Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Future of Books...

Our world & technology changes at a frightening pace! Consider how fast it changed from VHS to DVD. Or from records to CDs. (And now everyone has an MP3 player and it's all about the downloads...)

This article is from Time Magazine - Carolyn Howard-Johnson posted it at her blog yesterday. It's a fascinating look at how fast the book industry is changing:,9171,1873122,00.html

Obviously the concept of the E-book has caught on - there's even a week to celebrate the format:
E Book Week

Read the Time article. Do you agree? Are the big publishers just creaking dinosaurs? Is self-publishing through a vanity press really a viable option? Will free reading material online really become the norm...?

And in other news, the CPSC grants a year stay in lead testing:

Friday, January 30, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Think that will be Friday's theme from now on - I've always liked Monty Python!

Around the web today, we have President Obama rooting for the Steelers:
Obama Interview
We're Steelers fans in this household, so we're pulling for them, too!

SPAN just updated information regarding the new lead law:
What's going to happen is anybody's guess. I know some publishers who are holding off or discontinuing their children's line. And what about libraries & schools... ?

My good friend and Book 'Em founder, Mark Kearney, is being interviewed by Fran Stewart on "Mystery Matters" today at 10amEST:
And on the home front, changed some things here on the blog and spent five hours yesterday packaging up bookmarks! (So I am a little behind on some things...)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Helping an Author

Chester Campbell had a great post today on what people can do to help an author:
(And Ginger told me how to make a link that would open another window, but I have tried it five different ways to no avail - sorry!)

It had some great ideas! I suggested another one, which is offering to give bookmarks to family, friends & co-workers. It's a great way to spread the word! Currently I am offering bookmarks of my two upcoming releases to my fans. Those who request a stack of either (or both) also have a chance to win a free book of their choice. I posted the offer at my site, The Circle of Friends, and sent out a notice. Plus I posted at Deviant Art, FaceBook and MySpace. Another author and I are even exchanging bookmarks! What a fabulous, win-win situation for all involved.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Author Robert Liparulo

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
Gatekeepers(Dreamhouse Kings #3) Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)
Robert Liparulo

Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly.
Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.
Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.
Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!
And his third book Deadfall. debuted to rave reviews!

In the third novel of this young adult series, the mystery deepens in a house that is more than meets the eye.
The Kings have been in the creepy old place, their new home, for only a few days, but they've experienced enough terror to last a lifetime. And the mystery is growing even more baffling. Shadowy and shifting, the big house conceals doors into other worlds that blur the line between memories and dreams-and the slightest misstep can change history forever.
At least, that's if they believe the trembling old man who shows up claiming to know them. "There's a reason you're in the house," he tells them. "As gatekeepers, we must make sure only those events that are supposed to happen get through to the future."
The problem is that horrors beyond description wait on the other side of those gates. As if that weren't enough, the Kings are also menaced by sinister forces on this side-like the dark, ancient stranger Taksidian, who wants them out now.
It's hard to believe that things could have gotten worse for the King family-but they have. Dad's in handcuffs, the school bully has just found the secret portal that leads from the high school to the house, and Xander is sure he's found Mom, but they can't get back to her. Then Jesse arrives, and he seems to be a virtual Obi Wan of knowledge about the place. But is he the key they need to unlock the secrets, or just a crazy old man?
Dangers are increasing from within and without when Xander makes a startling discovery that explains why they haven't found any rooms that lead to the future. Alongside the threats, though, they're also starting to find some surprising allies.All they have to do is get organized, get psyched, and get Mom. But that isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.
Xander, David, and Toria must venture beyond the gates to save their missing mother-and discover how truly high the stakes have become.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Gatekeepers(Dreamhouse Kings #3), go HERE
What they're saying:
"If you like creepy and mysterious, this is the house for you! Every room opens a door to magic, true horror, and amazing surprises. I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?" --R.L. Stine (Goosebumps)
"A powerhouse storyteller delivers his most fantastic ride yet!"-Ted Dekker, bestselling author of Kiss, Chosen and Infidel

The book link is:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How Authors Really Make Money

This is a shortened version of an article I wrote for author Austin S. Camacho’s newsletter last fall. (And he contributed several quotes to my upcoming non-fiction book as well!)

We’ve all watched authors and celebrities receive huge, million-dollar book deals and thought, “Wow, I could live on that!”

Problem is, most authors don’t make that kind of money. Most authors make next to no money!

So how do a lot of authors make their money?

Speaking engagements!

Do you realize how much the top motivational speakers receive in speaking fees? Usually six figures! Those people make more money speaking than they do from book sales. The same thing applies to any expert in a chosen field. Try getting a top medical expert or corporate CEO or ex-president to come speak to your company and you’ll see what I mean.

We can’t all make six-figures, but the opportunity to make money as a professional speaker is out there for those who want it. Every day, businesses, organizations and schools are seeking speakers. They are looking for experts – for you! This is a wide-open door for non-fiction authors, and even fiction authors can tailor themselves to be experts on some subject. (After all, just as much research goes into a fictional book as does a non-fiction book!) As any successful author will tell you, the key is to diversify and offer more than just books – and speaking is a great way to branch out into other areas.

