Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween ~

It's a drizzly rain here today. Looks like the fog might set in too. We plan to celebrate anyway with mummy hotdogs, soup and then go trick or treating in the neighborhood.

If it's too rainy, we plan to trick or treat inside. My son has a plan. We adults will stand behind closed (inside) doors and the kids can come knock on various doors and we'll hand out candy!! They're two and three, so it should be fun no matter what.

No matter the weather, have a fun-gigglefest of a Halloween!
I learned long ago not to fret too much over the candy consumed. It's a sugar high alright, but runs through their little bodies pretty darn fast! I made need a few extra pieces just to keep up!

Happy Haunting ~

DL Larson

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blythe Gifford Reveals An Author's Most Important Decision

Blythe Gifford
Author photo by Jennifer Girard
Today, I'm happy to share a great, informative post from Blythe Gifford, a dear friend and fellow member of Chicago-North RWA - Morgan Mandel

After many years in public relations, advertising and marketing, Blythe Gifford started writing seriously after a corporate layoff. Ten years and one layoff later, she became an overnight success when she sold her first book to the Harlequin Historical line.  Since then, she has published eight romances set in England and on the Scottish Borders.  

THE WITCH FINDER, her first self-published book, is now available for Amazon kindle at 

Setting:  Your most important decision by Blythe Gifford
 For a number of years, I’ve been part of a blog called “Unusual Historicals.”  While the authors and books can be called “unusual” in a number of different ways, the chief way in which the books deserve the title is because they take place in times and/or places outside the norm for historical fiction, mystery, and romance.
While many writers think of setting as merely the description of the place that is the backdrop of the story, I contend that setting, (where and when the story takes place) is perhaps the single most fundamental decision an author makes.  Why?  Here are five reasons.  See if you agree.
1.     Setting is a marketing decision.  A story’s setting determines who is likely to publish and read it.  Contemporary or historical, science fiction or urban fantasy, urban or rural, each of these opens one door and closes another.  I write historical romance, which means that readers who “don’t like history” or “only read paranormal” won’t pick up my book.  It also means that publishing houses that focus on certain types of stories won’t publish mine, no matter how good it may be.
2.     Setting is a creative decision.  Despite the fact that Regency England (early 1800’s) is the single most popular period for historical romance, I do not write Regency romance.  (That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading it.)  The time period does not speak to my creative imagination, so to force myself to search for a story here would serve neither my muse nor my readers.  I accept that the decision means I may have a longer road to collecting my readers.  (See point one above.)  Certain settings will draw you as an author.  Consider that part of your voice.
3.     Setting dictates story.  Is your character at home or away from home?  In a situation s/he loves or one s/he hates?  Somewhere s/he wants to stay or from which s/he longs to escape?  The setting you choose symbolizes your character’s situation and your character’s reaction to that situation will propel the story.  While my Brunson trilogy focused on two brothers and a sister, each of the siblings (and their stories) had a very different relationship to the story’s setting.  In RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, the youngest son comes home for the first time in years, a place he does NOT want to be.  In CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD, the daughter leaves home to go to court, a place where she is a “fish out of water.”  TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL takes place at home, where the oldest son has lived his whole life and where he must come to terms with the fact that he is now the head of the family.  This makes each a very different story, although the same family is front and center throughout.
4.     Setting creates character.  Here, I’m not talking about the setting of the story, but of the backstory, the time and place that shaped the character.  Did s/he grow up during wartime or peacetime?  In the midst of plague or prosperity?  On the Western plains where being a loner is prized or perhaps as a nobleman surrounded by servants to cater to his whims?  Even contemporary or fantasy books must ask these questions.  Conventional wisdom says that character is largely determined by the age of ten.  Be sure you know what shaped your character’s early years.  I’ve written many stories set during the fourteenth century and I must always begin by asking what happened to my character’s family when the Black Death rolled across the land. 
5.     Setting creates reader expectations.  Setting a story in New York or Paris?  Even if the reader has never been there, s/he has seen the city depicted on the screen and thinks s/he knows something about it.  Be aware of the connotations of your setting.  They can shortcut some of the heavy lifting of scene setting.  Or, if you plan to play against type (e.g. set a sweet love story in the gritty city), be cognizant of your task.  Remember:  connotations can change over time.  A story set in New Orleans today automatically means something vastly different than it did in the pre-Katrina days.  And if you are writing about a futuristic, dystopian society, your reader may expect a book targeted to young adults, even if that is not your intention.  And if your setting is unfamiliar?  Well, that makes it hard for the reader to know what to expect!
My newest book, THE WITCH FINDER, is now available. It's again set in an unusual time and place:  the Scottish Borders of the mid-seventeenth century.  It takes place amidst the most deadly wave of witch hunts in Scotland’s history, immediately after the end of the short-lived Commonwealth and the restoration of a king to the throne of Scotland.  Turmoil and uncertainty have swirled about the country for years.  But the story is set in an isolated village near the hills, far from the urban centers.  Here’s a bit more about it:
Scotland, 1661
He's a haunted man.
Alexander Kincaid watched his mother die, the victim, they said, of a witch's curse. So he has dedicated his life to battling evil. But in this small, Scottish village, he confronts a woman who challenges everything he believes. She may be more dangerous than a witch, because she's a woman who threatens his heart.
She's a hunted woman.
They called her mother a witch, but she was only a woman made mad by witch hunters like Alexander Kincaid. Having escaped to the Border hills, Margret Reid is seeking a safe haven and a place to hide. But when the witch hunter arrives, not only is her heart in danger.
So is her life.

