Avoiding the Circus -and- A Breakthrough

ImageDo you have a mundane daily routine? Does every day seem like the previous one? Do things never change?

That’s certainly not my life, but I sometimes pine for that level of “normal” – if only for a week or two. How in the world do you ever write with consistency when you have no routine?

When there were four dogs, a son, and a husband in the house with me, it was a three-ring circus every day. With three of the dogs and the son now gone (I kept one beagle and the husband), we are still having at least two-ring circuses.

Where is the time to write?

Yesterday was “the day.” I was determined to get down to it, and nothing was going to get in my way of writing.

Then my sister called. She needed a ride to the hospital for a CT scan. No problem. ImageThe trip to the hospital turned into two trips to the hospital, an Arby’s lunch run for a Reuben sandwich for me, one trip to her surgeon’s office, and then a third trip back to the hospital where she was admitted for emergency surgery. I arrived home late in the evening. She had her surgery today, and she came through it just fine. She’ll soon be as good as new. Yay for great surgeons!

But something happened while I was waiting for her at the doctor’s office. I thought he would see her right away, so I opted to wait in the truck and listen to the radio. Earlier in the day, in an effort to keep her distracted and make her laugh, I told her I was going to write my next series of books about a couple of weight-challenged sisters who solve crimes in their community. We laughed, but the idea intrigued me, and I thought about it again while I waited for her.

I found a little notebook in my purse. I started jotting down ideas for characters. Names, ages, married or not, kids, jobs, community, etc., and a first line that will never stand: I swear that body was hard as a rock when my butt bounced off it.

I began scribbling as fast as I could. I managed just under 1300 words before my sister Imagecame out. At home, I hurried to type the words before I would forget and could no longer read what I had scribbled.  The last line on this page is: “Sorry, Sergeant. She’s got a knife in her.”

This was huge for me! I’ve been afraid to complete the Susan Hunter series for fear there wouldn’t be anything else. I kept thinking Susan was a fluke, a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder. Ha! No longer! Make way for a couple of fun sisters.

I’m not going to finish this first chapter just yet. I’m going to get back to Maple Leaf Hunter and enjoy writing the story. I’m going to keep an open mind that Susan just might show up again in the future – somewhere deep in a new series where she meets a couple of sisters via a Slimmers Weight Loss center.

Oh my gosh! Writing is crazy fun, and I continue to be amazed at how ideas pop up, rush in, and come together. Now, if I could just get my daily routine under control to make it all happen.

ImageEdited to add: Chinese was for dinner again tonight. I opened my fortune cookie a few minutes ago, and this one popped out!!  🙂

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A Male Perspective

More than ever, I’m convinced I have a genre problem. My books aren’t sophisticated with enough romance to satisfy chick-lit lovers, and the mystery element isn’t a murder to be solved from chapter one throughout, so hardcore mystery lovers may also not be satisfied, but those are the two genres available for my type of book.

Truly, I have to start a campaign for a fluffy, pink-with-a-hint-of-silliness genre. I market under Breezy Books. I promote my books as fun, easy, breezy reading with nothing to make you blush. I think there are still women who appreciate a book that is pretty squeaky clean. Tell your mothers and grandmothers about my books. They are suitable for young adults, but there is no fantasy or vampires, and I haven’t tested the YA market.

But … it was especially fun when fellow WordPress blogger, Mike Akin of sumthissumthat, decided to read my first book. Mike is working on his first novel, and I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading some of the beginning of his work, and it’s shaping up into a great story.

He is my first male reader (that I’m aware of) other than my husband. I have been tickled pink about this, and I want to share some of his email messages with you. The messages are sent to me from his phone, so there is no expectation of perfect punctuation or grammar.  We just go with it and laugh.

These are all separate emails – some days with more than one. Many of the smiley faces have been removed. We smile at each other a lot. His words are in bold, and we start with this note:

9/26I just saw your books on my iBooks app!! That is so freaking cool!! I’m corresponding with a famous person. I’ll be buying the first one later today!! This is so exciting lol

After I assured him my books were no great works of art, but they were fun, he replied:
I’m just tickled to death  lol  have a great day my friend … I love that he gets “tickled,” too.

I’ll kick your butt in racquetball   … Oops, not a comment about the book. We were one-upping each other in sports.


10/01
Bought your first book 🙂 how can I get it autographed? Lol

I’m reading it and like it!!


10/02
I love the description of play on the racquetball court in the scene where she first met mick

I replied to him:  Squee!!  Thank you.

He immediately wrote back: What was that sound? Image

I replied: That was me being excited and happy.  Kind of like a pig squeal.

