Sunday, March 18, 2018

Why Attend a Book Fair? by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Nancy Gideon, Elizabeth Alsobrooks, and Rob Tucker
at The Tucson Festival of Books, 2018

So what’s so great about book fairs? Well, if you’re a reader, you’re in Valhalla. Not even the biggest bookstores have the diverse collection of books you will find at a large book fair, and you will get to have many of them autographed by your favorite authors. If you’re an author, nothing is ever better than being surrounded by avid readers and fellow writers.

Book fairs have more than books, too. There are panels of authors discussing a myriad of topics from how and why to write particular genres to talks on cooking, gardening, crafting, parenting, and pet care. Both nonfiction and fiction books of all genres are represented, including comic books and graphic novels. Along with hundreds of book tents hosted by large and small publishing companies, and even individual authors, there are tents with artists and craftsmen, offering their designs from jewelry to pottery and new age wares. You can learn to manage your finances or get your fortune told.

 Book fairs have something for everyone. You can meet storybook characters, comic book heroes, and even Darth Vader and a movie star or two. Spend the afternoon watching children dance an Irish jig, a Mexican folk dance, or demonstrate a Karate Kota. Listen to bagpipes, rock bands, and marching bands. Visit the juggler, or the aerobatic performers.

Nearly every special interest group is represented, from the League of Women voters, to religious organizations, universities, media organizations, libraries, literacy groups, parks and recreation, and even museums. 

Getting hungry from all that walking around browsing and shopping? Let’s not forget the diverse ethnic food booths. Mexican, American, Thai, Italian, BBQ and Creole, just to name of few of the hot meals to be had. If you just want a quick snack, they have yogurt, gelato, salads, popcorn, corn on the cob, wraps, and smoothies.

These pictures and video are from the Tucson Festival of Books, held on the University of Arizona campus every March. It's the third largest book fair in the country and well worth the visit. If you get the chance, visit a book fair near you, and if you're an author, by all means participate. Nothing beats meeting fans first-hand. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Back East!

In mid-January (new year, new decisions, right?), I decided on a big life change. I was going home…
Back East. Back to South Carolina. Back to the red clay soil of the Piedmont area and the only family I have left.

So, I began looking around for a new home.  First, I had to sell my house in Texas, and that happened lightning quick.  We listed it on the MLS Friday night and by Monday—with the realtor’s sign never having gone up—it was under contract at above listing price!  Now, I’m in a pickle.  In approximately a month, I’ll have nowhere to go.

The housing market in my hometown of Anderson, SC is really tight now. It’s definitely a seller’s market. I lost 5 houses before I could get a contract in on them.  There was a house in the area of town where I wanted to buy, a brick ranch with a side sunroom ad a turquoise door.  I thought it was really cute, but never had interest in looking at it because I thought it was too small…not that I need a palace…but the rooms appeared smallish in the listing photos.

In mid-February, I went home to look at houses.  I still didn’t want to look at this one.  For the space,  I thought it was overpriced.  I went back to Texas ‘empty-handed’.  Finally, my realtor talked me into sending my aunt to look at the little brick house.

She loved it!

It has a marvelous chef’s kitchen, for one thing, and it was much bigger than I thought.   So then the negotiations began.  The long-and-short of it, several offers and counteroffers flew back and forth, but in the end, I have a contract on the brick house right beside a big Baptist church separated by a tall, white picket fence.

Next post will most likely be from the Palmetto State.

But this is a Paranormal Romance blog.  Well, I have 3 paranormal romances now available in audio:

Love For Sale is about Christian and March.  March is a disenchanted dreamer. Christian is her dream man, but…inside he’s all circuits and wires while outside he is perfectly human and programmed to love her unconditionally.
Morgan D’Arcy: A Vampyre Rhapsody is an anthology of stories told by my favorite of my characters. Morgan is an English lord, a concert pianist...and a vampire.
Love for Sale and Rhapsody are read by a woman with a lovely British accent and are enchanting to listen to.  Here are the links:
Her General in Gray is a ghostly love story. Think the Ghost and Mrs. Muir.
Can you believe it is March already?!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

My Muse by Diane Burton

Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helicon by Claude Lorrain

In Greek mythology, Zeus created The Muses to celebrate the victory over the Titans and to forget the evils of the world. I’m sure you already know that Zeus was a prolific father. According to myth, he laid with the goddess of memory nine times to create the nine Muses, goddesses of literature, sciences, and the arts. Two of them are directly related to literature—Melpomene (tragedy) and Thalia (comedy). Although I claim Thalia as my muse because I’d rather write humor than tragedy, I can’t ignore Melpomene. A good book must contain both. Tension and danger need the comic relief.