Catch The Witch Under at Amazon for Kindle at 

 I hope I’ve sparked some reasons for you to put setting at the top of your list as you consider your writing.  So, what is the setting of your current work in progress?

Please leave a comment to welcome Blythe Gifford to Book Beat Babes.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spooky fun - Halloween Week!

It's Halloween Week! Time for monsters and mummies  and zombies and spooks, oh my!

We're sharing about our favorite movie monsters for MONSTER WEEK! at the GirlZombieAuthors blog....

I've long been a horror movie fan and love the old ones. Without huge budgets or giant special effects, the old movies managed to scare viewers with creepy stories featuring great actors like Lon Chaney, Jr., Boris Karloff, Vincent Price...

Probably one of the reasons why I ended up writing a Zombie book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie.... my own "light" tribute to monsters...  What really is more fun than monsters, right?

So, what's your favorite?

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Even if you don't write historicals, a fair amount of research goes into writing. As an author, I want to make sure my details are accurate for my readers. Everything from the timing of the seasons to time changes to appropriate clothing to regional dialects to the right education for a particular career to roads traveled to...well you get the idea...All of those little details come together to give your readers a complete story. It makes our characters and our settings three-dimensional and real.

So how do I do that research?

I tend to write what I know, even going so far as to set my books in places I've actually been so I get all of the nuances correct. I take lots and lots of pictures and can refer back to them at a later time when I need to remember a specific piece of information for the setting. They also come in handy later for blog tours and other promotion.

But sometimes there are things I need to look up.

Technology literally puts a world of information at our fingertips, and that can sometimes be over-whelming. If I'm looking up something for a quick reference (When does Fall usually start in Texas? What kind of degree do you need to be a Certified Accessibility Consultant? What's the career path for a librarian? What's the sentence for a charge of assault and battery in the Carolinas? etc.) I hop right on the Internet and make use of Yahoo! Search or Google.

But when I want to dig a little deeper, I do things the old-fashioned way. I walk down to the library. And I head right for the children's section. Youth non-fiction books are an author's best friend for research. They are simply written, easy to understand, and often have lots of pictures. They cover the basics without getting bogged down in lots of vocabulary that most of the time is going to be over-my-head anyway. In this way, my Secret Service hero became a competent ski instructor for the heroine.

TV and documentaries are also helpful. I spent hours and hours watching the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) as research for my bull rider hero. Watching them fasten their ropes and get settled on the back of a massive bull allowed me to describe it in the story when my hero did the same. The PBR also has a great web-site with a section of rodeo vocabulary, which I printed out and kept handy, as I referred to it often.

Just about anything can be used for research: travel magazines and brochures, phone books, songs, and stories people tell.

Once a writer adds his or her imagination, there's no telling where they'll take us.