So, to the writer who wants to make money as an author – don’t quit your day job just yet! But start planning your path and editorial niche now. Research the market and consider all of the possibilities.
And for goodness sakes, think BIG!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Around the Web...

According to, the economy is about to go to hell in a hand basket! (They are SO negative!)

So I decided to see what else was happening around the web...
Free gift card from Brittanie at A Book Lover.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson appears on All Talk Radio’s “The Career Czar.”
Helen Ginger posted a link to an article regarding children’s book publishers and the new lead-testing law.
Walt Shiel’s site has a link to an article in the New York Times that poses the question – do web sites sell books?
And Carol Denbow was kind enough to feature ME on her website today! Thank you so much, Carol. And glad you solved your computer problem...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Show a Little Appreciation!

Life does not owe us anything. We are not above all others; one of the privileged few who deserves special treatment & consideration. We are no better than any other human being, regardless of status in life.

And as such, we need to show a little appreciation!!!

The author who arrives at a signing with an air of importance is not going to endear himself to the staff – or even his fans. When we make appearances, be it signings, speaking engagements or interviews, when need to show gratitude for the opportunity. After all, we are not there due solely to our own power! It took fans buying our books and someone agreeing to our presence. We need to maintain a thankful spirit.

That attitude needs to carry over after our appearance as well. We should always send a thank-you note to the store staff or those responsible for our media interview. A thank you goes a long way, and it’s surprising how many authors fail to complete this simple task. It may mean the difference between another invitation and the removal of our name from that person’s list!

A few more tips on showing appreciation:

Bring a small gift for the host – it will blow his or her mind!

Always send a physical thank you card – it shows genuine effort was taken.

Include photos of the staff and/or event in the thank you card.

Thank fans for their support, either through one’s website, newsletter or blog.

If cost-effective, offer a free book giveaway at the event.

The possibilities are endless – as are the rewards! So, show a little appreciation.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Author Success with Patti O'Donoghue

Today I am featuring author Patti O'Donoghue!

Patti has a unique story of success. Despite her publishing path, and the unavailability of her books in stores, she has sold thousands across Eastern North Carolina. She does make bookstore appearances, but her stops at Andy's restaurants has been the key to her touring success. Selling sometimes hundreds of books at one time, Patti's fans will come to signings to buy books for their friends and to sign up for the next installment. She also has the advantage of a young assistant who does all of her online research and networking. To me, it's just amazing what she's accomplished on such a part-time basis.

So let me introduce, Patti O'Donoghue!

Patti O'Donoghue is the author of The Stanhope Trilogy. The books are Celia, Where America’s Day Begins, and The Wreck. The author has explored wrecks of World War II that can still be found in the waters of the western Pacific. Fact and fiction fed her imagination to create the trilogy stories.

She holds an advanced SCUBA rating and has traveled throughout the islands of Guam, Saipan, Tinian, Rota, the Carolines and Palaus. Her husband's Air Force career took the family to Germany, Turkey, Guam and stateside bases. Ms. O'Donoghue is the mother of five adult children.

Patti began writing as a freelancer in Goldsboro, NC. She served as Director of Public Information at Mount Olive College in Mount Olive, NC and as the President of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce. She did photography for the Goldsboro News-Argus and Kraft's Studio in Mount Olive.

Currently, Patti speaks to civic, church and school groups about writing, and a fourth book is percolating! She and her husband live in the community of Sleepy Creek, NC. For information contact Patti at Also, visit

About the books:
Hey there! This is Celia Stanhope with my very best friend, Goldie O’Brien. We used to breathe in the fresh salt air at Topsail Beach, North Carolina, and gaze across the Atlantic Ocean. We wished we could find shipwrecks filled with treasure.
We dreamed of riches and, of course, we wanted it to be easy—just picking up gold doubloons and such off the ocean floor. We just had to get out of small-town Sandy Run; had to get away from part-time jobs and adults telling us what to do.
All I can say is--be careful what you wish for. Life can get harder than you’d ever imagine, and your small town will look mighty good. Love and friendship will come your way, but there are consequences.
Without support from those people you want to get away from, it’s possible that you may end up living on the streets—HOMELESS!
Find out about how two misplaced southern girls from eastern North Carolina—that’s Goldie and me-- end up on the islands of Guam and Rota in the western Pacific Ocean.
How did we decide to go there, you might ask? By spinning the globe in the library, of course. We got this great idea to close our eyes, spin the globe and point. That globe stopped on a tiny speck in the Pacific Ocean—Guam.
Never mind that we had no earthly idea how you would get to Guam, and we’d most surely never heard of a place called Rota. ‘Course, since we worked in the library we read a lot. I got real interested in a World War I German ship named the S.M.S. Cormoran. That old sailing ship breathed the word “treasure” to me.
Is there treasure? Do we find it? Perhaps real treasure is not made of gold.
You decide.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blurbs & Endorsements

We all know the importance of reviews and that an outstanding review on the back of a book will help sell that title.

