Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Friday, August 22, 2014

Marketing to Readers

As any of us know who’ve been writing and publishing for any length of time, writers wear many, many hats.  One of those hats is marketing, a subject that has been well-presented from different experts on this blog.  We also know that our marketing dollars (and time) is limited so it’s important to spend wisely.

I stumbled upon a fascinating program from PBS about one aspect of marketing.  The program is Generation Like and here’s the link:

I greatly encourage everyone to watch this if they haven’t seen it already.

Another interesting article is one in the NY Times titled, “Marketers Are Sizing Up the Millennials.”  Here’s the link for this:

I think the overall theme with marketing is making that connection with the audience which of course for writers is readers, but that connection isn’t always about the work itself.  When you watch the PBS program referenced above you will know what I mean when you see the segment regarding the young skateboarder.

Another source of inspiration for how this marketing thing works in terms of connecting with your audience is the writing journey of Amanda Hocking which apparently still going on.  I heard much noise about her in the beginning when she self-published but once she signed a traditional book contract she dropped off the publishing news radar, at least as far as I could tell.  However, if you pop over to her official blog, she is going strong.  The entry on her at Wikipedia is worth a look as well.

So, an important lesson for writers is that just because you write it and publish it, doesn’t mean they will read it.  In fact, I think that it often takes another angle to hook a reader’s interest, but it still takes engaging writing and storytelling to inspire them to return for more.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Taking Time With Friends! By DL Larson

I'm looking over the Blue Ridge Mts. in GA. The fog has rolled back up into the sky and the greenery glistens like a field of diamonds. We will dine on the open porch for breakfast as the fire crackles and snaps in the huge stone fire place.
They are calling me to come eat ... So I must go .... Talk to you next week!

DL Larson

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Kaye George's Alter Ego, Janet Cantrell Offers Great Writing Tips and a New Book!

Janet Cantrell a/k/a Kaye George

Today, I'm happy to present Kaye George a/k/a Janet Cantrell, who has a fun way of dispensing advice through a fictional Aunt Janny column. Morgan Mandel

Janet Cantrell is a pen name for Kaye George, Agatha nominated novelist and short story writer. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, Guppies, and Austin Mystery Writers. 

Her cozy Fat Cat mystery series debuts in September of 2014 with FAT CAT AT LARGE, featuring Quincy, a pudgy, adorable cat who is an accomplished escape artist. Especially when he’s on a diet and hungry. Leave it to Quincy to lead his human, Chase, co-owner of a Minneapolis dessert bar shop, into trouble. 

Janet lives in Knoxville TN with her husband. Her recently departed feline, Agamemnon, is a source for some of Quincy’s antics. 

Visit for more details.

Here's Dear Aunt Janny:

Dear Aunt Janny,
I want to be a writer, but don’t know how to get started. I keep sending my fiction novel to the same agents over and over as I make changes, but I never get it published.

Want To Be A Writer

Dear Want To Be A Writer,
Several things come to mind.

1) Instead of saying you want to be a writer (please don’t capitalize the “A” in your signature), call yourself one. This is part of dressing for success. If YOU don’t call yourself a writer, no one else will.

2) All novels are fiction. If you are asking an agent to read your “fiction novel,” that might be part of your problem. It’s a novel. Period.

3) Send one novel to one agent. If you don’t hear back, or if you get rejected, do NOT send the same novel to that agent again. Honey, you’re going to get yourself on a blacklist. Think this through. If your best friend wanted you to go skydiving with her and you said that you absolutely would not ever do that, would asking you over and over and over change your mind?

4) You ask how to get started. Learn to write. Read, take courses, read, attend writer conferences if you can, read, find a critique group if you can, and read. And write more books. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.

Good luck and don’t give up,
Aunt Janny

Dear Aunt Janny,
I’m almost finished with my novel. This book is going to blow the socks off the publishing world. It’s the Next Big Thing (in fact, that’s my title—clever, eh?).

My question is, when should I quit my job as a dishwasher? Should I allow a year to get everything settled? Or should I quit as soon as it’s done and concentrate on publicity?

