Book Birthday & Author Event

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Last Friday, July 17 was not only the birthday of my SIL, but also the 6th birthday for my first book, VERMONT ESCAPE. I’ve been running a 99 Cent sale on most of the venues. (Something happened and it didn’t get changed on KOBO.) Today is the last day of the sale. Well, it may lop over a bit more because I have to take it off Amazon and iTunes, and I won’t start that process until Wednesday. 😊 B & N very nicely let’s you set a start and stop date. I love that. So much easier. Here are the links:

B & N https://bit.ly/2k340mD

Amazon https://amzn.to/2ShLapq

ITunes https://apple.co/2GrJGUW

If you haven’t read this book, yet, this is a great opportunity. Like all my books, this is about second chances, and my heroine turns 50 about ¾ of the way through the story, so it’s legitimately called a “Seasoned Romance.”  Here’s the short blurb:

After the murders of Jill Barlow’s husband and then her father, she flees to Vermont, but the Texas gambling syndicate believes she’s hiding damning evidence against them. To get it, they’ll kill again.

There’s no mention of the hero in this shot blurb, but he’s a Vermont lawyer and state assemblyman. Jill really doesn’t want any more involvement with a politician. Politics got her husband and father killed.

If you follow my newsletter you know that I attended a Sunday Afternoon with Authors event at an independent bookstore. (We really need to support Indie bookstores.) Leaves Book & Tea Shop (Isn’t that a clever name?) is just south of downtown Fort Worth and has been opened for just under a year.

Tina Howard, the  owner, was very organized. Before hand she let us know how it would go, and she sent us questions around the subject of “change.” All of us write different genres, and yet our answers were remarkably similar.

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Left to Right.

Claudette Esmerelda has written a children’s book, Leah is Seen. She’s trying to help kids develop a good self-concept.

I, of course have 7 books out.

Richard Gonzalez is a former newspaper columnist and refers to himself as an old hippy. Raza Rizing is about the increase of Hispanics in Texas. Deer Dancer is a fantasy set in Sonora.

Jane Alvey Harris’ book, Riven (a dark YA) has been optioned for film. How cool is that! It’s part of a trilogy. The second book is out, too. They are about finding yourself again after abuse.

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Besides asking us questions, we also got to read from one of our books. I read from Book 2 of The Second Chances Series, ACT OF TRUST. The heroine lost her husband on 9/11 and because my younger daughter and her husband had just moved to NYC, this book really touches home for me and is one of my favorites, right behind VERMONT ESCAPE.

I was surprised how many people showed up to listen to us—approximately twenty. Each of the authors had  3 or so  friends attend, and then there were just random folks there. I was grateful to have the MIL of one of my daughters, a good friend from NTRWA, and another friend.  This was the first event like this for the bookstore, and the owner has one scheduled for the next several months. I will attend to see how the others work out. Tina is also willing to carry our books for a 70/30 split. I’m going to try that with three of mine and see how it works out. I’m also going to talk to one of the other Indie bookstores to see if they will consider doing something like this.

Lastly, I want to go by and take a flyer to all three Indie Bookstores with information about the first ever Independent Bookstore Celebrate Bookstore Romance Day, Saturday, August 17. I learned about this from the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA. What a great idea. Here’s the link https://bookstoreromanceday.org/ Share with your local bookstores.

Writers, do you like events where you get to (or are expected to speak) more than where you’re just sitting there signing?

Readers, what do you think of this kind of event? Love to hear from you all.

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Writing Rules

When I began writing people told me to follow the rules. I’m a rule follower, so that should’ve been easy, right? Tell me the rules, and I promise to follow them. Problem is, I can always find folks who are very successful (like award-winning) who don’t follow the rules.

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One of the rules I worked hard to learn and to follow is “no head-hopping.” You know what that is. When you’re in one character’s head (POV) and within the same sentence or paragraph you hop over to another character’s head. In the old days, authors wrote this way. It was called the omniscient author. Nobody thought anything of it.