Do you have any favorite research methods? What works best for you?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Author and Editor Mary Welk by Margot Justes

I’d like to welcome Mary Welk, to Beat Book Babes. We collaborated on a couple of anthologies, Hearts & Daggers and Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks. Mary is an award winning author as well as an editor.
Mary V. Welk writes the Readers Choice Award-winning “Rhodes to Murder” mystery novel series featuring ER nurse Caroline Rhodes and history professor Carl Atwater.  Her short stories have appeared in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes; Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks; Chicago Blues;  Mayhem in the Midlands; and Blondes in Trouble & Other Tangled Tales. Mary can be found on Facebook and at
Booksellers will assure you that scary stories are all the rage in October. After all, Halloween is right around the corner, and what better way is there to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve than by curling up on the couch with a blood curdling ghost story, a haunting romance, or a spooky mystery?
I’ve chosen three e-books for my holiday reading pleasure: DARK HOUSE by Karina Halle; SCARY MARY by S. A. Hunter; and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman.
I look forward to reading all three of these on my Kindle, my only hope being, there’ll be no tricks in the e-books, only treats.
What I mean by “no tricks” is this: please don’t let me find a host of proofreading errors in the story, or poor formatting of the manuscript.
I recently read two e-books by established authors whose previous work I’d read in print format. The print books were well edited. The e-books were not. I finished one of the e-books because the story was compelling enough to overlook the few proofreading mistakes: spaces before ending periods; spaces deleted between words (ex: ‘of ten thousand’ became ‘often thousand’); an occasional missing word.
The second book had so many formatting problems that I quit reading after the third chapter, although I did skim the rest of the book just to see if the formatting ever improved. It didn’t. The main problem concerned the page setup. Some paragraph first lines were indented by 0.3 inches, others by 0.5 inches, and many by 1inch. Seeing continual changes in the paragraph indentation was extremely distracting. Then there was the problem of misspelled and incorrectly capitalized words. The names of the four seasons are never capitalized; the same holds true for names of flowers. A tulip is a tulip, not a Tulip.
Okay, you may think I’m being overly picky here, and that’s your right. But as a freelance editor, it’s my job to correct such mistakes in manuscripts before they’re published, and I can’t stop myself from noticing them in published books I’m reading. In this day and age of fierce competition in the publishing business, it’s imperative that writers do a thorough self-editing job that includes use of the pilcrow—that backward P on the toolbar—to show paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols. It’s equally important to follow that up with professional proofreading and formatting.
I love a book that’s a treat to read on my Kindle. I enjoy reading debut novels by new authors, and I’ve found several authors I now follow because their first books were so good. What I hate to see is a good story from a first time author dismissed by readers due to unnecessary mistakes.
If I could give only two pieces of advice to new writers, they would be this: learn how to self-edit your work, and invest in professional services to make your book the best it can be.
I’d like to thank the Book Beat Babes for having me here today. I wish you all much success with your novels and your new website.
Oh, and one last thing. I almost forgot to tell everyone that I’ve contributed a novel to the annual Halloween booklist. THE SCARECROW MURDERS is a mystery set in a rural university town during Halloween Homecoming Days. It features my series sleuths, ER nurse Caroline Rhodes and history professor Carl Atwater, along with a cast of colorful (and sometimes odd) characters who do their best to cause mischief and mayhem in little Rhineburg, Illinois.
Mary V. Welk

Friday, October 25, 2013

Got IMP?

Before discussing how to distinguish between a business and a hobby in terms of how to report or categorize any income received from writing, we first have to understand the concept of Intent to Make a Profit or IMP.   Okay, IMP is my acronym but I think it’s perfect.  Get it- IMP!  Yes, I didn’t become a comedian for a reason but I do like to add comedic elements to my writing, including for series topics such as this one.

So, to truly understand the concept of intent to make a profit, let’s consider a more traditional business scenario such as opening a store, whether online or a brick and mortar location, or both.  If you wanted to open a store to sell shoes, most people would believe that you would want to make a profit, even though statistically three out of five businesses fail within the first three to five years.  BUT, because you opened a store, people are more willing to believe that you mean business.  So how do you show this same intent to make or profit, or mean business, with your writing?

There can be some clear signs that you intend to make a profit so let’s get those out of the way first:

-          You have a book deal/contract, especially for more than one book.
-          You’ve already published a book (self-published or traditional) and are promoting that book while writing the next one.
-          You are conducting your writing efforts as a business – okay we have to come back to this one in more detail.

Whether you fall into one of the categories above or not, in order to prove you intend to make a profit and that you are conducting your writing as a business, you will have to keep thorough and detailed records to demonstrate this to the IRS and even the state revenue agencies when necessary.  In some jurisdictions, the county and city levels also want to know about your business, so beware and research licensing and business registration requirements for where you live and write.

