Sunday, July 15, 2018

Punctuation and Grammar

I wore my new t-shirt that has emblazoned on its front the words "Write On" when I visited the physical therapist the other day. I already knew his daughter had majored in creative writing and editing, so I thought he'd appreciate my choice.

He one-upped me, however, by saying his daughter had a shirt that said "Punctuation matters. It's the difference between Let's eat, kids, normal mealtime conversation, and the more cannibalistic Let's eat kids.

As an unapologetic comma queen, punctuation and grammar are a constant thorn in my side. So I thought today I'd share a few more of these examples that drive home the need for a well-placed comma with you.

Your dinner vs. you're dinner: One leaves you nourished, the other leaves you dead. Correct grammar saves lives. 

I like cooking my family and pets. Use commas. Don't be a psycho. 

Bite me, asshole–grammatically correct and scathing. 
Bite me asshole–kinky pirate (For all my pirate-writing friends)

Other examples of the necessity of using proper punctuation and grammar abound. Here are a few that made me smile: 

Capitalization is the difference between helping your uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.

If you don't think punctuation is important, try forgetting the semicolon when you tell someone, "I'm sorry: I love you." 

And my favorite: The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar. It was tense. 

What about you? What's your favorite example of a sentence in need of some punctuation?

Sunday, July 8, 2018


Every so often in the life of an author, it comes time to take a breath, sit back and contemplate your career trajectory.

That's what I've been doing this year. As soon as I made the move from Ohio to North Carolina and got hooked back up to the internet, I found out Simon & Schuster decided to do away with the Crimson Romance line to focus on more mainstream fiction and non-fiction works. I sorted through my options, not ready to cut the chord and demand my rights back until I had a plan in place. I hired an agent, talked to my writing buddies, bounced ideas off anyone who would listen, and finally settled on a plan.

I could only regain the rights to four of the eleven books Simon & Schuster had. They turned out to be the first four in the Cotillion Ball series, so it made sense to me to start retooling them and spiff them up a bit. I finally decided to work with Prairie Rose Publications on them, since I didn't want the hassle of self-publishing. The first two books, The Reluctant Debutante and The Abolitionist's Secret, are scheduled to be re-released into the Amazon world in August. My past few weeks have been spent looking at stock photos and working with Prairie Rose's cover artist, the magnificent Livia Reasoner. We have this uncanny ability to home in on the same photos to use, so it's been a fairly painless process to create new, striking covers for the books.

There have been some issues, though, to deal with. Since six of the books remain with Simon & Schuster, I wanted to maintain some consistency for the series as a whole, so I couldn't steer off in a totally different direction with the covers. Crimson abandoned the sepia-tone covers along about book six, so I tried to match the new ones with the last ones in the series. A consistent font was necessary, as well as a few other elements.

That being said, I'm pleased to offer cover reveals for both The Reluctant Debutante and The Abolitionist's Secret. The real bang for the buck comes when you compare side by side the old and the new. Here, for your viewing pleasure, are the covers.

On the left is the original cover, which was released in March, 2012. Since it was my first-ever cover, I thought it was beautiful, and had it blown up on canvas and proudly displayed in my office. But the new one, on the right,  just knocked my socks off. I may have to update my wall.

The second book to be released in the series is The Abolitionist's Secret, about Ginger's younger, and less flamboyant, sister Heather. Here are the old and new versions of those covers. I'm loving the new looks of these books, and my career is once again on track. What do you think of them?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Googling My Days Away

As inquiring persons who are semi-computer-literate, we spend a lot of our on-line time doing google searches for various things. The term has even morphed from a noun to a verb in a lot of cases, my headline for this blog being an example.

I've had other authors tell me if their computer was ever to be searched during a criminal investigation, they'd be put away for felonious acts. Those of us who write of intrigue are especially at risk. But, fortunately, most use the information for the purpose of uncovering factual writing tidbits and nothing more. I decided to perform an experiment this week, and keep track of my Google searches. Here's the list for the week of June 24.

