Thursday, January 18, 2018

How do you like your #Books? by Jannine Gallant

#Paperback or #eBook? That's the big question for authors. How do you most enjoy reading? I know a lot of people who prefer to hold a book in their hands. But someone is buying all those eBooks! Reports show far more digital books are sold than paperbacks in adult fiction. My guess is lower prices and convenience drive these sales.

Traditional publishers still make more off paperback sales than digital, although that percentage has shrunk in recent years. It's the indie authors pushing the eBook numbers over the top.

Paperback sales have increased in some markets, however. Just not in physical bookstore. Amazon increased their market share in print sales in 2016. Whether this trend will continue into 2018 remains to be seen. Read the article I linked above. It made my head spin with all the facts and figures.

How does all this effect me and other authors? Up to now, I've pushed my digital sales because that's where my profits were. No one but my mom was willing to pay $15 for a POD book. But with the release of BURIED TRUTH at the end of this month, I'll have my very first mass market paperback available. The price is an extremely reasonable $4.99 vs. the $3.99 price for a digital copy. For an extra buck, readers can hold it in their hands. I actually make far more off digital sales, but there's the potential to actually see my book on a bookstore shelf. That counts for something, right?

The thing is, I'm learning that mass market doesn't necessarily mean bookstore shelf space. Publishers produced more inventory each month than stores can carry. Individual stores actually have to order your book. BURIED TRUTH won't automatically go out to every Walmart, Target, and Barnes & Noble in the country. Stores tend to order books from big name authors because their goal is to actually sell those copies, not ship them back. I have a feeling I might not make the cut!

So, we're back to the question posed at the or paperback? How do you prefer to read? Would you spend $4.99 on a paperback in a genre you enjoy with a cool cover (I have that going for me!) from an author you aren't familiar with? What if you had to order that book from Amazon, not impulsively pick it up off the shelf while you're buying dog food and paper towels or browsing in B&N? Stats show that is happening. If you're shopping for books on Amazon, do you always go for the instant gratification of downloading it onto your Kindle or will you order the paperback version?

There's a catch to the excitement of having a mass market contract. Sure, there's the potential my book could reach a whole new market and sell very well. That's what I'm hoping, of course. But if it doesn't sell well, this series will be the last one I have in print. My pub is waiting to see how BURIED TRUTH does before considering my next project. That's kind of scary, but I get that they're in the business to make money.

So, when BURIED TRUTH releases on January 30th, make my day by showing my publisher I'm a good risk. Buy my book if you see it on a bookstore shelf, or order a copy online. Pre-order your PRINT or DIGITAL copy now. Oh, and don't forget to leave a comment. How do you like your books?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An Interview With An Author Part I by Betsy Ashton

Recently, I sat down with an Intrepid Reporter who wanted to talk about my serial killer book, EYES WITHOUT A FACE.

Intrepid Reporter: I understand you recently wrote a book about a female serial killer. Do I have that right?

Me: Well, since you are reading from the press release, yes, you have that right.

IR: What ever possessed you to write about such a dark subject?

Me: Nothing possessed me, if you mean, was I taken over by a spirit or something like that?

IR: Huh?

Me. It was the result of a double-dog dare. You can never turn down a double-dog dare.

IR: Really? Who dared you?

Me. I took a course on writing mysteries a few years back. One of our challenges was to write the first sentence of a mystery. I wrote: "My sorority sisters were into sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but that wasn't enough for me. Then, I killed someone and found my true calling in life."

IR: Well, now.

Me: That's what the teacher said. She went on to double-dog dare me to turn the opening into a novel. I did.

IR: May I assume you are not a serial killer?

Me: You may.

IR: How were you able to get inside the head of such a, um, well different character?

Me (signing): It's called using the creative gene. I imagined what it would be like to be a killer and wrote about it. Simple as that.

IR: I think it would be very hard to write this book in first person.

Me: No harder than in third person or from the point of view of a dog.

IR: A dog?

