Friday, November 20, 2009

Promise or Peril?

This week there has been an uproar in the writer's world following the announcement by Harlequin Enterprises to team up with Author Solutions to form a new entity, Harlequin Horizons. Manuscripts already rejected by Harlequin can now be published in print -- via this new self-publishing arm. The key words here are self-publishing. Which means the author pays; footing the entire cost of printing, editing, etc.

I'm certainly not saying that self-publishing is bad. I just feel that, although not exactly misleading aspring writers, this is taking advantage of the vulnerability and desires of those writers. All form rejections coming from Harlequin will now have a short note offering Harlequin Horizons as a self publishing option for the author. The carrot they're dangling is the line stating that if a Harlequin Horizons self-published title does well, Harlequin might just then pick the manuscript up for mainstream publication.

Now I spent many years as an aspiring author, and I can tell you it's an emotional roller coaster. There were always those out there who would make promises, allude to possibilities ... and on and on until you feel that if you don't take this chance, don't outlay the cash, you'll be missing out on your shot at a major publisher. And it might work that way for a very few. Truly, the publishing business is a lot of being at the right place at the right time. I get that. I also know that if you've been rejected by your chosen publishers, there might be a reason. A person simply cannot assume their work is ready for publication. To be a good writer, you have to dedicate yourself to the craft, to always stretching and improving your skills. Having a sub-standard novel out there (believe me all of my first works were sub-standard in one way or another, even though I didn't know it at the time -- I pressed and learned) isn't going to do a thing to get a major publisher to look at your work. I feel money is better spent on classes, workshops, instructional books ... things that will give you better tools to use in your quest for publication.

Another word of caution. That carrot, the one that says if your self-published book does well you could be picked up by a major publisher, is more than a little misleading. For a print book to sell well, it has to be where readers can find it -- this is especially true for first time authors.
Without the backing of a publisher and distribution system, how are those books going to get out there? Print books do not fly into reader's hands by themselves.
You need to ask yourself these questions: Are you willing to spend full time marketing your book? Are you going to face even more rejection by knocking on bookstore doors trying to get them to let you in? Are you going to devote every day to selling books out of your garage? It's tough out there and it really burns my biscuits to see writers' dreams being manipulated for profit.

Harlequin has been the backbone of the romance industry for years. I understand the markets are changing, the world is changing. I know this is all new and it will be interesting to see how things shake out. All I have to say is the old addage "Buyer Beware." You CAN make your dreams come true. Just move ahead with your eyes open and your brain (not your heart) engaged.

Monday, November 9, 2009

An Interview with Terri DuLong

Please welcome Terri Du Long. She's here to tell us a little about what's going on in her world and her new release, Spinning Forward

1. Tell me about your book.

A New Englander born and bred, the last place Sydney Webster expects to find herself starting over is on an island off the west coast of Florida. Yet here she is in Cedar Key, trying to pull herself together after her husband's untimely death and the even more untimely revelation of his gambling addiction. Syd takes shelter at a college pal's bed and breakfast, leading her to discover her true identity and feminine soul. Her passion for spinning and knitting draws attention due to the unique composition of her wool and a door is opened. She finds herself in the embrace of a community rich with love, laughter, friendship . . . and secrets. A tale of new beginnings, old friends and lives forever bound.

2. What is your writing process and where do you write?

When I'm on deadline, I begin around ten in the morning and generally work six to eight hours a day. When we moved to Cedar Key, we had a writer's studio built for me, detached from our house but connected by a screened lanai. So this is where I work.

3. What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

I'd have to say my favorite thing about writing is all the feedback I get from my readers. Their comments on my characters, plot, how my story affected them, etc. Least favorite? Call me Pollyanna, but I really don't have one. I love writing and the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a story.

4. How do you fight writer's block?

I've never really had "writer's block." I've had episodes where I momentarily get stuck about where to go and what will work to take my plot forward, but when that happens I get away from the manuscript for a few days. Give it time to percolate a little. However, I'm constantly thinking about it the entire time and somehow I find my way back to where I want to go.

5. Please name the five movies and the five books you want with you if stranded on a desert island.
5 books would be: A Woman of Substance, To Kill a Mockingbird, The House at Riverton, The Shellseekers and The Thornbirds
5 movies would be: Casablanca, Pretty Woman, Saving Private Ryan, Ghost and Steel Magnolias

6. What is next for you?
My Christmas novella that I'm doing in the anthology with Fern Michaels headlining will be released November 2010 – An the same time that my second book in the Cedar Key series will be out.

Visit Terri's websites for more information:

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Yard Ate My Glasses

Seriously. Instead of staying inside and sitting at my computer like every good writer should, I couldn't resist a bright sunny, albeit brisk, Indiana day. There was so much to do. Leaves to rake. Frostbitten hostas to pull. Bulbs to plant. Decorative grasses to cut. I enlisted my son's help for a while. It's so much easier to cut those five-foot tall grasses with the hedge trimmers if someone has their arms wrapped around the wayward fronds.

Usually when I'm wielding the electric hedge trimmers for this activity I cut through the 100 foot extension cord. It's now more like 75 feet long and has had about five new plug ends put on. I was so proud. The grasses were down … and the cord intact. (Never mind the fact that Reid was actually doing the cutting this time. I still take full credit.) I was feeling good. I handled the hostas. I took care of the leaves and did a final cut on the lawn. What a sense of accomplishment!