When was the word barfing put into use? 

Turns out it’s not a new word at all. It first appeared in the public lexicon in the mid-1700s, but usage of it waned during the late 1700s and early 1800s, not to be picked up again until the year 2000. 

How many varieties of Iris are there?

Over 200 varieties in all shapes, colors and fragrance. The boldest fragrance is a musky scent, but mostly the fragrance of these blooms is very delicate. 

What were the most efficient ways of doing away with a King? 

Poison was a big one in the 1800s. But illness, gunshot by jilted lovers and mental instability caused by bad medicine were also popular. 

What were King George IV’s foibles?

He was addicted to laudanum, grossly overweight, and in love with a twice-widowed Catholic woman. 

When was Scotland Yard begun?

This police force named Scotland Yard was created in 1829, alas too late for my story. 

What are some home remedies for the eradication of water bugs?

This one is personal. I’m getting to know my North Carolina bugs, but I don’t have to invite them into the house. Or give them names. (Do you hear that, Daisy? Be gone with you!)

What kind of tree do I have growing among the long-leaf pines? 

Another non-writing related search. Turns out I have a Mimosa tree in my front yard.

How about you? What's the weirdest Google search you've done recently?

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Audible or Inaudible?

Audible books are all the rage these days, revenues are up 22% so far in 2018. A friend and I were talking about books on tape a week or so ago, and she said she had to pull over to the curb when the book really got good, because she wasn't paying attention to the road. Listening has become the new reading. And it seems, to some people. audio books elicit a bigger emotional response than merely reading the words ourselves and giving our own voices and emotions to the words.

Most of the time while I'm driving, my mind wanders to the story I'm currently working on, or the new story that's talking to me. If I'm playing the radio, it's merely background music and I couldn't tell you what I just listened to. Perhaps because I wasn't listening to it. Instead, I was inside my head, with various characters telling me their tales. I'm afraid the same goes for audible books. I've had people offer to give them to me for free, so I could give an opinion on the voice delivering the tale, but so far, I've resisted. Because I know I wouldn't be able to concentrate on the road, on the voices in my head AND an audible book, however riveting it might be.

But maybe I'm selling the phenomenon short. Trevor Noah gave his voice to his book "Born A Crime." I love his accent, so I probably could listen to it. English accents have always been a weak spot. On the whole, though, I think I'll keep devoting my driving time to the voices in my head rather than on tape.

How about you? Audio books or no?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The In Between

Often, when I was living in Ohio and starting my publishing career, I felt I was between a rock and a hard place. My house was a huge financial burden, the proverbial money pit, and my publishing career was growing, but not to the point where I could afford to pull money out of the business and put it into the house.

My move to North Carolina helped get rid of the huge financial burden, but the publishing career is in the process of being retooled. I now have an agent I trust, I've finished a book I truly enjoyed writing, and I'm sliding into the next one. Yesterday, I drove my 15-year-old Jeep into Pinehurst to go to the library and parked on the street, between a Land Rover and a Mercedes.

A rock and a hard place or a Land Rover and a Mercedes. Even with a 15-year-old Jeep, I'm sitting pretty right now. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018


My favorite Carl Sandburg quote is about my favorite weather element–Fog. 

"The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on."

In my case, it's not the harbor but the golf course behind my house where the fog sat yesterday morning. As I stared out my window lost in my usual morning fog, waiting for the coffee to kick in so I could start writing, I stopped and focused the fog for a moment. It was moving gently across the ground, mirroring my thought pattern. I'm at the stage of my manuscript where I'm just reading the story and massaging it a bit, moving through the story slowly, beefing up the important scenes. My mind started thinking of ideas, possible scenarios that I'd live through if I was on a wagon train headed west. I climbed on board the wagon with my ladies and got to work.

When I got up to grab my second cup of coffee, the fog had moved on. As had my brain fog. I made it through half the manuscript by day's end. Lots done, lots still to go.

