Thursday, February 28, 2008

Win an E-Book Reader

As I head out for SleuthFest, I wanted to tell everyone that a group of Cerridwen Press authors have put together a treasure hunt and the grand prize will be an eBook reader loaded with 7 books.

The contest starts March 1st and runs through the 15th. There are two parts to the contest.

One, find a hidden tree icon on a participating author's website or blog.
Two, find a secret word of the day hidden on an author's website or blog. When you have them all, they'll spell out a sentence.

You have to be a member of the Cerridwen chat yahoo group to get the clues, but it's free. To subscribe, send a blank email to:

Clues will be posted daily

Rules are here:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

4 Stars from Romantic Times - for an eBook?

In preparation for a workshop of e-publishing, I've been getting a lot of input from readers, authors, agents and publishers about what they think an e-book is.

For some, it automatically means 'erotica'. For others, it means 'self-published'. Or poorly edited, or not a 'real' book, or not as good as something they can buy off the shelf.

Digital formatting is growing. As a matter of fact, the book I'm reading now, Die for Me by Karen Rose is an e-book. No, she didn't write it for an e-publisher, but I bought it from an e-book store, downloaded it to my eBookwise, and am reading the same words anyone who has the print version would be reading.

But there are a lot of publishers who publish digitally first, or only digitally. I've got 3 books with Cerridwen Press, one of those publishers. Two ( Finding Sarah and What's in a Name?) are also in print.

Romantic Times BOOKreviews is a print magazine devoted to reviewing romance books of all sub-genres. They rate books from 1 to 4 1/2 stars. The April issue reviewed What's in a Name? and gave it 4 stars, which is an excellent ranking, and holds its own with a myriad "real" authors of print books who have received 4 Star reviews, including (among countless others) Suzanne Brockmann, Roxanne St. Claire, Karen Rose, and JD Robb.

The reviewer, Cindy Himler, said:
an excellent page- turner that will keep readers up into the night. The plot twists are excellently done and keep the suspense at a high level

What makes this more gratifying to me is the review lists What's in a Name? as an e-book, even though it's also in print. My take on this is that the reviewer read it as an e-book, but did not bring any pre-conceived notions that it couldn't possibly be as good a book as a print book to the read.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hodegpodge, Potpourri and general catching up

What I'm reading: Die for Me, by Karen Rose.

Lots of odds and ends here.

I had a very pleasant birthday, even if I'll have to do overtime at the Y to compensate. A very 'green' birthday as well—e-cards and phone calls far outweighed the paper variety, and that's more than fine with me. A good dinner, chocolate…what more could I ask for?

In conjunction with my 'greener' birthday, Dear Author had a lively discussion about e-book formatting.

An email alerted me to a 4 Star review from Romantic Times – the issue hasn't hit the bookstore, or the website, or my mailbox, but someone in one of my RWA chapters got an early copy and she was kind enough to forward this:

What's in a Name? "… an excellent page-turner that will keep readers up into the night. The plot twists are excellently done and keep the suspense at a high level…"

That really excited me, because normally small press publishers don't get a lot of attention from Romantic Times—not without paying for ads, which they've usually only done with major contributions from the author. Until I see the magazine, I won't know if there's any ad at all. I know I didn't submit one.

I seem to be back on the Barnes and Noble website with both books showing available for order. The site even said there were copies available at my neighborhood store, so I high-tailed it down there to see. There's something special about seeing your baby out in public. I autographed the copies, and talked to the manager. Nothing is ever perfect, of course, and the books are shelved in the literary section, not romance or mystery. We'll see if that can be rectified without having them drop off the radar entirely. Nothing can be changed by a store. Everything come from CORPORATE.

Amazon is out of What's in a Name? but they'll order them. The search parameters on their website seem catch-as-catch-can; sometimes I find my books by searching on my name, sometimes I don't seem to exist (or am someone else). Sometimes the system likes quotes around my name, sometimes it doesn't. Usually, "Finding Sarah" will get to me...but not always.

I am finally back in the good graces of the US Postal System. I will admit to a compromise. I paid the on-line fee a second time, but got the money I paid at the counter reimbursed, so financially, I'm where I should be. Still grates that they can't coordinate between on-line and post office systems, though.

Hurricane Breeze came on right on schedule, with a Grade A review.

