Saturday, June 23, 2018

When You Least Expect It by Margo Hoornstra

You know how opportunity strikes when you least expect it? That happened to me recently. This is how it went.

It’s no secret I suck at promo. My website needs to be updated, but I just hadn't gotten to it yet. All I needed to do was send an email to my webmistress to get the ball rolling. Expense was one reason. Lack of motivation was the other. Who really, really goes to my website anyway?

Bad decision on my part. Some Free Read download short stories on my website through The Wild Rose Press now went nowhere when TWRP disconintued the program a few months ago. I hadn't bothered to have them taken down.
Unforgivable on my part, but there it is.

I also wanted to somehow up my general discoverability on the internet, but had no clue how to do that either, short of hiring a public relations agency which, for me, would be cost prohibitive.
What to do? What to do?

In order to supplement my author income (ahem) and because the job affords me lots and lots of down (in other words writing) time, I work as a substitute administrative assistant for a couple of local school districts. My boss in one is also second in command of the PR Department.

Imagine my surprise the other day when she told me she’d Googled (it’s now officially a verb) me and was very impressed with my website. Although she did mention she noticed a couple of glitches I needed to fix. One of which was some promised free downloads that went nowhere.
Wait! What?! Someone noticed?

When I cited the problems I had with promo, she and her assistant went on to explain the best and cheapest way to better promote myself on line. Turns out you can ‘claim’ yourself on Google and add relevant information that will pop up in a search. Who knew?
That conversation got me off the dime and I emailed my webmistress to get things rolling again. Voila, just like that the stories are fixed and we have a process going again.
But that's not all. Turns out my 'boss' also does the website for the district which is, I must say impressive. We talked a little about that, too. If things don't work out they way they are not...I have options.

Then, I can’t leave this out, BONUS, she asked which of my books was my favorite and which she should buy. After smiling shyly, I suggested the three stories in one, Saturday In Serendipity, to give her more bang for her buck.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled. Could it be promo and I aren’t so hopeless after all?
How about you? Any fortuitous events in your recent history?
Be on the the lookout.
They’re there.
My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and the stories I write, please visit my (soon to be revamped!) website.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Error-riddled but clueless: To "help" or not - by Leah St. James #grammar #amwriting

Dear fellow grammar nerds:

I know you’re out there. You’re the readers who take note when the wrong to/two/too (or there/their/they’re, roll/role, past/passed...) is used. The first time you might roll your eyes, but you’ll keep reading. Twice in the same page and you might cringe and send a silent message to the author to spend more time proofing. But more than that, if you’re like me, you’ll stop reading.

That happened to me the other day while I was reading an author’s promo blog. (It wasn’t any of our authors!) When I came to the first misused word (an error so bad, I actually laughed, until I was hit with a wave of sympathy), I almost started an email to let the author know there was a bad (really, really bad) error in the blurb. The second stopping point came courtesy of a misplaced modifier (a body part was doing something it shouldn’t be doing). But when the point of view started hopping from head to head so quickly, mine started spinning, I X’d out of the site.

This was all within a couple paragraphs. What do you think the odds are that I’ll purchase that book? Yep. Zero.

We all make typos or grammatical errors from time to time. There could be a few in this blog post, even though I’ve read and re-read to look for them. I’m so embarrassed to discover my own, or when someone else points them out, but I think something bigger is going on. I think there has been a slippage of general grammar knowledge over the past few years. Auto-correct features that seem to have been trained by the untrained masses don’t help.


Thanks to Bizarro cartoonists for the timely quip!

 Or maybe it’s not that writers today know less, but that more are publishing poorly edited content. It used to be that published texts—books, articles, etc.—were vetted by editors, probably several layers of them, before reaching the reader. Today, those layers have largely disappeared. Many self-published authors go cheap on editing because, let’s face it, most of us don’t make a lot of money in this business. 

Today it takes an instant to post a piece that could be filled with typos and those cringe-worthy errors. And the more they appear in public, the more those errors are ingrained into the collective lack-of-knowledge base. Maybe that’s how language changes over time—too many people making the same errors over and over until the error becomes the accepted form!

So what, if anything, should the grammar nerd do when stumbling upon those error-filled pieces? (I’m not talking about a single instance. I’m talking about those so bad, we can’t keep reading.) Do we just wince behind our screens and post something benign in the comments? Or do we send a private message to the author so he/she can make corrections? 