On a personal note, I'd like to say farewell to one of my Crimson Romance sisters. Peggy Bird was a bright light in the early days of the Crimson brand and will be sorely missed. She was always posting pictures of buff men in teeny swim trunks saying they had just washed up on her beach. This is for you, Peggy. I hope there's a beach where you are now.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Best Selling Lists

PBS recently posted a list of the 100 most popular American books of all time, called The Great American Read. I took a look at the list, which was filled with best-sellers. Since I spend most of my time reading romance novels, it came as no surprise to me that I was only able to cross off maybe 30 of the PBS list. Determined to expand my horizons this summer I went to the library and picked up one from the list.

Shouldn't have started with The Handmaid's Tale.

As most of you know, I've been rereading Stephen King's great book On Writing. One of his mantras is that in order to become a great writer, you need to write a lot and read a lot. Given the man's schedule, I was surprised to find he reads about 80 books a year. If he can do it...

But not with The Handmaid's Tale. Too depressing. I like happy endings. I write happy endings. But I don't think Margaret Atwood would appreciate me putting a happy ending on her book.

Fortunately, Stephen graciously supplied a list of the best books he's read. I'm taking back The Handmaid's Tale and selecting one from Stephen's list instead. Maybe The Secret Life Of Bees. 

How about you? What are you reading this summer?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Stormy Weather

June 1st is the official start of hurricane season, a fact I didn't really care about while in Ohio. It's a different story now that I'm in North Carolina.

The past few nights have been filled with the weather folks urging all in the viewing area to get their hurricane preparedness kits in order. I had to do a Google search to find out what is considered essential in such a kit. The list is this: Food bars, water, AM/FM radio with batteries, candle, emergency bright stick, whistle and waterproof matches, in addition to emergency medical supplies. Whew! I'm going to have to stock up slowly. It may take all summer to compile my kit.

Which makes me realize this latest necessity in my life isn't that much different from my writing kit. I started out slowly, becoming a PRO member of RWA, joining the local chapter, taking classes, attending workshops, all in an effort to compile my writing toolbox, a term used by Stephen King. Along the way I added to the toolbox, turning PRO status into PAN when my first book got published, continuing to enter contests and attend workshops, working with an agent. I added in an editing software program to the mix. I slowly compiled things into my writing toolbox, and six years after my first book was published, I have come to the realization the toolbox will never be completely filled. There's always something new going on in the publishing industry, which is changing at such a rapid pace, it's hard to keep up.

What's next on the horizon? As I gear up for hurricane season, I'm also gearing up for big things to come in the second half of the year, writing-wise. I'll be re-releasing the first four books in the Cotillion Ball series, and am hard at work on the Regency series and my brides book. Lily, Iris and Poppy are eager to show off their men to you, and Jake is ready to tell us who has won his heart. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Words of Wisdom From Stephen King

I'm rereading Mr. King's book On Writing, which was lost during the move, and recently repurchased.  I feel a particular kinship with Stephen King. We're the same age, for a short time we had the same publisher, both of us had a unfortunate encounter with poison ivy toilet paper when we were young, we both were editors of our high school papers. Of course, his career far surpasses mine, but it's nice to know he struggled in his early years, as we all do.

Here's what he has to say about his career. "I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint, or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's all." 

So Stephen had someone try to make him feel lousy about his writing, too. More that we have in common.

So what's the take-away? Don't let anyone tell you you're wasting your talent, or make you feel lousy. Keep your nose to the grindstone and keep cranking out your stories. You'll get better every time you type "The End" on your works and sooner or later, you'll be able to look upon those who made you feel lousy and wish them well.

In that vein, I'm pleased to announce that Book Baby #19 was just awarded a Crowned Heart by Ind'Tale Magazine and is featured on their YouTube feed. You can see the whole thing here:

Or, you can just take a look at the ad they created for me here:

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Here Come The Brides

No, this post is not about Meghan and Harry, even though it's a fairy tale in real time, something we romance writers love to slobber over.

My bride reference refers to my WIP, which started out with a one mail order bride idea. Actually, I had thought three of them, the heroine and her two sisters. But mail order bride books are extremely popular in the western romance market, and my bride was only slightly different from all those who had traveled the route before her. 

