Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Awesome Advice

This morning, Elizabeth Spann Craig (aka Riley Adams) over at Mystery Writing is Murder put up a most excellent post:

Writing Advice and Advice to New Parents

"It’s good to be informed.  It’s good to listen to others and hear what works for them.  But, ultimately, we have to experiment on our own to find out what works.  And maybe we have to be open to new ideas and new approaches if what used to work no longer works for us now."

Now, go read the rest of it.  Seriously.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I know I'm horrible about posting the winners of contests on here.  Usually I just email the person and tell them they won.  Today, though, I can't get ahold of one of the winners from yesterday's guest post - Keeping Swimming by Karin Tabke - so all of you get to know who won! 

Steph Scott...
JB Lynn...

Come on down!

I've already sent the good news off to JB, but I don't have a way to contact Steph, so if one of you knows her (or if you ARE her), tell her to contact me via besanderson at gmail dot com and I'll give her the details on getting her prize.

Congrats to you both, and thanks to you all for commenting along.  (Comments are still open, so keep those comments coming.  Even though you won't win, it's still an awesome post.)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Guest Post: Keep Swimming by Karin Tabke (aka Karin Harlow)

“Keep swimming.”

 I live by Dory’s immortal words. But seriously, when life throws one roadblock after another at you or exhaustion holds you down like a cement block, what’s a girl to do?  As a mother and a writer I’ve wanted to just stop swimming and let the cool gentle current of nothingness take me away.  I mean let’s face it, as many times as I would have liked to have checked out of motherhood for a few hours, it was only wishful thinking.  No one else was going to feed and nurture my babies like I would, so I took a deep breath and dove back in.  It was the same when it came to my writing.  Every time I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and say, “Screw it.  I’m done. This is too hard and full of too much rejection,” I looked at the pile of rejection letters on my desk (yes back in the day they actually snail mailed rejection letters) then to the flashing cursor on my computer screen and realized, if I quit, there would be no one to care for and nurture the people in my head.  So, back at it, I went.

Eventually my hard work as a mother paid off.  I have four amazing adult children who are happy healthy and positive contributors to society.  So did my perseverance to sell to a New York publisher. I have over a dozen amazing published stories giving readers all over the world cause for pause, or in my case, since I write romance, long satisfied sighs as they read the happily ever after ending.

But I had help along the way.

As with raising children, raising a book from an idea in your head to seeing it on a retail bookshelf, there were ups and downs, setbacks, victories and heart wrenching disappointments.  But for me the most amazing part of raising a story was the other moms and dads I met along the way.  Moms and dads with the same emotional struggles I faced.  The same hopes, fears and dreams for their stories that I had for mine. It takes a village to raise strong contributing children and it sure as hell takes a village to write a strong amazing story.  I could not have, WOULD not be published today if it were not for the village that took me into their arms and held me when I wanted to give up and celebrated with me when I hit each and every milestone regardless of how big or small it was.  Writing to publication is a journey, just like raising children.  

Today my publishing goals have changed.  The golden ring for so many years had been New York.  I’m proud to say I am published with Simon and Schuster, Penguin Random House as well as Kensington.  But the call of self-publishing had become so loud, I could no longer ignore it.  So color me a hybrid author.

I thought long and hard about taking the self-publishing plunge seriously.  Oh, I had written a few stories for self-pubbed anthos I was invited to be a part of, but other than the story, I wasn’t responsible for the production part.  But I knew if I were to really going to get serious and self-publish, I was going to have to learn the ropes, and supervise the production and distribution of my work.  Not what I wanted to do.  But I made the decision to do it, and do it right.  That meant finding the perfect village.  And believe me when I say, it took a village. I had no clue as to the inner workings of uploading files, hell I barely know the difference between a word doc and a pdf.  Cover art?  Editing?  Copy editing?  Formatting?  Can you say clueless?  The only thing I knew how to do well, was how to write a good story.  So that is what I concentrated on, and probed my friends in the know, the ones who do understand the production side of producing a quality packaged story for their expertise.  I put together an amazing production team for my debut self-published book, THE DARE, book one in the serial series, The Chronicles of Katrina.  I knew I had to write and package my story so that it would and could stand up to anything New York produced.  My village didn’t let me down.  THE DARE, is not only beautifully produced, but it’s a damn good story.  I worked hard on Simon and Kat, and it paid off.  Readers love Simon, and can identify with Katrina. I receive daily emails begging for DOUBLE DARE, Chronicle two.  