But what if you do not intend to make a profit?  What if you are truly just writing as a hobby but you receive payment – either cash or bartering – and just don’t want to start a writing business. You are just doing this for fun or to help a friend who owns a small business, but occasionally somebody pays you for your writing product.  What then?

Well, you’d think it would be simple, but it truly just depends because if you don’t intend to make a profit but end up doing so for three out of five years then the IRS can consider you a business and you will then have to pay the appropriate income and payroll taxes required of all businesses, even independent contractors.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that the three-out-of-five rule comes up often for many different aspects of the tax code and financial considerations.  I’ve already talked about it for two scenarios so far just in this blog and we’ll discuss this more at length in a future blog.

Okay, back to IMP.  To prove IMP you have to walk, talk, breath and act like a writer who means business whether you make any money or not, which as I’ve said before, is not uncommon in the beginning.  So, what do real writers do?  Well, think about it – they write, they submit, they publish, they network with other writers, they connect to readers – you get the idea.  They don’t sit around and just write hoping that a publisher will come and knock on their door because their mother or dear meddling aunt told them to.  Just like the shoe store owner, writers who have a business plan (oh, another thing we’ll talk about later) produce or have a product to sell and take the necessary steps to sell that product to customers.

One of the things I greatly encourage all writers to do is create a writer’s journal/dairy/blog – whatever you want to call it – to track everything they do related to their writing.  In my opinion, this is not only important to prove your IMP but it also goes a long way to support your material participation in your writing business, should you need to prove it. 

Ah, another concept that’s foreign to most folks who decide to put pen to paper or digital key strokes to a computer screen.  Just like a well-developed plot line, material participation is critical to prove that you mean business with your writing should you decide to take that leap from amateur to pro.

So, if you want to be considered a business with your writing endeavors then get your IMP on and start – and maintain – that writer’s journal/diary/log or whatever you want to call it to prove your intent.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Creating Powerful Images from Ordinary Words! by DL Larson

After judging many entries this last month for the Windy City, RWA Four Seasons Contest, I wanted to share a common thread I found. Every entry I read had wonderful potential, and with a little work and tweaking, each manuscript could become an exciting page turner.

The common thread I'm talking about is the overuse of cliche's or phrases, or just worn out words that our eyes skip over rather than becoming intrigued in the story.

Here's a few examples of tired, worn out words:
- heart pounding
- palm sweating
- stomach clenching

We've all experienced these tension-filled moments. But, yawn, our eyes have read the words too many times to trigger a response the writer wants to deliver. What is lacking is a visceral reaction, an involuntary thump of excitement.

The definition of visceral response is: characterized by intuition or instinct rather than intellect. We're dealing with base emotions, gut reactions, earthy crudeness that wakes up inward feelings.

Here's a few examples of revved-up, viseral images that could easily replace the worn-out words:

- her heart slid down, down, down to her toes.
- invisible fingers squeezed her heart.
- his heart cat-a-pulted three-quarters into a coronary.
- her stomach skidded like a motorcycle on black ice.

Using viseral responses and images catches the readers attention and moves the story in a new, exciting way.

So now, you try! How would you change the following:

- heart pounding
- palm sweating
- stomach clenching

Share your visceral responses in the comment section!

Til next time ~

DL Larson
visit DL on Facebook

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sassy Texas Author, Jinx Schwartz, Shares Her KDP Select Experiences

Jinx Schwartz at her boat desk

Jinx Schwartz has written eight books, including five in the award-winning Hetta Coffey series. Hetta is a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she's not afraid to use it!

Raised in the jungles of Haiti and Thailand, with returns to Texas in-between, Jinx followed her father's steel-toed footsteps into the Construction and Engineering industry in hopes of building dams. Finding all the good rivers taken, she traveled the world defacing other landscapes with mega-projects in Alaska, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Like the protagonist in her series, Jinx was single, with a yacht, when she met her husband, Robert "Mad Dog: Schwartz. They opted to become cash-poor cruisers rather than continue chasing the rat, sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, turned left, and headed for Mexico. They now divide their time between Arizona and Mexico's Sea of Cortez.