Next up: SleuthFest.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Civilian Police Academy recap + Jury duty -- or not?

What I'm reading: Minor in Possession by J.A. Jance; Worth Every Risk, by Dianna Love Snell

Wednesday's Civilian Police Academy speaker provided some real-time looks at what the cops see on their computers in their patrol cars. (Kind of scary to see how many Code 3 calls were in progress). The system is virtually paperless; everything is done via computer. I also picked up a phrase that will have to show up in my writing -- someone asked the deputy what his most harrowing patrol call had been, and as he described the situation where there were armed suspects but nobody was sure exactly who they were or where they were, he said it was a real "pucker power" event.

I'd hoped to have an information-packed post about my experiences on jury duty. I don't mind getting the summons. It's one of the last places where a true democracy is in place--where citizens can do their part. I also figure if I ever had cause to be on the other side of the jury box, I'd like someone like me on the jury. And, as always, I figured I could come away with some good writing fodder.

Didn't turn out that way. Judges estimate the number of jurors they'll need based on their dockets the night before and turn that number in to the clerks, who then decide which folks from all the summons sent for that particular court date will have to report in. My number was within their range, so I got up early, dealt with the construction traffic on I-4 and did the lemming bit, finding the shuttle service from parking garage to the courthouse, the right entrance, and the security screening. There were 135 of us assembled as potential jurors. After a swearing in and stand-up routine from one of the clerks, we settled in to wait to be called. I'd hooked up with a high school media center specialist and a theme park employee, and we got acquainted as we waited.

Well, they called exactly ONE panel yesterday, of 22 potential jurors. That was it. There must have been a lot of plea-bargaining going on. They even gave us nearly two hours for lunch. So, I had some pleasant conversation, got a bunch of reading done, but was more than glad when they released us all at about 3 pm.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Release Day - Hurricane Breeze

Taking a day to celebrate.

Hurricane Breeze is available now.

Carter Worthington the fourth is the kind of man whose schedule is laid out in fifteen minute increments, while Tiffany wouldn't know what to do with a day planner if she owned one.

Carter thinks he's happy, tucked away in a quiet Florida neighborhood, where nobody knows his alter ego is novelist Grant Gardner, and he's content to keep it that way. But when a hurricane blows Tiffany Breeze into his sheltered universe, he must deal with his past, overcome his fears and decide if he's spent his life existing instead of living. Is he willing to leave the emotional safety of his orderly existence to experience the highs, knowing he'll also have to face the lows?

Read more here

There's a Civilian Police Academy Alumnae meeting tonight. Our scheduled speaker is a long-time patrol officer. Good chance for more information.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Counting Down to Hurricane Breeze

What I'm reading: Speechless by Elissa Abbott

What I'm writing: New book, alternate Chapter One opener.

Hurricane Breeze's release date, February 20, is approaching. This is my first new story with Wild Rose Press in awhile, so I'm excited. This morning, almost by accident, I found an advance review from Simply Romance Reviews.
Carter and Tiffany are believable loveable characters with all their faults .... The steamy sex scenes will leave you breathless. This book is for anyone who tries and succeeds of breaking out their own self-imposed exile and finds their heart’s desire.


Grade: A

The entire review is

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cover for Hidden Fire

I promised to show the entire new cover and pick a winner. If you want to see a larger version you can find it on my website.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment. When I first saw the cover, it looked like the sawed off edge of a tree trunk that was burning. (That's another story--there's no real 'fire' in the book!), but maybe it's an earring after all. It just looks very funky to me, where it connects to the ear. Besides, Sarah wore pearl studs! But since the book hasn't even started edits yet, maybe I should change it.

And...the winner, selected by my random number generator is .... AMBER.

Please email me (address at the right) to claim your prize. If I don't hear from you by next Friday, I'll pick another winner.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

What I'm reading: International Spy Museum Handbook of Practical Spying by Jack Barth

What I'm writing: toying with the dreaded Chapter 1, Page 1 of a new novel.

I wasn't going to post today, figuring everyone's busy with all their special Valentine's Day activities, but a question about 'the most romantic Valentine's Day' made me think. I can't remember the year -- but it's been awhile. Not that there haven't been lots of nice Valentine's Days, but I sometimes I think we've fallen into a rut and exchange cards and maybe the flowers are sent because it's expected, not because he wants to.

