Let’s Talk Blurbs

Lately, I’ve been thinking about blurbs. You know, the kind on the back of books (or on bookseller sites) and the kind needed for BookBub and ads that don’t want it to be so wordy. It’s important to draw a reader’s attention.

I can’t say I’m great at them, but heck, I see some pretty sad ones. This one I came across in an ad and thought it needed help. I bet the book is awesome, but someone needs to work on the author’s blurbs. Of course, there could be people who would think the same about mine. Anyway, this is my blog and my opinion. HA! You will note I did not leave in character names and I don’t say who the author is. This is not to embarrass the person, just to help other authors who might come across this post.

“When a hit man targets [heroine’s name], gorgeous cop [hero’s name] comes to her defense. But the more time he spends with her, the more irresistible she becomes!”

There were several things I would change and I’m sure more to do with personal preference. What bothered me the most was the word “BUT.” BUT is used to contrast a prior phrase or clause per the dictionary on my computer. What is being contrasted? If the short blurb said, “cop comes to his enemy’s defense” or something like that, I could understand the BUT.

I also want to know why “gorgeous cop?” What does gorgeous have to do with the plot? And really, most of the heroes in romances are gorgeous, even if it just the heroine feeling that way.

By the way, when writing a longer blurb, remember to keep to the basics of what will pull in the reader. Telling a lot of backstory or explaining the whole book will not work. Think of what are the hero/heroine’s goal, motivation, and conflict (GMC)? You can use the following to help fill in those points: want, because, but. Here’s an example from Darynda Jones’s First Grave on the Right. The GMC is pointed out in brackets [ ]. Note that she has actually two conflicts [buts].

“Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. [WANT] And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” [BUT] But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), [BECAUSE] sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. [BUT] Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.”

She/publisher did pretty good, heh? Short and hits a lot of hot spots for readers. I hope this helps when you plan to write your next blurb.

A Little Something

Jake adThe other day, one of my writer friends was setting up a press release for our book signing at Barnes and Noble (The Summit) in Birmingham, Alabama on February 8 from 1 to 3 p.m.  And she asked a couple questions you might be interested in seeing the answer.

As a local author, what about Birmingham and Alabama inspires you? How do you weave your local experiences into your stories?

A well-known fact of the South, it’s rich with culture and history. The people love to tell about what happened to them and their relatives with rarely any of the good bits left out. My dad and his dad were big talkers and big readers. No surprise that I am too. So when you mix a reader with someone who likes to talk, they often turn out to be a writer. That’s me.

Pile It on

Female legs and revolver

You know what I like about romance books? Of course, the hot sex, but truthfully, the layers my favorite authors weave into their stories. For romances, there should be two main plots in the book.

One, of course is the mystery of romance. You know, the mystery of how they come to understand they should be together (not just because they are compatible in bed, though that is important as it is in relationship) and how they work out their happy ending. A lot of this is internal conflict because love is emotion. Like duh, right?

Second, what is going on in their lives that pull them together? Or make sure they are at the same place at the same time? It can be a missing child, a failing ranch, a killer on the loose, etc. You get the idea. This is the external conflict.

Then you can layer on more. Maybe the two main characters’ families are mortal enemies (Jake: A Southern Crime Family Novel), or hero has a problem with being touched (Full Heat: A Brothers of Mayhem Novel), or heroine reappears after disappearing years before (Circle of Deception: The Circle series). That’s right. The hero and heroine should never be perfect. One can be a little less perfect than the other, but both should have faults. That makes them so much more interesting.

Just be careful with the layers and plots. As an author, it’s important to keep up withFemale legs and revolver
them. The plots need advancement throughout the book, and certainly need to be solved completely by the end. The layers need to show up along the way too. Usually, those faults need to be improved or a promise of improving. Not all of them, but the major ones. At the end of the book, the characters have to be better for knowing each other.

The only exception to solving a plot or improving a fault or more within a book is when it’s part of a series involving one main character. Such as Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, Darynda Jones’s Charley Davidson series, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, etc. 

Personally, I’ve quit reading series with a same main character. I get bored, and after awhile, the hero/heroine gets on my nerves. Maybe because they do not seem to grow and learn from their mistakes. Don’t get me wrong. The series above and many others are great series (they wouldn’t be NYT best selling books if they weren’t) but it’s just not my thing, my taste.