Maybe something like: Dear (name of author), I noticed you posted what was probably a draft of your blurb on your blog. I spotted several errors. I hate when that happens to me!”

I tell myself that I would want to know if that were my post....maybe. I think that for most of us, any unsolicited “corrective” contact, no matter how well intended, would come across as condescending, resulting in either embarrassment/humiliation or anger, or both. It could generate more bad will than any benefit to the greater grammatical good is worth!

As for the example I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t know the author, so I chose to wince behind my screen and post a benign comment. But those awful errors keep lurking in the back of my mind, and I wonder if I should have tried to contact her.

What do fellow authors and readers think? Let sleeping errors lie, or offer a hoping-to-help hand?

Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. She is a true grammar nerd who sometimes finds herself mentally diagramming complex sentences. Learn more about her work at her website. Or visit her on Facebook where she posts occasional tidbits about writing and life. (For more Bizarro, go here.)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Over the finish line by Barbara Edwards

After watching Justify win the Triple Crown I couldn't resist the comparison. I'm into the final stretch on my manuscript. I need to write the last chapter and I can submit it to my publisher. I sent my editor a couple updates so she'd be ready.

I'm so excited.

The plan is to do the edits and have the book ready to publish on Labor Day weekend. I can tell you to look for my name and new release, but I haven't given it a name yet.
Oh my. lots of suggestions are dancing through my head. (picture sugarplums) and I can't decide. when I do I will let you know.

I can give you a few hints. My manuscript is set in Vermont. I have a handsome hero (no surprise) with conflicts. Hmmm
In the last chapter I have to wind up all the loose threads.

Working like this has been good for me. I plan to keep going with the amount of words daily.  Only they will be in the other works I put aside to do this. I'll keep you informed of my progress. And the name when I find it.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
Amazon Author’s Page

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Curse of the lawn mower

I picked this gif because I thought it was cute, and then I started feeling a little resentful...How does she make it look so easy?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

To Newsletter or Not to Newsletter by Alicia Dean

I have dabbled with newsletters and I was involved in a multi-author newsletter (Leah and Diane were part of this, among a few of my other author friends). We did not find much benefit in producing the newsletter and we eventually stopped. I KEEP hearing about how critical it is for an author to have a newsletter. So…I’ve decided to try again. I’m not sure exactly what to include. I want to be interesting, brief, writing related, but not completely. I also have heard for years about ‘branding’ and being true to who you are, etc. I think my ‘thing’ will be crime. After all, I’ve got a reputation for being a bit twisted and creepy (deservedly so), and I DO love that stuff. I have been researching tips for author newsletters. One of the tips was to have a catchy name. Some of the other tips were about having the same sections each time, and to share about things you’re passionate about and to weave in writing and non-writing info.

I am planning to send my first one out this month. (I’m a little leery about the GDPR thing, or whatever it is, but I understand Mailchimp takes care of that for you, is that what you guys have found?) So, based on tips I’ve read and what I’ve learned in workshops, etc, I have come up with a plan, more or less. I’d like to share with you all and get your feedback on what I should add, remove, tweak, etc. Here is what I have in mind…

Title: Dark and Stormy (I’ll have some kind of header I’ll use for each newsletter - Something like this, but with words:)


1 - Main Story
Tips for the main story: (1) keep it short (like 300 words, max), (2) provide a fun picture, and (3) relate it to the theme of your newsletter – maybe about writing, research and/or crime shows, a trip, a writing retreat, etc.

2 - Writing and Stuff:
Any news about releases or sales or progress of WIPs. Interesting research I’ve run across.
Upcoming Events: (if I’m doing a conference or book signing)

3 - My Life:
(I’ll post about weight watchers, TV shows, or other personal trips and other things)

4 – Books:
A different one of my books each month and a recommended read for another author.  Sometimes I’ll recommend author friend books, other times, I’ll just find a book to recommend.

5 -  Short Bio  & Social Media Links
1–2 sentence bio  & my links (I'll invite them to follow my blog)

What do you think? Will this work? I’ve had people email me and ask me to put them on my mailing list, so I guess I should start ‘mailing’ something, LOL. Do you do a newsletter? What is yours about? Have you found it beneficial?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Giving Yourself a Chance by Jannine Gallant

That feeling you have when you pull everything together and actually believe you're on the right path... It's a great feeling! That's where I am right now. I finished my WIP and sent it off to Margo. Awesome CP that she is, she sent it back to me in under a week. She had some issues (nothing new there), but they were mostly problems I anticipated.