What made my manuscript different was the fact that my bride in question was one of a group of sixteen women who were all traveling west to find their mates. Similar to Westward The Women, a movie about a wagon train full of women, filmed in 1951, I place sixteen women in the care of one brave man, Jake Shelton. If you're familiar with my Cotillion Ball series, you'll remember that Temperance Jones chose Basil Fitzpatrick over Jake in Banking On Temperance. In that book, Jake tipped his hat and rode off into the sunset. Not this time. Not if I have anything to say about it. 

I realized the hook to this book is the fact he's agreed to help his sister, who runs a matchmaking business, to shepherd these ladies west. Over the course of six months, Jake's ladies will prove to him they are strong women, just as Roy Whitman found out in the movie. Some of these ladies stand out in the book, and deserve their own stories about what happens after Jake drops them off and sees them get married. And of course, there's the one who captures his heart. 

So instead of the Bride Of Baxter Ridge, the name of the book has been changed to the working title of The Angelica Train. Is this my new, multi-volume series? Could be. I've learned a lot about the Oregon Trail while writing this book, as my sticky map of the trail attests to. And I wrote about a portion of the trail in my most recent post on History Imagined. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Still Learning

I attended an RWA chapter meeting in the Carolinas yesterday. I was drawn to it by the speaker, who was going to talk about deep POV, but I had never attended any of their meetings and didn't know anyone. I sat across from a lady and we got to talking. She's pre-published, still working on her first manuscript. She asked me the same question and when I told her how many books I'd written, she asked why I was even there. I explained that I felt I was still learning, too, and if I could walk away from the meeting with one nugget of info, I'd be happy.

So what did I learn? Glad you asked. I learned about enneagrams and that there are nine basic personality types and only three core emotions that drive a person's backstory–fear, shame and anger. I'm going to take the test later to determine what my personality type is, but I gave some thought last night to my characters in the mail-order bride story. Fear drives my heroine, shame drives the hero, so I guess I intrinsically knew this nugget before yesterday. But it was good to have it spelled out.

The icing on the cake was I got to spend time talking about writing with a group of ladies who "got" it. A new tribe? I don't know yet, but a few new friendships, yes. I'm feeling quite "cocky."

Sunday, April 29, 2018

No More Waiting!

I'm pleased to be able to announce that the demise of Crimson may turn out to be a good thing. Tara Gelsomino, the executive editor from the company, has decided to form her own business, a literary agency, and I'm pleased to be one of her first clients. We plan to continue my Regency series, which was begun by Crimson.

I'm also finishing the first draft of a mail-order bride series that takes the brides from a matchmaker's office in Boston to the mountains of Montana. If you've read the Cotillion Ball series, you may remember Jake Shelton, the wagon master who was set to take Temperance Jones and her family to Oregon, until she admitted her love was not Oregon, or Jake, but instead it was Basil. Well, Jake's back and this time, he won't be denied in love. Imagine a cowboy with a wavy shock of hair, blue eyes and a wide-brimmed hat and you have Jake.

So, a new liaison, a new couple of stories, and a new outlook. Seems only fitting, since I'm in a new house in a new state. And it's only April.

Going to be one hell of a year.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Waiting Game

Lately, it seems I've been playing the waiting game. As many of you know, Crimson Romance is no more, so I applied to get my rights back on my books. For those who are unfamiliar with traditional publishing, here's what happens: the contract stipulates the publisher retains the rights to your book for a specified period of time, usually from three to seven years.

If the publisher goes bankrupt or shuts down, rights revert back to the author automatically. In this case, even though Crimson is now defunct, the parent company, Simon & Schuster, is still in business and holds the contract. So in order to regain control of my books, I must send a request. The stipulation to getting the rights reverted to me is that the particular title has to garner royalties under a certain threshold for two consecutive six-month periods.