But I remember once, years ago, one of my daughters, my husband and I went out to eat the week before Valentine's Day. We were strolling back to the car, and passed the jewelry shop in the shopping center. I said I wanted to walk a bit because I was stuffed from dinner, and why not look in the shop. Hubby said no, but my daughter and I went in anyway, and he begrudgingly followed. I pointed out things I liked, as did my daughter, while he hung back, looking bored and impatient.

The next week, on Valentine's Day, my daughter and I each had a small box on the breakfast table. Grumbling or not, he had paid attention. I still wear the earrings he gave me all the time. I think the unexpected makes a gift or gesture all the more romantic.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Literacy and Nora Roberts

What I'm reading: Shoot Don't Shoot by J.A. Jance

What I'm writing: Finished my draft of my mystery short; tentative title: Redshirted.

This morning, in my never ending quest to keep the pile of paperwork on my desk down to a manageable level, I picked up a renewal form from ProLiteracy. I've been an advocate of literacy for years--my whole live, actually. Where would we be if we couldn't read? I can't remember not reading, and I swear my kids popped out of the womb as bookworms.

I've taught school, I've volunteer tutored for our local Adult Literacy League, and I'm now involved with their program to train new tutors. The Laubach Way to Reading, which is one program used to teach adults reading says, "Each One Teach One" and it's something we should all strive for. There's nothing more rewarding than to see a learner's eyes light up as they discover how to make sense of those markings on a printed page.

The Romance Writers of America supports ProLiteracy Worldwide, donating the proceeds from their annual multi-author book signing at their national conference. So does the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, among many other groups.

Back to the renewal form. Normally, I just tick a box, fill it out (or go on line), but a name popped out at me. Nora Roberts. I read the paragraph. "I agree that literacy is a basic human right that should not be denied to anyone in today's world. I also understand that my renewal contribution will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, by a generous gift from author Nora Roberts. "

I will admit I doubled my normal contribution. I can't afford to match gifts the way Nora Roberts can, but I can certainly budget a little more to help the cause.

Even if you've never donated before, I urge you to visit the ProLiteracy Worldwide website
and make a contribution. Better yet, find a program in your community and sign up to teach someone to read. All you need is an hour or two a week.

(I haven't forgotten my cover contest -- check back Friday for the whole cover and a winner)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cover Quiz for Hidden Fire

What I'm reading: That Which Survives by Ciana Stone

What I'm writing: mystery short; e-publishing workshop presentation notes. (Trying to learn PowerPoint on the fly)

I got the cover for Hidden Fire, my next Cerridwen Press release. As the author, of course I'm very close to the story, and as an author, know next to nothing about what kind of a cover sells a book. I'm lucky that Cerridwen Press gives authors a chance to comment on the cover after it's designed, rather than blindly accept a cover artist's interpretation of a one or two page cover request form. The elements on the first go-round were there, but there were things that bothered me, so I requested some modifications. The second version was much better, and that's where management said it would stay.

I did (and still do) have one niggling questions, which was part of the image. It jumped out at me, yet after studying it, I still wasn't sure exactly what it was.

What do you think?

I'll post the full cover in a day or two. But now, let me know what you think this is. I'll even send an autographed copy of the full cover to a random draw of the comments. I can't pick a winner based on "right" answers, because I'm not 100% sure what it is.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

On Reading for Contests

What I'm reading: Tombstone Courage, by J. A. Jance

What I'm writing: Mystery short, e-publishing workshop

I finished my last Rita read. I have to admit, I wouldn't have picked up any of these books from the shelf based on type, cover, or blurb. However, I did have a couple of pleasant surprises.

I read 8 entries. Five of them reinforced why I don't read much in that sub-genre. I know there's good stuff to be had, and certainly the 'classic' romance has a tremendous following, but I found much of the writing left a lot to be desired. It seems that if these books are shorter by publisher's requirements, then authors ought to make every word count. Why did they have to keep reminding me that the hero/heroine's inner conflict was caused by a bad marriage/early trauma/family problems. I get it. I'm not likely to forget from one chapter to the next.