In reference to one of the scenes in the book: Two aces to finish a match! I did that once or twice 🙂

Love it! That meeting in the pub, the harmless flirting lol I hope I’m reading the first one, sunshine hunter is the first right? Or does it matter? I’m sure it does. Again, I guess I’m hooked 🙂


10/3 –
(paraphrase from a line in the book) “He held my arms it’s a good thing cause I might have fallen down” … That’s good lol

wow I’m breezing right thru it. I think Susan needs to hook up with Darby

A side note about Susan and Darby after I showed him my two opening paragraphs for my fifth book I just started writing:
Wow Bonnie and Clyde lol GREAT

wow Darby is still around in next book I’m so looking forward to reading more


10/4 –
(paraphrase) “Susan you know I love you, and would love to date you, but (removed spoiler text).”  Great great

After I told him that the guy across the hall from Susan’s apartment opened his door, and the character was created just like that with no planning:
That’s cool about Darby. So he just appeared as a character and you went with it? I think I did that with Nancy’s sister Grace. Lol She will be in the story line thru out, but I don’t know how much 🙂


10/5 –
Food channel is referenced a lot in your book
I promptly responded: I like to cook. And eat.

Loved reading about the matches Susan had at that club in Florida. It brings back memories

Lol that is funny! Loudermilk for a last name 🙂


10/09 –
I loved the way (chapter) 9 ended! Shocker


10/11 –
I really like how your story took that twist with Susan and the (spoiler text removed) character 🙂 kudos to you

He’s so deep into the book, there would be too many spoilers now, so that’s all I’m sharing, but this has been a real hoot for me that a grown manly man is reading my book and enjoying it. It’s a real morale booster, and the rest of you men out there should take note and give my book a try. Sunshine Hunter – only 99 cents at fine ebook sellers online.

And below the fold is this bit of news I promised I’d share. My 50-book sale to ONE person at Smashwords has finally been reversed. The announcement was posted on their site that there were fraudulent credit card sales and all have been reversed this month. The secret admirer angle was a little too good to be true. ImageI have no questions to draw you in today, so we lapse into an awkward pause.

Ooh – or you can tell me what question(s) I should have asked. Or you can go over to Mike’s blog and have a look around. He has some of his wife’s art there, and he even has some manly recipes.

Leave Them Kids Alone

ImagePink Floyd. I’ve always been a Pink Floyd fan. Hubby is a mega-fan, and it’s not unusual to hear Floyd blaring from the den. I’ve had a Pink Floyd lyric running through my head this past week: “Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!” Leave them kids alone. The words shift; the tune remains, “Hey! Maddie! Leave them covers alone!” I’m not making this up. It’s in my head, and it’s annoying.

This evening, I approved the final artwork for the rework of my first cover. I’ve read plenty of articles about covers, and thought I had everything under control. A little more research tonight turned up some interesting tidbits, as there is a plethora of articles related to the mistakes of indie authors.  Ha! Here we go again. I compared my covers to the tips. All of these helpful hints appeared in more than one article:

1. Do not use a family member or relative to do your artwork.  – FAIL

2. Sexy covers are hot right now.  – FAIL

3. Do not put your name in small type in the lower right or left corner.  – FAIL

4. Do not clutter your cover. Design around one element.  – FAIL

5. Quit messing with your cover. Pick a design and stick with it.  – FAIL

6. Changing the cover art can attract new buyers.  – PASS  – Yeah! I passed one! Oh, wait. Basically the change was from one of a boring cover to one of the steamy sex god and goddess covers. – FAIL

I’m happy with my covers. They certainly portray the pink, fluffy, fun, not-too-serious, theme of the books. I think I’ll keep them.

It’s National Talk About Your Book Day

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OK, I made that up, but feel free to use it. Someone has to make up these national days. We’ll be sharing this day with punch, because it really is National Punch Day. As in fruit punch.

Anyway, I try to talk with my mother often, and she wears the hat of proofreader and editor for me. Two days ago, her eyes were bothering her, and she was having trouble seeing. Yesterday, she was reading a book. Fickle eyes. She was reading a murder mystery with an Amish setting. Doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron? Our local paper isn’t filled with accounts of murders at the cheese factory. She told me this book was from a store, she paid almost $13 for it, it has a publisher – and she found a mistake! I laughed out loud. She said there was one sentence where the word “that” was printed in error twice – “that that.” That is hilarious because “that” is my nemesis in my writing, and this lady got away with it twice.

My mother has given me great encouragement with my books, and she is my biggest fan. She turned 81 this year, and I’m grateful we’ve been able to share this ray of sunshine in our lives together.

So, here are some of the things Mom and I have been talking about this week.

Sunshine Hunter – More copies are selling now that the price has been reduced to 99 cents. I took the plunge and picked up yet more advertising from September through December, with this book being highlighted the week of December 16-22.

Big Apple Hunter and Sin City Hunter – Both appear to occasionally be purchased as individual titles, but most of the sales seem to come in clusters, as though someone read the first book and came back for the next two.

