I’ve Been Away Too Long!

I’m a terrible blogger! My life has been in turmoil for the past few months. My daughter and fellow author, Tiffany M. Rock was found to have cancer of the Appendix in February and was fighting it with surgery and chemotherapy, but it has failed to stem the spread of the tumors in her abdomen. It doesn’t look good, but she is trying a new treatment to help slow the spread of the horrible disease .

Needless to say, my writing has taken a hit. I was working on a Fantasy I’m calling Vermaland and got over 90K words into it, but lost my motivation with our latest scare and more time in the hospital.

In my desperate desire to escape into another world, I began a horror project. I think my first victim is going to be an oncologist! The story takes place in a former plantation house in Virginia. Sometime after the Civil War it was turned into a mental hospital–a place where the Plantation elite could dump their less than perfect children and unwanted wives. My character finds out the place is supposed to be haunted by the original doctor who hanged himself after he killed a young female patient in a botched abortion. Yes, I’m feeling quite murderous! The working title is Bainbridge Hospital and I intend to take out my frustrations there.

If I didn’t have my writing to escape into, I don’t know what shape I’d be in! It’s my escape and my therapy. I can kill without the mess or the guilt. It’s no surprise the story takes place in a defunct hospital haunted by a disgraced doctor. I’ve never been fond of either and recent events have done nothing to change that.

I’ve been experimenting with some marketing of late. I hired a PA who had been posting my work to different sites and saw a small uptick in sales. Unfortunately, I set that aside for the time being as well. I tried some Amazon adds and got a few sales, but not what I had hoped. Thus far, the best return on my investment has been an ad on Bargain Booksy. I believe I will continue with them for awhile and try some of my other books there.

Getting reviews is another struggle. I give away books and hope the reader will be kind enough to repay with a review. It’s hit and miss. I recently received a very nice email from a blogger who said she wanted to review my books on her blog. She complemented one of my covers. After I replied, telling her I’d be happy to send her book files for review, she replied that her price for a review was 75.00 per book. She also said that after she received my payment via Paypal, she would gladly purchase the book she wanted to review. Oh, my! I refuse to pay for a review. I feel giving the book is payment enough. 75.00?! I guess it’s a nice gig if you can get it.

I always thought the writing was supposed to be the hard part!

I’ve also been occupying my time with some classes. I began taking some online writing courses through Weslyan University. For 49.00 per month they offer a course covering, Plot, Character, and Setting development. After listening to lecture segments from authors on the subject, there is then a writing assignment and peer review. Reviewing the assignments has been interesting. Do they no longer teach basic grammar in grade school and high school? Frankly, I’ve been stunned. I see a healthy future in the Editorial field!

Until the next time, Write On!

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Too Busy to Blog

I’m a terrible blogger! I know I should post no less than on a weekly basis and some recommend daily. I just can’t seem to do it. It’s not that I’m not dedicated. I’m busy! I try to write everyday. I made a resolution to publish a dozen books this year. Thus far I have published six! I’ve been busy. I recently finished a story that has been in my files for over two years and I’ve been mulling it over for over forty. As a senior in high school, I had a dream … a nightmare, actually. I was watching a young woman being abused, but in my dream, I was the young woman. I felt what was happening to her, but seeing it from my eyes at the same time. I was seventeen and it was disturbing. I watched the young woman being murdered and then experienced her being boarded up beneath a floor. It was so real, I wrote about it in my English Composition class a few days later. My instructor, Mrs. Sally Taylor, told me never to forget that story because it would make a great book someday. I began writing it and it turned into something more than just a ghost story about a nightmare I had during high school. It became a story about my nightmare in high school. I wrote four drafts of this story over two years. I finally finished it. Dreams of Molly is now live on Amazon.Dreams of Molly cover It is hard looking back sometimes.

I also published a western romance set in an Oregon gold mining camp. It’s called Lost Dove about a young woman who was sold by her step-father to a cat wagon and then sold again to a lonely miner. They are then forced into marriage. It’s a romance written with a classic romance plot. Boy buys girl. Girl decides to try to make the best of things. Yada-yada. Throw in the return of the evil step-father who thinks she knows where some missing money is and we have some action. Lost Dove CoverLost Dove is also live on Amazon.

To combine my recent fascination with ghost stories and westerns, I wrote and published a novella I called A Tale for a Long Winter Night. A young woman is taken prisoner by two cowboys and held in a line shack. You can imagine what they put her through. She escapes. The local marshal captures the two culprits. There’s a trial. It’s a novella. If I give away much more that will be that! This story is live on Amazon also and only .99 for Kindle users.Long Winter Night cover

So, you see, I have been busy. I’ve also been experimenting with different promos. I’ve been playing with Kindle promotions, Books Go Social, and Freebooksy. Thus far, the Books Go Social 19.00 tweet blitzes have done the best. Have they amounted to thousands of sales? No, but more than doing nothing. They have also been much more cost effective than doing a giveaway in which I mail a free book to someone if they buy a Kindle version of another. They always said the writing was the hard part!