My series have a couple threads that run through them to connect, but nothing major. That’s why most can be read as standalones. The Southern Crime Family series is Full Heat_Swaffordcurrently the only one that will need to be read in order. Only book one (Jake) is out. Book two should be in the summer of 2020. The series is about three brothers and their
journey to find love and the true killer responsible for their father’s death. Each book is about a brother.

Another thing about plots. In my books of 60,000 words or less, I try not to throw in a complicated plot(s). Simple is best. If you didn’t, you would limit the romance in such a small book. And no, geez, that doesn’t mean putting in more sex. Romance is emotion. Getting to know each other’s personality traits, understanding why they do the things they do, often learning to trust each other, they are all part of a romance.

For that matter, I write for entertainment. The only place I teach a person something is through my blog posts here (or the workshops I do on occasion).

So Minor, But Important

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I was watching an interview with Mike Fisher, a retired NHL Nashville Predator and hubby of Carrie Underwood. In being teased about NHL roommates on the road, he mentioned they no longer have to share a room (per the CBA).

So many hockey romances I’ve read mention roommates. The junior leagues probably still do and that’s where others picked it up. Thus one of many reasons I read interviews, opinions, etc. about the NHL. I’m striving to make it real. Well, as real as a romance should be. Most readers appear to not want real-real. (e.g., My Brothers of Mayhem books.)

Interview by Kenya!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kenya. She was a member of my writers group, and hopefully will be again when she returns to Alabama.  YAY!

She has this wonderful group on Facebook called The KGB:  The Ks Grown & Sexy Book Club.

She sent me the following questions to prepare for the interview. There were some great questions. To make sure my mind wouldn’t go blank, I filled them out and even cheated on the video interview by glancing at them.  LOL!

So if you want to join her group and check out the video (plus many other authors), here’s the link. The KGB.  Lots of fun!

Who are you and what genre to do you write?

Female legs and revolverCarla Swafford AND I WRITE ACTION/ADVENTURE  ROMANTIC SUSPENSE (lots of car chase scenes and running around – think James Bond); and recently I’ve delved into hockey romance!  LOVE Hockey! GO PREDATORS! What romance book popped your cherry?
Oh, my, I was young. Around 12. Roberta Gellis, Bond of Blood.  Got it because it had a horse and knight on it.  I didn’t understand the sex scene until I reread it years later.  Still love the story though it has stretches of history information.  One thing about older romances, they go into more details than necessary.


What was the last romance book blew your mind?

The most recent one was Kerrigan Byrne’s The Hunter.  I actually listened to the book through Audible.  It’s a regency but different. The hero was to kill the heroine (that’s not unusual in the type of books I read). Maybe it was the narration mixed with the writing and hero who wasn’t pushy, but a here-I-am, take-me-as-I-am sort. He didn’t try to change for her or be an ass. It struck the right notes for me that I bought it in paperback so I can read it the old fashioned way. Maybe get a better idea of what was about the book that I loved so much it.  I rarely buy paperback anymore.   

How did you get started writing romance?

Back in the eighties, my favorite authors took their time in writing books (I understand that), so I got tired of waiting and decided I have a good imagination, and instead of waiting for an author to write the book I really want, I would write it myself.  Took me a few years, between kids, a full time job, and life, I finished it, but it was horrible and I knew it. I had no idea how to go about improving it. So I wrote another one. The first was a historical romance, and I thought a contemporary would be easier. LOL!  It was a romantic suspense.   Horrible again. But it didn’t take as long to write.  Not long after that I found out about RWA.  I joined in 1993.  

Which one of your heroes would you risk it all for?

That’s a good question. For I love all of my guys.  I guess I’ll have to go with my favorite, Jack, and sadly, his story got cut short. His is in a novella (Circle of Defiance), but he shows up in all of my Circle books. He’s funny, loves his cat, made sure his brother married the woman his brother had loved for so long. He keeps falling in love with women he can’t have, until Katerina (a mob boss’s daughter), and he loves to recite poetry when he’s in a romantic mood.  He shaves

Female legs and revolverhis head and has tats and piercings all over his upper torso.

If there was an apocalyptic disaster what is your weapon and what character in any book would you want by your side?

Olivia St. Vincent from my book Circle of Desire.  She can kick butt and is a great shot with a sniper rifle.

What was your best fan moment as a fan girl or as an author?