Big Easy Hunter – This is my new release this month. The fifty sales are still standing at Smashwords. I promise I’ll let you know if they are taken back, but in the meantime, these fifty put me in the top ten of their bestsellers if you sort by bestseller/full/$2.99 or less. The first time I noticed this, my book was in the #7 spot; today it is #8. I hope this, too, will help with sales. I’m still waiting for the book to get to B&N, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, etc.  I’m actually in a bit of a panic for it to show up at B&N, because this is the book I chose for my advertising next week, and if it’s not there, I can’t use it.

I don’t know why I’m so hesitant to tell people about my books. Last week, I finally told some ladies, who I’ve been on a book list with for years, about the series. They were surprised I kept my writing a secret for so long. Several of them bought books right away, and one woman wrote to tell me that she finished Sunshine Hunter in two days and loved it. I stuck one of my Sunshine Hunter cards up on the bulletin board at the grocery store that day.

I also think something cool might have happened today. I’m not sure. An email from Amazon showed up in an email account that is not associated with my books. It suggested books I might be interested Imagein. Sunshine Hunter was in the subject line, and was first on the list at 99 cents with the following books higher in price. The cynic in me thought it was something bogus. I risked viruses and clicked on every link in the email; they were all good. I’m hoping this, too, is legitimate, and maybe my book is being promoted on some of Amazon’s spammy lists.

It’s a good day to talk about your book.

Reading Your Fellow Bloggers

One hundred thirty-two.

I was surprised to see I was following 132 blogs. Thankfully, some of the bloggers don’t post very often, and one hasn’t posted a single word yet, but I’m waiting. That seems kind of stalkerish, doesn’t it?

Nevertheless, I like the mix of people I follow. There are wonderful photographers, and I enjoy seeing their work show up in my reader. I lean heavily toward the humor blogs. I do enjoy a good laugh, and it’s fun to interact with witty people. (Christopher De Voss, I’m looking at you. I can’t even begin to tell you how much mileage my husband and I have gotten out of the fireflies story.)

But I enjoy the writers as well. I learn some things from them when I want to, I enjoy their posts, whether personal or about writing, and some of them have published books. And that’s where I want to go today. Even though I’ve only known the following people a short time, I consider them friends, or at least acquaintances whom I enjoy. I want to show you their books. I like the idea of supporting other WordPress authors, and I hope you’ll consider reading one or more of the following books.

I’m not giving reviews, because even though I own four of the noted books, I haven’t finished any of them yet. Read the shortened blurbs and choose a book of interest to you. You’ll be able to read the full descriptions when you click on the book cover.

Image The Valley Walker by T. W. Dittmer  – Special Investigator Teri Altro is a hard-driving member of the new Drug Interdiction Task Force. … When Altro first notices the man staring at her, he doesn’t seem like anything special… just some guy in the drugstore. But when three men walk in the door to assasinate her, he kills them all with fluid ease, and so quickly that she doesn’t even have time to pull her own gun. The confrontation is so eerily violent that it leaves Altro wondering just who… or what… the man is. (This is an amazing scene in the book.)
T.W. Dittmer’s Blog

Image Puppet Parade by Zeinab Alayan – The life of a puppet master is never ordinary. Oliver Deere knew this when he ran away from home to take up the trade of puppetry, but he had no idea just how much his life would change. After his puppets come to life and flee town, Oliver meets up with a masked girl who hides a mysterious past. … As they travel together in search for Oliver’s lost puppets, they find that the line between puppet and master is becoming much less clear – and much more deadly.
Zen Scribbles

ImageThe Ohgood Caristic by Lightning Pen aka John Buckley – A coup is nearly successful leaving ruler Dr. Famaron Venge to deciver what went wrong. He also has the added charge of taking care of his friend’s kids, as they are besieged on all sides by murderers. And his world of Parscan suddenly has all the trappings of an all out civil war, with rival factions fighting for control. (John has several books available.)
Lightningpen’s Blog

ImageZippin Pippin, Elvis Has A Son by Benjamin Grant Mitchell – After moving from Memphis to Melbourne as a seven-year-old boy, Angus Flynn quickly got used to being invisible. Growing up, he kept to life out of the spotlight, working backstage for his father, the once mega successful country singer, Finn ‘Killer’ Flynn. … But when the stage-shy roadie learns his ageing dad is in debt to a gang of bikers, he reluctantly agrees to perform in a one-off tribute show as ‘Killer’ Junior, in order to save the family home. However, before he leaves for his Hollywood debut Angus’s world is turned upside down when an ailing Finn makes a confession that, although difficult to believe, rings strangely true: Elvis Presley was Angus’s real father.
Indie Thinkin’ – B.G. Mitchell

ImageAcceptance by Keri M. Peardon – For more than two thousand years, a small community of humans has lived in harmony with vampires, giving their blood and obedience in exchange for protection. … When Kalyn Reid comes of age and pledges herself to the vampires, she has no reason to worry. … But before she has a chance to learn her new responsibilities – or get a date – her idyllic life goes up in flames. Without warning, the humans and vampires in her group are murdered by a strange new type of vampire and the few survivors are forced to flee.
Vampires, Ladies, and Potpourri