And now, Jinx Schwartz shares KDP Select with us:

Kindle Direct Publishing been berry, berry good to me by Jinx Schwartz     

Thanks for inviting me to participate in your new exciting blog. Since Book Beat Babes concentrates on tips, trends and secrets in books, publishing and promos, I'll share my KDP experience.

The title of my piece dates me, but many of us remember the Saturday Night Live skit with Garrett Morris as Chico Escuela, a baseball player from the Dominican Republic. Had it aired today, the catch phrase, "Beisbol been berry, berry, good to me," would probably go viral.

I share Chico's sentiment; Amazon's KDP program came along at a berry great time for me.

But first, here's a little timeline in my book career:
1. Wrote the Great American Novel, self-published it in hardback. Hint: Do not do this.
2. Okay, at least my GAN (The Texicans) was picked up by Books in Motion for Audio. Admittedly this was tantamount to winning the lottery, considering it was my first book AND self-published when the self-part was still a derogatory term.
3. Undaunted by dismal sales, I wrote more books and published them with iUniverse (when they were still relatively cheap): Sold a couple here and there.
4. Was picked up by a small publisher who re-pubbed all of my books, and some new ones. This publisher made money selling ME books, which I did my best to flog off on friends and relatives, and at book signings.
5. Had a parting of the ways with publisher. They were loathe to even put my books on Amazon, nor ebooks in Kindle format. A slow learner, I went INDIE and decided the join authors smarter than me who had already jumped on the Amazon train.
6. Still foot-dragging somewhat, I went with Smashwords for more distribution, but at least put my books into Kindle format. Sold almost nothing except through Amazon. October 2011 until June 2014: sold a grand total of 450 books...all on Amazon.

Well, duh. Lemme think, what should I do? Oh, yeah, how about I sign up with KDP Select?

Life in the freebie lane.

July 2012:   Gave away 18,145 books and sold 428. Note: See 6 above: I sold almost as many books in one month than I did in the previous seven.

If I had a day job, I still couldn't give it up, but in a little over a year I've sold almost 8000 books, and given away 250,000. Could have done better if not for a four-month speed bump: see below.

Social media been berry, berry good to me, as well.

And if you don't think social media sells book, I have this bridge over a swamp in Florida I'll sell you. We spent four months on our boat in Mexico last winter and without Internet, my sales SANK, not a term one who lives on a boat part-time uses loosely.

It was not until an August freebie this year (almost 50,000 downloads) and going with Book Bub and a bunch of other promo sites, that I am back in bidness.

My final take? Well, nothing in this business is final, but for now Amazon seems to shine, and I've hitched a ride on their star. Did I sign up for Matchbook? Yep. Why? Why not? My print books are through Createspace, so why not sell some? To me it seems a win-win.

About the Hetta Coffey Series:

Book One, Which Starts It All 
A note here: I have five books in my Hetta Coffey series, and freebies work well for series. I have no idea how a stand-alone would fare by a relatively unknown author such as I. I also have a boxed set of the first four in the series, and it is selling well.

Hetta Coffey is a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she's not afraid to use it!
She's a globe-trotting civil engineer with a swath of failed multi-national affairs in her jet stream.

Plying the San Francisco waterfront, trolling for triceps, her attention is snagged by a parade of passing yachts—especially their predominantly male skippers—and experiences a champagne-induced epiphany: If she had a boat, she could get a man.

In spite of a spectacular ignorance of all things nautical, Hetta buys her dream boat, but a shadowy stalker, an inconvenient body, and Hetta's own self-destructive foibles, give a whole new meaning to the phrase "sink or swim!"

Where you can connect with Jinx Schwartz:

Jinx's Blog:
Amazon author page:
Twitter: @jinxschwartz
Please Welcome Jinx Schwartz to Book Beat Babes by Leaving a Comment Below.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Young Adult books and reality

In recent years the young adult section has come into its own, with readers of all ages finding interesting, unique reads that often test the boundaries.

A few common elements include:
1 Making life real in an often unreal world.
Coming of age in today's YA books often means having young characters under 20 fighting zombies, dealing with an apocalypse, or even fighting for their lives. It's growing up in a grown-up, if not always real, world. But enough is real that younger readers can relate to it and see themselves in the character.

2 No matter the world, it has an identifiable setting.
 Beyond the main setting of the book, there are elements that are important or relevant to teens and young adults: do they go to school or have they left school? How do events in their life affect them, and change them or their circumstances? What about friends and pastimes? Belongings and possessions also establish their surroundings and personality.