Like Dory, I kept swimming the churning ever evolving publishing sea, this time into uncharted waters. And thanks to my village, I managed to steer clear of the sharks and invisible nets and not only stay afloat but cut through the water like a dolphin after dinner.  :)  Life is good.  

How about you?  If you’re a writer where is your publishing heart?  If you’re a reader, do you read self-published authors?  Answer either or both and I’ll randomly pick two names for a digital copy of THE DARE (Amazon, Nook, iBook or Kobo).

PS, I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about this incredible journey.  If I can help one person avoid the quicksand, I’m a happier writer.  :)

Happy Monday!



THE DARE is contemporary erotic fiction with the signature Tabke hot cop. 
I dare you…
Dr. Katrina Winslow has always known who she is; an elite scientist, a certifiable genius and ultra-reserved when it comes to love and relationships. So when a simple game of truth or dare offers the cool doctor the opportunity to shed her lab coat and glasses and put on a pair of sexy stilettos, she accepts the dare.  But will shedding her inhibitions fulfill her every desire and help her discover if she can be truly daring or will it cost her everything?
Two men, one a sexy stranger, and a night of no holds barred passion…
What would you dare to do?
THE DARE: The Chronicles of Katrina (Book One) by Karin Tabke
Author’s Note: This is book one of a four part series.
If you're interested in learning more about Karin Tabke (or Karin Harlow), please visit her website: Karin Tabke| Author of Contemporary, Historical, and Paranormal Romance.  And don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of THE DARE.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Not Sure What You Should Say in Your Profile?

Go read this awesome post by Authoress at Miss Snark's First Victim.

A Tweet by Any Other Name

And if your profile doesn't say flat out that you're a writer or an author, go fix that. 

Here's what my profile says (and yeah, after I read that I checked to make sure I wasn't being wishy-washy about it.):

Writer of suspense, speculative fiction (aka dystopian, futuristic, post-apocalyptic... pick one, they all work), and urban fantasy for the adult market.

Be proud of who you are and what you do.

'Nuff said.  Peace out.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Guest Post: Travis Erwin

Long before I was a writer, I was an avid reader. And even before I knew anything about character arcs or plot structures I would read trying to figure out what was going to happen next. Of course the best stories always took that unforeseen turn. They surprised me.

My name is Travis Erwin and my road to publication is kind of like those stories. It didn't happen to way I thought and planned, but the ride has been sweeter for all the unexpected twists.

I spent nearly a decade years writing five novels and going the traditional -- querying literary agents mode of pursuing publication. I  had some very nearly misses and even signed with an agent for a creative nonfiction project. Of course the book business changed drastically in that decade with the explosion of e-readers and other technology.

I should back up and tell y'all what I normally write. My first four novels were all Women's Fiction and though I have wandered off that path from time to time I still consider Women's Fiction to be my natural genre. Natural might seems an odd choice of words given the fact I am a 6'5 nearly 300 pound bearded Texan, but I enjoy writing character driven stories of emotional impact. I never set out to be a Women's Fiction author. Heck, I didn't even know what Women's Fiction was when I wrote that first novel. I was simply telling the story that spoke to me late at night in moments of quiet reflection.

That first story was about a set of characters living in small town Texas. A place I called Grand where reputation means more than the truth, and some sins are never forgotten much less forgiven.

I came close to both signing with an agent and placing it with a New York publisher after meeting an acquisition editor at a writer's conference. Close, very close. But things didn't work out. That was back in 2001.

I kept writing. Two more Women's Fiction Novels. Then in 2007 I started a blog which I'm proud to say developed a nice following back in the hey days of that social media. As part of that blog, I began writing a comedic series of posts chronicling my days of working at a dusty Texas feed store as a teenage boy. I also wrote a fourth novel. Then a fifth. The fifth departed from the Women's fiction. It was a purely comedic novel inspired by the success of my Feedstore Chronicle posts. I thought maybe humor would be easier to sell. As seemed the story of my writing life. I had lots of near misses but not success finding that story a home.

