Sunday, March 31, 2019

There's Still Time!

I know April Fool's Day is tomorrow, but I am not pulling your leg.

I'm giving away my books.

Yep, that's right. For the first time ever,  I am offering up a free copy of my novella. A Regency Yuletide is a Christmas novel which is short, sweet, and tied up with a red ribbon. Any month of the year is a good month to read about the magic of Christmas. There are a few copies remaining, so head on over to the link and add this to your Kindle TBR pile:

Book Six in the Cotillion Ball series released last week, too. The Duplicitous Debutante features Rosemary Fitzpatrick, who has created a business for herself as the author of dime novels in 1850s New York. However, no one is aware that the author of this wildly successful series is a woman. Dime novels were the precursor to the paperback book of today. They opened the door for millions of Americans to read for pleasure for the first time. Thanks to a combination of better education, revolutions in printing, and a less demanding work schedule, people now had time to read, and the dime novel was what they were reading. Here's a cover example of the dime novel.

Most of these tales were over-the-top stories about America's wild west. Here's a bit of Rosemary's offerings about her hero, Harry Hawk: 

Harry Hawk and the Tycoon’s Daughter—Book Six in the Harry Hawk Series

Harry Hawk stared down the barrel of his Colt .45. A huge Sioux Indian was in his sights, but was holding the girl in front of him as a shield. Her eyes were as big as saucers as she struggled against the man, and she trembled as she kept her eyes on the end of Harry’s gun.

“What are you doing, Screaming Eagle?” Harry tried to keep the exasperation out of his voice.

“Her father is running the railroad through Sioux land.”

“And by kidnapping his daughter, you think he’ll sit down and smoke a peace pipe with you?”

The Indian tossed back his long, straight, black hair and tightened his hold on the woman. Harry’s grip on his gun tightened as well when her whimper reached his ears.

“Come on, you’re doing the wrong thing and you know it.”

“White man does us wrong, we do same.”

“And two wrongs don’t make a right.” Harry glanced from the sniveling woman to the Indian. “Your father would not be pleased with this behavior, Screaming Eagle. Hiding behind a woman’s skirts.”

The Indian hesitated, then shoved the girl at Harry. “Take her, then. But keep everyone off our land.”

“I can’t promise that, Screaming Eagle. You’re raising a stink with the railroad, when it should be with the government. Not these honest, hard-working men who are just trying to build a railroad.”

“So bring me your chief, and we’ll talk.”

Harry smiled wryly as he thought of President Buchanan sitting down with Screaming Eagle and negotiating a land treaty. The man couldn’t maintain order in the civilized part of the United States. He couldn’t possibly interact with Indians.

“I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, you lie low, and I’ll try to smooth things over with the rail boss.”

The woman Screaming Eagle had thrust into his arms fainted. Great, Harry thought as he slung her over his shoulder.

If you'd like to read the rest of Harry's adventures, you'll have to buy The Duplicitous Debutante.

Here's the link:

Sunday, March 24, 2019

On Being a Hybrid Author

By the end of this month, I will be able to retrieve the rights to the last remaining books held by Simon & Schuster. It has taken over a year to dissolve my relationship with them, and right now, I'm still represented by three different publishers. I'm considering what to do with these last two books. Should I try self-publishing again? My first trip down that road was a failure, but I learned a lot.

A hybrid author, for those reading this blog who are readers rather than authors, is one who has a toe in both traditional publishing and self publishing. There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of publishing, and it is refreshing for an author to finally have a choice in the matter, rather than to wait anxiously for word from a traditional house that they want, or reject, your work.

But as much as the freedom to be your own boss is with self publishing, there's something to be said for belonging to a traditional house as well. In addition to the marketing support you get, which in most cases is marginal, you become part of a sisterhood that can extend far past your contract with the publisher. Your universe of like-minded people grows with each publishing house and the benefits are great. Fellow authors are a great support system, and the more ways you can grow that list, the better.

I recently finished a manuscript and sent it off to a new-to-me publisher in hopes they'll consider it. Why would I consider adding a fourth house? To meet new people, to expand my reader base, to not place all my eggs in one basket. Take your pick of reasons. As for the two books reverting back to me? They may become my next attempts at self-publishing. Time will tell.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Creating Your Team

Since moving to North Carolina a year ago, I've tried out five different hair studios in an attempt to find someone who understands my vision and can offer advice and counsel. My hair is thin and fine, so it needs a special kind of cut by someone who understands that not every head of hair is the same. So far, no luck, but there are many hair salons yet to go.

But it got me to thinking about how similar building a support team for your personal life is to building a support team for a writing career. Regardless of which route you take in publishing, you still need an editor, or an agent, or an author coach, a critique partner, or just a like-minded individual to bounce ideas off. You want to listen to their concerns, consider their reasons for why to do or not do something in your manuscript or to your characters or your career, yet you don't want to ever lose your original vision, your original voice. It's a fine line to walk and sometimes you have to put your foot down, even when it makes you uncomfortable to do so.