They say inspiration can come from anywhere. I claim Thalia and Melpomene visited last week. My work-in-progress, a romantic suspense, began fifteen years ago. It was the only story I’ve ever written out of sequence. I’m such a linear writer that I have to start a story at the beginning and write through to the end. This story was an anomaly. I wrote scenes as I thought of them. Worse, I named the files poorly. Even worse than that, I saved every variation of the story in separate files on 3.25” floppy disks. Considering that the story began at least four computers ago, I’m thrilled that I found it on those disks. Good thing Hubs purchased an external reader for those disks.

As a place-holder, I named the story Katie’s Story then The Camping Trip. Finally, it became Unpredictable Nature. None was a good title. For one thing, since my daughter-in-law's name is Katy, I changed the main character to Maggie. (I couldn't write love scenes and not think of my son and his wife. Not going there!) At the time, I thought the focus of the story was about camping and the outdoors, especially as it related to Maggie and Drew, the main characters. As I said, that was fifteen years ago.

I’ve been sharing snippets from this story every weekend for the Weekend Writing Warriors’ blog hop. On four Mondays (including yesterday), I shared character sketches of the main characters on my blog. Enter the Muses. A new title. Numbers Never Lie. Why didn’t I think of that sooner? Inspiration can strike at any time. Being open to inspiration is the trick.

Here’s the blurb for Numbers Never Lie:

A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie. 

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack's an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that—an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack leave behind?

As I edit and revise Numbers Never Lie I feel so much better about the title. Thank you, Melpomene and Thalia.

Has your Muse helped you in a big way?

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She blogs here on the 13th of each month.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

That Old Black Magic: Paranormal Suspense Panel at Left Coast Crim

By Sandy Wright

I’m excited to announce that I will be moderating a panel at the Left Coast Crime conference in Reno, NV this month. It’s titled “That Old Black Magic: Paranormal Suspense.

My panelists are:

Alice Henderson (Voracious, Shattered Roads)

Alice has an interesting background in science and paleo-climatology, and she has traveled to wild places around the globe, so I’m sure she will have much to say about the accurate portrayal of “place” in fiction.

I’d also like to find out how she landed her sweet gig of writing books for Star Wars, Buffy and Supernatural!

Eileen Magill (House of Homicide)

Eileen actually lived in a house that was haunted by a serial killer, so the ghost questions will be directed to her first.

Interestingly, when the house was put up for sale, there was a bidding war and it sold for $111,000 over the asking price!

Margaret C. Morse (Murder Casts a Spell, Murder Lifts the Spirits)

Margaret was a lawyer in her previous life, so we’ll delve into writing witchcraft as a lawyer. That should be interesting!

Danna began writing after a car accident left her faced with the challenge of relearning basic skills due to cognitive impairment. That interests me since I have resumed writing after suffering a stroke two years ago.

Danna says she began her TV show to improve her speaking skills, and now she has two popular segments airing in Sacramento and has won awards for a dozen short films, as well as publishing a three-novel series.  

Since the audience will consist of writers and readers of suspense and crime fiction, I think I’ll begin by asking, “What do you think is the main thing that distinguishes paranormal suspense from other suspense and crime genres? And what do readers demand from paranormal suspense books?”

Please help me prepare for the panel by telling me: what questions would YOU like to ask a paranormal suspense panel?  

The conference is next weekend, so I’ll report back here shortly and let you know how it went.
Thank you in advance for your comments!

Good reading.

I’m Sandy Wright. I live in Arizona with my husband, a super-smart Border Collie/Aussie mix named Teak, and two huge black panther cats, Salem and Shadow Moon. Their daddy, Magick, was even bigger! He's featured in my debut novel, Song of the Ancients, the first book in my paranormal suspense series, Ancient Magic.

They say write what you know, so my debut novel involves witchcraft and Native American medicine magic. It's set in the energy-laden town of Sedona, Arizona.  It was interesting to introduce the concept of witchcraft through the eyes of an ordinary, non-magical woman, and go through her reactions and disbelief along with her. While I did a lot of research for this book, most of the magical stuff I drew from my own Wiccan background and practice.