But don't forget to seek blurbs & endorsements as well. These can come from several sources:

- Celebrities
- Businesses
- Organizations
- Authors
- Experts in your field

Start brainstorming - who might endorse your book? What business or organization would benefit from your subject matter? Are there people, organizations or places mentioned in the book that might be a source of an endorsement? Who are the experts in your field? Who else writes your genre? Who benefits from your book? The possibilities are endless...

If seeking a celebrity endorsement (actor, athlete, author, etc.) the site below lists contact information for hundreds of thousands such people. One dollar to try it for a week and then twenty dollars per month - but you can find a lot of people in just one week!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Won a Book From "A Book Lover's" Blog!

I just won a copy of Chantel Hobbs’s new book, “Never Say Diet”, and the personal fitness trainer!
These come courtesy of Brittanie A. Terrell’s blog, A Book Lover
Thank you, Brittanie! I look forward to receiving the books!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Authors Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
The Centurion's Wife Bethany House Publishers (January 1, 2009)
Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

Davis Bunn is an internationally acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in fifteen languages. His audiences span reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings.
Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include My Soul To Keep, and Full Circle. A sought-after lecturer in the art of writing, Bunn was named Novelist in Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University.
He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.
Her first novel, a prairie love story titled Love Comes Softly, was published by Bethany House in 1979. This book was followed by more than 75 others.
After Love Comes Softly was published, Oke found her readers asking for more. That book led to a series of eight others in her Love Comes Softly series. She has written multiple fiction series, including The Canadian West, Seasons of the Heart and Women of the West. Her most recent releases include a beautiful children's picture book, I Wonder...Did Jesus Have a Pet Lamb and The Song of Acadia series, co-written with T. Davis Bunn.
Janette Oke's warm writing style has won the hearts of millions of readers. She has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medallion Award, The Christy Award of Excellence, the 1992 President's Award for her significant contribution to the category of Christian fiction from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and in 1999 the Life Impact Award from the Christian Booksellers Association International. Beloved worldwide, her books have been translated into fourteen languages.
She and her husband live nearby in Alberta, Canada.

Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity...and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.
Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil--facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions.
Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death--and missing body--is causing such furor.
This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, the story unfolds the testing of loyalties--between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.
If you would like to read the first chapter of The Centurion's Wife, go HERE

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let it Snow

Yes, it is actually snowing at the moment - we never see it in Eastern NC, so it's a bit of a novelty. At the moment though, I am trying not to let it become a distraction, as I have so much to do today! Fighting the photographer in me (not to mention the little kid) will be tough...

Writer's block is often blamed, but I think distractions are the most detrimental. One little thing can throw us for a loop and completely offset our plans for the day. Phones, unexpected emails, housework, pets... (And I have two black, furry little distractions that excel at disrupting my plans!) Now I understand why some writers lock themselves in a cabin for three months...

In the meantime, I'll just keep watching the snow!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Steelers Going to the Super Bowl!

Our household consists only of Pittsburgh fans, so there is much excitement right now! The Steelers went three years ago and won their fifth Super Bowl, which ties with the 49ers for the most - they win this year, they will hold the record! Arizona is really hot right now, though, so anything could happen. The Cardinals in the Super Bowl! Maybe it's a sign of the apocalypse!

Yes, I do enjoy football and sports in general. All five of my YA novels will revolve around one sport or another. It provided me with a familiar topic on which to build each story, although there were still a lot of new ground to cover. I think it helps when we write to have a foundation on which to build. Beginning 100% from scratch is a challenge! I knew nothing about Olympic swimming when I began writing that first book, so for balance, I connected the other main character to college football and selected locations with which I was familiar. For me, it really helped. And I learned so much from the research required, too! A little stretching is good for everybody...

And in two weeks, I'll have my Terrible Towel ready!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Basic Human Nature

BlogBookTours has led me to some interesting people! (And I've tried to comment at everyone's blog at least once, if I was able, and all but a few have visited mine - thank you!)

I met Morgan Mandel prior to the tour and her post today mentioned annoying authors and their annoying over-promotion.

Immediately that put me in mind of basic human nature - we care more about ourselves than anyone else. Selfishness is just our sinful nature. Once we understand and accept this fact, we not only can be more aware of our own selfishness, but we can endear ourselves to others by appealing to their selfish nature. Of course, we cannot give expecting to receive - it just doesn't work that way! We must reach out to others with a genuine spirit.

I do not want to be a self-serving person. I did not begin my author journey with 'me' in mind - I began because I wanted to inspire others to pursue their dreams. I'm a firm believer that real success is how many people are better off because of a person's existence. I just want to be the best me possible.

So now I want to know - why are all my author friends out there doing what they are doing? What is your goals? Material or otherwise?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

One Free Book - If the Location is Right!