Next Big Writer

Dear Next Big Writer,

You’re jumping the gun just a bit. After you’ve put all the words into the book, it won’t be finished. In fact, you may take another year—or longer—to get it into decent shape. A book is written in the rewrites. Most successful authors put a lot of effort into editing, getting feedback, and polishing.

It sounds like this is your first novel. Are you aware that most writers, even the most famous ones, wrote several novels before they produced one that was publishable? Are you also aware that the average time from beginning to write seriously to being published is ten years?

I hope this hasn’t discouraged you. Instead, when you start sending out Next Big Thing, maybe you’ll be prepared. While you’re trying to get this one accepted, start the Next Bigger Thing.

Don’t quit your job.

Good luck and don’t give up,
Aunt Janny

Dear Aunt Janny,
I don’t think I’ll ever get a book published. I’ve been trying for two years now and have 35 rejections on my first mystery. I’ve even written a sequel, but it already has 12 rejections.

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I’ve bought books on writing, joined some online groups, and have taken classes in dialogue, setting, pacing, and even attended one weekend workshop with a well-known agent.

Should I give up and just write for myself?


Dear Discouraged,
You’re doing everything right! You just haven’t given yourself nearly enough time. I hope you haven’t quit your job. You may never be able to do that, but don’t worry, most published writers aren’t living off their writing incomes.

The biggest difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is perseverance. Keep going. You’ll get there.

Good luck and don’t give up,
Aunt Janny

FAT CAT AT LARGE by Janet Cantrell

When she’s not dreaming up irresistible dessert bars for her Minneapolis treatery, Bar None, Charity “Chase” Oliver is running after her cat, Quincy—a tubby tabby with a gift for sniffing out edibles. 

But what happens when this cat burglar leads Chase to the scene of a real crime?

Available now for preorder at:


Please leave a comment to welcome Kaye/Janet to Book Beat Babes!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Bare Essentials

Today I was transferring purses. I'd gotten a few new ones and I needed to take the stuff out of my old one and put it in the new. Since the new purse was slightly smaller than the old, it became a game of filling it with only the absolute essentials: wallet, phone, meds, lipstick, and store cards. I made it work, and tossed a lot of things I didn't need as well.

It got me to thinking that editing a manuscript is much the same. Often we cram whatever we can into the first draft, but then later pare that down to only the essential elements needed for telling the story. The over-written prose goes. The endless lines of, although well-written, description detracting from the plot go. Even those just-for-fun scenes often times wind up on the cutting room floor.

And what we're left with is a polished story that can shine when it's not weighed down by all the extra stuff we don't need.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Friday, August 15, 2014

So, How Much Slang do You Use?

The above is the title of a USAToday column known as “POP CANDY” by Whitney Matheson, and apparently slang is all over the place. So, why does this matter to writers?  Well, it does if you, as a writer, aspire to write compelling and believable dialogue for your characters.  Here’s the link to the column:

Every group, an even sub-group, of people creates slang and it has been done since humans have been around.  I’m sure there’s even slang sign language.  I work in the IT field and there are plenty of examples of slang that has come from that field.  I often hear people say things like, “I think I need a reboot,” or, “I have to defrag my brain,” among other sayings and we all know what these references mean.

However, the list on the column referenced above has me shuddering a bit at some of the terms because not only do you need to know the terms, but you need to know the context in which to use them. Ah, but writers are used to lots and lots of research.  I also like to people watch and it is absolutely amazing what you will discover when you just sit and listen and watch.

If you really want to shudder take a look at the text messaging and online chat abbreviations listed at


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Checking Into Our Past! By DL Larson

Traveling down Interstate 95 and 65, I feel like a mouse in a maze. My husband and I were in the D.C. area and making our way south. The tree line continues to close in on us, and I miss the big horizon sky of the Midwest.

We visited Mt. Vernon yesterday. I was surprised to discover this magnificent bit of history was nearly lost forever. Thanks to the Ladies Aide Society for rescuing the estate from ruin. A distant nephew of George Washington had sold much of the 8,000 acres of the family plantation. The last bit, 500 acres, he agreed to sell to the ladies group. The house had already been condemned. These ladies raised money to restore Mt. Vernon to its previous glory. In 1861, they opened the doors to the public. If you are a history buff as I am, then you realize this was during the Civil War.