Oh, how to choose. I’ve been fortunate to meet most if not all of my of my favorite authors.  I have to say, Anne Stuart. She’s so much fun.  One of the writers in my RWA chapter knew her well enough to ask her to be a speaker at one of our luncheons.  I was appointed (like I begged to be appointed) as the contact to pick her up at the airport. Anne Stuart was having a problem with a knee, so she had airport assistance in bringing her in a wheelchair to where I was to meet her.  There she sat in her wheelchair coming up a gangway and I stood in a crowd of people waiting. I held a sign that said, “Anne Stuart:  I’m your number one fan.”  She started laughing when I turned it for it read “I don’t own an ax.” (Referring to Stephen King’s Misery.)

Favorite trope to read and favorite trope to write?

Favorite Trope to READ:  marriage of convenience (historical Romance or contemporary). Thus why I wrote JAKE: A Southern Crime Family novel.
Favorite Trope to WRITE:  I guess most people who read my books can tell, most of my books have something about protecting family, especially younger 
siblings.

What do you have on deck next?

Presently writing a second book, Fake Play, in the Atlanta Edge Hockey team’s world.  I love it when a heroine goes to Las Vegas to party and turns up married to the hero and doesn’t remember a thing (or close to it) the next morning.

But my latest book for sale is JAKE: A Southern Crime Family novel.  It’s that favorite trope of mine.  Marriage of convenience. 

In your own words tell us about this book?

Female legs and revolverJake is the eldest of three sons to the meanest man in Marystown, Alabama. Someone has killed the old man and they have to find the murderer.  When he’s shot at during the funeral, he chases down a suspect that turns out to be Angel Tally. Angel is the granddaughter to the patriarch of the Tally family. She proceeds to tell him he has to marry her. He doesn’t believe her. But he can’t help remembering the time in high school when she stole his wallet, and he gave her a spanking.  She remembers too, and wants to experience his hand on her ass again. She’s always had a thing for him, but she needs to take care of her teenaged brother. Protect him from the life she lives as a collector for the Tally family and far away from the crazy Whitfields. Jake has a secret to protect and having a wife is not in the cards, especially a dangerous, untrustworthy Tally.  Then his father’s will is read.  It does appear he and Angel will be marrying. Otherwise, all of his plans to go legit will go to hell with his father.

What prompted this series & these particular characters ?

I had to think about this for a little while. Let’s say when I was growing up, most of the heroes I watched in the movies and TV where anti-heroes. Like Jack 
Nicholson in Easy Rider, Marlon Brando in The Godfather, and Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. I think that’s why I read and write guys who are not necessarily nice guys. Though in the end, they are often on their knees begging for forgiveness or promising a good time. Anyway, because I love bad boys (and married to one), I decided to write a book about a family of bad men. I set it in the south because those are the type of guys I know.

What was the challenge in writing these characters?

The challenge is showing they can be assholes without making the readers (and their love interest) hate them. I have to show they are the way they are because of their upbringing. They are trying to improve their life. Especially Jake. We are yet to see what Sen and Ethan think about Jake’s plan for their father’s businesses.

What is your writing process like?
I used to write and write and write and then go back and change and correct and get frustrated all the way through. I would hate the book before I got through. It made me a slow writer. But when I was writing for Random House, they wouldn’t let me just provide a paragraph on what I want to write next (Like HarperCollins Avon had) and go with it. They asked for an outline. OUTLINE?! So I took Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat (for screen writers) book and used his beat Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00009]sheet to make my outline.

I realized two things. It helped to get my ADD brain to concentrate and make the plot work without having to tweak it over and over again. And helped me to write the story faster. Working full time (and during the summer that is usually around 50 hours a week) and doing all the other things a woman has to do, I can write a 60,000 to 80,000 book in 5 months. That’s doesn’t include editing by the outside editor though. I would like to point out I do not necessarily follow the outline all the way through the book, but if I get stuck, I can look at it and I’m off writing again.

Readers often want to know where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

From reading other romance books, movies, news reports, gossip, magazines, etc. I have a vivid imagination. Usually it’s only a scene or character that strikes my fancy and I decide I have a better idea, or different way to present something or someone. (Christy Reece’s Second Chance with the hero being manipulated by the bad guys through a drug lead to me writing Circle Danger and heroine under the influence of bad guys’ drugs.)

Best thing about writing romance and being an author?

Hearing people say they love my books and want to read more. It’s like hearing people say your child has great manners and was brought up right.

Two things people would be surprised to know about you?

noSXAHh6TCK0nRukrY0c2gI was RWA’s Pro Mentor of The Year in 2015
I was first author to be pulled from the slush pile when HarperCollin’s started Avon Impulse

Where do you write or favorite place to write?