Yes, you read that right - a free book to one of my bloggers! I had a couple review copies of my own and realized there's one still on the shelf.

If you are interested in reading & reviewing "Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting" and live in North America, then all you need to do is answer the question below. First correct guess wins - I'll contact you via email for a mailing address. You have all day to guess, but only one guess per person!

Here's the question:

I'm an East Coast girl now, but I was born & raised in Oregon. What town/city did I call "home"?

Good luck!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Social Media Teleseminar Event

I got a tip from someone regarding the 2009 Social Media Telesummit, which begins next Wednesday.
Full details are at their website:
It's twenty-one hours of information for not a lot of money.
They list all of the speakers as well, so you can visit their websites. Most offer free downloads and newsletters, so even if you do not participate in the telesummit, you can still get some great information.
Just thought I would pass this along!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reading Your Own & the Butterfly Award

First, thank you to Joan De La Haye at for giving me the Butterfly Award!
The rules for passing it along are

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs

My other thought for the day comes from reviewing & editing my own work. Sometimes I become so involved in the process, I forget that I am the one who wrote it. Once in a while, it even surprises me - "Wow, I wrote this?"

Does this happen to all writers? Or am I the only one who experiences her work from a third-party perspective now and then?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Author Denise Hunter

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
Sweetwater Gap Thomas Nelson (December 16, 2008)
Denise Hunter

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

A story of new beginnings from best-selling Romance for Good™ author Denise Hunter.

When Josephine's family insists she come home to help with the harvest, the timing works. But her return isn't simple benevolence-she plans to persuade the family to sell the failing orchard.
The new manager's presence is making it difficult. Grady MacKenzie takes an immediate disliking to Josephine and becomes outright cantankerous when she tries talking her family into selling. As she and Grady work side by side in the orchard, she begins to appreciate his devotion and quiet faith. She senses a vulnerability in him that makes her want to delve deeper, but there's no point letting her heart have its way-he's tied to the orchard, and she could never stay there.
A brush with death tears down Josephine's defenses and for the first time in her life, she feels freedom-freedom from the heavy burden of guilt, freedom to live her life the way it was intended, with a heart full of love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
Sweetwater Gap, go HERE
The book link is:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

YouTube & Steve's Bad Day

You'd have to live in a cave not know about YouTube. Everyone has a video these days and you can find anything on YouTube.

Today's post is special in that I'm stepping beyond the boundaries of books to talk about a YouTube video. However, it does relate in that this video was created by my biggest cheerleader. This man has encouraged me from day one and is the hero in my life. So I want to take a moment to show off HIS talents as a computer graphic artist.

This video is a short animated film my husband created a couple years ago. With much prodding from me and several friends, he finally posted it on YouTube. So I give you "Steve's Bad Day":


BTW - I am the elevator voice!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Interview with Morgan Mandel

I had the honor of interviewing Morgan Mandel recently, and member of my online writer's club, The Writer's Meow, contributed some questions as well. Thank you Morgan for taking the time!

Tell us about Book Place!
Book Place is a ning network I created almost 2 years ago. I’d heard of Crimespace on ning and joined. When I discovered its owner was very strict about promotional efforts by the members, I decided to provide a network where members would not be afraid to promote. Actually, I encourage my members to promote, although I do warn that if they go overboard they face the danger of being ignored by other members

How do you keep up with so many websites?
It’s not easy, since I work four days a week, but I do the best I can. I spend most of my spare time on the computer tending to my sites, writing blogs, networking with other writers, and working on my novels. It’s very time consuming, but I’m hooked on it.

I envy anyone who can write mystery/thriller! Why did you select that genre for your first book?
Actually, Two Wrongs was my second book. My first book was a romance. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was not worthy of publication. You might call it a learning experience. It took me a while to catch on to what comprises a good book.

I’ve always equally enjoyed romances and mysteries, especially the ones that are more character driven. Because of my dual allegiance, I not only belong to Romance Writers of America, but also Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

What do you think is the greatest promotional effort an author can make?
That’s a tough one, because there’s so much these days that an author must do to promote a book. It’s hard to single out only one. First, set up a website. After that, a blogspot. Then there are e-groups to join, conferences to attend, panels to participate in, a book launch party for each book, book signings, plus all the promotional materials, such as bookmarks, business cards, postcards, etc.

What has been the highlight of your author journey so far?
The first highlight was getting Two Wrongs published. After that, I’ve had many others. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who’s proud of my work and mentions my books to one and all when we go out. I do remember once a friend told me she took Two Wrongs with her on vacation and it made the rounds at swimming pools in more than one state. I also remember another friend who said she hadn’t had a chance to read my book yet because her husband wanted to finish it first. I was happy the book met its mark and appealed to both sexes, since that’s what I’d had in mind when I wrote it. Another exciting moment later on was getting the contract for my romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams.

