Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Making Progress

It's about three and a half weeks into 'official' summer vacation, and I am pleased to say I'm making some progress on my WIP.

Back in April I started a new project and made some decent headway until May rolled around and 'real' life intruded. There my story languished at about 5,700 words until I picked it up again in June.

Since the middle of June, I've logged a total of about 11,700 words, so basically I've written about 6K since I started back with it.

In a word count sense I am definitely making progress. However, the story seems to be dragging a bit. I'm pretty sure I know where I want to go by the end, but it's certainly meandering along the way. At least I think it is. Like with my last book, I'm writing this one in a very linear fashion. Before, I'd jump around in the story, writing scenes, even if they were out of order, as the muse struck me. This time, I'm once again going start to finish, with no stops or editing along the way. I did do a read-through when I picked up the book in June since I hadn't looked at in in a month, but other than that each day (And I've been pretty faithful with my daily routine.) when I open the mss for each new writing session I pick up where I left off the day before.

There's a little girl in the book, and I'm trying to make sure the 'cuteness' of her portion of the story doesn't overshadow the sexual tension and attraction between her dad (the hero) and the heroine. I guess only time will tell if I've struck the right balance.

So for now, I'll continue forward, letting the story and characters take me where they will. As we all know, once the first draft is done, there's still plenty of time to get the story right during a lengthy editing and revising process. As long as those words are adding up at the moment, I'm happy!

I've also compiled a list of other writing-related things I need to get done: some cleanup on my web-site, a few author profiles I need to update, etc. Eventually I'll get to those things...because there's a lot of summer still ahead!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Friday, June 26, 2015

Why the eReader Platform Matters

I’ve been looking into the various “unlimited” reading options available to me as both a reader and a writer and one of the obstacles, especially as a reader, is the eReader device.  Not all unlimited services accomodate the eReader platforms as well as one might expect in the digital age.  Even when checking out eBooks from my library I have to be careful because not all eBooks are available for all platforms.

I found a fascinating article on comparing the three “top” eBook subscription services and the platforms that can accommodate them.  Here’s the link:

As a writer, I just think it’s important at this point in time to make your material available on as many platforms as possible which is why the emergence of publishers such as Gatekeeper Press, which I mentioned in a previous post, is so important for the Indie author.

You can still take the DIY approach to making your work available on all platforms but as with anything else when you are “self-employed” (and that is usually the case whether you are Indie or not) as a writer you have to pick where you spend not only your money but your time.  I think that it comes down to a simple question of do you want to spend your time writing or all the other tasks that are part of self-publishing?

The two main reasons the eReader platform is so important center on distribution and discoverability.

A recent article in Publishers Weekly revealed some interesting perspectives from German publisher Georg Reuchlein regarding discoverability, especially with regard to how technology is reshaping the publishing business and, I believe the discoverability process, and it’s not just social media that matters.  Booksellers and librarians are still critical partners of both publishers and writers in helping readers discover the writer and their work.  Here’s the link to the article:

Social media is obviously important and it can rev up an author’s media campaign in amazing ways but if your book isn’t available on the device that your reader uses and more importantly, prefers to use, then the reader might lose interest, especially in the competitive romance genre.  I know because I’ve done it myself, especially if it’s a new author I haven’t discovered yet.

Ah, there’s that discoverability factor.  It’s best not to put anything in the way of the reader and getting your work into the reader’s hands or electronic device.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

It's All About Routine

One of my favorite things about summer is there's no routine. I can do what I want, when I want, for how long I want. It's been less than a week since I officially finished school for the summer, and I've already crossed a few things off of my summer to-do list and started on a couple others.

Trouble is...I've touched nothing that has to do with writing. For that, my time is too open ended for me. I need some discipline when it comes to writing. A deadline. A routine. And right now, I don't have that. It's still early, but I definitely need to do something to kick that into gear, or the summer will slip away from me and I'll have accomplished...nothing.

So, even though it's a foot-loose-and-fancy-free summer, I'm going to have to buckle down and set up some sort of writing routine. Dare I say it? It needs to become more like a summer job. I need to allocate time for it. Each and every day.