At my desk at home.  Working full time, I often write whenever/wherever I have the time.

Your favorite type of heroine to write; your favorite type of heroine one to read?

I like all types, read or write.  She can be a bitch if she has a reason (logically) to be one and finds her softer side and wants to improve at some point in the book.  She can be a wimp as longs as she develops a backbone when she never thought she could. In other words, they grow as a person.  Just as a perfect heroine (goody-two-shoes and all) must show her flaws along the way to being a real person.

Who is your favorite author right now?

Louise Bay. Love her sexy men.  Especially the English ones.

What’s on your keepers shelf?

Linda Howard, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lorraine Heath, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Ashley, Julie Garwood, Lisa Kleypas.
Most recent of course is The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne,


Who is your all-time favorite book boyfriend?

John Medina.  Linda Howard’s book titled ALL THE QUEEN’S MEN.  It put a spark in me to write CIRCLE OF DESIRE.  Nothing alike except they’re both Romantic Suspense and dangerous men.

What is your all-time favorite book?

I just don’t have it in me to say one. They are usually the books I read more than once.  Linda’s book I mentioned before; because it had all the things I like in a romantic suspense: mystery, danger, action, sexy moments, humor, and a good twist.


Then Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Autistic hero); Anne Stuart’s Fire and Ice (Asian hero); Megan McKinney’s Lions and Lace (Irish hero); Lorraine Heath’s Lord of Wicked Intentions (Hero has issues about being touched);  Candace Camp’s (written as Lisa Gregory) The Rainbow Season (Bad boy married good girl in turn of 20th century).  I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting.

 

What are they saying?

Female legs and revolverLast month, a member of my local chapter of the Romance Writers of America gave a presentation on Reviews. She did a wonderful job. She showed everyone how even best-selling romance authors can have two and one star reviews. That reviewers can even hate our favorite stories. You know, the books you catch yourself re-reading on those rainy, gloomy days in an effort to cheer yourself up.

Of course, being an author, my books are up for review. The funny thing about it, like so many authors out there, I can have mostly 4 and 5 stars, but it’s the 1 and 2 stars that catch my attention. Many authors say when they read the lower stars, they look for common complaints and then try to improve from there.

Personally, I find the common complaints to be the story didn’t go the way the reviewer wanted or the character wasn’t acting like a goody two-shoe. How boring! So I say, they need to write their own books.

I like my characters to have flaws. Not just that they place their elbows on the table as they eat type of flaws. But that they have low self-esteem, or too confident, or see the world as dog-eat-dog type of existence, or they can be a number one asshole/bitch. I like to think I make my characters real. I guess that’s why I hear “gritty” in a few of my books’ reviews. I take that to mean the characters and their actions are close to real life.

Unlike real life, I do make sure the ending is happy or at the least satisfying, especially when it comes to the main two characters. And they change by the end of the book and for the better.And thinking of stars, how often have you seen a reviewer write “I give this book three and half stars,” but show only 3 stars. What? First, don’t say half if the program doesn’t allow half stars (or coffee cups, hearts, or whatever).  Three and half should always be rounded up to 4 stars. I had to get that off my chest. It drives me crazy.

Or their review will read, “I loved this book!” And then give 3 stars. What? LOVE is only worth 3? Crazy.

I wish booksellers and review sites would get rid of stars (or whatever they use) and just have reviews. Or maybe booksellers should explain their star (or whatever) system to reviewers. All of it is inconsistent.  Once again, I had to get that off my chest. We authors know we cannot make comments on reviews or we’ll be gang-banged by the reviewer community, especially the trolls. So we grin and bear it.

With all of that being said, let me show what they are saying about my latest book, Crossing The Line.  My first hockey romance book. And yes, they will only the good comments. Thankfully, the yucky ones are fewer.

Per Marcia, I found the characters interesting, more so as they were developed. The provocative plot written with an appealing voice made this an engaging read. 

Per Diane, Carla Swafford did a great job with the plot. It was clever how things played out. The story was thought-provoking and heartfelt. This is the first book that I have read by Carla Swafford. I enjoyed her writing style. I am interested in continuing to follow this series. I recommend this book to people that enjoy sports romances. 

Per B., Kitty made my heart break from the first page. She had no self confidence, worth, or esteem. Casey (Roman’s agent) was a total [skeeze] and disgusting looser. Roman had a good heart and he melted mine with his intentions and actions towards Kitty from the first day.