  In my book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, the protagonist is worried about returning to school after falling ill, after all it's not every day you turn into a part-zombie. Becca's situation there turns out to have its own set of problems and obstacles as well, offering other themes familiar to younger readers—the idea of fitting in, feeling accepted and bullying. Her choice? For now, she has to leave school behind.

3 A story that goes beyond the usual and (often boring) everyday stuff.
It's the exploration, and how real life gets melded with the "fantastic" that make paranormal-themed books intriguing reads. After all, as in GIRL Z, it's not every day a 16-year-old gets to traipse around two states with friends, kill zombies, and help protect others.

4 Humor or comedy also can be used to heighten a serious moment, and lighten the tension. I mean, spooky can be funny, right? Hopefully readers get a little chuckle when the main character, Becca, tries to apologize to her cousin, Carm, after her first "hunger attack" at home:

"Carm, I owe you an apology. Big time. I'm sorry I scared you."

Her eyes round, she tried to make light of it. "It's okay, Bec. It's just, uh, I didn't expect you to stare at me, you know, like-like that."

"You mean like your arm was a giant chicken wing?" I asked.From GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie.

5 Have fun. Even in the darkest stories, there are light-hearted moments that show the characters' other side. And enjoy the story—if you're not having fun writing it, will anyone have fun reading it?

* Christine Verstraete is author of GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie. For details and to read chapter one, visit her website, and check out her blog, GirlZombieAuthors.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Bela Lugosi

When I came across today's date in history, one item jumped out at me. Bela Lugosi was born today in 1882. Most are familiar with the name. He, of course, made the name and look of Dracula iconic. It got me to thinking.

I bet if you asked, more people would be familiar with Dracula in movie or tv format than in literary format. Many have probably seen at least one version of Dracula, but how many have actually read the book? I have to admit to never having read Bram Stoker's classic story, but I've seen several movie versions. Taking it one step further...what about Gone With the Wind? Are more people familiar with the movie version or with the book? Both are lengthy, sweeping sagas.

The movie clocks in at nearly four hours.The book is over a thousand pages long. In this case, I've covered both bases, although I can't remember which came first. Did I read first or watch first? I really can't remember. I've seen the movie multiple times, but have only read the book once. When I think of Rhett Butler, Clark Gable instantly comes to mind. Modern stories aren't exempt either. Will future generations only know Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga through the pop-culture phenomenon of its silver screen counterparts? Is it the literature that stand the test of time...or is it the larger-than-life Hollywood version? When a story becomes so iconic in movie form, does it take away something from its literature form? Do many people bypass the written word and go for the visual version of story-telling? Especially in today's tech-savy world, it seems like the written word is closer than ever to becoming obsolete.

 As authors, what can we do to keep that interest alive? How do we draw people in so they can experience and enjoy the stories we create? How do we adapt? Do we make stories shorter to go along with people's decreasing attention spans and the desire for instant gratification? My last three books have been shorter novellas, and just going by the numbers, they've outsold my full-length novels by far.

 It's a changing world we live's not always easy to keep up.

 Until next time, Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Formatting by Margot Justes