I'm thinking of going back to the routine I used when I wrote Christmas at The Corral this past winter. Each night after my shower, before the hubby and I settled into our movie for the night, I'd sit down and write. The water seemed to get the ideas flowing, and I was able to finish the novella in a record seventeen days. There's no reason that strategy can't work again for my current WIP.

Yep, I'm going to have to give it a shot. It's past time to get this party started.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

What is Real Writing? by DL Larson

I'm in the middle of reading two books. Neither has held my attention for long and for that I'm disappointed. The first one, "While Beauty Slept," by Elizabeth Blackwell intrigued me because it is supposedly a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. It is not. But it is a telling type of story, which is where I find my biggest frustration with the book. It's tell, tell, tell, tell, tell, with a bit of dialogue, smidge of action and then back to tell, tell, tell.

My next frustration is the retelling is supposed to be to a child, but it is not a juvenile topic, or told in a child-like way that should hold some excitement. I'm a children's librarian. I'm a writer. I want characters I can care about. I continue to page ahead, looking for a break. I'm not involved with the characters and am disappointed because I thought I was immersing myself into a new twist on an old fairytale. While Ms. Blackwell has beautiful writing, it's doesn't engage me, the reader, on a level I was hoping for. It's almost too sanitary. Does that make sense to anyone?

The second book I'm reading is called, "Hell for Leather," by Julie Ann Walker. She is a NYT best seller and I was excited to read her next book in Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. This is a contemporary setting, action packed, with great characters. I became involved immediately, but have grown tired of the sidebar mutterings each character continues to display. They talk to themselves mentally. At first it was cute, then okay, let's move on, then, really? These snippets irritated me and I didn't understand why. I really enjoyed her writing. I finally realized these little thoughts pulled me out of the story, they were not enhancing the story for me. Rather than clarifying the character's inner reflections, they had become intrusive to me.

So here I am with two books, one too clean and the other with editing issues. These authors are great writers, please understand that. But for me, this summer, they were not the books that will make me say, "I'm putting that on the shelf to read again."

All this makes me wonder who were the official editors? How much was changed? And did they improve the story line or not from the author's original version? Did they clean up "While Beauty Slept" until it was squeaky clean and bone dry? Did they italicize one too many lines in "Hell for Leather," thinking this is a new fad and readers will love it?  This is a fear many writers think about. Editing generally improves the story, but sometimes ... it scalpel reaches too deep.

I remember a night class I took years ago. It was a creative writing class and I found out the instructor edited with a heavy hand. There were about ten of us in the class and we sat around in a circle to talk about our WIP. Each week we would turn in an assignment and the following week we would receive the one we had previously turned in. At first no one said anything, thinking they were the only one that had severe changes made on their work.

One week my paper was returned with ideas on how to make my poem more vivid. But it wasn't a poem about images. It was a poem on bribery and simply making it through the day. The instructor had missed the point. He suggested I clarify more, create a clearer sense, etc. As I read his ideas scribbled on the paper the gal next to me, said, "You didn't understand her poem." I looked up and realized she meant my poem. I still think she couldn't bring herself to argue with the instructor about her own work, but she went to bat for my work. I did not know this woman other than to chat a bit before and after class.

She went on, saying, "It doesn't matter what color the kid's mittens are, he knows. And it doesn't matter what treat she offers, she wants him to behave! She's a mom, she's trying to get where she needs to go."
The dam broke and many others learned that day to defend their work. I don't know if that was the instructor's point all along or not. He didn't get upset and real discussion began from that brave woman stepping up to defend my very inadequate poem. The next several weeks, real learning took place.

So what is real writing? I learned it is something to defend when needed, and to always search for the true message in every sentence. Is it fluff? Or is it necessary? Only the author knows.

Til next time ~


OK - Here's the poem - please understand it's dated January 1985 - I was young, very, very, very young! And soon realized, a poet, I am not! But I still enjoyed trying.


Listen to me - I'm talking to you.
Where are your mittens?
Let's go you two.

Climb into your seat, buckle up snug,
You know the way -
Give it a tug.

Appointments can't wait,
Race through downtown
Smile at the cop - better slow down.

It won't be long now.
No, you can't drive.
Sit still Jessica, take a look outside.

Everyone pile out,
Stand still, take my hand.
No, don't do that - listen to me, young man!