Per lq, Kitty, especially, showed a great deal of personal growth and changes over the course of the novel in [a] way that I found endearing.

You can find the reviews on Goodreads or/and Amazon. 

Newly Designed Website

How do you like my newly designed website? I should’ve been writing but the way my website looked after changing it about a month ago really bugged me. So I worked on it all afternoon until 2:30 a.m. in the morning. I think I finally got it right and love it. What do you think?

If you’re wondering, it’s a template provided by WordPress. They have some great offers and no they are not paying me to say that. But I believe in saying up front if I had help and I sure did.

Now for me to get back to writing. That’s what I really love. Some good news to come soon. Probably by next weekend.

New Release March 26!

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Atlanta Edge’s hottest Russian hockey star made a big mistake. Now he must find a way to apologize big time to the girl he left behind in the States.

I’ve been a puck bunny most of my life. So when Roman Volkov, up and coming hockey star with the Atlanta Edge, takes me home and treats me like a queen, I believe I’ve found the man I can love. Then one morning, I wake to the news that Roman has left me behind while he plays in Russia. His agent takes pleasure in kicking me out of Roman’s house. I don’t believe anything the sleazy man says. Roman is good to me. No way will he treat me this way. So I go in search for the truth and I discover so much more.

I’m suffocating on the third line when the season ends. So when I get a call from Russia in the middle of the night to participate in a high-profile tournament, I go for it. I’m certain a gold medal will launch me into the top line with my team back in the States. No sooner than I arrive, I call Kitty Summerville to explain why I left without waking her. She’s not answering. Has my ambition destroyed any chance of a future with her? When I return, my sexy kitten and I will have a long conversation.

Only, I want to know why is she living with my Coach, and his wife and family?

The Heroine Hero

The Heroine Hero

No. I didn’t leave out anything between heroine and hero. Lately, there has been a debate of rather or not the word heroine is outdated.

Someone on Twitter had said that comics…oops…graphic novels (or whichever term you prefer) refer to superheroes no matter the sex of the character, not superheroes and superheroines. Okay. Sounds cool right? There’s more I can say about female superheroes and some of their costumes, but that’s not really what I’m talking about here.

I understand why people are saying there shouldn’t be a difference, but I disagree with that when it comes to traditional romance novels. So you can say there are certain stories or books that it should always be okay. It’s to do with their gender, and the two are equal in their importance in the story.

My novels have a heroine and a hero. They have a man and woman who fall in love. It is just my preference to write those type of stories.

Okay now on to the heroine hero point I want to bring up. I see this happen mostly in paranormal romances. I’m sure it happens in other genres. Maybe romantic suspense. You know, a female detective with a male lead who isn’t in law enforcement.

Anyway, it’s where the female lead has all of the skills to the point she doesn’t need the male lead, and she has big time control issues. As in she wants to control everyone and everything around her. It’s most tiring to read. While the male lead is there merely so they can have sex, and the book can be called a romance. Sure, he may come in and help out, but he is really just beefcake. Kind of like how the woman is sometimes treated in other books. (Then she would be just cheesecake. Look it up. LOL!)

I prefer that the male lead possess a certain skill or object she needs (get your mind out of tFemale legs and revolverhe gutter) to defeat the evil entity. That gives him a solid reason for being there.

While I’m writing this, I’m mentally going through my published books. Do I have a heroine hero? No. I have a few heroines with control issues, and the heroes certainly have their own issues, but they have skills.

Circle of Desire has a female assassin, and she loves to use men for relief (this is where you can let your dirty mind run free), but the hero is certainly there for a reason. He kidnaps her and works on bringing her over to the good side.

Hidden Heat_Swafford

In Hidden Heat, the heroine is bossy and unafraid of the bad guys. They are like uncles to her. Men who she grew up around. So she knows the Brothers of Mayhem MC inside and out, and the hero (undercover cop) can use her knowledge to bring the bad guys down.

My heroines are not wimps, but the two above are the most gutsy.

I like to think most of my lead characters are on equal footing, but the heroine is all woman and the hero all man, and that makes the dynamics of the romance more interesting.

Love it? Review It.

Love it? Review It.

Heroine wants to save the man she loves, but not everyone is cut out to be a killer.

The last Bookbub I looked at was Tuesday’s. Today I caught up.

A few interested me, but not enough to buy. I’ve been wanting to cut back on my TBR pile. So the book has to interest me big time. Wednesday, nothing. Thursday, thought about one, but decided I’ve read too many like it and have been disappointed. Friday, interesting, but a no go.