In my case, this is proving exceedingly hard to figure out, since the books are involved in various bundles. It didn't help my progress any to have the wrong email address for the man in charge of deciding who gets rights back, so I've been late to the game for some time. So, he's working on figuring it all out and I'm waiting.

But what happens if I have to wait until my books fall under the threshold of sales? Simon & Schuster has no interest in promoting my works and my sales have fallen off since the announcement. Do I continue to watch my declining sales and applaud the fact that I'll get the rights back sooner? What do I do with the hole in my bank account? What do I do with the books once I do get the rights back?

So many questions, and right now there are no answers. Some could view this as a setback in my career, but I choose to view it as an opportunity. In the immortal words of Ayn Rand–"The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity."

I've taken the first step by asking for my rights back, and am poised to take the next rung.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


This weekend was my first to spend dedicated time with a friend's 89-year-old mother. We decided her prize for taking all her pills would be for us to work on a jigsaw puzzle. I often compare my story line to a giant jigsaw puzzle, but today, working with Anne, made me realize something.

She kept finding pieces that looked similar, like they'd go together, but she couldn't figure out where in the puzzle they went. I had to keep reminding her to look at the picture on the box to see how it all fit together.

If you don't step back and look at the big picture, you'll never be able to piece together the puzzle–or if you do, it'll be much harder, take more time, and lead you down the wrong path more than once. The same holds true for writing a story. You need to know before you start what the total picture will look like, where all the hidden pieces are, where the minute little detail pieces need to fit in.

But, if you take your time, refer to the big picture often, and piece together the green pieces and then the blue, etc., you'll end up, sooner or later, with a complete puzzle. Or a complete manuscript. Both are well worth the effort.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Finding Inspiration

Lately, my life seems to be a series of inspirational quotes. 

In the first three months of this year, I've moved five states away from Ohio.  It did take three months to get from one house to the next. Then, no sooner did I get my furniture delivered than I was told my publisher was shutting its doors and I was losing my connection to those editors and authors. So, where does that leave me?

As Terry Goodkind, best-selling fantasy author, so eloquently said, "If the road is easy, you're likely going the wrong way." 

So my publishing road has hit a few bumps. My latest book baby, the second in a new series, has been abandoned. Until I can figure out what to do about it, I've slid it under the proverbial bed and turned my attention to my Mail Order Brides book, which is halfway done. My road so far this year hasn't been easy, but I'm now at the picture-hanging stage in my house and I'm figuring out on a publishing level where to go from here.

My second favorite quote came via my nephew. "Throw me to the wolves and I'll come back leading the pack." Although the weather is more agreeable than the North coast, I miss my fellow authors from one of the better RWA chapters in the country. And with the closing of Crimson Romance, I miss my daily interchange with my fellow authors. I feel like I've lost my pack, my tribe, on two fronts. Thanks to the internet, Facebook and email, though, my tribe is only a click away. It may not be as good as face to face, but it'll do.

I'll meet other authors–there are a lot of us in North Carolina–and life's road will smooth out a bit more. My losses will turn into blessings and I'll wonder why it took me so long to make a move–on both fronts.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Finishing Touches

If you follow me on Facebook, you know already that my trusty hammer is still on a pegboard in Ohio.
I'll be picking up a spare one from my brother-in-law today and will finally be able to start hanging pictures. I consider picture location one of the final acts of getting settled into a new home. I've already begun to position some of them where I think they'll end up, but one never knows until something's on the wall whether it's in the right location.

While all this has been going on, I've also been given the boot by Simon & Schuster, along with all my fellow Crimson authors.
While I work to get my rights reverted to me on the eleven books I have with them, I was putting the finishing touches on the second book in my new Flower Girl series. Book One, Winning Violet,  has been out since December, but S&S isn't willing to continue the series. As I see it, I have two choices here: 1) I can finish book 2, write books 3 & 4 while I wait to get my rights back for book 1 and position myself to self-publish the entire series next year, or 2) I can find a publisher who doesn't care if they have all the books in the series under their flagship and only care if the writing is good.