ImageKnight’s Big Easy (The E-Z Knight Reports) by Gordon A. Kessler – Voodoo, hoodoo and a girl named Poodoo make this year’s Mardi Gras the most fun but also the most dangerous party of all for E Z Knight! … Knight goes to New Orleans to find Parole Officer Tamara White Cloud’s AWOL USMC son, and finds out L/Cpl Billy White Cloud isn’t the only one who’s gone missing. … He uncovers the largest human trafficking organization since the US slave emancipation. Led by a Voodoo King named Papa Legba, the slave ring preys not only on young runaways and homeless children, but also kidnaps them from their own homes, and then sells them into prostitution and sweat-shop labor.
(Gordon has a lot of books. This is the one I’m reading, and it’s quite a ride!)
Gordon A. Kessler – blog

ImageFae Hunter (Soulstealer Trilogy #1) by Nicolette Reed – Valora Delos is a Hunter, charged with tracking the treacherous Soulstealers and bringing them to justice. She descends to Earth and finds herself trapped in suburban Seattle after the portal to her world closes. Uncovering who the Soulstealers are and who is behind the destruction of Dell’Aria brings Valora a truth she may not be able to handle.
Nicolette Reed

 

ImageBetween Fear and Love SELF-WORTH: The Tie that Binds by Lauren Cropper – The book chronicles the author’s journey as she learns to survive and overcome the world of fear she’s been living in. After the murder of a family member, fear became the deciding factor in her everyday lifestyle. The pursuit of a life-change ensued. After ending up broke, alone, and a single-mother, the author finally came face-to-face with the source of her problems, as well as the solution. And it came in the form of self-worth.
(Lauren was an early follower to my blog, and I have appreciated her Likes over the past two months.)
Between Fear and Love

And last, but not least, is a children’s author. We’ve haven’t chatted much, but I already know I like him, and his book is wonderful:
ImageSarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday by Mike Allegra – This story depicts how Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned to make Thanksgiving a holiday in the 1800s.
heylookawriterfellow

 

There you have it! At least nine books from fellow WordPress bloggers. If you’re looking for a tenth, just click on my home page. In preparation for my release of Big Easy Hunter next week, I’ve priced the first book in the series, Sunshine Hunter, at 99 cents (Amazon and Smashwords; other outlets will follow soon).

Happy reading!

A Ghost at Grandma’s House

ImageIt feels good to be working on my newest book again, but it needs an additional 2,400 words. I had to re-read it to refresh myself on the details and search for where a scene or two could be added.

Once again, I found myself smiling. I obviously write to entertain myself, but I hope my books will entertain others as well. Sometimes, I think to myself, “Did I really write this? Where did this come from?”

But I know where a lot of it comes from. It’s the old “write what you know” mantra, and it sure is helpful to have your own life experiences to scatter throughout your writing.

My first book has so many of my own experiences, I should have used this for a disclaimer: “Oh, who am I kidding? A ton of it really happened, and the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” At one point in the story, Susan is deep-sea fishing on a boat which has a broken radio and one of the engines is out. This happened to me in real life. The conversation in the book is almost identical to the one I had when chatting with the first mate. I don’t want to give away what happens next, but some of it involves a big fish, and the music from Jaws rolls around in Susan’s head – as it did for me in real life.

Part of this fourth book takes place in New Orleans, and once again I wondered how much of my own life I could put into the book. I’ve been to New Orleans, but my experience there was pretty tame.

I started chapter five on a day when I was in a funk. It translated to my writing when Susan was suddenly childish and whining from the back seat of the car, “Are we almost there?” I knew I was writing something which wasn’t in her character, but I kept writing anyway. She was on her way with two of her friends to visit one of the friend’s elderly relatives. They were headed to a plantation home, and had a shock when they pulled up in front of a run-down, weathered house:

———

Our mouths hung open in astonishment.  Nate pulled up in front of the house and turned off the engine.  It was so quiet in the car, you could have heard a snail crawl.

I threw myself back against the seat as uncontrollable laughter once again gushed forth.

“Shhh! Shhh!” Darby was shushing me with his finger to his lips. “Susan! They’re going to hear you!”

His words brought another peal of laughter, and I flopped over onto the seat, putting my hand over my mouth in an effort to quell the laughter.

———

That’s not edited, and I’m uncertain as to the changes to be made, but you get the drift. The fun thing about all of this was I had no intention of sending these three off to visit relatives instead of going directly to their hotel. And I wrote the house to be exactly as my grandparent’s house was in real life.

I have such wonderful childhood memories of being there. You had to drive at least a mile-long lane to reach the house. There were woods, fields, and a pond. The upstairs of the house scared the snot out of me, and Grandma always said of the door which was always closed, “Don’t ever open that door.” The bathroom was huge, but only had a few fixtures – (from the book) “The rest of the room was wide open, and you could easily hold a party here with twenty of your closest friends.”