Finally, Saturday’s has three I’m interested in. An erotic Romantic Suspense: Hero offers to pull heroine’s business out of debt if she obeys him in all ways for 30 days. Historical Romance: A Scottish warrior inherits an English earldom and an impoverished lady will teach him “proper” etiquette. Sci-Fi romance: Girl goes to war torn planet and meets two warriors.

I try to narrow my choices by looking at the full blurb on Amazon or iBooks. Sometimes it reveals the book isn’t what I really want. Maybe too heavy on history, or doesn’t really concentrate on the romance. And I’m not talking about sex. I like the one-on-one relationship building. I don’t mind a little arguing as long as it doesn’t get stupid. You know, arguing for argument sake.

Then if I’m still interested in the book, I read the sample. I can’t tell you how often I read the beginning and became SO bored. Then others are just not to my taste.

So far, I’ve bought the erotic Romantic Suspense. Passed on the Sci-Fi romance. The blurb did it. So not what I thought it would be. Maybe the author or editor messed up in telling the summary, but that’s the way it goes. Still thinking about the Historical Romance.

When it comes to To-Be-Read piles, mine is small. Around 10 e-books, and about the same in paperbacks.

I refuse to mistreat the authors who go out of their way to provide a deal that takes you years to read. When you finally read the book you bought 2-3 years ago, and it turns out to be great, and you go in search for the author, don’t be surprised if you can’t find another book from that author. Please understand. The author thought no one liked her books. You didn’t read it and review it, or tell your friends because you took so long to read it. For an author to make only $100 a year on her books isn’t enough to keep going.

And don’t get me started on selling a book that took months, if not a year to write for 99 cents. Someone told me recently that charging more than 99 cents for an e-book is horrible. She says the author doesn’t have to spend money on paper and printing. Like that’s the only reason a person reads a book. Maybe I’ll try to sell her a bunch of books with nothing printed inside. I bet she wouldn’t pay $7 dollars for each then. It’s the words inside that makes them valuable.

Think of it this way, I use a computer to write my books and often have to get a new one every two to four years. (Salesperson in the store said they aren’t made to last no more than two years. Bull crap!) When you write everyday in your spare time, they get overused and/or obsolete. My wage from a day job pays for it. Not my writing. Then I go to a writers conference to hear experts talk about how to make my manuscripts/books better, fresh, or more exciting. Again my day job helps pay for my airfare/gas, hotel, food, and the huge conference fee. Not my writing. Even if I go to a local college to take a class or two, I have to pay tuition. Not provided by my books. I giveaway book marks (readers still love them despite most read e-books), pens, t-shirts, and gift cards to readers. Day job, not writing. Let’s not even get into the costs of ads.

If I self-publish a book, there is the cover art that can range from $20 (if I do the design) to $400 (by a professional designer and you could pay even more if you want a unique design/cover). I can format the inside of the book through Draft2Digital free. Then there’s the editor. She receives $350 to $450 a book. Some editors charge a lot more. So I dare you to tell me again the book is worth less than a dollar.

You say, why do all of that? Just write a good book, they will come. Despite what the movie, Field of Dreams, make you believe, it doesn’t necessary work that way.

Even if you have a publishing house–I’ve had the biggest–behind your book advertising the hell out of it, you still need to help.

Book signings do little. They are more to stroke your ego. Actually, I say go for it. Authors need all the ego stroking they can get. It’s a rough, thankless job. Kind of like being a mom. At book signings, I’ve given away more books than I’ve sold just with the hope they will read the others.

Sure most publishers give the author books, but only one of the two large publishing houses I’ve been with gave me six. Yep. Six. And those I gave to relatives because they think you’re being cheap by not giving them a book. To cover everyone, I usually have to buy a few extra. The other publisher gave me zilch. My book was published in e-book only. I will say they provided the most advertising to readers and bloggers (that’s the one I mentioned above). Of course, the self-published copies were provided to my family at my cost. You know, I’m rich off all of those books. NOT!

As you can tell, authors deserve more for each book. No matter what, be sure to tell your family and friends about the latest book you enjoyed and write a review and share it everywhere!  Thanks!

T-Shirts Are Not For All Occasions

IMG_1345First remember, my blog, my opinion. I can’t tell you what to do. I can only tell my family. HA!