After being told by a local bookstore merchandiser that they would prefer to carry consignment books by local authors with local interests, I’m going to make the setting of my next western one of the many ghost towns here in Washington. I have several to choose from and doing research!

Until next time, Write On!

Writing with the Five Senses

I’m taking another on-line class about writing Romance. You can never learn too much! Today’s lesson was about writing Sensuality and Emotion. It was a good lesson and it made me remember what an instructor told a class I was in years ago that stuck with me. She said never to forget the five senses when you are crafting a scene.

If your scene takes place outside what does it look like? Is the sky bright an blue? What does it feel like? Is the sun warm on your skin or is it windy and blowing your hair into your eyes? What does it smell like? Is it earthy because a field has just been plowed or is the scent of wild flowers on the breeze? What does your character hear? Are bees buzzing over the wild flowers? Cows lowing in the distance? Perhaps your character pulls a piece of fruit from a tree and bites into it. He enjoys the tart, juice as it runs over his tongue. Perhaps he’s walking through a dark forest and he feels and hears the crunch of dried leaves beneath his feet and smells the musty odor of decaying vegetation.

You can easily see how using the five senses can quickly enrich a scene for your reader. Almost everyone has experienced feeling the sunshine on their face or bitten into a juicy piece of fruit. They know what it feels like for a cold breeze to raise goose flesh on their skin. This is one of the best techniques a writer can use to engage his reader in a scene, whether its walking across a hot, dry desert in a Western or trekking through a swampy jungle on an alien planet. Using the five senses will put your reader right there with your character, tasting the hot, savory stew in a smoky pub in Victorian England or a fantasy world of your crafting.

I write a good bit of erotic content. The five senses are important there as well. Every woman knows how it would feel if a rough, calloused hand brushed over her silky skin. She’s tasted stale alcohol on her lover’s tongue during a kiss and been aroused by the musky scent of aftershave or turned off by bad breath. You get my drift.

Many times while I’m editing my work, I’ll read a scene I’ve written and then add in the five senses. Roxie is sitting in a stagecoach. (Too simple. Let’s beef it up a bit.) Roxie is jolted in her seat as the coach hits a rock on the narrow trail. She can taste the dust in her mouth from the road. It irritates her nose as badly as the smoke from the smelly cigars the shabbily dressed man across from her is smoking. The cracked and worn leather scrapes her tender hands as she tries to right herself in the rocking coach.Queen of the Cow Towns cover

Roxie goes from simply sitting in a stagecoach. The reader now knows it’s a rough, dusty ride. We know the seats are old and cracked. There is also another passenger and he’s a smoker. The reader is now rocking in that coach with Roxie, tasting the dust and smelling the cigar smoke.

Using the five senses is the easiest way to put your reader into the scene with your character. It was by far the best piece of writing advise I’ve ever received.

If you are struggling for word count, going back and adding the five senses to your scenes is also a plus.

Until the next time, Write On!

A Third of the Year In Already!

I can’t believe we are a third of the year into 2017 already! I’ve been busy. I recently published a new Western Romance, The Grass Widow, about a woman who is divorced by her husband and set up to live in the local rooming house, which is also the local brothel. Callie turns the tables on her conniving former husband, when she uses her skills as a seamstress to make ends meet. She also finds love. I enjoy writing these period romances. Things were so different for women then and writing about that helps me to appreciate what I have as a woman now.Grass Widow cover

My big publication so far this year is Not Prepared, an apocalyptic-type thriller. I basically blew up the western half of the country. Great fun! Earthquakes, volcanoes, evil FEMA agents, and a little romance–of course. I hope you’ll give it a read. This genre is something very new for me. I love reading it and hope I did a decent job writing it. Please drop a review on Amazon and let me know.Not Prepared cover

And just for fun, I wrote an Erotic Novella, Thirsty Coyote Tales, set in the Old West. I tried to show what really made the Wild West so wild! I wrote this under my pen name Whiskey Treat. Again, I hope you will give it a read and drop a review on Amazon.soiled-dove

OK, enough soulless self-promotion. I hate that as an independent author, I’m forced to do that, but that’s the business of writing these days. I’m trying to find the correct formula, but alas, haven’t yet. I think the writing is good, and the stories are sound, but the trick is finding the formula to make sales. I’m definitely NOT in this for the money, but some money would be nice.

I write because I have stories to tell. It also helps me to escape into a world of my own creation without being hauled off to a psych ward. I can go to the Old West and have fun with cute cowboys, blow up a city, or cut off a guy’s private parts without worry. It’s cathartic.

I hope you will join me sometime. OK, a little more shameless self-promotion. As a child, I suffered physical abuse. One of my former teachers told me I should tell that story. I’ve avoided it. There are plenty of books out there about abused kids. All of my books have a shadowy glimpse of it, but I don’t write memoirs. In my current WIP I’m taking a step in that direction, however. It’s a bit heart-wrenching, but I’m going to give it a shot. It won’t be a memoir, but a fictionalized version of things I and my siblings endured.

Until next time, Write On!