Sedona is but one earth "power site" in the world. The Ancient Magic series will take Samantha to Nicholas to adventures at other sacred sites, known and obscure. Book 2, tentatively titled Stones of the Ancients, will take us to ancient standing stones—and a true-life excavation-- in Scotland. I also researched my Campbell clan heritage while visiting the Scottish Isles last summer. The books then move to Hawaii to learn about Pele, the Goddess of fire and volcanos. The series concludes somewhere along the icy Neolithic bridge of the First People, maybe Alaska or Siberia.

Book One – Song of the Ancients is available now on Amazon, in both print and ebook.And please look for my upcoming Arizona suspense, Crescent Moon Crossing, releasing fall 2018! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Downtime by Jane Kindred

I’ve been writing nonstop for more than 10 years—professionally for 7—completing almost 3 books a year for the last 6. Last week, I reviewed the galleys for Kindling the Darkness, my final contracted book in the Sisters in Sin series. And now I have no idea what to do.

It’s kind of nice to be able to take a breather, to not have a deadline looming. On the other hand, I don’t know what normal people do with their time. I’m pretty much doing nothing (other than the day job). I have time to read, finally…and I don’t know what I want to read.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had stories running constantly in the background of my mind, like a program that’s always running on your computer while you’re using other applications. It’s how I’ve always fallen asleep at night, dreaming up worlds and watching love stories play out in my head. And for the first time, I have no characters in there jostling for my attention. It’s quiet. And weird. Quite possibly, I'm depressed. But I don't really care. (Which is probably a sign that I'm depressed.)

You’d think all this existential contemplation would give me plenty of time to come up with entertaining content for blog posts, but, haha, joke’s on you.

Absent any productive ideas, I’ve been watching a lot of Murder, She Wrote. It’s different now, watching Jessica Fletcher deal with life as a published author. When I watched the show the first time around, it was my dream to be her. (I’m also much closer to Jessica’s age. Today, at Walgreens, the checker asked me if I qualified for the senior discount. Okay, so I‘ve been going gray since I was in my 30s, but at 51, I’m not ready for senior discounts yet, thanks. Or as the lovely lady on the Estroven commercial that plays constantly during my old-lady show, Murder, She Wrote, says, “I’m not ready for elastic waistbands!” Now, where was I? Oh, right; insisting that I’m not old. At any rate, I was buying this at the time, so you be the judge:

I also recently bought hair color to match. But that’s neither here nor there, I’ve been doing that for years.)

So me and the Peep (of course it's "the Peep and I," but I must admit, I like the sound of Me and the Peep; it’s a buddy cop show waiting to be written) are sitting here watching Jessica go to writers’ conferences and work on deadlines and snap at her best friend for interrupting her writing flow and put up with mansplaining dudes who belittle her genre, and I’m just nodding along. This is, in many ways, my life (minus the murders and the mad success). But I am, it seems, living the dream.

It isn’t exactly what I expected, but I edit for a steady paycheck by day and write fantastical romance by night that a few people read, and I think my teenage self would be pleased. Now if I could just snap out of this “four-poster dull torpor” and get back to making things up for strangers, that’d be grand.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Do You Get That Idiom?

By Maureen L. Bonatch

This year in my part of the world it seems that March is coming in like a lamb. A wet, soggy lamb, mind you, but it’s starting off mild. That leads us to believe that it will go out like a lion. 

I say this with the assumption that you’ve heard the idiom of, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.” 

If you haven’t heard this, then perhaps you just thought I might’ve lost a little more of my ‘writer marbles.’ You might’ve shrugged it off, thinking many writers are a little unusual anyway…

Don't Stall Your Story 

Many people use these old idiomatic expressions with the assumption that people know what they’re talking about. They’re fun to toss in a conversation, but can become problematic if you come across one in a story and don’t know what they’re talking about. 

In my book, GRANDMA MUST DIE, I actually address this a little in the story, referencing that some witches with extended life spans use these references that no one gets anymore. 

Did you Just Call Me an Idiot?

Although it sounds similar, an idiom isn’t the same as an idiot,
unless that’s what you’re grumbling when you come across a confusing passage in a book that’s actually an idiom squeezed in there. 

Otherwise, an idiom is a group of words that doesn’t really have a clear meaning. Some might be more popular in certain regions, or time periods, but I’d assume many have begun to make less and less sense to younger generations.

What Did You Say?