At some point during the day I ventured inside to check my email. When I went back outside, I'd forgotten to take my glasses off. I hate, hate, hate wearing them outdoors. I can see fine, as long as I'm looking at least two feet away. I nearly turned around and went back inside to leave the glasses. But I'd gotten warm, bundled as I was in a sweatshirt and a fleece jacket, so I took off my jacket and laid it on the deck and set my glasses on top of my jacket. (I know what you're thinking, and you're so not right.) They were just fine. My daughter stopped by with her wild dog – and the glasses were still fine. She left. It was getting chilly. I put the jacket back on – and slipped my glasses in the front pouch pocket of my sweatshirt. (cue dramatic music here)

As I did this, I thought, "not a good idea." But I was just going to be picking up my rake, trimmers and less than 100 foot extension cord, so no big deal. I picked up the trimmers … and spied the infamous "one more thing." That groundcover was getting to raggy and too tall. I'll just trim it while I have everything out.

And I did. One snip led to another and an hour later, I'd really done some good. Except, my glasses were no long in my sweatshirt pocket.

By now it was growing dark. Did I mention this bed is on a ravine bank and leads to woods? Yeah.

I began my frantic search through the woody groundcover, now trimmed to only 10 inches tall. No luck. I call my neighbor to see if her hubby has a metal detector – a long shot I'll admit. He didn't. She did come over with a "deer light" – guaranteed to blind a deer and anyone else who looks at it directly (sorta like an eclipse). We searched with the light. No luck. I finally had to take my numb fingers inside for the night.

As I fell asleep, I kept thinking of how there was probably a farsighted squirrel out there reading the paper right now.

Next day, 8 am, I'm on my hands and knees going over this ground cover inch by inch, cutting it back until I could see the dirt. And truth be told, I spent the entire day doing this, with the exception of an hour-and-a-half when I went to meet my critique group (and they were all laughing as I came into the meeting, they'd read about my dilemma on facebook). Sun was setting again. No glasses. Unfortunately these are those expensive progressive lenses with all the goodies like anti-reflective coating – they cost too darned much to just let some squirrel have them.

Day three. Raking. Leaf blower. No glasses.

Today I get to go out and go through the leaf piles handful by handful.

Do you feel my pain?

Monday, November 2, 2009

An Interview with Deb Stover

This is a new segment to my blog. I'll be posting interviews with various Women's Fiction authors who are members of RWA-WF chapter, discussing their new releases. This should be a great way for everyone to discover new books as well as new authors.

Here's a little about Deb and her new book, The Gift:

1. Tell me about THE GIFT.

Certain members of the Dearborn Family are born with some variance of an empathic gift. Beth's "gift" manifests in a particularly frightening manner, by enabling her to experience the final moments of those who've died violently. As an adult, she chooses a career as a homicide detective, and--obviously--is very successful. However, the experience of being "murdered" repeatedly takes a terrible toll and she turns to alcohol for
solace. When she hits bottom and seeks treatment for her addiction, she is convinced the only way she can stay sober is to somehow suppress her
gift-turned-curse by avoiding places where the spirit of someone who died violently might contact her. She leaves her position and takes one as a
nomadic insurance investigator.

Her new career keeps her safe and sober for three years. Convinced her gift
has faded from lack of use, she finally accepts an assignment involving
possible life insurance fraud, which leads her to a small town in eastern

Ty Malone's wife, Lorilee, disappeared over seven years ago. Though the
town and his father-in-law remain convinced she ran away to pursue a career
as a painter in Europe, he has always maintained that the only thing that
could keep his wife away from her children is death. It's time to learn the
truth, so he petitions the court to have her declared legally dead. The
life insurance claim brings investigator Beth Dearborn into his life.

THE GIFT is part mystery, part ghost story, part suspense, part romance,
part thriller. The novel also touches on the issue of women and alcoholism
on various levels. Beth is a recovering alcoholic, and the reader will also
meet a character who is a practicing one.

Both Beth and Ty will be forced to face their greatest fears to learn the
truth, and to find happiness.

2. What pulled you into the story and made you think 'I have to write

A protagonist always pulls me into a new story. In this case, I "met" Ty's
wife, Lorilee, first. She introduced herself to my muse, and I wrote a
scene that appears very late in the book (it would be a spoiler if I told
you about it) as a prologue initially. Then I saved it and used it later.
From that scene, the entire story evolved. She is the catalyst who brings
about all the events.

3. When did you first begin writing?

I think I was about eight. My first publication was a letter to the editor
of the WICHITA EAGLE at age eleven. I majored in Journalism, then worked
for a newspaper. I wrote my first romance manuscript in 1984. It was a
monster of almost 200,000 words. I still need to burn it.... I dabbled for
a few more years, then joined RWA and got serious in 1991. I sold my first
book in December 1993. SHADES OF ROSE was published by Kensington in 19

4. Please name the five movies and the five books you want with you if
stranded on a desert island.

I hate this question. The thought of being stranded with only five books is
pure torture. I can live without movies, but not books. Can I trade five
movies for five extra books? No...? Okay, I'll try.
2. GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
3. Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy by Nora Roberts (have them all in 1 book
club hardcover edition--is that cheating?)
4. Three Sisters Island Trilogy by Nora Roberts (same as #3)
5. Boatbuilding: a complete handbook of wooden boat construction
By Howard Irving Chapelle [ :-) ]

5. CASTAWAY (I couldn't find a movie about how to build a boat)

10. What is next for you?

I am currently at work on the sequel to THE GIFT--working title is THE
SECRET. When you read THE GIFT, you will meet Beth's cousin, Sam Dearborn.
His "gift" manifests in a different way. He jokingly refers to himself as a
"psychic errand boy."

Happy reading!


My thanks to Deb for sharing with us today. Watch for next week's new release, Therese Walsh's, The Last Will of Moira Leahy