Since the first option means going an entire year with no income from this series and then having a considerable outlay of cash to get the four books ready next year, Option One is not feasible. That leaves me with Option Two. Readers don't look twice at who the publisher is, unless they are also an author, so I decided to pursue my second choice. Instead of abandoning Losing Lily, the second book in the series, I put the finishing touches on the manuscript and got it ready to head out into the world. Simon & Schuster had given me a due date of April 15, so I kept myself on track, even during my convoluted move to North Carolina. I finished the final edits on it this past week, so all I need do is read through it once more before sending it off to the interested publisher, who has vision enough to not care if they don't have the rights to Book One. A good series is a good series, regardless of who produces it. So Losing Lily and her beloved maze, not to mention her beloved Scotsman, may see the light of day yet. And I feel like I've been through the publishing gauntlet, trying to find a new home for the series.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

View Out My Window

As most of you are aware, I've recently relocated from cold, snowy Ohio to the warmth of North Carolina. Although the natives have been telling me I've brought the cold and snow with me, since this is the worst winter North Carolinians have seen in years. But it was warm enough the other day for the golf course behind my house to be populated with men and ladies who were enjoying some fun.

My office looks out onto the 11th hole of the local course and the other day I stood and watched a man as he practiced his putts on the green. The course wasn't busy, so he spent about ten minutes there, dropping his ball from various parts of the green and trying to stroke it into the hole. It occurred to me that my writing takes a similar course. I have to try several different approaches to the opening of any story, to the plot line, to the ending, before I get it right. And even then, it may veer off into a sand trap or a water hazard if I'm not careful.

As I sat in my new office and watched the parade of golfers whizzing by in their carts, I realized the similarities between golf and writing a novel. Many rounds of golf are played by individuals with various levels of expertise, but only a handful ever become great. Likewise, many books are published each year by authors with varying levels of competence with their craft, but only a few rise to the top. You're likely to spend more on both golf and writing than you'll ever realize in profit, but it's the elusive thrill of a hole-in-one or making the New York Times bestseller list that propels each of us forward. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The End Of The Road

It saddens me to say this, but Crimson Romance is no more. 

I had great hopes for the line when it was bought by Simon & Schuster. And S&S did some nice promotion for my Cotillion series during the year Crimson was under their control.

But alas, on Monday a tweet came out announcing Crimson was being shuttered, effective immediately. The editors had no advance warning, nor did we authors. I guess S&S figured if Donald Trump can fire people via Twitter, so can they.

We're all just kind of spinning in circles right now, trying to figure out what our rights are and where to go from here. I had a book due April 15, which they no longer want, and I don't know quite what to do with it now.

This really took my breath away, as I'm sure it did for quite a few people. Crimson was my first publisher. They took a chance on me when I was green and we grew together. The editors were fabulous to work with, and the professionalism they showed was phenomenal. I hope our paths cross again.

In the meantime, I have a house to put together, which is fortunate, since the move is occupying my mind now instead of putting the finishing touches on my book. When one house opens, another closes. C├ęst la vie.

RIP, Crimson Romance.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

New Home!

Finally, I am into my new home in North Carolina!!! It's been a long journey with a significant layover in VA, but I now have a bed and a barstool in my new place. I may be bare-boning it for a while, but so far, so good.

I love all the light that comes into the Carolina Room, which will become my office as soon as the desk arrives. It overlooks the golf course, so the views as I look up and ponder the next sentence or word will be so much better than looking out onto a blizzard in Ohio. Right now there's nothing to even sit on, but it will all come together before I know it.

The sooner the better, since my next Regency is due to the publisher in mid April. Losing Lily has been in process since NaNoWriMo. It's now being put through the ProEditing program and then a final read-through should do it. It's about the sister who works out of doors all the time. She wears men's clothing because it's more functional, but she longs to be able to put on a dress and dance the night away.

