story. We read, we dissected, we didn't write all that much. So reflecting back, I wish I had had an opportunity to learn more about the writing world at a young age rather than waiting until I was nearly 40 before starting!

I'm tickled to be helping these kids with their writing skills. I'll let you know how it goes.

Til next time ~

DL Larson
www.DLLARSON.com




Sunday, September 21, 2014

Welcome Guest Jennifer Wilck!

Today I'm honored to welcome fellow author, blogger, and friend, Jennifer Wilck, to Book Beat Babes. Jennifer is here to tell us about her latest release, Miriam's Surrender.

Jennifer, it's so nice to have you here. Congratulations on your new release!

Tell us about yourself.
I’m married and the mom of two teenaged girls. Prior to writing contemporary romance, I was a magazine writer and editor and I also wrote freelance articles, mostly for technology magazines. I live in New Jersey, but went to college in St. Louis. I’m currently published by Rebel Ink Press. Miriam’s Surrender is my fourth book.

Tell us about Miriam's Surrender.
It’s a contemporary romance with Jewish themes. This story centers around Passover and is the story of two people who need to discover the freedom of letting go in order to let love into their lives. Josh is an architect hired to redesign the alumni club of a posh, private school in New York. Miriam is the Assistant Director of Outreach, working with the alumni, and is Josh’s day-to-day contact for the redesign. They first met in The Seduction of Esther. Josh had thought he was in love with Miriam’s sister, and Miriam detests him because he hurt her sister. Now they have to work together. As they get to know each other, the animosity disappears, but Josh is hiding something from Miriam and when she discovers what it is, it has the possibility of destroying their relationship. Only when they are both able to let the other in and release some of the control they exert over everything, will they be able to see if their love can survive.

Is it related to any of your other books or does it stand alone?
It’s the second book in my Women of Valor series, but can easily be read on its own. Josh is the villain from the first book and Miriam is the heroine’s sister, also from the first book. But you don’t need to know any of the backstory ahead of time, as it’s explained fairly early on.

Your faith is very important to you, and it also finds its way into your stories. Can you tell us more about that?
Sure! I’ve always loved reading romance, but I’ve noticed that most romances are, by default, related to Christianity in some way (this is NOT a complaint)—even if there’s no mention of religion in the story, the characters get married in a church, grace is said prior to a Thanksgiving dinner, etc. I love reading the books, but I started to wonder if it could be possible to switch it up and make the characters Jewish. So I decided to try to write a series that involved Jewish holidays. The characters are generic enough that anyone can relate to them, but the Jewish holidays provide great themes to deal with—such as hiding one’s identity (the theme of Purim, which was covered in the first book, The Seduction of Esther) and freedom (the theme of Passover, which is covered in Passover in Miriam’s Surrender).

If you could only use one sentence to describe your writing, what would it be?
I write about sassy heroines and strong heroes, with just a touch of vulnerability.

What got you interested in writing?
I’ve always loved to write. As a child, I’d make up stories in my head before falling asleep. I used to try to write them down, but could never get it to come out right. Finally, as I got older, it clicked.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing seriously four about eight years now. I started off writing when my kids were sleeping. Now I write during the day when they’re in school, or in the early evenings after dinner.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I was watching a TV show and someone entered the scene. He lasted about thirty seconds, but something about him drew me in. I went off and started writing about him. A year later, I’d written A Heart of Little Faith, the first book I ever published.

What comes first, plot or characters?
Usually the characters. I hear them talking in my head and I write them down.

Any advice for new writers?
Write what you love—it will come out in your writing and will make readers love it too.

What is one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
Where can we find you and your books?
She can be reached at www.jenniferwilck.com or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Wilck/201342863240160. She tweets at @JWilck. Her blog (Fried Oreos) is www.jenniferwilck.blogspot.com and she contributes to Heroine With Hearts blog on Tuesdays http://www.heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com and Front Porch Saturdays at Sandra Sookoo’s Believing is Seeing blog http://sandrasookoo.wordpress.com.

