Monday, December 29, 2008

Catching up is hard to do

My blog is late... a day late. So, now it's Monday not Sunday. What happened? My niece, Alisha, was married Saturday. So, I drove down for the ceremony. It was a lovely service. They looked so very happy. I wish them all the best.

To get there we drove six hours on Christmas day-only to discover that there are no restaurants open on Christmas day-at least along the highway. Thank goodness for gas stations. (After driving for six hours, we arrived to see that even the Perkins with the big sign that says open 24 hours was closed. Sigh.) We ended up in a Walgreens and picked up a couple of microwave dinners to take back to our hotel which thankfully had a microwave. Then we drove five hours on Friday. Saturday we drove 2.5 hours down to the wedding. Had a really nice time-visiting family and sharing a dinner/dance reception with the bride and groom who were grinning ear to ear. Then it was 3 hours back to the hotel in ice and snow. Sunday we got up early and drove straight back home. The 9.5 hour drive took us 12 hours due to traffic. There were two spots where everyone went from 70 (or faster) to zero...and then we sat...then began to crawl for miles...only to discover wreckers clearing away semi's from the ice storm the day before.

So, today I'm home and behind in everything. But it was worth it to see how happy they were and to hug my older brother-with tears in his eyes-as Daddy's little girl got married.

Happy New Year! May 2009 find you happy and healthy!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Personal Rules

I've blogged before about social networking, but I thought I would update you on my experience. It can be intimidating to dip your toes into myspace and facebook. But after three months, I've discovered it can be a lot of fun to meet new people and follow them on-line.

It can also be a bit scary.

There are cyber stalkers out there. I've had people become down right angry if I don't chat with them or answer their messages. So, as with everything I do on-line, I have developed a few private rules for social networks.

1) I don't make it a habit of chatting up men I don't know from foreign countries. (I have a suspense writer's mind and don't want to have my computer confiscated for being in touch with possible tangos.)
2) I don't make it a habit of chatting with men I don't know. (I'm in a relationship and don't want to give anyone ideas.) I add male as well as female writers/readers to my friends. I may make a comment on their wall to congratulate them if they make a sale, or tell them happy birthday, or that I enjoyed reading their published work, but for the most part I'm networking not looking for a date- that's what and other personal sites are for...right?
3)I can't take the time to answer all queries on how to find an editor, where the publishers are, and would I read unpublished work and polish it. (Some have asked very nicely, but the answer is still no reply. It's not personal. It's a time constraint. I have my own research and polishing to do.)
4)I will remove anyone who consistently comments on inappropriate pictures I don't want to look at day in and day out. (When you comment on a photo it appears on my home page.) I'm not here to search the web for funky photos.
5)I don't play with all the wonderful apps available. So if you send me flowers, or candy or pets-thanks but I won't click on them. Again not personal, just squished for time.

What do I do? Meet new people, discover new blogs, join new groups and promote my website and my books.

These are hard and fast rules I've had to put into place to protect myself. So, please, don't take it personal if I don't chat with you or message back when you ask me to help you find a decent editor. It's not personal, it's business.

On that note...What are your personal on-line rules?

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Random thoughts on surviving the book business

This week a quote went around one of my writer's loops that got me thinking. I'll paraphrase because who said it and how they said it is not as important as the thought. Here is the thought: each book written is a new product and in a business model something like 90 percent of all new products fail. Thus every book put on the self has a huge potential for failure.

Why? People like their old brands. They like what they know. This is why the most successful people "seem" to write the same book over and over. It's called a brand. People are afraid to take a chance on something that is too new- too out there, no matter how good. Think about it. When was the last time one of your favorite authors wrote something that surprised you? Did you wonder if they were headed in a direction you didn't like? Did you think twice about buying their next book?

People like sameness. I've known several very good authors who tried to branch out to different styles of books and failed. Some quit. Others went back to the type of story that worked for them.

In essence-the industry prefers to typecast writers. I hear this all the time, "Oh, you write sweet westerns." Well, no- I write all kinds of books. A sweet western was simply the first book I sold to a publisher-they loved it so much I sold six more. But that is not all I am. This year I wrote a sexy single title contemporary romance and a straight up thriller. But I sold two romantic suspense stories.

But hoping from genre to genre and line to line can be a problem. The problem becoming what to label you- all writers need a label or it would be chaos in terms of marketing. Think of it like this- you have a friend who brings home a new guy/gal every night. You don't have time to get to know them or even care. It's all too dizzying to matter. Now you have another friend who has been with the same guy/gal all her life. You know what to expect. You become invested in his/her friendship and their life together. You are comfortable and should they ever break up you will be horrified. This is how people like to think of their writers.

Unfortunately- book types go in and out of fashion-stranding those writers dedicated to only one type of book. So, even knowing the brand expectations, you have to be versatile enough to survive these trends. So, I've learned to nurture two or three different types of books in the hopes that one will keep my career afloat if another goes out of fashion. Think of it as serial monogamy. Instead of a new type of book every time, write consistently in two genres. The idea is to keep your product from being too new and yet maintaining a place in more than one market. It keeps your odds favorable and boredom at bay.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December Movie Reviews

You all know that I'm a huge movie buff. After being in the book business for so many years, I can't pick up a book without seeing craft and all the other work that goes into the story. So, for entertainment I go to movies. A lot of movies. Once a month I like to review one or two that I have seen. December is always stuffed full of releases-gearing up for awards or just plain family fun. So this month I'm reviewing two very different movies.


Okay, truth? I picked this movie so that I could post a picture of Hugh Jackman on my blog.
Plus the movie was big fun. I enjoy Nicole Kidman as well. This movie is cheeky fun with romance as its core. (As a romance author, I could not resist.) Still there is enough action and adventure for the guys. Australia made me smile and had just enough emotion to keep you going. I plan on buying the DVD when it comes out. In these economic times you need a little fun in your life.

My second movie pick is The Boy in The Striped Pajamas.

IMO this movie is Oscar worthy. The review I read before I went said it was a good family film-um- NO- unless your kids are 13 or older, then take them. It is a great discussion tool. This movie is poignant and spot on. The acting is superb. The characters fleshed out with actual arcs that take your breath away. All from the spot on point-of-view of an 8-year-old boy. Innocence in a world of madness. See this one if you love good film making, wonderful acting and a story line that does not back down.