What’s next for Morgan?
I’ve got a romantic suspense called Deadly Dreams under consideration with a publisher. It’s about how a lovely lawyer’s career change that turns deadly when she falls for her psychotic mentor. If it’s not accepted, I’ll shop it around until I find a home for it.

I’m also in the final stages of a children’s book about my special needs dog, Rascal, who can’t hear. Then there’s the thriller I’m two-thirds through, which is targeted for the Boomer generation. After that, I have a few romances I’ve put on hold until I can get the other projects completed.

Some people say to stick to one genre to gain popularity, but I can’t do it that way. I follow my feelings and write what I want to write.

And the last word…
Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and your readers. I invite everyone to visit my daily blogspot at, my website at, as well as my group blogspots, at,, or . You’re also welcome to join Book Place at

These are from The Writer's Meow club members-

"When writing mysteries, how do you know what you're writing isn't going to read like a bad cliché, or a mess of plot holes?"

They say nothing is new in stories and plots. That’s true. The difference is how to twist them around to make them seem like they’re new. After the first draft, I look for redundancies and common phrases in my manuscript and exchange them for more unique phrases and descriptions.

I enjoy getting into my characters’ heads and pretending to be them. By doing this I surprise myself and my readers. The characters tell me what they’ll do next. I don’t do a detailed synopsis. I have an idea of how the book will start and end, but the rest of it is as much a mystery to me as it would be for a reader picking up my book. That keeps my writing fresh and fun.

“Do you have any methods or tricks for getting past that 'writer's speed hump' where you feel like everything you've written is tripe and you should give up on that story and write another idea that you had?"

I have a terrible habit of editing too much as I go along instead of writing the first draft of my manuscript first. This is a blessing and a curse. I’m always thinking of better ways to say what I’ve written and actually enjoy that process as much as actually creating the story.

When I really believe in a manuscript, like my present Boomer project, I persevere even when it’s hard to do so. Since this book contains many characters and settings, it’s not easy for me to keep track of them all, yet I feel it needs to get written, so I’ll work my way out of the maze somehow.

As far as giving up on a story and writing about another idea, it’s amazing how many great ideas come to me while I’m in the middle of a manuscript. It’s very tempting to start fresh, and I’ve succumbed a few times, but have made my way back somehow, I guess by discipline.

"When you write, do you always keep an audience in mind, or do you ever decide to just write for yourself?"

I write what I want to, but the trick is to promote it to the appropriate audience. My romantic suspense, Two Wrongs, is a dark mystery, so the audience is much different than that of my romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams. Since I belong to organizations, networks and listservs, etc., representing both genres, it’s not that difficult for me to do so.

“What is your greatest influence on your writing?”
I don’t have only one influence on my writing. As far as my style, it’s an amalgam of many authors I’ve read, such as Mary Higgins Clark with her everyday people as characters facing horrible situations, Sidney Sheldon with his glamorous heroines, Dick Francis with his droll heroes, Dean Koontz with his psychological suspense, and John Grisham with his great courtroom scenes.

As far as what I write, I never know when an idea will hit me or where it will come from. That’s the beauty of being an author.

“How do you come up with so many different styles and ways of writing? You’re great at being able to write from both the male and female views.”
I write according to how I feel. If I’m in a vicious or dark mood, it’s easy to work on a mystery or thriller. If I feel mushy or light, a romance is a fun project to work on. Of course, my moods change, but I still need to follow through and finish the manuscript.

As far as writing from male or female points of view, if you’ve gotten into your character’s head and imagination takes over, anything is possible. Sometimes I find it easier to write from a male point of view because my imagination gets more reign. When I write from a female point of view, I have to keep reminding myself I’m not writing about me, but another female who thinks and does things differently than I do.

"How do you come up with what your characters say to each other and keep the conversations from being one-sided?”
Conversations in novels are not always like those in real life. Every word in a book should move the plot along in some way. I enjoy the spoken interplay between characters, so I don’t like to have any one character to monopolize a conversation. Also, I try to make the characters’ speech patterns differ in some way so readers can tell them apart.

Both books available in print and e-book at the Hard Shell Word Factory’s website:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Premio Dardos Award

Today, I'm happy to accept the Premio Dardos award from Double M – Morgan Mandel. Premio Dardos means ‘prize darts’ in Italian and it is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing.

The rules are:

1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog -

2) Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Lead Paint Rule

This discussion has been raging on several websites, blogs and listservs. It's impact could be very detrimental to the whole industry (not to mention our fragile economy.) This law will affect not just publishers & printers, but authors as well, since so many have self-published.

The Lead Paint Rule affects anyone with a product aimed at children twelve and under, and it includes books. It goes into effect in February.

Read the official rules here:
FAQs For Section 101: Children’s Products Containing Lead; Lead Paint Rule
More info here:
Publisher's Weekly article:
Printers industry article:

Make sure you understand this new law and how it might affect YOU!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Importance of an Editor

I posted this the morning at my online writer's club, so thought it would be appropriate here as well!