That's when an old friend who'd just started a small Indie press asked if I was interested in turning my feedstore posts into a full-fledged memoir and publishing it through them. I appreciated the offer but I didn't want to be that kind of writer. I wanted to create tales. Write fiction. So I said, “No, thank you.”

A few more years slipped by. The rejection slips began to take their toll. In what was almost desperation I created a book proposal for a creative nonfiction book. I landed an agent almost immediately, but soon thereafter I realized the agent and myself had vastly different vision for both the book and my career. We amicably parted ways over the phone but as I hung up I couldn't help but ask myself if I was doing the right thing. If maybe I shouldn't have just gone along with whatever the agent wanted to do. After all, he was already successful in this business I was trying desperately to break into.

I sat staring at that phone for all of five minutes when it rang again. This time it was that old friend with the small but ever growing Indie press.

She said, “I still don't see that feed store book or anything else of yours on the shelf. When are you going to let me change that?”

I smiled. “Right now.”

TAG publishing released my first book an humorous and debaucherous coming-of-age tale called THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES in November of 2011. The book sold okay and got great reviews but despite those facts I didn't feel the sense of accomplishment I thought it would. It wasn't the same as seeing a novel published because in my mind I was simply retelling a warped version of the truth rather than creating something new.

One of the great advantages of publishing with a smaller Indie press is the personal one-on-one contact. So I shared my thoughts and the ladies who own TAG were very understanding. They said, “Okay, send us what you have both already completed and ideas for the future.”

They looked through it all and said, “We love this story.” The story about the Grand, Texas. The first novel I ever wrote.

They being editors of course had a few ideas to improve the novel so rewrites were in order. They also suggested a new title and while I did have some hesitation letting go of the name I'd been using for the manuscript for nearly thirteen years I couldn't help but appreciate their chosen title – TWISTED ROADS, for that is exactly what my path had traveled.

Yes, it took me man years to fulfill the dream of seeing my name on the spine of a novel. The path was windy twisted and full of potholes but as my character in the books says, Sometimes twisted roads are  the only ones worth traveling.

Travis Erwin is a big hairy Texan, unafraid to read or write a good love story. Or a rum swilling carnivore with a story to tell. You choose.

Twitter -  @traviserwin

Monday, July 15, 2013

Guest Post: Covers that Wow by Maria Zannini

Covers That Wow

Choosing the right art for a book cover is about as important as naming your firstborn. It dictates not only the flavor of the story, but genre, audience, and author brand.

If you have a good grasp of design (and Photoshop), the rest is intuition and guts. You work out the nuts and bolts of a design with your head, but to give a cover life, it requires the je ne sais quoi of your heart.

Stock art license:  Boring stuff first. Scope out all the various stock photo banks. There are a lot of them. Prices are pretty average between them. But where you really have to pay attention is the licensing agreement. Read it carefully. Then read it three or four more times. If you still don’t understand it, write to the company and ask for an explanation.

The reason you want to understand the agreement is because it will dictate how you can use the art license. Remember, you are buying the license to use the art, not the art itself.

Genre:  No matter what you write, choose art that suggests your genre. It doesn’t have to hit you over the head. In most cases, subtle is stronger. But if it’s horror, you want the reader to immediately perceive the horror element. The same goes for romance, SF, fantasy, mysteries, or cross-genre.

Models:  Choose models not because you find them beautiful, but for the stories their expressions and body language tell. That is my secret for choosing the models I use. Beautiful people are a dime a dozen. Choose models that express emotion, attitude, or story.

Some authors don’t use people on their covers. Some like the headless models. There are reasons for every variation. I prefer to use people on my covers because psychologically, it makes readers feel more connected. I learned this when I used to design advertising. Ads with people always had a better response than those without.

Again, everything is subject to the needs of the individual book. There is no right or wrong—just options.

Background:  Funny thing about backgrounds. Sometimes the most abstract imagery is all you need to give the suggestion of genre.  A gorgeous sky is the easiest way to create drama. But factory interiors are great for murder mysteries and apocalyptic fiction. And architectural or geometric designs are nice backdrops for science fiction and steam punk.