If you’re familiar with the idiom, it seems perfectly natural to say it because it makes sense to you because you know the implied meaning. But if you haven’t heard it before, it makes pretty much no sense at all to stick these in a perfectly normal conversation.

“Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.”
This implies that you shouldn’t accidently throw out something good with the bad or reject the favorable with the unfavorable.

But since not many people are actually throwing out bathwater since the invention of running water, and hopefully no one has lost a baby to relate to the situation, it just sounds a little confusing.

“A penny for your thoughts.”
A way to ask someone what they’re thinking, although with inflation, I think the rate would be much higher now.

“Hear it straight from the horse’s mouth”
When you want to hear it from someone in authority. Younger generations haven’t even heard of the old television show with the talking horse, Mr. Ed, or have much to do with horses at all. 

Therefore, they’d be out of luck waiting for their confirmation.

“The whole nine yards”
All of it, everything. I’m not sure why nine yards is everything. I might want more than that, or to round it up to an even number.

“Sit on the fence”
When you can’t make a decision. Although this seems like an awfully uncomfortable place to sit to contemplate something. I think I’d decide rather quickly just to get off the fence.

“Pull the wool over your eyes”
When you deceive someone. Again, the lack of sheep, or spare wool makes it sound as if you had this line in a book that they failed to successfully yank their sweater over their head.

“Piece of cake”
To describe something that is simple, or easy. Now I don’t want an easy task, I just want something sweet.

“Elvis has left the building”
To announce that the show has come to an end. Even though Elvis is still brought up today, sadly I’m not certain some people would know who he was.

Choose Your Words Carefully

I love to write a post that makes you realize you can’t judge a book by it’s cover to gain the curiosity of my audience. But I’d lose it quickly if that curiosity killed the cat and left me crying over spilled milk. So the ball is in your court if you want to share some of your favorite idioms, but don’t bite off more than you can chew—because there are a lot of them.

Do You Have a Favorite Idiom?

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

Friday, March 2, 2018

Taming the Back Cover Blurb

Earlier in February, I facilitated a workshop about writing blurbs. It was a collaborative event with everyone researching and commenting on blurbs as well as sharing their own blurbs for critique.
Here are the key points we discussed.

  • Start writing your blurb when you start writing your book!  Yep, you heard me. You already know what your book is going to be about—even if it is just a general, amorphous cloud of an idea––and you know how you want your audience to react to the book. That is exactly what your blurb should communicate and exactly how you want readers to react to your blurb. So get words on paper (or screen) as early in the process as you can.

  • Remember that your blurb has one job—and one job only—to snag a reader’s interest. It is not about the author’s career. It is not a synopsis of the entire book. It is not the place for backstory. It does not give away the ending or any spoilers at all.

  • The blurb must create suspense by presenting a situation or asking a question that can only be resolved or answered BY READING THE BOOK.

  • We also developed a quick checklist to use as you battle the blurb.

1.      Is the length less than 180 (or close) words?
2.      Do the first 1-2 sentences catch attention? Use a killer tagline in bold. Separate it from the rest by a blank line.
3.      Is the main character mentioned above the line? (in the first 200 characters.) Did you manage to use SEO keywords in those 200 characters?
4.      Are conflict and stakes succinctly summarized in 1-2 sentences?
5.      Are clich├ęs and unnecessary world-building/backstory avoided? Don’t begin with “In a world where…” or similar standard openings. Don’t spend any time explaining the landscape in flowery terms. Just include the info the blurb reader needs to know to understand the blurb.
6.      Do the tone and voice and pov match the book?
7.       Are any spoilers revealed? This is the only question you want to answer no or Hell, no.
8.      Does the blurb end with a cliffhanger—a compelling situation, question, problem which can only be resolved by reading the book?
9.      Are the sentences in the blurb short and punchy? Use Active voice and limit sentence length.
10.   Are genre and central theme of the book clear?

Before you go--tell us one or two things you MUST see in a blurb before you click BUY.

And here are even more resources you can check out.
o   Do’s and Don’t’s and a discussion of blurb writing in general.

o   Seventeen tips!

o   Provides another formula—“The standout, the meat, and the emotional payoff.”

o   Very helpful article with do’s and don’ts as well as advice for optimizing a blurb on Amazon.

o   Very thorough discussion with a template and examples for both fiction and nonfiction.

o   More discussion plus a 5 minute video that I found interesting

o   Examples and analysis of blurbs.

o   A list of questions to think about as you prepare to write/revise your blurb.