I tossed in a ghost, who is in my postscript as being real, and the entire chapter was a mess of silly nonsense. I fully intended to throw the chapter out of the book – until I read it again a few days later, and it tickled my funny bone so much, I had to keep every bit of it.

I suppose I wanted to write about this today because the “refresher reading” reminded me again of several things:

~ Writing about what you know really does work.

~ Sometimes writing something you know isn’t right for your book just might surprise you.

~ Putting things from your own life into your writing can bring unexpected joy.

I can’t put into words the emotions I feel when I read about our dog, Joe (especially when he’s so great in the book!), and having Susan and her friends visit my grandparent’s home was really special.

Even though I’ve had some challenging and miserable ups and downs with formatting and editing, this entire writing experience has been amazing and, dare I say, joyful.

If you are so inclined, I’d love to know how much of your life experiences you put into your writing and/or any comments relating to unexpected joy from your writing.

Six Sentence Sunday

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It’s easy! Pick any six sentences from your writing, whether a work-in-progress or a published work, and post them to your blog on Sunday.

My six are, once again, from Sin City Hunter, the third book in the Susan Hunter Mystery series.

Last week, we left Mick and Darby in their underwear on either side of the hotel room bed. Susan wasn’t expecting Mick, her fiancé, to arrive for two more days. … Her parents are staying on the same floor of the hotel, and as they are returning to their room, they hear the shouting from Susan’s. My six are from a few moments later:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mom was ogling back and forth between Mick and Darby. Her eyes were wide as she was clucking and saying, “Oh my. Oh my.”

I looked to my dad with misery oozing from my eyes and said, “Mom, Dad, this is Mick. Mick, these are my parents, Lilah and Earl.”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Mick muttered in exasperation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anyone can join in. To participate and/or check out some other great sets of six, check out the site:  http://www.sixsunday.com/

Twitter – #sixsunday

Baby Steps

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My internet and social media headache continues, but I’m making progress.

My husband is my hero when it comes to computers. No matter what problem I seem to be having, he can always solve it – 100% of the time. When he says, “There you go,” I always smile and say, “You’re my hero!”

But I’ve tried to handle everything with my books by myself. I fought for a week with a new web design program and thought I would never figure it out, but I did. If I could have reached around to pat myself on the back when I managed to figure out the settings to actually send the web page up to my ISP, I would have. That was always hubby’s department in the past, and it was completely foreign to me.

I finally figured out I had to make a personal page on Facebook before they would allow me to have the business page for my books. I’m getting the hang of actually writing something on the page now. I have a whopping seven likes.

I listed my books at Goodreads. They are swallowed up over there, but I don’t have time to do anything about that yet. At least they are there.

I finally made one little tweet on Twitter. Twitter is probably last on my list of social media to conquer.

Yesterday, it only took a little over three hours to figure out how to put a Like button on my web page. No kidding. I made hubby look over my shoulder several times because I was struggling, but every time he offered to help, I said, “No, I’ll figure it out.” How hard can it be to drop some code into a program that specifically says, “Add Code Here.” He ran off to Lowe’s to do some shopping, and I was finally able to send a text to him which read, “By Jove! I think I’ve got it!” And I did. Stupid little button.

I even secured my own PayPal account this weekend. I can stop using my husband’s. I feel like such a grownup now.

So, I have a feeling of accomplishment today. Little by little, I’m learning and getting things done. I’ll eventually figure out how to use social media to help me with my books. In the meantime, I’ll just keep trying to do things myself, and see where it takes me.

My Website – Breezy Books

My Facebook Page

My one little tweet on Twitter

Goodreads

Payday!

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My first royalties from my books were deposited into my account today. A whopping $21.73 from Amazon. I’m excited!

I published Sunshine Hunter on May 10. Big Apple Hunter was published on May 26. My royalties today are from May only.

Ten copies of Sunshine Hunter sold in 21 days, and three of Big Apple Hunter in six days. Five of the sales weren’t in the U.S., so the royalties were less. None of my early sales were from family or friends, and I didn’t have my blog then, so I’m tickled pink I had any sales at all.

It’s a start! 🙂

Six Sentence Sunday

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My six are, once again, from Sin City Hunter, the third book in the Susan Hunter Mystery series.

Susan plays a game of racquetball with a man she believes is behind a murder. Showing no mercy, she wins the game 15-0. My six are from the final few minutes of the game:

I set for the serve and blasted the ball hard down the left side. Carl lunged for the ball, missed, and fell onto the court. I heard a cheer go up from the other side of the glass, but it was quickly quelled by someone, probably Mr. Diamond.

Carl scrambled to his feet, and with his back to the glass so no one would see what he was saying, he hissed, “You’re going to be sorry you did this in front of all of these people.”

