How to Support an Independent Writer

Success in publishing is all about numbers. The more I watch the book scene the more I’m convinced it’s all about  Amazon numbers.This may be old news for many readers, but for some , it’s not.

Let’s talk turkey. When you “like” or “buy”  a book on Amazon that information goes into a database. When a book receives enough attention, Amazon promotes it to selected readers.

So how do inedpendent (Indie) writers get noticed? They don’t have the PR expertise and reach of the New York big 6 publishing companies. They hope that through good writing and word of mouth they will reach their intended audience, so they  work hard on connecting with readers through social media.

Free Books: I don’t trust things that are free, but free books play an important role in the marketing strategy of writers.  When you download a book from Amazon you increase the sales for that writer. That is why they are willing to give away their books. It raises their rankings  on Amazon  increasing their exposure to the market. They also hope that  readers will return to buy more of their work.

Tomorrow and the next day, my blog will be hosting a promotion for free books (Lucky Days Free Par tey). I hope you will stop by and download a few. Know, that even if you don’t read them, you will be supporting and promoting writers and they don’t bite.

Amsterdam in my Writing Loft

The Red Bicycle: is a print from IKEA that takes me into the world of Amsterdam engaging wonderful memories of  windmills, canals,  bicycles, Vermeer, tulips and… cheese made for the gods. The print sits above my computer as a visual launch pad into the setting for my first series, aptly named  The Nederlander Series. Nice of IKEA to do that for me.

Revisions: I’m working on revising my first manuscript in the series. The word count is shrinking but the prose is strengthening. I attended an amazing workshop, The Four-Layer Method of Revision with Shelley Bates on the weekend. Her process, for me, is like having four different pairs of glasses to view my work with. If you ever get a chance to take a course from her, do. She’s not only an accomplished multi-published author (22 books in numerous genres) she’s also an outstanding teacher who engages her students in the learning process.

Mentors: I continue to be amazed at how generous  experienced RWA writers are with their time and expertise. They tell me it’s because they’ve been in our shoes. I am so very grateful for all the workshops, conversations, critiques and comments. I can only hope that some day I will  pass on to others something they value.

Do you have a picture in your writing spot? …and  What’s your writing group like?

3 Blogs Honoring Women’s Day

March 8th was International Women’s day.  Who decides these things? Anyway,  I discovered some interesting blog posts. Enjoy.

  1. The Ten Most Powerful female Characters in Literature” by Emily Temple can be found on Flavorwire. Excerpt:  “The wife of Bath is lewd and lascivious – but behind all the dirty jokes she’s making an argument for female dominance and a woman’s right to control her body, using her considerable rhetorical skill to simultaneously underscore and attack the anti-feminist traditions of the time. Not too shabby for 14th century literature.” I’m not sure I would pick these ten, but I like them. What do you think?
  2. International Women’s Day: 10 ways to celebrate” by Maura Judkis can be found in the Washington Post. Excerpt: “International Women’s Day was born of activism – the holiday was founded in 1910, when a German woman named Clara Zetkin proposed that every country devote a day to the needs and political demands of women.”
  3. “5 Social Media Campaigns Rocking International Women’s Day” by Zoe Fox at Mashable US & World. Excerpt:  “Rock the Lips, a campaign created by agency AKQA, is trying to make red lips the universal symbol of women’s empowerment. The campaign hopes 1 million women will wear red lipstick and share photos of themselves on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram using the hashtag #RockTheLips.” Red lipstick as a symbol, hmmmm. Using make-up as a symbol of empowerment a bit of a stretch. What do you think?

5 Things I’m Most Grateful For

Have you faced death, and then lived? It’s a wonderful, wonderful experience, but not one I’d wish for you.

Yesterday I celebrated being Cancer Free for 5 years with red velvet cupcakes from Costco and coffee made just the way I like it. Life is good…so good.

Feeling emotional, I was determined to let all that was in my heart pour out onto the page. That’s what I call therapy, but there was too much in my heart.  I couldn’t express myself. Hmmm …a writer without words. Can’t have that. So,  I decided to list everything I was grateful for. Screw grammar –  just get the ideas out. Again…couldn’t do it. Hmmm.  Finally, I decided to make a list of the top things I’m grateful for. (Warning: on the sappy side.)

I am most grateful for my:

  1. Children and grandchildren who I cherish.
  2. Husband who stood by me in the darkest of hours, and every day makes me feel loved beyond measure.
  3. Siblings who may live far away, but are always close in my heart.
  4. Friends who bring me companionship and joy.
  5. Writing that lets me, be me.

The ‘writer me’ says I’ve left too much out, but the ‘cerebral me’ says you got the gist of it. So maybe I’ll settle for my little list, for now, and revisit it later.

The ‘pain in the ass – won’t keep her mouth shut me’ says, “Wait a minute. What happened to God and things?” Indeed, what happened? I stopped and thought about that. They didn’t make the list.

My experience of God is embedded in the love of all five. And things, well they don’t fit in this list. Don’t get me wrong, I like things, but they don’t fit on this list.

Five years ago I promised myself if I got a second chance in life I’d do a better job of it, put relationships first and remember that life is all about love. I wanted to have everything I did reflect my beliefs.  I changed a lot of things in my life, but sometimes I  stray from my promise and get caught up in things that really don’t matter. (Twitter anyone?)

My plan for the next five is to keep working on my promise.  But as imperfect as I am, I am ever so thankful to be alive. I feel blessed.


What’s on your Grateful 5 list? Any thoughts?

Note: The picture is the view I have on my daily walk.