Well, at some point between “the old days” and when I began writing eleven or so years ago (wow, can it be that long?), the rules changed, and head-hopping fell into disfavor. So I took on line-classes, attended conferences, I practiced, I submitted to contests, worked with critique partners, and eventually I cut out the head-hopping. (Oh, occasionally a hop will slip in now, but I catch it on edits and rewrites. 😊 ) IMG_0248

So, why you wonder am I writing about this particular rule? I recently bought a book by a well-known, award-winning author, whose name I don’t remember right now. OMG! The author head-hopped all over the place. Not just having paragraphs switch back and forth. No within paragraphs. The process threw me out of the story, which was pretty good. I had to stop to see if the author had really head-hopped. And the author had.

Here’s my question for readers: Are you aware of POV when you’re reading a book? If so, does it bother you if the author bounces around between characters’ POVs? Does it bother you to have more than tow POV characters?

And for you writers out there: Has the rule changed, and I haven’t kept up? I confess to not attending a conference in a while. When you’re reading, are you aware of head-hopping? If so, does it bother you?

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The reason you have fall pictures scattered throughout this blog is because I couldn’t think of a graphic for this topic. These pictures from my recent trip to  Belfast, Maine, which I did promise you last month. Hope you enjoy. them 😊 Love to hear from you.

Two of my books are set in New England: VERMONT ESCAPE,  and ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3, The Second Chances Series, which is set in Maine.

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Planning

Are you a planner? Well, I am. I like to feel in control of situations, so I do lots of planning beforehand to be prepared for whatever might come. If I’m going to read scripture at church, I like to have the liturgy ahead of time, so I can practice. I like to know what we’re going to have for supper, so I know what to eat for lunch. I mean you don’t want to eat left over pasta salad for lunch if you’re going to an Italian restaurant for supper, right? So yes, I like planning.

Of course, I use it in my writing, but as I’ve written here before I seem to be morphing into something of a pantser—or plotser as I call my process. Planning with some freewheeling.

Are you completely in the dark about where I’m going? Hang in there. I’m about to get there.

photo(8) This is the screen shot on my phone. 

In three years, God willing, my husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Twenty or twenty-five years ago, I attended a 50th wedding anniversary at the Country Club for long time members of our church. It was quite lavish, great food and drink. People were dressed up. The kids of the couple put together a charming video depicting their parents’ lives. Right then, I decided that was how I wanted to celebrate our 50th when time came.

Flash forward a ton of years, and I’ve realized I don’t want to ask our kids to go to that much trouble when they are super busy. Recently, I’ve heard of several families who planned a family vacation for the parents’ 50th.  And I thought. Hmmmm. I’d love to share Maine with our family.  When I ran the idea past our kids, they thought that sounded great. Dates to be determined later, but summer 2021. There will be 9 of us on the trip.

photo(7) From a cottage off the Demariscota River. Prototype of setting for ACT OF TRUST.

I’ve already begun planning. Yes, I know it’s three years off, but great places book up more than a year in advance. And as I said, I enjoy planning. And that gives us time to save up. 😊 It’s not inexpensive, but it will be less than the big country club party. And it will give our kids and grandkids, who will be 12, 10, and 9 then, awesome experiences. Hopefully, when we’re gone, they’ll still want to make periodic trips to Maine. Or at the very least, they’ll look at pictures and remember a wonderful time with us. They won’t get these beautiful fall colors since we’ll be going in the summer.

This is near Boothbay Harbor. photo(11)

I can’t tell you how much joy I’ve already experienced in researching locations and places to stay. Well, mostly places to stay, because I’ve got the location nailed: Somewhere on the mid-coast of Maine. I’ve only shared a couple of my gazillion Maine pics, but you can see why I love it so much.

I began looking at Resorts—two especially. The first is The Samoset Resort in the Camden/Rockland area. http://www.samosetresort.com/about-us/  We ran across it on one of our trips when we were looking at a nearby lighthouse. It has some fun activities: pool, kid area, awesome views. Haven’t found exactly the right room arrangement but closer to time, I probably can.

Then I looked at Spruce Point Inn & Resort near Boothbay Harbor, a place we’ve stayed twice.

https://www.sprucepointinn.com/resort/overview/

Again, good activities, even lawn size chess. Our grandson and his father would love that. But I haven’t nailed down the perfect accommodations, yet.

