Being a Reader and a Writer

Because I finished the most amazing book last night...the wee hours of the morning, truth be told. I woke up with my mind, clamoring for a way to describe what I was feeling... and the bottom line?

Being a Reader and a Writer is like being married... [watch the comparisons. I swear, you'll see your writing career in here somewhere]

Seventeen years ago, I married a good-looking, bad boy. Well, he acted like the bad boy--smoked, played cards, drank. But he was...good-looking [have I said that already?], and inside, he was a good guy--even went to church on Sundays. <3 I was so in love...

And we got married. [This is the part where I'm a reader. Looove reading. Can't stop reading. Reading, all night long!]

As happens when you're married [such a good reader], we had kids [I decided to write].

You worry and doubt that you can even raise any kids!! This was a huge deal. What if you let everyone down? What if your kids turned out to be snotty, brats! Or worse, criminals?

But you love those kids so much. They're so danged cute. You don't admit it yet, but there's been a shift. Now it seems like you're spending a lot more time with the kids than with that good-looking guy you married. But it's not bad, because you're on the same page...[speaking of page. This is where I suddenly realize instead of 16 books a month, I'm only doing about 5 books. But the call of that manuscript is strong--and still lovey enough to hold my attention.]

As the kids grow, they begin to demand from you--time, money, ideas. All of a sudden you wake up one morning, and you wonder WTF happened to Us before Them? And you prioritize. You make sure that date money doesn't disappear. And you actually schedule time to be with the good-looking guy you married. [2 years ago, it occurred to me I was reading about 5 books--A. Year! It took me these 2 years to figure out how to rearrange and prioritize my down time, so I could read again.]

[This is me, right now. I've picked up reviewing through Promotion Companies, because I feel it's the only way I can be accountable to my reading! And, one day, in the not too distant future, I'll make it to this next paragraph.]

Eventually the kids mature, they get better with age. They are less demanding and more polished. They will always be a part of your life!! But now, you can enjoy that good-looking guy again. Calls from the kids manage to come during business hours, except for the occasional emergency. Date night [reading] happens more frequently. As a matter of fact, dates are spontaneous and way better than they were all those years ago before you had kids! Sometimes, you even sneak in a date, in the middle of the day! <3


If you haven't had a chance to read one of my reviews yet,

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Back to the Basics

...and how Books changed my Life.

Maybe it's not so melodramatic, but books have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, from story books as a kid to reading story books to my kids! There's always been a connection to words that I can't deny.

I've never been discontent--that I can label. I would never admit to needing an escape from "real life." the long run, there could be something to it. At twelve I was diagnosed with diabetes. My love to read might have started then. I do remember my fondest times being with Trixie Belden. Little House on the Prairie. And, The Baby-sitters Club. And even the classics, like Bridge to Terabithia. Seriously?! Who didn't love that book? Or Where the Red Fern Grows? 

I'm often telling my kids to get off the Wii or turn off the television.

And it's probably the best thing for them. But part of me wonders if it isn't just the new escape. A good hour with Shawn and Gus on Psych is probably alot like reading a book. OTOH, let's not forget that the reading helps us use our brains a good bit more than the television does. The television shows us everything--no imagination. I remember reading Bridge to Terabithia and then walking through the woods, wanting my own story. I see my husband read books today, and then talk about "how life could be."

We need that. Need to hope and strive for more than what's in our living rooms. A good romance can teach us about the enduring power of Love. A good mystery can make us use our brains, figuring out who the bad guy is going to be. Really THINK about how to solve a problem. 

Reading can squash our fears. For example, this summer, I'm making my daughter write a report on moths. Yes, moths, folks. She fears moths to the point of refusing to go into a room--even to shower. So far, we've gotten to the point where we can talk about moths [did you know they can live as short as a week?]. I won't say she likes them, but having the facts is a far better resolution than just yelling at her that "moths are harmless! Quit being such a big baby!!"

So, tell has reading changed your life?

Nine Books...what?!

I'm actually judging a contest over the next several weeks, and I have nine books to read. Whoot! Nine freebies!! All contemporary romance. Even though I'm a little freaked out, because it's been years since I've squeezed 9 books into an entire year, I'm also excited. I rarely get to read the, fellow writer's work. Sad, but true!

And since I recently finished a manuscript and sent it off to my Editor, this is a perfect time to take a break and let the brain fog up a little. Enjoy a story, sit back and relax....

And announce that I'm pregnant.