Welcome to Book Beat Babes.
I’d like to introduce Donnie Light-formatter extraordinaire-who has the patience of a saint. I can personally vouch for that. Donnie has formatted all my books since I went indie. He is indeed a pleasure to work with, and makes my writing life much easier.
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Blood Art
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
Hearts & Daggers
How many ways can you say The End ?
By Donnie Light, Author and eBook Designer
Writers know the importance of creating a strong opening paragraph for their book. It’s a chance to hook the reader right away and then keep them engaged in your story until they get to…
The End.
That’s where the story stops, right? It’s the end of the line. You have hopefully taken your reader on a journey and have now delivered them a satisfying ending.
As a book and eBook designer, I see many manuscripts each day from a very diverse group of writers. One trend that I’ve noticed recently is the lack of using the words The End to close the story. Using those time-tested words The End no longer seems necessary to many. The story simply ends... without saying so.
Imaging watching a movie and sensing you are near the end, when the scene abruptly ends and the screen goes dark. You may wonder if the film broke... You may wonder if that was really the end, or if there is more coming. You didn’t see The End flash on the screen, and you haven’t see any credits roll by… so you  are left to wonder.
The same holds true with a book. You need to signal to the reader that the story is over, and assure them that they are not missing pages or that their eBook reader has not malfunctioned and cut the eBook short.
There is more than one way to end a book or eBook. While The End still works for me, in today’s publishing market it pays to explore options that may entice a reader to connect with the author. Here are some of the ways you can signal the end of your book or eBook:
       An Author Bio - in today’s social media driven marketplace, allow your readers to get to know a bit more about you.
       Links to your website or blog - invite the reader to visit your website or blog.
       Links to Social Media - let readers know where to find you on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads and other social media sites.
       List of other titles - list the titles of your books and perhaps a very brief description. Perhaps provide a link to a website that has all of your titles listed with descriptions and links to purchase.
       A Sample Chapter - consider publishing a sample chapter from your next book and allow the reader the chance to explore it while you have their attention.
       Author Notes - tell the reader a little about how the book came to be, or interesting facts that you researched for the book. Perhaps an interesting fact related to a site in the book, or facts regarding a historical person who appears in the book.
These are the most common things I see added to the end of a book. However, I have also seen thank-you and acknowledgements, and even a list of songs that the author listened to while writing.
The main point is to end your book and acknowledge that the story is over, while perhaps inviting the reader to explore other books you have written and the chance to connect with the author. In today’s publishing marketplace, making that connection with the reader is a critical aspect of marketing your book.
So properly say goodbye and thank you to your reader for spending so much time with you and your story, then invite them back for more.
Donnie Light is an author as well as an eBook, Print Book and Cover designer. His business website is, and his writing website is He’s always willing to answer publishing-related questions to help authors on their own publishing journey. Contact him through his website.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Reality Check to Royalty Check

Welcome to Fridays at Book Beat Babes.  I’m Terri Morris and I will be blogging about the business side of writing to include taxes, technology, social media, records management, research, publicity, promotions and more.  Whether you are a seasoned writer (pass the salt) or a newbie to the wonderful world of writing and publishing, there is something here for you.  I look forward to spending Fridays with you and I hope that can I help you navigate the often murky waters and constantly changing currents of the business side of writing.

When most of us start out as writers we focus more on the craft of writing and, in too many cases, the fantasy that we’re going to make millions and millions of dollars with what we produce.  While it is true that the news has highlighted stories of writers who have done just that – made millions from their books – the majority of writers earn very little, or nothing at all, especially in the early years.  In fact, most writers give up after a few years because, guess what?  Writing is very hard work and for most writers it does not pay well.  In fact, writing often costs more than it earns, especially fiction writing.
                So why do it?
                For some of us, especially those who do become successful (and there are many ways to measure success), it is because writing is a passion and we just can’t walk away from it.  Then there are the writers who have truly figured out how to earn money and have a writing career, something you often see in non-fiction, web content writing and even with the so called ghost writers.  BUT, most people who flock to writing and writers conferences want to write fiction.  Some years back a survey was conducted that revealed that more people wanted to write a book than read one.  Think about that for awhile.
                Barbara Cartland, actually Dame Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland and now deceased, was a romance writer in the 20th century who published more than 700 books.  She was an amazing woman and I met her at a romance readers’ conference in 1983 and she was indeed impressive, as is her biography.  An article about her appeared before I met her and she was reclining on a sofa as she dictated her books to her assistant who then typed them up.  Yes, this was before the personal computer and the electric typewriter was just becoming the latest technology.  She made it look easy and she sold millions of books.  I remember thinking, how difficult could it be?  I had read many of her books and especially towards the end of her writing career they began to sound more and more alike.  So how was she still selling so many books and why did it seem so easy for her.  Well, she had fame and connections long before she started writing romances.
                Remember that I said writing is hard work?  Even if you are famous and have well-oiled connections, writing is still hard work for somebody, even if that somebody is a ghost writer, or the assistant taking notes and then typing them up.  Most people don’t understand this when they first put pen to paper.  After all, many of us have read poorly written fiction and think to ourselves, “I can do better than that!”  We start to write, and in the beginning just like any endeavor or relationship, there is a honeymoon phase.  Its fun, it’s exciting, you get all tingling when you think about doing it and then you hit a wall.  So, you join a support group – no not AA, but close.  You’re determined to see this writing gig through but you need encouragement to keep going.  You meet people who have actually made it – and made money doing it – and you get excited all over again.  Months, even years pass and you still haven’t received your big break, or maybe you have self-published your written treasure to dismal results.  You might feel betrayed at this point and want to walk away from it all.  You might even feel a little (or a lot) misled.
                For those who don’t give up keep in mind that just because you don’t become an overnight sensation and even if you don’t make any money right away you still need to at least consider and review the potential tax consequences of your writing, especially if money does change hands.  The first question to ask and have answered is whether or not you are a business or a hobby and the answer to this question is fundamentally based on your intent to make a profit.  We will explore in future blogs the concept of what intent to make a profit means in terms of the US Federal Tax Code and why it is so important.    
                Writing, especially fiction writing, tends to be a solitary endeavor and it’s easy to hide away from the world when you’re actually writing.  However, once you start earning income from your writing there are intrusions into that world such as paying income taxes on those earnings, not to mention that you typically have to promote the book whether you follow a traditional publishing path or not.  All of these variables and more are important in determining your tax status as a business or a hobby.  Why is it so important?  Well, the tax consequences and benefits are significantly different based on your status in one of these two categories.
                So turning your reality check into a royalty check is within reach.  You just have to know the rules of the road and which roads to take.
                Next week we will start to explore the criteria used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to determine if your writing efforts classify you as a business or a hobby for federal income tax purposes.