Rather than to cower and be frightened, he had snapped my last nerve, and I had more anger than fear. I stood close to him so no one would see what I was saying, and I hissed back at him, “I know what you did.”

~~~~~

Anyone can join in. To participate and/or check out some other great sets of six, check out the site:  http://www.sixsunday.com/

Twitter – #sixsunday

To Behave or Not To Behave, That is the Question

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Writers create a brand, yes? Do you work on your brand?

For some authors, their brand has become them, plain and simple. You see their name or their face, and there is nothing else you need to know. The emotional attachment from the reader to the writer is wrapped up in personal recognition. When I see a favorite author’s name or headshot on a book, I don’t need to read the blurb before I buy. I know the brand, and I know what I’ll get.

I suppose I’ve started working on a brand. My brand is pink. My brand is breezy. Wow. That’s impressive. /sarcasm

My brand is blonde. She runs amuck, as opposed to amok, but I think I should stop using that word/phrase. The connotation is messy. Things go haywire for Susan in every book, but I need a better catchphrase or line. The books don’t specifically revolve around the racquetball club or the weight loss center, so there isn’t anything to draw from either location.

I know from reading all of Janet Evanovich’s books that Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter with attitude. Janet, of course, has name and face recognition with her brand, but any fan also knows the name Stephanie Plum is synonymous with bounty hunter (and Ranger and Morelli!).

Who is Susan Hunter? In every book, she does something innocuous, ultimately putting her life in danger. Susan Hunter, Unintentional Blonde. That doesn’t work. Susan Hunter, Blonde Impulsive. Yikes! Susan Hunter, Trying to Get Killed One Book at a Time. … Susan doesn’t swear outside of one or two uses of the word crap in the books. Her exclamation phrase is always, “Oh my gosh!” … Susan Hunter, Oh My Gosh! … I admit, I have nothing.

Then we come to me personally. I’ve allowed enough of my personality to show that I think followers of my blog already know we’re a silly family. Humor brightens our days.

Yesterday was a lightning and thunder day. My husband rode his motorcycle to work. I won’t share my email messages to him throughout the day, but the final one was in all caps and expressed my enjoyment at his certain soaking to come. He was sure he would make the half hour ride home without running into rain. When he came through the door, I was delighted to see his shirt was soaked. “Five minutes!” he whined while laughing. “If I would have left five minutes sooner, I would have made it.” It was a fun moment for us, and my competitive nature chalked up a win for me.

That story is fine. I don’t mind some personal branding showing the silly side of my life. But how far would be too far before it hurt?

I wrote a blog post earlier in the week, and I liked it; it made me laugh. It was about playing a computer game, how maddening it was, and my continual reaction to the game. The game is, after all, what I choose to do when I don’t want to write. The post would have fit in with my blog theme.

I ran the idea for the post by my husband and asked, “What if some day my books take off. (Don’t laugh! Stranger things have happened.) What if someday Susan Hunter is known to an audience? Do I really want someone coming back through my blog and reading this type of post?”

We both agreed it needed to hit the trash can. Just as I don’t share the negative, depressing things that might creep into our lives at times, I don’t want to share the more crass side that raises its head every now and then – no matter how funny it may be. There are certain aspects of our lives that aren’t necessary to my developing brand, and I realize I don’t want them creeping in.

Are you cautious while developing your brand? Do you behave – or not?

Seven Things about Me, a.k.a. I Received the Sunshine Award

Since I started blogging almost two months ago, I’ve been nominated for two awards, and I’d like to humbly accept one of them today.

I was nominated by Tessa Sheppard for the Sunshine Award. Thank you so much, Tessa!

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The rules for receiving this award are:

1.  List 7 things about yourself
2.  Nominate bloggers worthy of this award.
3.  Thank the person who nominated you
4.  Put the image in your entry.

7 Things About Me:

1. I love dogs. All dogs.

2. I enjoy my husband. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and he makes me laugh every day. (However, dogs #1, husband #2.)

3. I buy a lottery ticket every day. I read somewhere that writers should also play the lottery, because their chances of making money with both are the same. I doubled my chances when I became a writer.

4. I used to be fearless. (Embarrassing examples withheld.)

5. I wish I could turn back the clock. Even after two blown disks in my back and nerve damage to my shoulder, I wish I could go back and play racquetball one more time. I loved it like no other sport. I could play a mean game of h-o-r-s-e with a basketball. I won bowling trophies. I could even make the throw from third to first base for the out. But there was nothing like smokin’ the competition on the racquetball court. Maybe I should have titled number 5: I’m very competitive.

6. I keep slipping things that I did, or things that happened to me, in my Susan Hunter books. My family keeps trying to figure out the fact from the fiction. My mother is sometimes mortified.

7. In case you haven’t read much of my blog, I sat down one evening in February of this year and decided to write a book. Three books are finished and self-published. A fourth is in the editing stage, and I have notes compiled for a fifth. … I’ve already pleaded ignorance. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to do it like this.