Our next stop was Williamsburg, Va. More tall trees on both sides of the road is all we see of Virginia. Plus an occasional marsh. Well, okay, lots of marsh. We have no idea what is behind all the trees. We approach an intersection, look both ways and see .... Trees! It's disconcerting not having a focal point. Trees, trees, trees.

Now keep in mind I don't mind trees. I love trees. But I would enjoy a view too. Gazing at marshes leaves me queasy. I don't know what's in those marshes. And I realize I don't know the difference between a marsh or a swamp.  I'm sure I could figure it out ... Marshes have mostly grasses and swamps have trees, but my Midwestern ways lack in specifics.  The rivers are brackish, which means they have tidal salt water affecting them daily, another anomaly as a Midwestern I am not familiar with. Wildlife is surely different as well. We saw a water snake in the James River, but I don't know if that little critter would survive in the Illinois River or not.

Jamestown Settlement was another bit of history that has been documented for us to learn from the past. We visited the settlement today and learned they lived under marshal law. If one did not work, one did not eat. If one missed church for no reason, a public flogging was instituted. Life was tough and having fun or relaxing was not on the menu of things to do. Gambling was forbidden and again, flogging was the punishment.

The Powhatan Indian village helped the settlers many times and for awhile they were friends. Even the Indians used food as incentive for their children to learn. An Indian boy's mother would help him perfect his skill with bow and arrow by throwing clods of dirt or other objects she might find while working in their vegetable fields. If the boy hit his target, he had lunch. If he missed, he went hungry!
Talk about incentive.

Tomorrow we visit old Williamsburg. It should be a great day. The city is nestled in and around groves of trees. Landmarks are far and few between.  It promises to be a challenging drive! One we're looking forward to. Then it's on to the Blue Ridge Parkway to meet up with friends.

Til next time!

DL Larson

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Choice One Publishing Co.

Just to let you know I updated my blog for Choice One Publishing Co., which is my personal publishing company's blog. Since it took a while for me to get it up to speed, because I'm not as familiar with Wordpress as I'd like to be, I'll leave you with that link to check it out if you so desire:

Find all of Morgan Mandel's Romance, Thriller, and
Mystery Books at her Amazon Author Page:

Excerpts from all of her books are at:

Catch Morgan on Facebook at:

Twitter: @MorganMandel

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Writer's Journey

Writers are often asked what inspires them to write and how they even think of the things that they write about.  Well, from my view of the world, nobody seems to epitomize the writer’s journey more than Mark Twain.

We’re all familiar with Huckleberry Finn, at least we should be – I think I’ll sit down and cry if anyone who has any sort of education is not aware of this Mark Twain classic!  Anyway, even if you know of this and other works by Mark Twain, you probably do not know the full extent of his life story and all the experiences that in the end seemed to help mold him into the writer he was throughout his life and guide many of his creative works.

Well, I was as much in the dark about the extent of Mark Twain’s journey as a writer, and human being, until I watched the PBS special on his life and writing career.  Here’s the link:

You may also want to peruse the Wikipedia entry at the link below:

And, like me, you just might want to re-read his books you’ve already read and then expand into the many stories that you didn’t know he wrote such as “Pudd’nhead Wilson” which is talked about in the PBS documentary but often cited as a work that Twain wrote to stave off bankruptcy so this work is often characterized as having a rough organization about it.  Of course, there’s always The Prince and the Pauper which has a similar theme of children from extremely different backgrounds being switched to illustrate the differences in society.

So, Mark Twain had challenges on the family front, on the writing front and even on the financial front, something I think most writers can understand.  It’s ironic that many of the great writers often had really, really devastating things happen to them in life but I think it’s the aspect of their personalities where they feel and see things more deeply than perhaps others do that makes them great writers.  After all, in many ways, the best writers are also people who are great observers of life around them.

Do take a moment and follow Mark Twain’s journey and the next time your computer acts up, you’re bummed about your listing on Amazon, or you have to do more re-writes, just remember Twain’s story.  It’s a source of both inspiration and gratification that most of our writing challenges tend to be small compared to his.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Time Passing at Union Station! by DL Larson

Union Station has many layers to it and I don't mean the different floors and corridors. From the South side, Jackson Street, one is confronted with the large stone edifice. The old world charm of the late 1900's grandeur prevails once stepping through the over-sized doors. The marble flooring and pillars impress the stoutest individual and upon gazing over the balcony into the main lobby, one has to wonder what it must have been like a hundred years ago.

