Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fun, fashion and writer's conference

I spent the weekend at the Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling writer's conference. It was a fast paced, fun filled time. I was able to check in the moment I got to the Deerfield Hyatt. The staff was outstanding. The service was great. I registered and received a thick packet with lots of goodies from the conference sponsors, Office Depot, Pepsi, Quaker Oats, Books by SourceBooks, Harlequin and Avon.
I met friends I've known for years from all over the country and ran into Barbra Vey from Publisher's Weekly and five of us went to lunch together. You can get Barb's view of the conference at her blog
Unfortunately, no pictures of me, I was too busy volunteering to do any drive by videos. Sigh. But she is a wonderful person, outgoing and super smart.
It was fun to dress up and wear my name tag stating that I was a published author and a committee chair. (I was in charge of the audio visual.) We taped the entire conference so that if you missed anything you could purchase the tapes for later listening and inspiration.
Great workshops started at 2:30 p.m.. By 5:30 p.m. we had a family sit down meal with editors and agents. The food was to die for. The company lovely, I sat with author Patricia Rosemoor and Daniele Egan Miller from the Brown and Miller literary agency. Following that were more wonderful workshops, a reception for local librarians and booksellers and the grand finale a chocolate reception with a menu entitled Death by chocolate!
I went to bed late and could barely sleep. I had run into Erin Niumata who was my Editorial director at Avalon Books-she was the wonderful editor who let me keep the first naked man in an Avalon romance. (If you remember, it was a scene from A Wanted Man. If you haven't read it yet go to or and order it. You'll be glad you did.)
It turns out that Erin is no longer editing but has become an agent at Folio Literary Management. We had a drink together and discussed my work. It was one of those kismet moments.
Next week, I'll blog about all the great stuff that happened on Saturday. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pantsers vs Plotters

In the writing world there are two kinds of writers. Writers like to split themselves into pantsers and plotters. Pantsers are the writers who see a scene or talk to a character, sit down and start writing a book. In other words, they write an entire novel by the seat of their pants. Plotters are writers who like to have an entire outline done before they even begin a book. They like a plan. They enjoy structure. They want to know where they're going before they get there.

There are pantsers or sometimes they call themselves into the mist writers, who stumble on a plotting method and suddenly convert to plotters. But I've never know a plotter to try writing like a's simply not in their nature.

Personally, I prefer writing by the seat of my pants, but I've found that often leaves me with a completed book and trouble boiling down the message into short marketable pitches. My solution? Once my book is done, I take Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Plotting Method and plug in my new book. Doing this plotting exercise after I finish the book "feels" better to me because I know where the book goes. Often when I write, what I plan to write doesn't come out that way. Doing the exercise after helps me to see the clear cut theme in my book. Goals, motivations and conflicts pop right out. It also helps me to understand when a revision is needed because a conflict isn't strong enough.

You can find his method on his website www.advanced There are people who love to use this for plot. I enjoy using it for marketing. Either way it's an interesting method for any novelist to look over and see how it works for them.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

To Market, To Market a five year plan

As I wrote before the burn, I hope to blog once a week using a proper editorial calendar. I'll post said calendar as soon as I create it.

My goal is to blog every Sunday on Author Marketing, Writing Tips, Book/movie Reviews and Just for fun.

Let's begin with author marketing. I sat down with a couple of marketing friends who bemoaned the fact that authors don't know how to properly market themselves. I agreed, nodding my head wisely. But knowing all along that I, too, do the things they were complaining about. Missed opportunities and inconsistent marketing abound in a writer's life.

Let me tell you why...

With brands such as Pepsi and Coke, you have long term consistent products. All colas are not alike and consistent branding is essential. You brand by getting the product name OUT THERE-and keeping it in the forefront of people's minds.

But in today's current market, an author, writer, novelist needs to stay flexible in order to work. A writer may start out writing sweet historical romance-see my seven Morgan family novels by Avalon Books. (Saving Samantha, A Wanted Man, Lovin' Lana, Wyoming Wedding, The Marryin' Kind, The Bettin' Kind and The Lovin' Kind. All titles can be found on,,, and Even if their work is critically acclaimed, (A Wanted Man, the Marryin' Kind, The Bettin' Kind and the Lovin' Kind were all given starred reviews by Booklist Magazine.) the particular kind of story may no longer be in vogue with publisher's marketing departments.

So, in order to keep selling an author has to switch to say romantic suspense,(as in my up-coming novel, Mr. Charming) or paranormal or even contemporary romantic comedy. These switches are done usually without publisher sponsorship. So books are written in advance of selling and the author can have complete novels done with years between publish dates.

In other words, unlike Pepsi or Coke, the product is off the shelf for years at a time.

Facing this sort of market, it's difficult to keep your so called "brand" going. Why should readers care if it takes three years for a new publisher to discover you? You've lost your audience. You have to start your marketing plan all over again. It can be disheartening.

It was suggested that you combat this with a five year plan- a plan to sell certain flavors of books over five years...(Example-plan a series of five paranormal books.)Great-except your books were written at the tail end of a trend and the publisher only bought no one in the book biz wants to publish any more of those kinds of books...suddenly you need a new five year plan...and all that marketing goes to waste.

The solution is to base your brand on something that won't go away for three years...YOU- be active in groups, blogs, contests. Give talks. Write newsletter and magazine articles. Put out a twice yearly or quarterly newsletter. Keep your face and name OUT THERE.

If you think of your brand as a pyramid-the foundation should be your family, friends and loyal readers. Give them something to read like a daily blog (See mine on my website The next level should be writers groups and local librarians, booksellers and community work. Followed by national groups, conferences and speaking engagements. Leave the bookmarks and pens for the very tip.

Staying involved is a good way to keep your marketing base during periods of drought. It's a five year plan that works.

Finally, don't give up. The key to good marketing as an author is to write consistently good books. (I know, I know, you always write good books, it's why you're published...) It's still the key. No matter what you write or when, people will know you always deliver.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

OMG It's April

So, I had plans. Plans to write a new cool blog once a week. To somehow find a hipper-edgier-cooler me. Or, hey, I could write a useful, marketing blog, since that is what I do in my "real" life. What? You mean you can't support yourself after publishing 8 novels??? Bwahahahaha-

Okay, back to reality. Like I said, I set up an editorial calendar to really bring readers to my blog. The new "me" was to begin today...

Then it rained...and--this will tell you how utterly uncool I really am--I burned my entire right hand. Scorched. Fried. Swollen up. Red. Shiny skinned. Still burning an hour later...soaked in ice water every five minutes to numb it...sigh.

How did I manage this terrible deed? And even more important--how am I writing this after such an adventure? I am typing left painful letter at a time. I'm getting pretty good at it too...

As for the burn-sigh- I pulled my boiling bowl of Malt-o-meal out of the microwave--yes, I said Malt-o-meal-- when my arm jerked...the scalding hot, fresh from the boil, thick pasty liquid poured over my hand. I dropped the bowl, flung the burning brew off my hand and all over the kitchen as I went screaming to the sink and poured cold water over my hand-sheesh.

Stupid, stupid, stupid...ever have a day? Well, mine is today. Especially since Malt-o-meal is famous for turning into concrete when it cools-so, I numbed my hand in ice water and did my best to clean up the puppy happily took care of the floor...sigh. I'm lucky- no real blisters...just swollen, shiny, red...took the top layer of skin off...I'll survive.

But, so much for being cool and hip...