Regardless of your publishing path, it is imperative that you have a professional book editor proof your work.

You are too close to your own work to do the final edit and only a professional editor knows the rules and standards of the industry. Your work will stand out among the masses of submissions if it has been properly edited. Skip this step and you take your chances in the slush pile!

This article highlights the importance of and editor:

And these two sites boast lists of available editors: - Dan Poynter’s Editor List - Membership directory of the Editorial Freelancers Association

Your writing represents YOU! Put your best foot forward.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Never Compromise Your Values

I have never compromised my values in my books, and today I received conformation of my resolve.

I sat down today with two pastors at my church to discuss the possibility of our church bookstore carrying my upcoming book, "Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting." While the book is not a "Christian" book per se, it contains many of the values. One of the pastors had already reviewed the book and they asked about my motives and the principles behind the novel. Knowing my own heart and the hearts of those who had contributed to the book, I answered every question truthfully and to the best of my ability.

My goal was simply to get the book into the bookstore. As a result of this meeting, not only is the store placing a large order, I have been asked to set up a table and sell books directly after church one Sunday - or two or three or more!

I have never made any apologies for my Christian values and I refuse to stray far from them in my novels. I have never stooped to salacious content or questionable morals in any of my YA books, either. Yes, I would achieve more success if my books contained content such as can be found in series like Gossip Girl. But that price is too high for me. It's not who I am and I refuse to compromise my beliefs.

I certainly could not have achieved the success I did today had I done so!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Susan May Warren

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
The Perfect Match (Tyndale House January 1, 2009)
Susan May Warren

Susan grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. Her favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota is where she met her husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living.
The north woods easily became the foundation for her first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. Her first full-length book, Happily Ever After, became a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.
As an award winning author, Susan returned home in 2004, to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods and the beautiful town that she always dreamed of living in.
You can sample a chapter of each and every one of Susan's novels, on her website, HERE.

Ellie Karlson is new to Deep Haven. As the town’s interim fire chief, she is determined to lead the local macho fire crew in spite of their misconceptions about her. But when someone begins setting deadly fires, Ellie faces the biggest challenge of her life. Especially when sparks fly with one of the volunteers on her crew: Pastor Dan Matthews. As Ellie battles to do her job and win the respect of her crew, she finds that there is one fire she can’t fight—the one Dan has set in her heart. (This book is the repackaged edition published in 2004)
If you would like to read the first chapter of The Perfect Match, go HERE.
2004 American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year
A Romantic Times Magazine TOP PICK – 4½ stars
Romantic Times Magazine: Vibrant characters and vivid language zoom this action-packed romance to the top of the charts. This is a one-sitting read –once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.

The book link is:

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Envy Causes Blindness

Short and to the point today, but I'm gonna steal something from our pastor's sermon on Sunday.

"To envy the success and talents of others is to deny the gifts and potential in ourselves."

Envy makes us blind to our own abilities, all we have accomplished, and all we will accomplish. We have to ask ourselves what talents we possess and what might we achieve if we refocus our energy. After all, our success is not defined by another's - it is unique to each and every one of us!

"Spunky" is following her own path - how about you?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Author Carol Denbow

One of the greatest blessings about being an author is all the people I have met the past few years!

Today I would like to introduce you to one of those awesome people, author Carol Denbow. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me...

You have quite the variety of non-fiction books – how did this occur?

Well L. Diane, I think I see a need and quickly develop a twisted sort of desire to fill it. My first book, Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss? was a book I had wanted to write for many years. As a woman in a business typically standardized for men, I had many struggles not usually associated with my type of business. For instance, on more than one occasion when I had questions about ordering my products, I would be told, “Why don’t you send your husband down here so we can talk to him about it?” With that and the other factors involved with business ownership, not always just with women, I saw a need for want-to-be entrepreneurs to be forewarned of the business world they were stepping into. The book was released in 2006 and has been a big hit. My next book, Stress Relief for the Working Stiff evolved from the business book. So there was some relation there.

Having self-published and printed the first book all on my own, I had learned quite a bit about the business. The stress book gave me experience with a traditional publisher and working closely with some friends and relatives being published at the time through different methods really enlightened me to the other publishing options available. After that, the need I realized next was, wow, it’s not easy to write and publish a book. I could share this experience with others.

Since that time, I have stayed on track more or less with the writing, publishing, and book marketing genre. My latest release, A Book Inside, how to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story has been a very popular book.

How did you get started with virtual tours?

Fortunately, I discovered virtual book touring at its birth. Since nearly 80% of book sales are now taking place over the Internet, it only made sense to me to use the Internet primarily to promote and market books. I did a book tour for A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story and the long-lasting results of that tour inspired me to pursue the avenue further. I wrote the ebook, How to Organize a Virtual Book Tour a couple months ago. From what feedback I have received through the sales of that book, other authors are enjoying good success with their tours as well.

What is your connection to Breast Cancer Awareness?