If you are not familiar with Union Station, it is the train depot in downtown Chicago. Walking into the building from Adams Street is a great contrast with its bustling, modern version of the city. Once through the glass doors, escalators send everyone down into the belly of the building. Union Station is a maze. The corridors were probably wide enough at one time in the 1960's, but don't try going against the crowd after a train has unloaded and folks surge for the exits and streets beyond.

The mixed scents of fresh popcorn, hot dogs and cin-nabons remind me of a carnival. Nice for awhile, then not so much. The bathrooms are not near so charming as the main hall. Long lines spill out into the hallway as women wait their turn. Men walk in and saunter out in mere moments, never a line. Every woman notices this discrepancy, but little will be done to fix over-used, too small restrooms.

I waited with my friend to pick up another friend coming in from New Jersey. We arrived at 8:30 a.m. fighting our way across the interstate highways, then to a parking garage across from the train station. At 6:00 a.m. the train's website said the train we waited for was on time and scheduled to arrive at 8:45 a.m. We weren't late! High fives all around for not missing our meet-up!

At 8:45 a.m. the travel board changed to late arrival, a two-hour delay. That changed everything. We now would not be able to make a doctor's appointment, a meeting, or be on time for work. We all scrambled to make the necessary calls and settled in to wait. Actually, we enjoyed the beautiful summer day, and walked the streets of Chicago for awhile. We checked our smart phones to see about the delay. It now read another two-hour delay. We had lunch, knowing we would be facing rush hour traffic on the way home. A nice woman we had been sitting by told us her life story. True or not, I'm not sure, but it helped pass the time. Another woman reminded us to keep our purses and valuables close. She had just witnessed a man arrested for taking someone's bag. "And he was dressed so nice," she added.

We took another walk. We sat in the sunshine. We ate popcorn. We stood in line for the bathroom. We watched the janitor switch one escalator from down to up. Interesting. We had wanted it to go up at one time and had to go around. Then when we were about to go down this escalator, he switched it to go up. We never did get a ride on that escalator.

Five and a half hours later, our train arrived.

I've had to wait in many places for many reasons: the hospital during an operation of a loved one, an airport for a plane to arrive, or stuck in congested traffic. Now I can add waiting for a train to that list. As a writer, I people watched. I noticed what folks carried with them to travel. The business folks were stream-lined with computer packs and a few bags, sensible shoes. Travelers, or so the signs all around stated, were allowed 2 carry-ons, about one size larger than they allow for carry-ons for airplanes. I don't believe many bothered to read those signs. Besides the pillows and stuffed animals, books seemed a favorite and I enjoyed seeing that. Since I love books - real books, I was glad to know many still favored them while traveling. I would say most over-packed as they lugged their bags behind them, back packs and purses dangling at precarious angles.

I hope all the folks I watched yesterday arrived at their destinations in a timely matter. Most looked to be heading for someplace fun. I hope they enjoy their ride. I hope they don't have to endure a five hour delay. But if they do, most will have a book to keep them company!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Read a Romance Month

August is Read-a-Romance-Month, and I'm excited to be participating in my chapter's celebration this year. In fact, the theme for this year is CELEBRATE ROMANCE.

Summer really is the perfect time to celebrate romance. The days are longer, the weather is warm, there's no end to the romantic possibilities around us: a stroll along the shore of the lake with the waves gently lapping at our feet, having lunch or dinner at an outdoor café and soaking up the sunshine, a hike through lush green forest and rippling prairie, touring a winery and sipping a glass out on the deck overlooking the vineyard, or taking a long weekend getaway to a nearby small town and wandering through the shops on Main Street. Each moment made even more perfect by sharing it with the one you love.

Summer is the perfect time for reading romance, too. Like I said, the days are longer and lazier, and there's nothing better than whiling away the time with a favorite book and a glass of homemade peach iced tea. My favorite reading spot of choice is curled up on our front porch settee.