Me: Never mind. It was a challenge, but one I was ready to take on. I'd never written anything with such an unlikable character. Strike that. Some people think she's likable.

IR: Eeuw! Really?

Me: Really.

IR (shaking her head): I couldn't, but then again I'm not you.

Me: And you should be glad you aren't. Imagine what my husband had to live with for the three years it took to shape and polish the book.

IR: I'd rather not. Let's move on. The cover is very chilling.

Me: It's supposed to be. I asked my son to put on a hoodie and ski mask that covered his lower face. I gave that picture to a cover designer who took out the rest of his skin, overlaid the eyes, and created a character without a face but with eyes that follow you.

IR: I can't imagine what your dinner table conversation is like.

Me: Pretty normal, actually, except talking about using KA-Bars or switchblades for killing.

IR: But you don't have a KA-Bar in the novel.

Me: Aha, you have read the book. I did, but I took the scene out. I may use it as a short story because I love one line in the section: "I don't use guns because you never have to reload a KA-Bar."

IR: I think it's time to take a little break.

The second part of this interview appears on this blog on January 27. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Falling in #Love by Diane Burton

What’s the best thing about falling in love? The excitement, the trill, the anticipation. How soon does the glow of love begin to fade?

As writers of romance, we get to relive that initial euphoria. We put our characters through an emotional wringer to make sure they’re serious about falling in love. When we end our stories, we indicate our characters will live happily ever after. That’s the promise we give our readers when we call our stories romances.

What does it take to live happily ever after? Work. Once we’ve taken those vows and promise to love and honor in sickness and health, etc., we’re still in the honeymoon stage. Everything is roses and lollipops. Then we go back to work and life as usual. Only it isn’t usual anymore. We have someone else to think about. What will he like for dinner? Would she like to go out? Who’s going to do laundry, buy the groceries? Who will pay the bills? Is it my money and his money or is it our money? (More arguments between newly-weds are over money.)

Then kids come along. Who’s supposed to pick them up from daycare? Who cooks dinner? Who’s exhausted? Yeah, romance books don’t show that. How can you keep the romance going when you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow?

Some couples schedule date nights. They hire a sitter (or beg a grandparent) to watch the kids and go out to dinner and a movie. Or do an activity they both enjoy. That takes work setting it up, but keeping the romance alive is worth it. The kids grow up, and college comes faster than you think. Soon, those kids are gone, and it’s just the two of you again. It’s so easy to grow apart. He does his thing, she does hers.

I’m no expert. Hubs and I have had our ups and downs during our forty-five years together. We’ve had health scares (ourselves and our children). Unemployment was a killer. Three times. But we pulled together when times (and money) were tough. The key word to getting through those difficult times is together.

We know that life isn’t a continuous happy-ever-after. Either divorce or death ends a marriage. That can turn a person bitter or wallowing in grief. But sometimes, we’re given a second chance at love. That’s the premise of my latest book, Romance Rekindled. A mother and daughter, their spouses gone for many years—one through divorce, the other a widow. Both get to experience falling in love a second time.

In the stories we write, we reaffirm that love is wonderful, that it comes when we least expect it. Along with our readers, we get to experience the thrill and excitement that comes with falling in love.

Abby Ten Eyck likes her life the way it is. She runs a successful business, has a well-adjusted teenage daughter, and has managed to keep men at bay since her divorce fifteen years ago. Just before Christmas, she’s hit with change. Her mother decides to sell the family home. Then she’s arrested, with an unknown man. Could this new man in her mother’s life create more upheaval? Or could his handsome son be just what Abby needs to revive her dormant feelings?

Sam Watson embraces transition from frenetic Wall Street to a small Michigan resort town. His health is worth moving close to his dad who seems over the moon in love. But it’s the daughter of his father’s girlfriend who fascinates him. Abby Ten Eyck reminds him of his driven self. He must help her slow down before she burns out. Like he did.

ROMANCE REKINDLED is available at:

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She blogs here on the 16th and 30th of each month.