Nominate Bloggers for the Sunshine Award

My awards are in keeping with the theme of Sunshine. These bloggers are witty and bring a ray of sunshine into my day when they blog:

Neither Dempsey Nor Darcy – I love this blog! Humorous and great writing, too. “Our basic formula: go on date, come home from date, give men a rating of up to 5 Dempseys (for attractiveness and hair perfection) and up to 5 Darcys (for being a perfect gentleman) and then tell everyone why these ratings were warranted. – Be sure to look at their Meet the Gang page; it’s a fun surprise.

2. Christopher De Voss on Life, Humor, and Zombies – Funny stuff! He’s “One of the founding members of the now defunked Left Of Center Comedy Group.” I always look forward to his posts, and in our house, the Fiverr site will forever be known as the “fivver” site, because I was mispronouncing it.

3. Dumb Fear of the Day – A new blogger/writer who has elicited more than a few smiles from me. Even his blog titles are funny: “Bad Grammar Haunts My Nightmares. Seriously, I Wake Up Screaming “Oh Shit, I Wrote Your instead or You’re.” I’m looking forward to reading more from him.

Thank the person who nominated you:

Thank you, Tessa for nominating me. I haven’t been blogging long enough to feel worthy of any type of award, but appreciate your kindness.  I enjoy your blog posts and your willingness to share so much of what you learn on your writing journey. It’s been helpful!

Hubby Helps Brainstorm My Next Book

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Saturday, July 14, 2012. A true story  …

Me, sitting at kitchen table with notebook and pen: “Help me with my ideas for my next book. Susan’s going to Chicago to enter a cooking contest.”

Hubby, rummaging in kitchen cupboards for a chips and salsa snack: “Ok.”

Me: “Well, I have an idea for a sub-plot in the condo where they’ll be staying, but I need a doorman. What kind of doorman should I have?”

Hubby, setting bowls and snacks on the table: “It’s just a doorman.”

Me: “Ooh, maybe a female doorman, and she’ll get all snappy on Darby’s fine ass.”

Hubby: -blank stare in my direction-

Me: “Ok. Maybe not. I’ll think about that later. I don’t think they should do a lot of sightseeing, do you? They’ll only be there for a weekend, so there won’t be much time for sightseeing.”

Hubby: “When I’m out of town at trade shows, the last thing I want to do is sightsee before the show. They should have their thoughts on the cooking contest.”

Me, slightly whining: “But it will be a few weeks before Christmas, and Susan has to go shopping in Chicago. Ooh, I have to work a Santa into the story. And they have to go out to eat, and they should go to the top of the Hancock Building.”

Hubby: -blank stare in my direction-

Me: “I think I know how this can go. The Santa will be a detective in disguise watching and following my criminal. I need the criminal’s crime. What’s he into?

Hubby: “He’s a pedophile.”

Me, shocked: “Absolutely not. I’m not going there.”

Hubby: “Well, if you’re going to have a detective following him, it needs to be a felony.”

Me: “Yes, but it doesn’t have to be so serious. My books are fluffy. I need something easier.”

Hubby: “There are no fluffy felonies. He runs illegal weapons.”

Me: <sigh> “No, that’s not it.”

Hubby: “He sells body parts on the black market.”

Me, disgusted: “Oh my gosh! What is wrong with you?”

Hubby, gathering up snack to take to the den: “Have you got a better idea?”

Me, smiling: “He’s an art thief. Thank you so much for your help. I think I have the whole story now.”

Silly Pinterest

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I know how I wrote three books in such a short amount of time. I was able to do it because I wasn’t writing blog posts, reading blogs, commenting on blogs, and then, oh.my.gosh., playing with Pinterest.

I thought Pinterest was silly. What was the point? Bulletin boards with pictures stuck on them – big whoop. I’ve already admitted I’m a dolt when it comes to social media. One like on my Facebook page, and I’ve made one tweet on Twitter. I’m not ready to spend time on either yet, so that’s not really a complaint.

I recently read a social media post about Pinterest, and thought I should give it another look. One author is pinning indie books on her boards (with permission and usually by request), and they all link to Amazon. I think she’s an Amazon affiliate and will make money if people click through from her boards to buy. Very smart.

I did a lot of searching online while I was writing my books. It might be fun to do a board for each book with images of clothing, items, and locations that inspired some of my thoughts for my writing. I don’t have time for that right now, but I figured I could at least pin my books to one board.

I spent sooo much time this past weekend pinning on just two boards. I couldn’t stop. Of course I had to look at other boards as well – and follow people! And when I would go searching for something to pin, I would bounce from one idea to another until I had so many tabs open, even my computer was confused.

When I finally slowed down and looked at the finished (not really) result, I liked it. There’s something to be said for looking at things that are pleasing to you and make you happy.

I think I can use this to my advantage in the future, but for now, someone needs to take Pinterest away from me so I can edit my book.

Six Sentence Sunday

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I recently saw a blog post for Six Sentence Sunday. You simply pick any six sentences from your work, whether a work-in-progress or a published work, and post them to your blog on Sunday.

The six I’ve chosen for my Six Sentence Sunday debut are from Sin City Hunter, the third book in the Susan Hunter Mystery series.