Hurry now, Momma is late.
I wish we could too, maybe tomorrow
But I can't promise you.

Keep your hood up,
Don't run in the street.
Promise to be good, and I'll give you a treat!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dating Your Book

Depending on which time period you wish to convey, think twice about what to include in your book.
If you're going with contemporary, do you want to sprinkle in giveaways of when the book happens, or be vague? That may depend on whether you're looking for quick sales and/or longevity. Still, you don't want to seem too unaware of what's going on.

Writing about the here and now can be problematical, if your book is available for a while, such as my backlist mystery, Two Wrongs, which debuted in 2006, yet can still be found online. Fortunately, cell phones had been in use then, and I didn't go into many details about other habits which have changed.

Here are some contemporary habits you might consider including in a book:

  1. Texting and e-mailing - Choose to include or  explain why your character doesn't use them.
  2. Phone calls  - Even calling someone requires explanation. Almost everyone has a cell phone these days. Many don't have landlines. Make a choice what your character picks up to make or answer a call.
  3. Using the mail - Hardly anyone writes letters now. Most bills can also be paid online. However, many people still like to pay bills the old fashioned way, or mail birthday and other special occasion cards. Yes, some use online services to send greetings, but in my experience, I don't get many.
  4. Google or other search engines - Finding the answer to almost anything can now be found by a search on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Your character would have to live under a rock not to know that, or be someone who abhors technology.
  5. Clothes - It's the style for women not to wear nylons, though some still like to hide flab or veins by wearing them, or feel more dressed up with them on. Guys don't wear ties as often. They hardly ever wear suits, even to work, unless they're attorneys or other professionals who appear in court or in public venues, where such appearance is expected. Sports coats or just nice shirts are acceptable for dressing up. You can find jean wearers in church or in the nicest restaurants these days.
  6. Social media - Even seniors are active online.. You may want to incorporate a Facebook or Twitter experience in the book, or mention something about looking for a job on LinkedIn.
  7. Speech - One example: The word, Hi is often replaced by Hey.
Of course, all of the habits I've mentioned depends on your characters. If they're old-fashioned, they'll stick to their own habits and ignore what others do, or they could be unaware of what's going on around them.

Can you think of other examples, either from the here and now, or other time periods?

Find all of Morgan Mandel's romances and mysteries at:

Excerpts at:

Follow on Twitter: @MorganMandel


Friday, June 5, 2015

Writing for Yourself

In a Publishers Weekly article by Drucilla Ahultz, the author puts forth an interesting tip and that is “to write for yourself.”  We’ve all heard the sage advice from publishers and editors at conferences to write what you know, but this is a little different.  It’s almost a subset of write what you know because if you write for yourself one could reasonably conclude that you are writing what you know.

However, the main point that I took away from her tip “to write for yourself” is to not get caught up in all the non-writing tasks such as promoting and sales but rather to be pleased with what you write which in turn will help you discover what truly matters to you as a writer.  Here’s the link to the article:

I also liked her tip about reviews, reminding us that, “reviews aren’t everything,” a concept that is difficult to reconcile with the online/e-book environment where it seems that reviews are all that matter, especially in rankings at sites where books are sold.

This sentiment “to write for yourself” is echoed in a Charlie Rose interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard, a Norwegian author, who wrote a six volume autobiographical series of books titled My Struggle, with various subtitles for each volume and recently published in the US.  The interview is fascinating and worth watching for any writer who understands what it’s like to struggle with their writing and dig deep for material to share with their readers.  This interview is not only worth watching but watching again.

Here’s the link to the Charlie Rose interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard:

Another interesting article and one well worth reading for writers, especially Indies, is penned by Jane Friedman, a publishing industry veteran and someone who truly cares about authors.  The title of her article is, “Not All Hybrid Publishers Are Created Equal,” and here’s the link:

Ms. Friedman does a great job of cutting through the confusion (as she states it) with all the options that are available to Indie authors and points out that there’s a wide range of business approaches and models to hybrid publishers, and more importantly, how the Indie author has to be aware of these variations to properly evaluate and choose the best hybrid publisher for their needs.

So, there is a lot to chew and reflect on this week.  Who knows, maybe that chewing and reflection will end up as a bestseller some day.