I got to book 6 with high hopes. The story was interesting, the writing was clean, and I wasn't being barraged with repetition. But then the holes started showing. If an author creates a problem, such as an injury, for her hero, fine. But you can't just ignore it when it doesn't fit the scene. And please find a better way to show me you're an expert in your field or that you've done your homework. It doesn't need to be on the page unless it moves the plot.

Number 7 kept me turning pages for most of the story, although it, too was a genre I don't read, and have a lot of trouble accepting. Since the heroine started out as someone I could identify with, that helped string me along. I'll probably give this one a high score even though I didn't "like" it.

Which brings me to book 8. Another one set in a world I'm not familiar with, nor particularly interested in. Yet the author drew me in, sprinkling the information logically, relevant to the characters and the plot so I enjoyed learning something new. And the emotional connections were there, making me laugh, making me cry.

So – 8 reads. One keeper. It sure reinforces everything you hear when you're trying to break into the business. It's a matter of marketability. What sells, or what the publisher predicts will sell, get published. Often, unfortunately, it doesn't have a lot to do with how great the story is, or how well the author can tell it.

I've been researching e-publishing for the workshops I'm giving, and there's a lot of misinformation out there, one major point being that if it's in print it's good, and if it's electronic it's inferior (or erotica, which is an entirely different conversation, best saved for another day.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fan letters

I was going to talk about finally finishing judging my Rita entries today, but I got the following email and couldn't resist a little blatant self promotion instead.

I got the following day-brighter and had to share. A couple brought Finding Sarah and What's in a Name? along to read on their travels.

You wipe the floor with (NYT best-selling mystery author's name redacted). Your stories are so much more engrossing, sparkling with detail (the author) could never imagine. You would have enjoyed seeing me go cross-eyed clutching What's in a Name?, reluctant to leave my seat on the plane, dragging my feet changing planes, stalling under lights in baggage claim, refusing to go to bed until I finished. My poor husband. I read so much faster than he does. We started reading on our SEA-DTW-CLT flight and swapped books for the return flight. I'm a compulsive finisher and your engrossing writing exacerbates my tendency to annoy my husband with my speed reading.

So when can we look forward to reading your next one?


Find out more, read excerpts, blurbs, visit behind the scenes, etc. at my website.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Buy a Book, Help a Teacher.

What I'm reading: Rita entry 7 of 8 (Gee, if they'd sent me one more book, I'd have a great Star Trek reference here)

What I'm writing: I've accepted my chapters 100 words a day for 100 days challenge. It's designed to instill discipline more than increase production: my writing goals include writing 1000 words a day. But they have to be 'end of the day' words, which means my writing style of beginning each day by cutting the dreck out of what I wrote the day before is going to get in the day. Often, my word count is less than it was, but the words are a lot better. Then again, 100 words is almost nothing.

I'll be signing my two Cerridwen Press Books, Finding Sarah and What's in a Name?

If you're in the Orlando area, please drop by.

On Saturday, February 9, from noon -2 pm at Barnes & Noble, 2418 E. Colonial Drive in Orlando, romance authors Catherine Kean, Dara Edmondson, Louise M. Gouge, Linnea Sinclair, Aleka Nakis and Terry Odell will be autographing copies of their novels in a special book signing to benefit Central Florida's A Gift For Teaching, which provides classroom supplies for underprivileged children through its Free Store for teachers. A percentage of book sales will be donated to this non-profit organization. Book buyers will receive a wonderful goody bag! For more information, call (407) 893-6372.

Friday, February 01, 2008

February Features

What I'm reading: Rita Entries, 5 of 8.

What I'm writing: short story (making it shorter, actually, and doing more research), preparation for 2 workshops.

It's February, and in central Florida, that means the weather is...pretty much unpredictable. Three nights ago, the heat kicked in. Last night it was the air conditioning. Now, I'm not saying I want to go back to Colorado where it was minus 5, but something remotely resembling winter would be nice. We have some fire logs left, and I'd love to sit in front of the fireplace with some hot chocolate and a good book. But it's supposed to be pushing 80 for the next week or so. Global Warming? Hard to use that as an explanation if the term is "Global" because while I was in Colorado they had unusually cold weather lasting longer than normal.

February is a busy month in our household. Groundhog Day, while not much of a holiday, is special because it marks the anniversary of our engagement. With Valentine's Day and my birthday added to the mix, there are lots of opportunities for flowers, chocolate and romance.