1) Too many relatives as suspects. Can't keep them all straight. I was afraid of this but was too lazy to remove any. However, after hearing her opinion, I'm getting rid of a couple. Not that traumatic, after all. Check.

2) TSTL (too stupid to live) moment. This one I actually hadn't anticipated. But I could see it once she pointed it out and have come up with a solution to my hero's momentary lapse. Check.

3) Hero lacks a defining moment and needs more conflict. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He's an easy-going guy. Sometimes too easy-going. We figured out a way to have him act more "heroic" in the end, and I'll work on making him a little more irritated and less accepting in a couple of other spots. Check.

4) She didn't complain that my heroine is too much of a "kick-ass and take names" woman. I was a little worried she came off as hard. Daughter #1 loved this character because she thinks it's great when a woman saves the day. Based on the feedback from them both, my heroine gets to stay as is. Yippee!

So, I feel I'm on the right path with this book. It should be ready to send to my editor, along with the series proposal, before the end of the month.

Timing is everything, right? LOST INNOCENCE releases on June 26th--click HERE to pre-order! I have a BookBub ad out on June 26th for an old book, EVERY MOVE SHE MAKES. My hope is that the ad will produce prolonged sales for all my suspense books and give the new release a huge boost. So, my goal is to send my proposal for the new series off to Kensington by June 26th. If sales are the make it or break it factor for a new print deal, then the end of the month is the best possible time to submit. We'll see what happens. At any rate, I have a plan to give myself the best opportunity for a positive outcome, and that feels good.

Kristen at the river in Gasquet.

Finally, I just picked daughter #2 (Kristen) up from college. She had a good freshman year after a few issues she dealt with on her own. It's nice to see your kids "adult" without help. We spent a couple of days at my mom's house before driving home. Daughter #1 (Tara) is home from college already. She sent her med school application off on June 1st to 18 schools and now waits for requests for secondary apps (and then interviews) from schools interested in her. Crossing our fingers, but she did everything possible to give herself the best chance at success.

In short, we each do our job and try to set ourselves up for success. If we suspect a problem exists, there probably is one. Fix it. If we know what is necessary to get a certain outcome, then do the legwork to set up a positive situation. It's something to think about going forward.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

An Open Letter To My Father by Betsy Ashton

Let me start by saying I never celebrated Father's Day. I never bought a card, picked out a terrible tie or a pair of socks, or visited the man who was my father. Why? Because I never knew him.

My father was married to my mother for about two years, during which time I was sired and born. And while my mother was carrying me, he had another girlfriend who became pregnant about the time I was born. Needless to say, my parents separated before I was nine months old, before my half-sister arrived. You left my mother to raise me by herself with no child support, although the courts ordered it. She did a damned fine job.

My father contacted me twice, once for half a day when I was 13, again for half a day when I was 17. A card or two followed the visits, plus a weird invitation to come and live with him, his wife, and my half-sister. Why would I leave my mother, who had been my sole caregiver, for a man I didn't know? NOT!

My mother was annoyed at first when I started referring to the old man as my sperm donor. To me, that was what he was. Nothing more. I knew later how much that phrase demeaned their relationship. I'm forever sorry about it.

So, now that both my dear mother and the sperm donor are gone, I have some words for SD.

I hope you were a better father to your second daughter than you were to your first.

I hope you taught her how to play catch, played hide and seek, and did all the great dad things, like eating ice cream in a snow storm.

I hope you taught her a sense of right and wrong, gave her a strong ethical foundation, and were there for her when she needed you.

I'm sorry you were estranged from your own parents. I wasn't, because my mother kept in touch with your mother and father until I was old enough to write. I know she did. Grandfather sent me a box of her letters, cards, and photos of me. She kept me alive in their thoughts until both passed.

I'm sorry you never got to see how I turned out, but then, you would have had to keep in touch. Once Grandfather died, there was no touchstone with your side of the family until a couple of years ago when your brother's older daughter reached out. We've established a long-distance relationship, one I once wished I'd had with you.

For this Father's Day, I don't send good wishes. I don't send bad wishes. I send the same type of wishes you sent me all these years. None.

P.S. Thanks, Mom, for being the best father a girl could have. Happy Father's Day.

Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max Mystery series, Unintended Consequences, Uncharted Territory, and Unsafe Haven. She is also the author of the stand-alone psychological suspense novel, Eyes Without A Face.