Which is what I'm doing with my quest for a decent hair salon. I live in an area with a healthy dose of senior citizens and, since I have white hair, when a hairdresser sees me coming in, they automatically think "little old lady haircut coming up." But although I might fit into that category chronologically, I am far from a "little old lady" and refuse to be categorized as such. I explain in no uncertain terms what type of cut I want, I show them a picture of my vision, and if they insist on giving me the little old lady cut, I'll put my foot down and move on to the next, even though the place has been highly recommended by friends.

Fortunately, my hair grows fast, so next month I may find a hairdresser that I like. And I may find a new publisher for my latest endeavor. Someone who loves my voice and vision. Fingers crossed, on both counts.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Wanting More

If you're an author, you can be inundated with people who will tell you the best way to spend your marketing budget to guarantee you'll make boatloads of money in royalties.

The problem is, everyone offers different advice, and, if you send them money and buy their how-to books or videos, chances are the only ones who will see those boatloads of money are the ones giving the advice. The rest of us will continue to throw darts and hope for the best.

Most every author, after the initial euphoria of seeing their name in print, wants to make enough money to be able to quit the day job and spend their days in their heads, creating new, awesome stories for their readers' voracious appetites. But the hard truth of being a writer is this is a very hard business to figure out. And the odds of making the big time are long. A Huffington Post article stated recently that barely 2 percent of the total books published sold more than 5,000 copies. The average is less than 500 copies.

So why do we do it? Continue to bang our foreheads on the wall, trying to figure out how to get folks to find your precious book and read it? And after they read it, leave a positive review of it in the hopes it may catch the attention of another reader?

The reason is very simple. The voices in our heads need to have a mouthpiece. If we didn't have the creative outlet that publishing a book provides, we'd probably all end up in the loony bin with multiple personality disorder. Marketing of those precious books will continue to be a mystery, a moving target. Some of us will figure it out, but most of us will be in that less than 500 copies area.

We may want more, but we'll continue to do what we do best. Write the next story. Maybe it will be the one that has the magic juice and makes it to the big time.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

March Comes In Like A Lion

It's finally March!

February may be the shortest month of the year, but it seems to take its sweet old time getting done. Bad weather, clogged highways, missed deadlines–all happen in February.

But it's March!

Time for new beginnings. I'm pleased to announce that two of my Cotillion books will be re-released in March. Blinded By Grace is one of my favorites, since it deals with the eldest son of the family, Halwyn, and how he only needed a pair of eyeglasses to see what had been in front of him all along. Here's the new, snazzy cover, and the blurb:

In 1858 New York City, Halwyn Fitzpatrick thinks he's off the hook for attendance at the annual Cotillion Ball. He has no sister to shepherd down the grand staircase this year and no real desire to go through the rituals of courtship and betrothal himself. Besides, he'll know the right girl when he sees her, especially now that he has new spectacles. But his mother has other plans for him. At twenty-seven years of age, her son is in dire need of a wife.
Grace Wagner needs a husband by July in order to inherit the trust her father has left for her. Her stepfather, though, has plans for the money that don't include Grace, and the last thing he wants is for her to find a husband before she turns twenty-one, thereby fulfilling the terms of the trust. She's been in love with Halwyn since she was thirteen, but he hasn't noticed her at any of the balls they've been at over the years. With the aid of his new glasses, he spies Grace from across the room and they share a dance. Grace decides to present him with a business proposition that will satisfy them both. But can a clueless knight in shining armor and a desperate damsel in distress find a way to turn this marriage of convenience into something more?

The Duplicitous Debutante is another favorite, since Rosemary Fitzpatrick is an author who writes Penny Dreadfuls, but under an assumed name–a name everyone believes to belong to a man. 

In 1859, ladies of New York society are expected to do three things well: find a husband, organize a household, and have children. But despite her mother's best intentions, making her debut is the last thing on Rosemary Fitzpatrick's mind. Writing the popular Harry Hawk dime novels as F.P. Elliott, she's too busy hiding her female identity from her new publisher, Henry Cooper. To protect her clandestine career, she ends up posing as the enigmatic author's secretary.
Henry is not the typical Boston Brahmin, nor the typical publisher, and Rosemary entrances him from the moment they meet. As they work together and grow closer, he wonders how his traditional-minded father will react when he brings her into the family, because Henry firmly intends to marry the working-class woman.
But when her deception begins to unravel at the cotillion ball, will Henry be able to forgive her or has deceit cost her the man she loves?

This entire series is set during one of the most tumultuous times in American history–westward expansion, the suffragette movement, the abolitionist movement, the Civil War and Reconstruction. I've loved taking this ordinary, well-bred family and tossing each member into the midst of history. Sometimes their choices surprised even me, the author. Each book in this series features a different sibling, all of them named after an herb or spice. And although each book can be read as a stand alone, it's fun to see how the siblings and their parents, Charlotte and George, pop in and out of each story. If you've been with me since this journey began, let me know which book was your favorite. If you're new to the series, they're now available on Kindle Unlimited for the first time.

Hope you enjoy the break in the weather and the Cotillion Ball series.