And if you get a chance, head over to USA Today's Happy Ever After column, where Mary and I make a guest appearance.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Waiting Game

As most of you know, I'm in transition on the home front. Buying a house is not as simple as it used to be. After the collapse of the market as we all knew it, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. My lender tells me things have gotten a whole lot tighter than they used to be. So, as a consequence, I've been running to banks in West Virginia to get the necessary forms. I don't normally bank in West Virginia, but the bank I had my money in while in Ohio only extends south a little ways. So the choice was either Pittsburgh or Morgantown. These new regulations seem to have left logic at the door, but until the pendulum swings back, I'm stuck with them.

All these different regulations got me to thinking about the state of our industry today. Publishing a book is more simple than it used to be. No longer do you need to print out your manuscript, bundle it up and mail it off to a publisher or agent, who may or may not get back to you in six months to a year.  Now, if you want to go the traditional route, all you need do is attach a file and hit the 'send' button on your email. And if you wish to skip the traditional route altogether, publishing a book on your own has become so simple, almost anyone can do it. The publishing pendulum has swung in favor of the author, finally.

But this new found freedom comes at a price. There are more books hitting the market than ever before. In 2015, more than 700,000 books were self-published, and new books published for that year crept over the one million mark for the first time. What that means for an author is the threat of being buried under an avalanche of other books is greater than ever. Some of the finest voices of our generation will never be heard, while others who aren't accomplished writers achieve head-scratching success. It's a constant battle to get books reviewed by legitimate sites, and every author I know struggles daily with the best way to market their books.

The pendulum will swing back sooner or later, on both fronts. But until it does, we've got to deal with the situation the best way we can. As my lender says, "If you haven't applied for a mortgage in the last three years, you're in for an awakening." The same holds true for publishing. If you haven't been in the market for the past three years, the old ways no longer apply. I've heard a lot of established authors, when talking about how they got started in the business, quantify their remarks by saying things are different now. Not better, necessarily, but different.

This is our new normal, and as I've learned from going through the mortgage process, you adjust your thinking accordingly. The house will happen, my next book will be released, I'll make my deadline for the WIP, and life will go on. I'll still struggle with marketing, but at least I'll do so with a golf course view out my back window.

If you can spare a minute to follow me on BookBub, I'd greatly appreciate you clicking over and following me. My goal is 1,000 followers and I've got a ways to go. Here's the link:

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Gambling On Forever Cover Breakdown

From time to time, I'm asked what kind of input I get to have with my publishers when it comes to cover design. The prevailing myth is that you as an author give up control of your cover if you elect to use a traditional publisher. Maybe that's the case in the "big" houses, but the small press publishers I'm with consider it a joint effort. My latest release, Gambling On Forever, is a prime example. Here's how it went:

I filled out the form about what I pictured the cover being. Here were the questions.
Were there any elements of the story I considered cover material?


gambler with a smirk

 Indian woman. 

What did the hero/heroine look like? Dark hair on both, she dresses in gauchos and carries a whip.

Did I have a short tag line? I struggled with this but finally came up with Riverboat gambler chases the woman who stole his money

What was the setting? The mighty Mississippi

Are there any links to images or covers I liked? I already had a list from my other publisher of the photo sites used by most small-press publishers, so I rushed over to one of them–Period Images–and scrolled through the selections. I gave the designer the number of the photo I had picked out. She had already been to Period Images when she read the blurb, and had picked out the exact same image! Talk about being on the same page!

My heroine, Elise, didn't fit the images of the Indian women on file, since she works on a ranch, wears gauchos and carries a whip wrapped around her waist. So I elected to use only the hero on the cover, assuming most of the audience would be more attracted to a man anyway. I felt it essential to have a riverboat in the background and it took a couple tries to find the right boat. Funny how the boat was harder to find than the guy.

What do you think of the Gambling On Forever cover?

It was truly a collaborative effort. Most of my other covers have been the same process. It's been a boon to have the list of stock image houses so I can take my time and go through them to find the exact right image. I'm not saying I could design the covers on my own. That takes a whole different skill set. But the end result is truly reflective of what I had in my head as I wrote the story.

Has your experience mirrored mine, or do you have a different story?