As you may already know, breast cancer will affect one of seven women. Although recovery is at an inspiring level now, that can be directly attributed to the medical research that has been done. With a sister and mother both breast cancer survivors, it’s personal to me. Therefore in support of the research being done today, I donate 10 percent of my books proceeds to Breast Cancer Awareness.

Tell us about The Writer’s Gift Shop! That’s a unique idea for a writer.

Well as you know, writers and authors are unique, creative, and expressive people. We sometimes speak selectively while we are screaming on the inside. For example; while displaying our books for sale at a recent town festival, some fellow authors and myself would visit with perspective book buyers and offer low-tone and pleasant conversation to them. As the potential book buyer would move from one of us to the other, thumbing through each book as they moved on, inside we discovered each of us were experiencing the same thoughts, “buy my book dammit!” So I created a shirt that says that very thing on the front. I don’t know if an author would really wear one at their next book event, but you never know. We do love to express ourselves! The store is full of similar products which do make special and unique gifts for writers.

How did you get started in the how to write, publish & market area?

Once again L. Diane, there was need. With nearly 300,000 new books being released each year just in the U.S. alone, (that’s actually 30 books for every hour of every day), there a still a lot of people writing and publishing books. More than 70% of those are by self-publishers. It’s a VERY competitive market out there and easy to get lost and frustrated in. Even after my first book was released, I was receiving e-mails from writers who wanted to publish a book. After awhile, my husband started calling me the “Dear Abby” of publishing. He’s the one who convinced me to share what I had learned.

You state you are a successfully retired business owner – what business did you run for fifteen years?

Probably to your surprise, a horse ranch. In 1986, I decided to “be my own boss.” I chose this type of business because I loved horses. I bought a run down horse boarding ranch with only seven boarded there at the time—not much of a customer base. The facility, even then, was set up to house thirty. The place was a dump, for lack of a better word. When I retired in 2001, the facility now titled and “equestrian center,” housed over 150 horses and included an hourly rental string of horses, a tack and apparel store, a line of quality equine products, five show arenas, day camp for kids, and numerous other regularly scheduled events. There were several small business connected to the ranch. It had become the second largest equestrian facility in California, only second to Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

Tell us about Book Event Center on Ning!

Ning is great! It’s a place where people can connect with others holding similar interests, including writers and authors connecting with others writers and authors. I actually have two Ning sites, A Book Inside Forum and Book Event Center. A Book Inside Forum is a place to network with other writers and authors; exchange writing, publishing, and marketing tips. The Author and Book Event Center is where authors can showcase their books to the book buying public. Both are wonderful sites and each offers its own unique purpose.

Tell us about the research required to write your books.

Wow, research—lots of it. Anyone who is interested in writing non-fiction had better enjoy searching the Web and spending time in the library. The good news is, everything is searchable. When I finish a non-fiction book, I find I have about a three inch thick stack of notes to organize. When you write based on facts, you really need to KNOW your facts and be able to present evidence of their existence.

Every author has a unique road they followed – what is your publishing story?

The problem was, once I wrote the one book I set out to write, I was hooked. Give me a voice, and I just won’t shut up! There was, and still isn’t any roadmap for me. I have several more books inside me and I probably will keep writing them until I’m drained—but I’m not there yet. Story? I’ll get back to you after book number twenty!

What has been the highlight of your author journey so far?

That’s what I’m living now I suppose. I’m retired and am able to write “something” everyday. My books reviews have all been five star and from very credible sources—that’s inspiring to me. Every author goes through the disappointment stage of their journey—I’ve been no different. But through perseverance, I have been somewhat successful, finally. I’m blessed to have met some awesome writers who share in my frustrations as well as my joy. Together we work hard and eventually all will find some level of success with their books or themselves.

And the last word, Carol?

I always like to have one—so my husband tells me. L. Diane, you have a wonderful Website here and I would like to thank you for this great opportunity to be here. Last word? writing done for today!

Carol Denbow is the author of five books, two in ebook form. She has also co-authored or contributed to two others. Carol is the site editor of nine Websites including, A Book Inside Blog, a very popular blog for writers and authors.
Some of Carol’s Websites include:
A Book Inside at
Author’s Box at
Writer’s Gift Shop at
Books By Denbow at
Ning Sites:
A Book Inside Forum at
The Author and Book Event Center at
Read my latest book!