Family trips work well when you have a good balance between separate space and together space. Recently, I ran across a HomeAway link, and I got to thinking about large houses. The two below are are possible winners.  I have to choose between ocean or river views and have eliminated lake views, because we have that now. 🙂 Leaning toward ocean, since that’s not as common for our crew.

https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p158384vb

https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p868993vb

The houses are less expensive than the resorts, but there might be more to do at the resorts. But I want to make sure we take car trips to see many of the wonderful sites up and down the mid coast of Maine. I love this area so much, I actually put a Mid-coast road trip in ACT OF TRUST.  I used it to show a growing attraction between the hero and heroine, but mostly just to showcase this beautiful state. 🙂

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Don’t know what we’ll decide on, but I have had a ball looking. Do you think I’m nuts for looking this far out? I mean, we might not be alive, or we could be seriously ill by then. Hope and pray not, but….  Are you a planner?  Love to hear from you.

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Writing Lesson #1 Don’t Rush

Too late - conceptual alarm clock showing that you are too late

Hard lesson learned. I hope this one I never repeat! Let me tell you my sob story. I released my last book, ACT OF BETRAYAL, in October 2017. I had set myself a deadline and by golly, I was going to meet it, and I did.

I’d rewritten and edited. I’d sent it out to be edited. Fixed and sent back. Re-edited again. I mean, I must’ve read this book 15 or twenty times during the editing process.  Toward the very end, I caught that I had used two different names for the heroine’s daughter. Blair and Bailey. (That’s a separate post about names.)

I knew I had a problem. I really couldn’t remember which name went with the daughter in this book. I opened the second book in the series, ACT OF TRUST. Sure enough in black and white, there was the name Blair. Okay, I got it. I went through and made the changes using the Find thingy.

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Problem was, between the time I looked and when I did the process, I mixed up the names. I changed all of the daughter’s name in ACT OF BETRAYAL to “Blair.” You’re thinking, “What?” Well, yeah, I just told you “Blair was in AOT, not AOB. But I mixed it up. The book got uploaded that way, and I ordered 25 print books just like that.

When did I notice this mixup? I was getting ready to do a reading from ACT OF TRUST and the name jumped off the page flashing like a neon sign.  My heart sank and my stomach tightened and red streaked my face. Oh crap!

I immediately emailed my formatter who laughed and said. No problem. Those things happen all the time. She’d fix it and send me another PDF. Whew! I figuratively wiped my brow. Okay. She sent it back, and I uploaded the corrected e-book to Amazon and everywhere else. Good, right?

Well, I still had these printed books with the wrong name. My brain tells me that I don’t remember names of characters in books I read, so hopefully, folks won’t notice. (Well, except now I’m telling everyone. LOL) Now, I’ve sold most of them and I have a book signing in June and I need corrected print books.

I really hated to go back to the formatter. Figured I should be able to fix the problem myself. Except, of course, the good copy with the right names was one for e-books. No page numbers. So, I went to my PDF for print and tried to edit it. You know there’s a little edit button on the left-hand side. Trick is I didn’t have the right Adobe thingy on my computer. After many aborted efforts, I finally got the right one uploaded for a cost—way more than I wanted to spend.

Now we’re crackin’. Almost. Making edits on a PDF is not as easy as on a Word doc. After days of working on the thing. I literally mean days, and I’m sparing you the gruesome details about times the words ended up on top of each other! GRRR! I had a clean PDF.

So then I got into it with CreateSpace, not realizing a new edition needed a new ISBN! This resulted in me having to call the good people at CreateSpace where Jose was able to delete one of the books, so I could precede. No wait time to talk to a real person, and he was super helpful.

Act of Betrayal

Now I’m waiting to get the proof (for the 4th time—because I kept seeing glitches with the spacing! And still I know there are at least two that I could not fix.)

The lesson I’ve learned is not to rush the editing process. The deadlines I set for myself are good, (and nothing for me gets done without a deadline), but they can and often should be moved. The quality of the product is more important than some arbitrary date I’ve given myself. And secondly, boy do I love my formatter. She’s worth every penny I pay her. I know some people can do this themselves. And Yes, I did get it okay finally, but all time I worked on that is time taken from working on the fourth and last book in my Second Chances Series. Not a good decision.