Delicious Romance by Pat Amsden

In Better than Chocolate Pat Amsden tells the tale of two independent people falling passionately in love. Set in Chemainus, a small picturesque seaside town on Vancouver Island, the reader is drawn into the charm and warmth of the community and the hearts and lives of the people who live there.
The story begins when Elena’s over-protective father sends her an unusual birthday present:  a handsome business man called Brad. He’s assigned to help her start up the art gallery of her dreams. She’s reluctant to take his help at first, but he proves to be an excellent consultant and. much more.
Torn between her feelings for Brad and her determination to start a business and run it on her own terms, Elena feels she has to make a choice between the two. But does she?
Amsden deftly pulls the reader along. She keeps you wondering how they’re going to make their relationship work …right to the last page. And you find yourself cheering them on.

“…his voice sending shivers down her spine… Right now it was a delicious torment thinking about what would happen when Elena’s [the art gallery] was open.”

I like Amsden’s characters. They’re the kind of people you’d like to have for neighbours, fully human and friendly. Her prose is so smooth the story inhales you, and the pace is just right, like a warm bubble bath.
I would recommend this book to readers who like sweet romance and in particular those that like love in a  small town setting.

Tasty Villains

My Goal:

I want to create characters that haunt your imagination, seduce your mind, and capture your heart piece by piece until you, the reader, scream, “Uncle,” and let them into your world. Is that too much to ask? I’ve always been drawn to character driven plots, from Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales to Dicken’s  Bleak House…to J.R. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Character’s rule in my imagination, and I work hard to create them in my work.

Easier said than done. There is an elusive art to creating a character that is both powerful and authentic. Some defining quirks are good, too many are bad, and it’s the balance that I am struggling with. I want my characters to be interesting, but real – not caricatures. I find myself editing my “guys” a lot.

Here is the introduction to my villain in the one of WIPs (work in progress). See what you think.

Enter the Villain:

“A warning alarm went off somewhere deep inside her. He was over six feet, in his late thirties and dangerously handsome. What was a man looking like him doing in her parking lot?…

Curly, jet black hair brushed his wide shoulders. A five o’clock shadow darkened his face giving him a sexy morning-after look. He had a square movie star chin. His faded blue jeans hung low on his hips. His black leather jacket looked soft…

And he was checking her out. Second alarm. She could feel his eyes, hidden behind dark, aviator sunglasses, sliding over every inch of her body. There was no doubt about it: she was being stripped. Watching his sexy smile slowly widen as he took her in made her feel warm in all the right places. She blushed. He was a potent, virile man who knew how to mess with her hormones.

…“Could I have a word with you?” His voice was low and held a richness that reminded her of aged Scotch.

… He was all-alpha male, oozing masculinity and dripping testosterone. Under different circumstances, she’d have liked meeting him. But not now. Not now.”

What do you think? Character or caricature? Any feedback would be most welcome.

Being a voracious reader can really suck

Reflections on my week.

In one word: “Crazy.” My grandson was born and we are busy welcoming him. When the baby powder settles my life may get back to normal, but I’m in no hurry. It’s a special time for all of us.

Scandal …rocks the KOD Chapter (Kiss of Death/Romantic Suspense chapter of the RWA). The former treasurer resigns admitting to plagiarism. Sad news for all.

Word Count: doesn’t count this week. I’m editing, so I keep cutting words, and my numbers are shrinking.

Social Media: I can’t keep up with my e-mails let alone figure out how to manage Facebook or Goodreads. Twitter and Triberr accounts are going well. I can’t believe anyone can do it all.

Being a voracious reader can really suck… .  I work hard at crafting words and then at the end of the day I open a book and  WAMO I get blown away with the beauty of the prose inside.  Good authors make it all look easy.

Currently I’m reading Jeff Abbott’s, Black Jack Point, a suspense thriller. He hooked me in the first paragraph:

“In shimmering heat, Jimmy Bird smoked a cigarette and paced off a rectangle of dirt. About the size of a grave, a little wider, a little longer. Jimmy wasn’t good at math – that algebra in high school where they mixed letters and numbers together had been his undoing- but he could eye a piece of ground and calculate how long it took to clear and dig to a certain depth. Ditches. Garden beds. Graves. The earth on Black Jack Point fed salt grass and waist-high bluestems and Jimmy pictured a hole six feet across, six feet down. He figured it would take him and his partners three hours of steady digging, being a little slower in the dark. Then an  hour or so to sort through the loot, load the valuables on the truck, and good-bye poverty. In a few days he’d be poolside in the Caribbean, chatting up coffee-colored girls in bikinis, fishing in water bluer than blue, buying a boat and lazing on its warm deck and watching the world not go by.” (Onyx Press, p. 3)

It’s so well written it makes my eyes pop and rattle around inside my brain. “…watching the world not go by.” Where did  he get such a brilliant line? How can he condense so much character and setting into one paragraph about digging a hole? Amazing.

And it leaves me feeling…very, very green.

Yup…being a voracious reader can really suck sometimes, but the alternative is worse:)

Do you have favourite first paragraphs?

And then…there’s the B.C. teacher strike scheduled for Monday . Cheryl Angst states the teacher’s position well on her blog. The line that rang most true for me is: “I didn’t teach last year. I performed triage.” That is what teaching in a BC classroom feels like these days, and though I’m now retired and won’t be walking the picket line, my heart is with the teachers and the students of this province. Our education system is falling apart. We need fair bargaining, more support for students and a vision of how to make things work in our changing world.

We all know that there is a limit to the pieces of straw you can add to the donkey’s back before it breaks. There is also a limit to how many students can be squeezed into a classroom lacking in resources before the education system becomes so weakened that learning is only a hopoeful byproduct.

What are your thoughts?