My books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

Jennifer, thanks so much for being here with us today!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Finding Readers - The Saga Continues



An article in USAToday this past week declared that Research finds Millennials read more than their elders.  Here’s the link to the article:


Yeah!  That is music to any author’s ears!

But, wait – just what are they reading and how do you find out?  More importantly, how do you find those readers?

Well, like the many flavors of a well-known ice cream vendor, there are many ways to do so and some are more difficult and expensive than others.

The article referenced above links to the PewResearch article that it is based on and here is that link:


The PewResearch article has many more details so it’s worth a look.  It provides wealth of information concerning library engagement with readers of many ages as well as format choices by age group.  However, if you are writing paranormal romances and want to know how to find readers in a more targeted manner then you need to go beyond these survey results.

One source is The Romance Writers of America, or www.rwa.org.  You don’t have to be a member to review the statistics resulting from a report they provide based on an analysis of the Nielsen Romance Buyer Survey.  The Reader statistics are most interesting and for the paranormal romance author the results of interest are that as of 2014:

            - 19% of romance readers choose paranormal romance in print format
            - 30% read paranormal romance in e-book format
            - 84% of romance readers overall are women
            - 39% of romance books purchased overall are e-Books
           

There are many other statistical breakdowns at the RWA site to include where and how readers purchase books so take a look at the results.  Based on all the information from the Nielsen Romance Buyer Survey it seems that an author of paranormal romances would benefit from online and social media marketing, but then I don't think this is particularly surprising.


Ah…so many things to consider when trying to find readers.  More next time on additional resources for understanding and finding readers.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Helping The Family Business Today! by DL Larson

Every fall our business hosts a pork chop dinner for our clients. We host it at a local community center, hire caterers for the meal where they grill the chops on site.  It smells delicious and tastes even better. We have everything catered except the desserts. Those I make.  And for the last two years my daughter-in-law bakes for the event too! We're famous for our yummy desserts.

So instead of sitting at my computer today, I've been standing in my kitchen baking and watching old movies. It's been a good day. I hardly have the time to bake at all any more, so this bake-fest is my way of showing my family support for this event.

My house smells of pumpkin bars with a hint of chocolate and a twist of apple cinnamon. The chocolate-Heath bars await a cool whip topping which I learned long ago to apply once I've moved everything to the community center. The pecan crusted lemon bars will have a similar topping with crushed pecans to add at the last minute.

I want to dive into my apple slices. I keep telling myself no one will notice. So far I've refrained from cutting into them, but I can't promise I won't! The apples are from our trees in our back yard.

My pumpkin bars are cooling and as I wait to make the cream cheese frosting, I realized I forgot how to make the frosting. Does one use 8 oz. of cream cheese or more? Since I couldn't find my recipe - I blame one of my daughters for this - I clicked on my computer to find a recipe for cream cheese frosting.

Many options abound when searching for cream cheese frosting. I found recipes that called for two 8 oz. packages and one that called for 4 oz. No wonder I couldn't remember. I opted for the one 8 oz. recipe with the option of doubling it in case I need more.

My daughter-in-law made gluten free brownies for our few customers with food issues. She also made a maple brown sugar cake and pumpkin bars. All this with a full time job, a baby and preschooler. She's awesome and a great baker too!

I hope our clients realize how much we appreciate their business and making these homemade desserts has long been a highlight of the meal. It's my way, and my daughter-in-law's way of saying thank you to them. The empty cake pans will be proof that we accomplished our mission.

Til next time ~

DL Larson
www.DLLARSON.com


Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Failed Experiment

I don't often get the itch to bake, unless it's Christmas time, but I found a recipe for oatmeal-cranberry-white chocolate cookies I wanted to try out. Yesterday I finally had the chance. I got all of my supplies out, donned my apron, pre-heated the oven, and mixed up the dough. After twelve minutes in the oven, I eagerly took out the first batch, then let them cool a bit before sampling the first bite.

They were not good. Talk about a disappointment. I had my hubby try one, warning him I wasn't impressed but wanted his opinion. Nope, he didn't like them either. I had some dough left, and wondered if I should bother making any more. We decided to try making bars instead. Because changing the shape of the things would change the taste. Right. These didn't bake quite the same and wound up needing to be returned to the oven for a few additional minutes.