How about you? Writers, do you format for yourself? Do you hire that done? Or does your publisher do the job? Love to hear from you.

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Writers & Tragedies

Do you use current events in your writing? I do especially on my personal blog Thoughts on Thursday. I try to make these SOS posts timely, too. And I’ve used real events as inspiration for a couple of my books. I have a good friend who was inspired to write a book after Ike hit the Gulf Coast.

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Water in Houston above a raised highway during Harvey.

My books are based in real locations and lend themselves to adding in events we read about in the daily news. (And of course, what pops up on TV, FB, Twitter, etc.)

Book 2 The Second Chances Series, ACT OF TRUST, bounces off the idea of a woman who loses her husband on 9/11. But the story takes place 14 years later, so I don’t feel like I’m capitalizing on someone else’s heartbreak. And I send a portion of the sale of each book to the 9/11 Memorial and Gardens. (Maybe that’s from guilt?)

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The first book I wrote was based on a $13 million embezzlement scheme in my school district. (Unfortunately, no one will ever see this book because I knew nothing about the craft of writing romance. Great story. No craft. I was the queen of head-hopping! LOL)

I guess where I’m going with all this is a question.  Will you consider using any of the too-numerous-to-mention-disasters we’ve experienced for the last 6-9 months in your writing?  This is short for me, but I’d really love to hear from authors and from readers, do you read disaster stories?

Don’t forget to sign up for our contest and please follow me on social media. 😊

 

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ENTER HERE

Enter the Sisterhood of Suspense’s Rafflecopter #Giveaway for your chance at some page-turning reads!

Size 7 Lia Sophia trio of rings donated by Marian Lanouette

Notecard Collection donated by Sharon Wray

All She Wanted by Kathryn Jane (e-copy edition)

The Rebel’s Redemption by Jacquie Biggar (audiobook edition)

Partners: Odyssey of the Phoenix by McKenna Sinclair

A Midnight Clear by Jeannie Hall

Hearts Unloched by Claire Gem

Too Many Women in The Room by Joanne Guidoccio

$10 Amazon gift card donated by S.A. Taylor

$5 Starbucks gift card donated by Vicki Batman

Act of Trust by Marsha R. West

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15th Anniversary

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Today we commemorate the 15th anniversary of one of the darkest days of our nation and indeed of the world. The pictures above are from a visit to the 9/11 Memorial. The Museum hadn’t opened yet, but was nearing completion. If you ever have a chance to visit, please do. It’s very moving.

The heroine in my 4th published book, ACT OF TRUST, Book 2 of the Second Chances Series, lost her husband on 9/11. Below you can read my comments in the beginning of the book about why this date means so much to me.

Author’s Personal Note

If you’re of a certain age, 9/11 resonates with you in the way Pearl Harbor did with the Greatest Generation.

We all know where we were when the planes hit the towers. Many lost loved ones or acquaintances, and we all have our stories.

My younger daughter and her husband moved to New York City on Sunday 9/9. As the principal in an elementary school, I’d arrived on that Tuesday at my regular time, around 7:15 to get a jump-start on the day. My husband normally left later for his downtown high-rise to miss the traffic. He never went in that day after receiving a call from a good friend telling him to turn on the TV. 

It was three that afternoon before I knew my daughter and her husband were okay. Trying to keep staff, kids, and parents calm in the face of what we didn’t know took my focus. I was one of the very lucky ones. My family was okay.

So SECOND ACT is a personal story to me. I admire those who’ve gone on after losing a loved one in this tragic experience. I can’t imagine it, though, as a writer, that’s my job. I hope I’ve honored their loss. I hope people find comfort in the happily ever after ending of the story.

A portion of the sale of each book will be sent to the 9/11 Memorial Gardens and Museum. If you care to donate directly as well, here’s the link:  http://www,911memorial.org

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Please take a moment to remember those lost, the heroism displayed by so many, and pray for those who were left. Where were you on 9/11?

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