You can also follow me on my blog, Dear Writer – How’s Business? 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Affirmation For A New Start! by DL Larson

Here we are at Book Beat Babes, our new blog site. New beginnings bring forth new affirmations and I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm my commitment as a writer and as a contributor to this new blog site. To affirm is to declare one is equal to a challenge and to accept the challenge. It also means to grow in that challenge. So I plan to spread my wings and flourish as a writer. I have chosen this path, accepted the knowledge that work awaits me and I can not, will not, give up along the way. I will continue in this new direction with dedication and a lot of gutsy determination. Will I fail? Of course. But I will also endeavor to persevere!

 To help me stay on the path, I've started a list to follow and add to. (Feel free to share your ideas with me!) - I need to write everyday! - I will keep my dream alive! - My dream is to write the best story I can imagine. - I will not run from failure. - I will not fear success. - Final choices will always be mine to make. - I will explore new marketing strategies. - I will write what I want to write. - I will share my knowledge with others. - I will not let rejections stop me. - I will keep my dream alive!!!!!!

 My Affirmation as a writer, to YOU, the reader: I am a writer. I take random words and meld them into stories that move your heart and mind. I connect with your emotions, your imagination, your fears and dreams. I can make you laugh, I can make you cry. I can make you stay up past your bedtime! I can take you into the future or slip into the past. You will go where I take you, for I am the writer and I pray, if I have done my job, you will always enjoy the ride.

 Til next time ~ DL Larson 

PS: perhaps you have an affirmation of your own ~ feel free to re-dedicate it with us today!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Connect on Twitter by using Connect

Twitter can be an effective marketing tool, if used wisely. Today, we'll explore one feature, which may help you in your quest to promote.

There are some who say the best way to promote on Twitter is through sharing aspects of your personal life, such as breakfast menus, daily activities, or hobbies. Maybe that works for them, but, given the multitude of social sites and other promotional duties in the current lives of authors, such personal digressions seem a waste of time to me.

Although I occasionally get sidetracked by award shows which I love to tweet about, or events I attend, and confess to sometimes let slip my political opinions, I'm mainly on Twitter to promote my brand and help others do so as well.

When I tweet about my book or someone else's, how do I know if anyone is paying attention, or cares about my tweets?

Simple. Twitter has this handy button called Connect. By clicking on it, my Twitter stream is narrowed down to those who follow me, as well as those who retweet or reply to what I post. Those people are especially important to pay attention to and reward. 

I reward the followers who seem legitimate by following them back. I reward those who reply to my tweets by clicking their Twitter handles, going to their sites, and retweeting something they've posted. I usually scan for what they've said about their own books or endeavors, and not what they've retweeted about others. That method will benefit them the most. For those who reply to one of my tweets, I either answer or click to favorite their reply.

These are basic ways I use the Connect button to build my brand on Twitter.Once you've done all you can with Connect, you can click onto one of the other buttons and do more to enhance your branding. We'll explore these other possibilities at a later date. 

Have you tried any of my methods? Or, perhaps you've never paid attention to the Connect button before, but will now. What are your thoughts?

Connect with me on Twitter at
@Morgan Mandel


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