I gave the cookies up for a lost cause. Should I toss them...it seemed like such a waste...or deal with it and eat them?

Later in the day, my hubby came in and said he'd been thinking about how the cookies/bars weren't so great as cookies, but would make a great mid-morning granola-type snack. He said I shouldn't throw them away. He would definitely take a couple for a between breakfast and lunch snack each day. Repurposing the results made me look at them in a whole different way.

It got me to thinking, writing is sometimes like this too. We come up with a great idea...and it just doesn't turn out the way we hoped. Sometimes we have to scrap the whole thing. Other times we can use the idea in a new way. Perhaps in a different story altogether or in a way we hadn't envisioned for the same story. It's all about looking at it from a new perspective.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Friday, September 12, 2014

Finding and Keeping Readers



The topic of finding and keeping readers is a moving target.  Just when you think you might have it all figured out, something gets in your way, or so it seems.

There’s a must-read article at Publishers Weekly’s Booklife titled, “Advanced Marketing Tactics for Indie Authors,” by Jenifer McCartney, and the message in this article is that Indie authors need to heed the best practices of successfully self-published authors such as Hugh Howey, E.L. James, and Barbara Freethy to name a few.

One point that definitely resonated with me is that distribution matters.  Most of us are familiar with the tag line in the movie the Field of Dreams that if you build it they will come but unfortunately for Indie authors, if you write it doesn’t necessarily equate to readers reading it.  The article talks about the issues of making your book available beyond the e-book format and IngramSpark, a year-old publishing service that was developed specifically for Indie authors, may hold some hope for Indie authors with regards to distribution to bookstores.  Bookstores are still a vital part of any authors connection to readers, whether Indie or traditionally published.  In my opinion so are libraries.

Another point that resonated for me is persistence.  I’ve long said that the only ones not published are those who give up or those who are dead, although, there are examples of authors whose works find publication and success only after they’ve died.  Anne Frank, of course, is an obvious example.  Another example is John Kennedy Toole whose A Confederacy of Dunces was published eleven years after his death thanks to his mother and a fellow writer.  It even won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1981, which is interesting given that it and his other novels were rejected by publishers during his lifetime.

I’m thinking that most of us want to find publishing success before we die so persistence is a key ingredient to making this happen.  Take a look at the article referenced above and see if it provides any insight in your journey to finding and keeping readers.  Here’s the link:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where Were You on 9/11? by DL Larson

September 11, 2001, was a special day for my family. My twin granddaughters were born two days before and planned to come home on the 11th. I couldn't wait to hold them, cuddle them and spoil them as only a grandma can do. They were tiny and swaddled tight, in other words, they resembled little burritos. Their nick name soon became the burrito babies!

I remember standing in my kitchen, unloading the dishwasher. The TV was on, a rarity for sure with my husband not at home. I usually listened to the stereo, but not that day, and I don't really know why. The urgency in the commentator's voice caught my attention. I glanced toward the TV and witnessed the destruction of the first tower. It seemed surreal, as if I watched a movie. My chest tightened, my body recoiling at the carnage catapulting to the ground. I had the overwhelming urge to help someone, anyone. In reflection, I think many of us felt the call to reach out to another.

My husband burst through the door, hollering at me to turn the TV on. He stepped into the room and the heartsick look on his face reflected my own. We watched in silence as the second tower collapsed. I think I was crying by then, I remember shaking my head no, no, no. This shouldn't be happening, my granddaughters were coming home. I had supper planned. We were to gather together and begin the spoiling of these beautiful babies. Instead we were praying for those caught in the maelstrom of terrorism.

Life has not been the same since 9/11, is a cliche, yet holds a deep truth none of us can deny. We've all learned to go on, many without our loved ones. This morning I watched the calling out of the names at ground zero. This tribute heals us and reminds us to always remember. We must stand together to fight this disease called terrorism. We can not allow it to grow. I want my granddaughters futures to be safe.

I want America to stand strong once more.

Til next time ~

DL Larson
www.DLLARSON.com