YUP. Unexpected blessing number six. :D

Shocked you, didn't I??? Let the comments begin....
With Love,

On Self-Publishing

My thoughts:

Originally, eight years ago, I wasn't interested in self-publishing. I knew only one gal who'd gone that road. At that time, she was a pioneer fiction writer. Most self-published authors were non-fiction, niche writers. She did not sell, not like you want a book to sell, making the bestseller list [ANY bestseller list!]. Also, ebooks had only just begun having growing pains. She published in a paperback world. [cha-ching] Not an inexpensive endeavor.  During those early years, it was pounded into our heads, money ALWAYS flows toward the author! More on that in my next post...

I'd read a few self-published titles. Not enough to be an expert, but enough to get frustrated by the incompetence. It was assumed an author only went that route when all other options had been played. They didn't write well enough to catch someone's eye therefore, they would publish their own work. This approach screams second best! What I'd read so far did not negate this perspective. Beginner mistakes--grammar, head-hopping, formatting.

It was about three to six years of writing and learning and crafting and learning some more before e-publishing really came into young adulthood. Forget erotic, sex focused stories with nudies on the front... the book market had opened up to everyone. Publishers wanted it all, romance--short, medium, and long stories. They wanted stories that didn't fit the traditional market. Kindle hit stores as did BN's Nook. The best thing about all these wonderfully e-published books? Pricing. They were cheap. I did not have to spend at least eight dollars to own a book anymore. Music to my ears.

As an author, I loved how fast the process became and I loved the contact. From submission to response, the longest wait seemed to be about twelve weeks. I'd been waiting that long just to hear from an agent! Forget the NY publisher, they were not accessible to the author, ever. Get an agent was the only way into NY. Suddenly, I could talk to editors, network with them, appeal to them with stories they were looking for. Submission calls within e-publishing allowed me to consider new stories or dig up already written ones. And I continued to submit, getting a few hits, nibbles of interest, over the past few years.

[side note: still writing, still learning, btw. It never stops, especially when you belong to a crit group like Passionate Critters]

I was [am] still a little nervous about e-publishing. A few years ago the reasons were twofold. Good publishers were hard to find. There seemed to be no telling who would stick around, who had good editors and GREAT leadership, but as a few years have passed, the well-managed ones have made a name for themselves and stand out as worthwhile. Good covers were[are] hard to find. I know we should never judge a book by its cover, but there are a couple of companies I hesitate to submit to because their covers are crappy--and I don't mean half naked people! I mean cut and pasted images... distorted figures, no symmetry, no appeal. :P  Don't be fooled...a cover can make or break your book! Nakedness is still often an issue that I set on a scale and weigh, but overall, the good e-publishers don't just throw a naked couple on the front of their books in hopes of appealing to someone's libido.

Wow, I'm chatty today. I haven't even touched on Self-Publishing yet...

Eight years is a long time, and I won't be able to do it in one blog post.
Bottom line for five years, I pretty much gave up on traditional publishing. I do have a book for young people that I will start subbing through traditional routes, but I will definitely be more selective about how long I try for and who I target. Something tells me that within another 5 years, juvenile fiction could very well go the same way as Romance and Mainstream.

Have a great week, Friends!
With Love,

Reading New Things

I have a confession to make. I like a certain kind of book. I hardly ever stray. I have favorite authors and favorite genres. Just check out my books in 2009 list down there... Plain as the nose on your face. I like romance and I like suspense, and will break for a good historical [good being the key word, which can also be replaced with written-by-one-of-my-favorite-authors]. I'll read anything by Christina Dodd, Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Lowell and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. How did I get here?

Let me show you.

When I was barely knee-high to a grasshopper, I loved Little House on the Prairie. Let's face it, Laura's story is definitely romantic. I moved to Trixie Belden not long after that. How can you not love that girl? [or better question] How can you not love that bad boy Jim?! Not to mention her older brother Brian. So handsome and smart. :) And the danger they found themselves in time after time. I was hooked at a very young age. Moving into puberty and young adulthood, I was encouraged to read from the inspirational market, but still, I stuck with mysteries and romance. Phillips, Thoene, Morris, Chaikin... During college [along with my reading assignments--greek myth, eng lit and american lit], i ate up adventures. Mostly Clive Cussler--I couldn't get enough of him [or Dirk Pitt, for that matter :D]--and a few Robert Ludlum's, too--Road to Gandolfo is still one of my favorite books!

Then, it happened...

I picked up a Susan Elizabeth Phillips book called, Nobody's Baby but Mine. And the rest, as they say, is history. :D

So, tell me, where did you get your start? Did you do the classics? Did you pick up your Aunt's catagory romance novel from the side table and read it while no one was looking? Were you a tom-boy, reading The Hardy Boys, or did you follow SOP and read Nancy Drew? Tell me!