Chances are good you won’t need much of the background since your model (or iconic focal point) will dominate the page.

The Extras:  Don’t include a catalog of visual clues that will mean nothing to the reader if he hasn’t yet read the book. The cover is an emotional catalyst. It should intrigue and make us curious. A couple of elements are cool. Too many chotchkies on a cover end up looking like old Aunt Myra’s bedroom.

Branding:  This is a post all to itself, but if you want your cover to pull double duty, use elements consistently within a series. You want readers to see a pattern between your books within a series.

Fonts:  Another topic for a whole post. The simple answer is don’t use a lot of different typefaces on one page. And unless the title is the dominant feature on the cover (awesomely effective and minimal) go easy with the special effects.

Melding the elements:  Think Vulcan mind meld + art. This is where your Photoshop expertise does the heavy lifting. The difference between a professional-looking cover and an amateur one is the ability to blend and marry the various elements into one cohesive unit.

There’s more to a cover than slapping together two pictures and a title. Many of my covers have twenty or more layers of special effects. Special effects can be anything from drop shadows, fog, flares, glow effects, transparencies, blurs, ghosting, or duplication to give it depth and texture. There are dozens of other little things to give covers the illusion of dimensionality too. Each cover is different. The real art is knowing when to use what.

Do you have any questions about how to use art for covers? I’m here to help.

Maria Zannini used to save the world from bad advertising but now she designs book covers. A graphic artist for well over 30 years, she’s been designing layouts before Photoshop and digital font libraries were invented.  (We used India ink and rulers back then.) Horrors!

Need a cover designed? Visit Book Cover Diva.
You can also follow Maria on her blog or Facebook.
Her latest release is Mistress of the Stone, from Samhain Publishing.

Monday, July 8, 2013

No Guest but... Writing Quotes!

Hi Everyone!

Securing a guest for today totally slipped my mind.  Let's just say it was due to sprint re-writing and leave it at that, shall we?

So, since I don't have anyone spouting one long, wise blog today, I thought I'd share some little snippets of wisdom in the form of quotes about writing:

"Writers must fortify themselves with pride and egotism as best they can. The process is analogous to using sandbags and loose timbers to protect a house against flood. Writers are vulnerable creatures like anyone else. For what do they have in reality? Not sandbags, not timbers. Just a flimsy reputation and a name." - Brian Aldiss

"I think the first duty of all art, including fiction of any kind, is to entertain. That is to say, to hold interest. No matter how worthy the message of something, if it's dull, you're just not communicating." - Poul Anderson

"Write down the thoughts of the moment.  Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable." - Sir Francis Bacon

"Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you're doomed." - Ray Bradbury

"Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any." - Orson Scott Card

"The faster I write the better my output. If I'm going slow, I'm in trouble. It means I'm pushing the words instead of being pulled by them." - Raymond Chandler

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly." - C.J. Cherryh

"The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes." Agatha Christie

"Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, the it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public." - Winston Churchill

"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense." - Tom Clancy

"Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it…" - Michael Crichton

I was going to do all the writing quotes I have in my database, but after seeing just how many there are, I opted to just give you A though C.  Writers are a quote-worthy bunch.  I'll post more next time I have a free Monday.

Look forward to next week, when I have Maria Zannini scheduled to guest.  I can't wait to see what she has to say!  =o)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Guest Post: "For the Win" by Silver James

First, a big “thank you” to B.E. for inviting me to be a guest today. She knows I’m always yapping about something and is kind enough to give me the occasional forum on which to spout my thoughts.

On Friday of the past several weeks, and with more to come, I’ve been posting my “Bucket List of 100 Things”—ten items at a time over on my blog: PENUMBRAA good number of them involve writing—from meeting my favorite authors to actually, you know, SELLING a book. The list was originally written five years ago. As I post, I mark through the things I’ve accomplished. And yes, I’ve sold three books and three novellas to a publisher, plus self-published six others. I’ve also met most of my idols.

However, one elusive item on the list is to have a book on the New York Times best seller list. I’d be happy with the USA Today list. Then I could add “Best-Selling Author” to my covers and bio. Another designation one sometimes sees in conjunction with an author is “Award-winning.”