I'm an avid reader, and although I sometimes branch out into other genres, romance has always been and will always be my favorite. Even back in the day when I headed straight for the yellow-covered Nancy Drew books on the library shelf, my favorite parts were when Nancy spent time with Ned. In the cozy mysteries I read now-a-days, a touch of romance is a must. I started reading 'real' romance in high school. I joined the Harlequin American book club, and every month four new shiny silver books were delivered right to my doorstep. I think it took me less than a week to devour them all...and then it would be an impatient wait until the next month.

I am fortunate to have my own library in my house, and the majority of books in it are romance. There's just something about being able to explore other peoples' lives and emotions and 'visit' other places, plus have the guarantee of a happy ending that's infinitely appealing. Historical, contemporary, paranormal, I read them all. My favorite historicals are set during the Civil War or anything having to do with pirates, my favorite contemporaries to read (and write) are set in small, cozy towns, and vampires are my go-to paranormal reads.

Nope. There's nothing better than celebrating romance, whether real-life or fiction, any time of the year.

As part of this year's celebration, we've been asked to answer three questions. So here goes...

Describe the most daring, adventurous, or inspiring thing you ever did.
Hmn? I have to say, I'm not much of a risk taker, so for me, adventure is pretty tame. Back in college, I had the opportunity to take a three week trip to England. I'd never been out of the country before or away from my family for that long. (College was only an hour and half away, so that didn't really count.) No one I knew aside from the professor leading the trip was going, but I signed up to go anyway. It was exciting, it was amazing, it was wonderful. We toured castles and attended plays and visited museums...all in a setting unlike anything on this side of the pond. I enjoyed it so much that a few years later, a friend and I took a ten day trip to France and Spain. Now for some people, world travel is no big deal, but for me it's quite adventurous.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.
Like I mentioned above, I started reading romance in high school. It wasn't long before I decided I wanted to write one some day. I even made a few (sad) attempts in high school and college. But, for the most part, like many dreams, the desire to write a romance remained just that for a long while. Then one New Year's Eve night out at the bar where my soon-to-be hubby and I hung out, a friend mentioned a writers' group she belonged to. We got to chatting, and she invited me along. I joined my local RWA chapter, took advantage of our critique sessions, and got connected. When I decided to get really serious, a friend recommended The Wild Rose Press, and the rest, as they say, is history. This month I released my eighth title with them.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)
One of my all-time favorite romances is Mariah by Sandra Canfield. My copy is completely dog-eared and tattered because I've read it so many times. I fell in love with this book the first time I read it. I still have to be careful when I write because passages from this book are so ingrained in my mind. It's the first in the Calloway Corners series, which was released by Harlequin Superromance in 1988. The series follows four sisters in small-town Louisiana. Because of this book, when I sat down to write my first real romance (I don't really count those ones from high school), I decided to make it the first in a series. I'm proud to say, the third book in my own three-book series was published earlier this year. My dream definitely came true. And I have to say, a lot of it is due to Mariah.

In addition to hunting down your own copy of Mariah, I'm recommending the following authors for summer romance reading:
Julie Ann Walker
Paula Martin
Jennifer Wilck

Happy Summer and Happy Reading!

Debra St. John

My latest release:
Family Secrets from The Wild Rose Press. Also available for Kindle.

Friday, August 1, 2014

How to Price an E-Book

Imbedded in the stand-off between Amazon and Hachette is the whole idea of how to price an e-book so a publisher, bookseller, and author can sell the as many units possible for the best revenue stream.  There’s an article at that provides a very detailed discussion of this – here’s the link:

It’s a fascinating look at what goes into pricing e-books, at least in the Amazon/Hachette dispute example.  Of note, at least for me, is that Amazon claims that Hachette’s pricing of e-books at $14.99 actual stifles sells.  A posting at Amazon’s website makes the argument that pricing e-books at $9.99 will sell 1.74 copies compared to books being priced at $14.99.

And Amazon ought to know given the volume of books they sell.

But what really stood out for me in this article was the following:

“Keep in mind that books don't just compete against books. Books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more,” Amazon writes. “If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.”

It’s an interesting perspective.