A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell your Story, 5 STAR REVIEW! Midwest Book Review
Visit my Website at
Writers Gift Store at
"Write from your heart, not your head."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Affiliation Programs & Co-Authors

Setting up affiliations is not a new idea, but the Internet has sure made it easier!
When I conceived the theme of my next book, the idea of involving others in its creation came to mind. I received contributions in the form of quotes from many successful authors, business owners and professionals. It was the seven author who contributed whole chapters that really excited me, though! Those individuals would be eager to promote a book they actually helped to write and increase my marketing reach seven-fold.
And all seven will receive a percentage of the sales driven through their websites & blogs. My publisher set up an affiliation program to track these sales and soon they will offer the book on their site. Twenty years ago this had to be done through mail-order - now it's all automated!
So if anyone is considering co-authoring a book or accepting contributions from others, start getting excited about the possibilities. I was thinking big when I made the decision, but it hasn't really hit me until now just how wild things could become this spring. And not just for me - for my seven co-authors as well! We've all been working a very long time...
After all, as my buddy Trish (p.m. terrell) says - takes a long time to become an overnight sensation!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Online Radio

It's amazing how fast this world is changing. Online radio is a perfect example. Who would've thought ten years ago that radio programs and channels specifically designed for the web would become so popular? Most authors have either been on a program or host their own show. I've done several programs, including Paula Berinstein's The Writing Show, and have another lined up for this March.

Do people listen to these broadcasts? I do! Just yesterday, I listened to Mystery Matters. My dear friend and mentor, author p.m. terrell, was on the show, and while mystery is not my gig, I knew I would learn from listening to Trish. I think all authors should listen to a few podcasts before taking on a program themselves.

And as for me, I will stick with just appearing on podcasts. Yes, I've had numerous people tell me I should start my own show, but at this point in my life, I have no idea where I would fit it in! Chase too many rabbits and they will all get away...

Friday, January 02, 2009


Read another blog today about tracking hits on one's blog and decided to post my article about another kind of tracking.

This first appeared in Lynn Tincher's newsletter, The Literary Lynnch Pen.

The Gathering & Tracking of Fans

The most important resource for any author is a database of readers. Those who have enjoyed our previous work should be our number one target audience for the next book. This group can also be the deciding factor as to the subject matter. There are a variety of ways to gather and track fans, and we should employ as many methods as possible.

We all begin our author career with a list of addresses and emails of family and friends. Hopefully this includes a network of business contacts as well. Those who purchase our first book should form the base of our reader list, and those who did not will form the potential reader list. We need to keep alphabetized databases of the mailing addresses and create contact groups for the emails. Always include as many details as possible, such as when and where they purchased a book. As the list grows, we’ll be hard pressed to remember these facts otherwise.

Appearances are ideal for meeting and creating new fans. Never miss an opportunity to connect with these people after the event has ended! Utilize a sign up sheet or a guest book and collect email addresses. Encourage those interested to sign the form and make sure they realize announcements or a newsletter will be sent to them. Feature a contest with a drawing for a free book. This is a viable way to collect information above and beyond email addresses. Since we want to keep readers and potential readers separate, try to monitor which ones purchase books.

A great way to gather information is through our website. After all, the Internet never sleeps! Employing a retrieval device can be as simple as adding a comment box. Encourage fans to supply feedback on the books or make requests for future titles. Readers should also have the option of signing up for our newsletter online. This provides us with the opportunity to connect with our fans on a regular basis. Since we won’t always know if these people have purchased a book or not, we might place them into a third group of probable readers.

Our books can also be used to harvest reader data. In addition to listing our website in our books, we can include our email address or a P.O. Box to promote feedback. We might even want to consider a response form or an order form. This encourages fans to contact us, thus providing a means of connecting with them. We might even discover some interesting suggestions and ideas coming our direction as well.

The Internet provides numerous other resources for tracking our fans. Our online involvement greatly influences our chances to locate and connect with readers. We will gain many new fans through such exposure.

Every author should be involved in at least one community site. Which one will depend in large on where our fans congregate. By setting up a page on a community site, we give readers another way to connect and bond with us. These sites are much more personable than our main web page, thus making us more approachable. We can send out news and announcements faster and more often. Our involvement in forums and online discussions provide unique opportunities as well.

Every genre of book has websites devoted to its fan base. We can access these sites in several ways – adding our titles to their database; offering our services as a guest blogger; proposing an interview session; even sacrificing a book as a contest prize or giveaway. Our fans will be pleased to find us on these sites and it will undoubtedly lead to many new fans. Since many of these sites encourage feedback and reviews, we’ll discover what readers really think of our books.

This leads us to the final aspect – tracking what our fans say and do! The easiest way to do this is to set up daily “Google Alerts” and receive notification whenever someone posts or comments about us or our books. We need to see these comments, both good and bad, and locate their origins. Our website statistics can also tell us from where traffic stems. This will tell us how often fans are visiting our site and what prompts them to do so.

We don’t need to be a bloodhound to track readers, but we do need to possess a little ingenuity. If we begin gathering information from the beginning, we’ll be better prepared for the future. And if we make it easy for fans to find us, then it will be simpler for us to locate them!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Blogging Challenge

I recently joined a new group and have joined the "Blogging Challenge."
For those who blog and plan a book tour online this year, check out this group's blog -
* * *
I also had a big announcement today for all my fans on my book website -
I've spent the past week updating the site with new information and making some changes. I'm rather happy with its current state.
* * *
I'm also hosting Carol Denbow next Monday, so be watching for her interview!
* * *
Welcome to 2009 and another AWESOME year!