Today, I want to muse upon my thoughts about this. What actually constitutes a “best-selling author” and/or “award-winning”? Does a writer have to make it to the big two lists? What about other lists? Like Amazon? Or Barnes and Noble? Publisher’s Weekly? Newspapers besides the New York Times? There are a LOT of lists out there. Google “Best seller lists” to get an idea. With so many lists out there, when can an author start adding that appellation to their name? I wish I knew. I’ve made the Amazon list with almost every one of my Moonstruck books. In fact, I’ve made several of their lists with them. At one point, BLOOD MOON, the first in the series was on four different lists between Kindle and Books. Since this series is digital only, I was sort of impressed it made the “Book” lists.

But that leads me back to, what exactly constitutes a “best-selling author?” Is there some etiquette involved? Can you just say “best-selling” without mentioning which list? Or would a writer need to clarify by saying “NYT best-selling” or “Amazon best-selling.” And does it really matter? Would a reader be more inclined to pick up a book with that notice on the cover?

And awards. Which awards? The RWA RITAs? Edgars? Hugos? Agathas? National Reader’s Choice Awards? The International Digital Awards? Okay, those last two are sponsored by OKRWA, a Romance Writers of America chapter, though the NRCA is about to celebrate its 25th year and this is only the second year for the IDAs. And the others are all for genre fiction. I don’t even want to get into the list of awards for literary novels. I mention the IDAs because I learned over the weekend that I won and placed second in the Paranormal Short category with BLOOD MOON and BAD MOON, placed second the Paranormal Novel category with HUNTER'S MOON, and placed fifth in the Short Contemporary category with BEST LAID PLANS. Whew! That's a mouthful!

What does this have to do with being an unpublished writer? I believe we ALL think about selling and winning in a big way. It’s part of our dreaming process, our “Someday I’ll be/do” list. If it’s not, it should be. Why settle for dreams of just being a mid-list author? That’s where we may all end up but… Why not believe in yourself and your book(s)? Trust me, if you don’t, no one else will. And that’s what it all boils down to, as far as I’m concerned. Writers have to have faith in what they’re writing. You have to believe that with each book you write, you’ll get better. You’ll hone your skills. Write like you belong on the best-seller lists. Write like you will win awards. And who knows? Someday, your bio might just say, “Best-selling, award-winning author.”

And because I have a new book out, which is on the top 100 Kindle Military Romance List, I’ll give a $5.00 Amazon gift card to one random commenter so they can buy the award-winning BLOOD MOON, book one in the best-selling Moonstruck series, with some left over for other books, including ROGUE MOON!

BLURB for ROGUE MOON (Moonstruck #6):

Rudek Tornjak is a Wolf without a pack. A man scarred by his past, he prefers it that way. While living in the shadows of the French Quarter, whispers of treachery and betrayal reach his ears—along with accusations implicating him in unthinkable acts. He comes out of hiding to confront his accusers only to discover he’s under a death sentence. On the run, he encounters Isabelle Fontaine, a woman with a past of her own she’d rather keep hidden.

Family is everything to Izzy and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep hers safe. Crossing paths with a shadowy corporation and a rogue Wolf puts the people she cares about in jeopardy—not to mention her own life and heart.

Secrets, lies, and betrayals are more personal under the full moon, but when a betrayed Wolf fights for his honor, no one is safe—not even the woman he loves.

Warning: Doubt a Wolf’s honor and you’ll get a serving of hot blood and guts to go.


Silver likes to walk on the dark side. And coffee. Okay, she loves coffee. LOTS of coffee. Warning: Her Muse, Iffy, runs with scissors and can be quite dangerous. She’s the author of the best-selling Moonstruck series and other books. She's been a military officer's wife, mother, state appellate court marshal, airport rescue firefighter and forensic fire photographer, crime analyst, technical crime scene investigator, and writer of magic and mystery. Now retired from the “real world," she lives in Oklahoma and spends her days at the computer with two Newfoundland dogs, the cat who rules them all, and myriad characters all clamoring for attention. She writes dark paranormal thrillers, time travel romance, and light contemporary with a kiss of suspense.


Thank you, Silver, for being here.

And everyone else?  Don't forget to comment for a chance to win that gift card!