Monday, January 15, 2018

If You Love Janet Evanovich's Books, You'll Love Mine (I hope) by Alison Henderson

I want to say up front, I'm a HUGE fan of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books--her explosion-prone every-girl heroine, hunky heroes, wacky array of supporting characters, and endlessly inventive villains. But most of all, I love her humor. I almost fell out of my chair when I read Grandma Mazur's account of shooting the roast chicken in its gumpy at the dinner table. 

I would never try to claim I am as brilliantly funny as Janet, but her unique brand of humorous romantic suspense has been a major influence on my Phoenix, Ltd. female bodyguard series. I don't do scary well. I'll never write hide-under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight, serial-killer suspense. I want readers to worry how my characters are going to thwart the unknown antagonist, but I want them to laugh while they're doing it. 

Taking a page from Janet, one of my favorite ways to add humor is with colorful supporting characters. Because my books are stand-alone stories instead of a series featuring the same central character, there's no opportunity for a single, fabulous sidekick like Lula. Instead, my bodyguard heroines are beset by a meddling Chinese grandma, a malfunctioning cooking robot, and a light-fingered Capuchin monkey with a bad attitude. These secondary characters are perfect for lightening the mood whenever the situation gets too tense.

I also love snappy dialogue--classic, old movie-style bantering. I have a dry sense of humor and a smart mouth, and so do most of my heroines. Even the men are no slouches in the wit department. I like dialogue so much, large swaths of my first drafts read more like screenplays than novels. Sometimes, my characters are so chatty I can barely type fast enough to keep up with them. I have to go back later and add all the physical and emotional elements to round out the story.

Here are a couple of my favorite lines:

"It's not too late," Carter said in a stage whisper. "You can still change your mind and travel as my masseuse."

She sent him a quelling glance. "You do know I'm carrying a gun, right?" from UNWRITTEN RULES

As he carried her up the grand staircase, visions of Tara flashed through her mind. Although he didn't take the stairs two at a time like Rhett Butler, all she needed was a lush, red velvet dressing gown to transform into Scarlett O'Hara. Oh, and a night beyond her wildest dreams. 

That was so not happening. from BOILING POINT

When it comes to writing humor, I bow at the feet of Mistress Evanovich, but if you love her books as much as I do, I invite you to check out UNWRITTEN RULES and BOILING POINT. And the third book in the series is due out early this summer.



Sunday, January 14, 2018

Are Canine Kisses a #Moodlifter? by Christine DePetrillo

Is there anything in the world better than sloppy doggie kisses? Is there? I doubt it. I can have the absolute worst day, but ten seconds after opening my garage door and stepping into my basement, my entire outlook is changed. Science agrees with me. According to this Time article"People who have pets tend to have lower blood pressure, heart rate and heart-disease risk than those who don’t." Pets are moodlifters and good for your body! 

Keeping an eye on some deer in our field

For those of you that don't know, I have a large dog. A very large dog. Like outweighs-me-large dog. When I come home, he's usually right on the other side of the door, tail a-waggin' and snuffling noises of pure excitement sounding as I push into the house.

And then we cuddle. Seriously cuddle. Due to his size, I can literally spoon my dog. So that's what we do. For at least a 60-second count. In that minute of spooning, my soul is at total peace. Nothing in the world matters. Nothing that happened at work matters. Nothing on my to-do list matters. There is only thick German Shepherd fur to bury my face in. There are only oversized ears to rub. There is only the deep, growling rumble of canine bliss as we enjoy our reunion.

But such snuggling only lasts so long and then the beast wants to walk and play. He's a good sport though. He'll throw a few more kisses my way and when I've been sufficiently loved, we walk for a good forty minutes through the 'hood. Most days, I'm not really sure who walks who.

A few neighbors say hello, but most have learned that my dog takes protecting me very, very seriously. If your hello is a little too boisterous, he'll let you know. If your greeting looks as if you might approach us, he'll tell you to stay back. If you're walking with a little dog... good GOD, don't bother with us at all! Neither of us can handle it.