After an incident at O’Hare Airport, star hockey player, Dell Grady, was highlighted on an evening sportscast hosted by Bob and Steve. Here are my six from the newscast . . .

He quite proudly proclaimed, “Oh, that was just Susan. I was giving her a lift to the gate, and let me tell you, it was great fun, and I’d like to do ‘er again.” He nodded to the camera and walked away from the reporter.

Jessie Manchip turned back to the camera and said with a big grin, “Well, guys, you heard it, too. It was just Susan, and Dell wants to do her again.”

Bob and Steve were laughing so hard neither of them could speak.

Anyone can join in. To participate and/or check out some other great sets of six, check out the site:  http://www.sixsunday.com/

Twitter – #sixsunday

Big Easy Hunter – C’est Fini

It’s shortly after midnight, and I finished my fourth book a few hours ago. I sat in my chair and smiled like an idiot for at least five minutes.

I love the opening of the movie Romancing the Stone with Kathleen Turner. She writes the last scene of her romance novel and sits there with a smile and a few tears as she pulls the last piece of paper from her typewriter. That’s the kind of satisfaction I felt when I finished today. I’ve had to grab a tissue more than a few times as I write. I never realized there would be such an emotional connection to the characters.

I was able to write almost 5,000 words the past two days. The book ended just as I hoped it would, and I was surprised by a twist just seven pages before the ending. I know that sounds silly, but I still marvel at how things pop into your head that weren’t planned.

The happiness of finishing the book came on the heels of a telephone call from my mother. She wanted to let me know that she had talked with her sister earlier in the day, and my aunt said, “My girls sure are loving Maddie’s books.” I didn’t know, but between my two cousins and one of their daughters, they account for five of my sales this month. I’m so excited about this.

Yes, it was more relatives, but one of my cousins read all three books, one right after the other, and said she loved them and can’t wait for the next one.

All I ever wanted to do was put something out there that would be entertaining, and I think that’s what I’m doing. Sunshine Hunter has some silly elements, and Big Apple Hunter tends to be a little more serious. By the time everyone winds up in Vegas in Sin City Hunter, there is a good mix of everything, and I think the humor works well. The upcoming book, Big Easy Hunter, definitely puts a smile on my face. I love this book. Bringing more characters – and dogs – into the story made for even more fun.

Plus, I haven’t left the reader hanging regarding the romance aspect. Susan doesn’t waffle from one book to the next as to whether she wants the guy or not. I’ve kept the relationship moving forward naturally.

For now – at least today – I’m over my angst about becoming a writer. Finishing the book and being so happy with the story was a morale booster.

It’s time to start making notes for the next adventure – Windy City Hunter.

Chasing the Shiny Things

We were online pretty early. One of my husband’s friends was a programmer with his head buried in DOS all day. His work sparked an interest in my husband, and it didn’t take long before we had a new Packard Bell 60 MHz Pentium computer. It had a 50 MB hard drive, and 8 MBs of memory. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that my little Nook Tablet has almost 14 gigabytes of storage.

I remember being amazed that I could go to the Louvre in Paris and look at works of art – and then download and print beautiful pictures. I wasted a lot of ink and paper back then because I couldn’t seem to stop myself from printing every colorful, shiny, pretty thing I found. There was something new to find every day.

The internet still fascinates me. I love doing research for my books. I stop right in the middle of whatever I’m writing, and scurry about the internet looking for answers. Even when I want to describe the clothes my characters are wearing, I stop and start surfing popular clothing stores.

I’m easily distracted. I was searching for a sundress for Susan in Sunshine Hunter, and when I found the perfect dress, it had been photographed on location in Tuscany. I spent the next hour looking at house rentals in Tuscany! But I always manage to get back to writing with the information I was seeking and am usually a little happier for the dash around the internet.

For Sin City Hunter, I learned to play craps. I spent a couple of days learning the rules, watching tutorials via YouTube, and practicing online via a simple flash-player. Oh, I could win at this game! I hurried over to the den and told my husband we really, really needed to go to a casino. He just shook his head and laughed at this most recent harebrained idea and turned back to the hockey game on television.

I also researched the most popular slot machines in Vegas. Bally’s has a new Betty Boop machine. I watched the machine played on YouTube, and then I found out that iTunes had an app of the machine. Ooh, hubby has an iPhone. I was back in the den telling him to at least spend $2.99 for my research because I needed an app.

I had his phone for two days while I played Betty Boop’s Love Meter. I had paper and pencil, and I would tell myself, “Ok, this is Mom’s turn on the machine.” I would then write down every spin and what happened. Susan’s mother won a lot of money. Then I would decide it was Susan’s turn. I actually stayed true to the winnings from my notes to my book. It was pretty obvious to me that the app pays out way more money than the real machine would, but it made for more fun in the book.

I like the research part of writing. There are still so many colorful, shiny, pretty things to be found.