And no, I’m not about to talk about hockey. I just want to first show you I do wear (what I consider) unfeminine clothing on occasion. That includes T-shirts. For years, I had only two or three T-shirts and that was mostly to wear when I’m painting walls or doing housework. But when I started watching and going to hockey games, I wanted to support my team and decided it would be okay to wear their T-shirts. Yes, they have a few cut for women, but those are tight. If I was forty years younger and fifty, okay, hundred pounds lighter, I would wear them, but I’ve seen the women at games, most are like me. Bless their hearts. NHL believes all women who support their men are thin and young. I can tell you, they need to increase the offers in plus sizes. Us fat people have money to spend, and we don’t have to ask hubby.

Anyway, for the last twenty years or a little more, I’ve seen women going to restaurants (not talking about fast food), movies, shopping (dear GOD! I won’t even get into talking about Walmart) at nice department stores, and even funerals wearing T-shirts. Yep, funerals. Remember T-shirts were originally made to wear beneath a shirt.

When my daughters were growing up, I would buy them nice classic feminine clothes, especially for the fun dances the school put on. What do the boys wear? T-shirts and cargo pants. Why? Why? They ruin the pictures with their sorry clothing. I won’t blame their moms (much), but as my daughter grew older, they learned to tell the fellows what to wear. Yes. They don’t want to be embarrassed by being seen with clueless boys/men.

How many times have you been out about and seen two people together (I’m not talking about gay couples) and cannot tell who is the female? Both are wearing baggy T-shirts, blue jeans, flip-flops, and their hair cut above the ears or hidden beneath a hat.

Personally, I’m proud to be a woman. I don’t wear frilly clothes and rarely wear dresses (though I love them, but hate my fat legs), but even overweight as I am, if you saw me walk by, you would know I’m female. Even with a T-shirt on (rarely out and about unless going or coming from a game), I have a purse, girly shoes, dangling earrings, makeup, and my hair below my ears and styled like a woman. (I really wish I could grow it long to my shoulders, but my hair is baby fine.)

You don’t have to wear stilettos (more power to you if you can) and a neckline down to your navel or skirt up to your butt. RuPaul can do that and as of today, he’s not a woman (he does look good in or out of a dress and makeup). I say you can be comfortable without a blasted T-shirt and still be feminine.

Be proud to be a woman and let others know it, even in subtle ways.

 

 

 

New Covers for The Circle Books

Here we go. Starting June 12, 2018, one book a week will be re-released with a new cover. I’m so excited and hope if you haven’t read them, you’ll give them a try.  Click on MY BOOKS above to see the back blurb on each.

 

Female legs and revolverFemale legs and revolverFemale legs and revolver

A Beautiful Life Being Published

A Beautiful Life Being Published

aXnH+gU1TWSC+R6CZW9BeQA few years ago, I posted on another blog about how wonderful it is to be a published author. Some of it was me teasing (aka sarcastic/ being funny) and a commenter thought I was for real and scolded me for not being appreciative of my good fortune. Anyway, I thought I would talk about what people expect when you become published. If you’ve been reading my posts for any time, you’ll know I love lists. So here we go.

  1. 1. Non-writers (not necessarily readers) believe you are rich. Less than 1 percent of published authors make enough for a living or more. No. I don’t have a link confirming that. But think, saying someone is rich because they were published, for example, with a traditional publisher like Penguin/Random House. That would be like saying a person who owns a business is rich. Did you know only 20% of new businesses survive their first year? So that means 80% lose money and close up. Writing is a business, a business most writers love, but they don’t work out for everyone.
  2. Writing takes time from being with family and friends. Many writers are overweight, manic depressives, alcoholics, drug addicts, etc., because once a person is published they are pressed by their publishers and fans to write more and faster. Most writers have a day job to pay the bills until they can make money. See #1 above. So we can be found on our computers (or handwriting in notebooks)  early in the mornings to late at night and all the times in between.  And yes, I know some authors can write a book in a few weeks. That’s all I’ll say about that. And yes, I’m a little green with envy, but … (biting my tongue).
  3. People expect you to give your books away. People become offended because I don’t give them a book. Family and friends are to support what you love, but they don’t want to buy. First, when you’re traditionally published, most authors only receive five to twelve books free from the publisher. Those are to be sent to reviewers, but I always gave them to my immediate family, signed. If you’re independently published (indie), then those books you hand over to family and friends are paid by you, and they don’t necessarily cost only two bucks.
  4. Reviews can be confusing and they don’t always help authors to become better writers. They can push an author into a gray funk. Yes. We try to avoid reading them, but it’s like driving down the interstate swearing you won’t look at the wreck, but we always glance at it. No matter if the majority of your reviews are five stars (coffee cup, hearts or whatever the fuck a person makes up), the four and less can kill you and the percentage. I really wish Amazon would do away with the stars. I’ve seen one stars because the author charged a dollar more a book than author xyz. That’s not why the review section is there. Read the book, review it, and then at the end, say (without affecting the stars) please lower your prices because we all know you’re rich. See #1 above. I’ve seen one stars because it’s written in first person. The blurb on the story is in first person. That should’ve been a clue, not counting there is usually samples on the same website page. Or one person gives four stars because it’s a great read. Four stars out of five, really? Great? Yes. The five stars are for those certain authors they love. Geez! Or one star because the hero has the same name as the reviewer’s lying, cheating SOB of an ex. That’s why stars (and the other kind) should be done away with. Yes. I need to write a blog about it.By the way, editors at publishing houses you submit to do look at reviews (mainly the number of stars) in particularly, at that troll paradise place called Goodreads.