When we've had enough of the streets, we return home to play in the yard or in the basement. Or, most likely, both places. After this hour of walk and play--and sometimes dancing (The Werewolf loves to conga)--both the dog and I are different. He's released some of his zoomies and I've tapped into a new well of my energy. We're both renewed. I'm able to slip into writer mode after this transition time with my pooch. My mind is settled and ready to create some magic on the page.

I always thought I was a cat person, and don't get me wrong, I love my two cats, but it's not the same. They don't alter my mood. They don't seem to know exactly what I need.

They poop on the carpet.

I'd much rather have canine kisses. How about you?


Looking for more kisses and canines? Try Wolf Kiss, Book One in my Warrior Wolves series. Only $0.99 in ebook!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

What does #amwriting mean for some of us? by J L Wilson

I'm sure you've seen the #amwriting hashtag here and there. It's meant to show that hey, authors are making progress on whatever writing project we're doing.

I always find myself reluctant to start a big writing project, simply because I know it means that my brain will no longer be my own for months. Seriously. I will have voices in my head, I'll fall asleep and wake up thinking "what would she say to him at this point?" and I will be working feverishly to meet a deadline I've imposed on myself.

I will think, eat, drink, and sleep these characters and this plot for at least 6 months (4 months for some of my smaller books). My life will, in essence, not be my own. It will be shared with them for every waking moment. I will no longer have time for "relaxation" like just watching TV (without thinking how I can use a scene in one of my books), going to movies (ditto), shopping (wondering how my main character would act if she saw shoes like that), and so on.

Does it sound like a grind? It feels like it sometimes. The series I'm working on is somewhat soul-consuming in the sense I've been with these characters for years and I've really put them through hell and back. I've got 2 books to go to finish this series, although I suspect I'll end up doing a bunch of rewrites before I actually get around to publishing it.

For me, #amwriting means I'm in the zone. I'm mostly somewhere else most of the time, not quite here and mostly there, living in my head and at my keyboard, working out plot points and figuring how to get my characters from point A to point B. Don't get me wrong: it's what I do. I love doing it and wouldn't change it for the world. I'm just a little preoccupied for the next 6 months or so. You may need to knock loudly for me to hear you.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Wow! #ebooks for #free or #cheap by Vonnie Davis

Okay, hands up. Who doesn't love a good sale? I certainly do. There's just something satisfying about saving ten cents on a pound of chicken or eighteen dollars on a sweater. Books are no different. Yesterday, I read an ad about Bookbuh, claiming to be THE new hot spot for readers. A book bargain bonanza.

Signing up is easy; just give then your email and chose four or five genres you love to read. You'll get a daily email with a list of free or deeply reduced ebooks for a day or a week.

One lady claims she's gotten more books for free from this site than she'll ever read. OUCH! Not what a writer likes to hear.

On the other hand, books put on sale there for a day or more make authors money due to volume sold. It also helps us build a reader base YAY!

A few of my books have been put on Bookbub by the publisher. One book with Harper Collins sold over 2500 copies on the day it was featured on sale. This was a book in a series of four. All benefited from that one book's sale day. That is to say, my rankings shot up on all of them over the next month.

When Random House places one of my books on Bookbub, that book will shoot to the top one-hundred and higher rankings on Amazon and the top twenty or higher on Barnes & Noble. My books typically sit in the 100,000 to 350,000 rankings. So this boost, even for a few days, is a boon for me.

But how hard is it for an independent author to place his/her book on Bookbub? First, you have to come up with the money. Calvin's checked into it for me and costs run between $400 to $800. per day, depending on the genre. For example, the romantic suspense I thought about trying to get listed would cost us roughly $500.

The numbers of reviews play into your chance of getting a spot, too. Not for a publisher, it seems, because my book with Harper Collins barely had 30 reviews. The last time I tried to get one of my independent books on Bookbub, I was told it didn't have enough reviews. But I was never told what the minimum was. How come, I wonder.