My Work In Progress

I’ve been working on a new and different project for the past few weeks. This is an apocalyptic action story with just a little romance. I begin the book with a quake on the Cascadia fault off the coast of Oregon. That event sets off a number of other events across the nation. Volcanoes erupt and the New Madrid reeks havoc in the Midwest. My heroine is a thirty-four-year-old woman from southeast Missouri who has been raised in a Prepper household. My hero is about the same age and has written several books on survival. They meet in Carbondale, Illinois when my hero is about to speak at a seminar where my heroine is eagerly waiting to hear him in the front row. The earth quakes and my hero gets knocked off the stage and ends up with his face in my heroine’s lap.

I actually have several different storylines taking place in the novel. A family from Oregon escapes to the mountains and struggles to survive. With the help of some Forest Service Rangers they work to expose some FEMA personnel who have decided to usurp the government of the western US. In another storyline, a good FEMA Agent is also trying to thwart the usurpers.

I love to read Action/Adventure, but this is my first attempt at writing it. I’m not familiar with weapons or military vehicles, so I’ve been leaning on my husband, Dan as a technical advisor. He corrects me when I call a Glock shiny or get the model number of a transport plane incorrect. He’s been invaluable. I miss my critique group!

I started with a rough outline for this story, expecting to write my standard fifty-thousand word piece. I’ve expanded the outline a few times and am currently sitting at thirty-seven chapters and sixty-three thousand words. The story is beginning to conclude now and I’m going about tying up loose ends to bring it all together.

The original premise of the story was to show how in times of crisis man’s inhumanity to man can be at its worst, but also how the cream can rise to the top and people can come together and help one another  to make things better. Somehow, it changed a little and became how in times of crisis there will always be those who will see the crisis as an opportunity to get ahead. I’m having fun with it. This genre is new for me as a writer and it’s making me think in directions I never have before. I’m sure I’ve made several new watch-lists with my resent internet searches. Most of the explosions were naturally occurring, so I didn’t have to research C-4 or anything like that.

I’m tentatively calling this new venture Not Prepared, but may change it to Unprepared. I’m still tossing that around in my head. I still have to come up with a cover as well.

Until next time, Write On!

Competition?

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike LichtI write Historical Fiction and Erotic Romance. I’m connected with several authors on Facebook. It bothers me when I see posts from writers who have been trashed by other authors in their genre because they feel they are competing! Stop it! We don’t have a hive brain. Each writer is putting down his or her individual ideas. We are not in competition. We should be holding one another up and not tearing one another down. This community should be one of sharing and support. There are lots of readers out there. I read many different authors, as I’m sure other readers do.

This is a tough market, people. Traditional publishing is quickly becoming a thing of the past. We are Indie Authors. Marketing is on our shoulders and it is expensive. Most of us aren’t going to have our books in Barnes & Noble or even Wal-Mart. Have you found a good marketing venue? Pass it on! An Indie bookstore willing to carry your books on consignment? (The Dog-eared Page in Phoenix!) Pass it on! A killer signing event that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get into? A great PA who is taking a load off you shoulders at a fair price? You get my drift. We should be working together and not against one another to get our work out there.

What if Indie Authors got together and put on an Indie event? Tables of Indie Authors showing–and hopefully selling–their work to the public. We could even throw in a few Indie cover design artists for color. It could be a beautiful thing!

I guess what I’m trying to say is we are bright people full of amazing ideas. We should be working together and not against one another. We should be pooling our talent to enhance one another. I may have a devout reader, but I’d certainly be willing to share that reader with another author. I read several books a month, but only publish a few each year. That one reader, if she reads as much as I do, is going to need other material to keep her happy between my releases!

OK, my rant for the day is complete. I have a WIP to attend to. Until the next time: Write On

I’m such a lazy blogger!

I started this blog over two years ago, but find it difficult to keep it up on a regular basis. I know I should to advance my readership, at least that’s what the promotion experts tell me. We are now beginning a new year and have made resolutions about our lives in the year to come. I have resolved to update this blog on a regular basis … again.

So, I will begin by discussing my works in progress … I have several. My most current is an apocalyptic adventure of sorts. I’m calling it Unprepared. I basically destroy most of the country from west to east with a cascading seismic event that triggers the San Andreas, the New Madrid, and several volcanoes. It’s been fun writing. I’m about 15K words and 11 chapters into it.

I set my ghost story, Dreams of Molly aside for a while at 24K words. I’ll let it simmer for a while. I have outlines in my document files for 2 more stories related to my witches in the Black Bayou and hope to have them working later this year. I also have an outline for a Fantasy that could turn into a series. That one is always in the back of my mind.

I had an unfortunate break with my publisher and have decided to remain Indie for the time being. I’ve been working with a promotion company and hope that will help. They have the expertise and the experience with social media that I don’t. I’d much rather be writing! Hopefully they will also be able to schedule me to do some personal appearances and signings as well. My stuff isn’t exactly fit for story hour at the children’s library, but perhaps some book clubs or reading groups would be interested. I’d also like to find some author events in the area. I’m only 15 miles north of Seattle. There should be something going on there!

Thanks for your time and until the next time … Write On!guardian angel