    I know I struggle to improve my writing. Though many readers appreciate my writing (see picture above of an award). I’ve learned it doesn’t matter how well you promote yourself or the publisher does, it all boils down to the writing, the story you have to tell and how you write it. That’s what I figure where my problem lies.

    The word I hear in several of my reviews is gritty. That means, per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “having strong qualities of tough uncompromising realism.” I guess it’s okay for romantic suspense about assassins to have the term used, but I want more. So my next book will be a pure romance. Of course with sex, I’m not going off the deep end here. By changing the type of story and writing it in first person (oh, yeah, I’m going there), maybe I will find my niche.

  5. Author swag rarely sell books. BUT, I have to say if you send out 300 bookmarks and get one sale, it’s really worth it. For they may decide to buy your other books and tell their friends. That’s how the good things get started. Swag like pens, bookmarks, and other cutesy and cheap items for giveaway at book signings or in the line at the grocery store can be easy to carry in purses or computer cases. Really, in a way, they are items every writer loves because it is an ego thing. A way to tell strangers that you’re published.
  6. That brings me to doing giveaways on FB or websites/blogs. This is more than just bookmarks or postcards. If you give away big items like flash-drives, tablets, and huge dollar amount gift cards, be sure to advertise and/or pinpoint those fans who will celebrate by mentioning your name often. I’ve given away books and gift cards where people didn’t come back and acknowledgement their win with the info I need like their email address.  I do not add them to other lists. And I can understand not wanting a romantic suspense book if you read only historical romance. So be careful where you comment. If you do and see that you might win a book you’re not interested in, say “Don’t include me in the drawing.” If you think that’s rude, it’s just as rude not to accept the prize. You’ve prevented someone else from winning a book they may love. You can always add “I have too many books to read for now.” You know you won’t be lying. All readers do. Not lie, but have a huge stack on their Kindle or on their bookshelf or both.
  7. Book signings can be boring. In all of the signings I’ve participated, I’ve talked more to the authors around me than to readers. Don’t get me wrong. I’m an extrovert and will wave freebies at passersby to get them to stop and talk to me. Packages of M&Ms attached to postcards with pictures of a nearly naked man on the front will stop most attendees in their tracks. But if you’re not a well-known author, the readers will ease on by otherwise. I can tell you, you can go to every friend’s book signings before you’re published and chances are they won’t be there for your first. Bitter? Oh, yeah. Couldn’t help but let it spill out. I guess I’m in a mood.
  8. And no, once traditionally published doesn’t mean you’ll be forever published that way. Many, many reasons and it’s so hard to explain to non-writers. It can be from your editor leaving and the next one assigned can’t stand you and/or your writing to you don’t write the type of books they want no matter what they thought in the beginning. Goodness, there are hundreds of reason for not carrying on with the same publisher. If you’re lucky enough to click with the publisher, editor, and fans, I say bully for you! Stick with it until you know you need to write something different. Get that fan base and remember them when you’re writing your next book/series.

With all that said, I do love being published, traditionally and indie. I love writing the stories about two people falling in love and having fun doing it. Though I will say halfway through most of my books, I’m cursing as bad as my characters. I always wonder why in the hell I’m doing this, but when I hold that completed book in my hand. I feel proud that I finished something not everyone can or is willing to do. Maybe when my grandkids get older they will think Nana was one crazy woman, but they will remember me. They’ll know my name and know what I loved to do. Write.