So, I'm slowly trying to get more reviews of Book One of my Paris Intrigue series in hopes of one day getting it on Bookbub.



 A grim-faced guard stepped in front of Alyson Moore when she raised her camera to take a picture. “Madame, in the Louvre, we do not photograph the Mona Lisa.” His lips fashioned a thin line of disapproval.
 Alyson’s eyes scanned the crowd, for even as the security guard admonished her, scores of other tourists, their arms upraised, used cell phones to snap photos. “Am I the only one trying to take a picture here?” Without waiting for a reply, she pocketed her camera, and the snippy, tight-assed guard moved on.
She shouldered her way through the early morning crowd in the Salon Carrẻ to get a closer look at the painting encased in bullet-proof glass. Seeing Da Vinci’s masterpiece was a dream come true. No one, not even an overzealous guard, would spoil her time with Mona.
Once the museum opened its doors at nine sharp, and Alyson passed through security, she hurried to see this woman of mystery. The throngs of people already crowding the gallery surprised her.
She slipped between two men and stepped closer to the leading lady of the gallery. Alyson’s nose twitched from the sweet and sour blitz of assorted perfumes and various degrees of hygiene. Murmurings of adulation echoed off the gallery walls as if the Mona Lisa were a five-hundred-year-old rock star. How had one painting achieved such stardom?
If the ever-present guard wouldn’t allow photographs, she’d sketch some of Mona’s fans standing, spellbound by her enigmatic smile. When she finally tugged her large sketchpad free from the tight confines of her yellow leather bag, other items fell and scattered.
Alyson crouched to retrieve pieces of charcoal, just as the man standing next to her bent to place a black backpack, the style European men were so fond of carrying, on the marble tile floor.
Their eyes locked.
“Excuse me, you’re standing on my things.” Alyson pointed to his shoe. The man, face damp with perspiration, scowled, raised his foot and snatched her navy scarf, hotel keycard and passport, crushing them into a ball. He stuffed the wadded scarf into her outstretched hand and stood.
Alyson reached, fingering for the last charcoal pencil that rolled beyond her reach. She straightened and realized the man in the dark green t-shirt was walking away. The tattoo of a scorpion on the back of his neck. “Sir? Sir, you’ve forgotten your bag. Monsieur?
He didn’t respond.
She called after him again.
The man disappeared into the crowd.
The museum guard approached. “Is there a problem, Madame?”
“Yes, that man left his backpack here.” Alyson indicated the black canvas bag on the floor. “He set it down at the same time I dropped some things.” She held out her navy scarf to show the guard and suddenly it hit her that her scarf was empty. She shook it out to make sure. “My hotel key and passport!” Pulling apart the sides of her shoulder bag, she rummaged through its contents, hoping against hope she’d shoved them inside without thinking. Still, with her passport the same shade as her scarf, she assumed it was wrapped in the scarf’s folds.
“I don’t believe this. He took my keycard and passport. Why would he take my things and leave his bag behind?”
The guard’s eyes widened for a second. “Madame, you are sure the man left this bag?” He pressed a button and spoke into a speaker attached to the lapel of his uniforme, a scowling gaze intent on Alyson.
“Yes. He…he was setting it on the floor at the same time I squatted to retrieve my fallen items. I asked him to move his foot since he was standing on them.” Alyson groaned as realization sunk in. She was in a foreign country with no passport. Oh, hell!
The guard cautiously unzipped the backpack. Yellow wires. The man stepped back,  depressed the communications button again, and spoke rapid-fire French. Pandemonium erupted. Armed guards rushed toward the abandoned black bag. Once the word “bomb” was uttered, visitors screamed as they stampeded from Mona Lisa’s room.
Suddenly, Alyson stood in the eerie deafening silence with only the pounding of her heart and the cocking of guns reverberating in her ears—she and the black bag containing explosives surrounded by eight armed guards.
Holy effing shit!