Saturday, July 31, 2010

What Are You Reading?

Today is the last day to enter to win an ARC of WILD, WICKED, AND WANTON: 101 WAYS TO LOVE LIKE YOU'RE IN A ROMANCE NOVEL by Christie Craig and Faye Hughes. Leave a comment to enter, and please include your email in the comment.

Continuing the thread on readability from earlier in the week, what are you reading and what's on your TBR stack?

I've been reading Diana Cosby's HIS CAPTIVE (review earlier this week), Denise Belinda McDonald's WRONG TURN, RIGHT COWBOY (review of her book yesterday), Jodi Thomas' REWRITING MONDAY (which somehow I missed last year), and Loretta Chase's THE LION'S DAUGHTER. I have so many authors whose work I enjoy, that it's hard to fit them all in. Sometimes I have to wait a while to buy their books. That pesky old cash thing is always such an issue. I'm sure I was supposed to have been born wealthy, but somehow it didn't work out that way. Know the feeling?

On my TBR stack are actually some e-books, so I guess you'd say they're stacked on my computer's hard disk. One of those is a new release from The Wild Rose Press, Rachel Brimble's THE ARRIVAL OF LILY CURTIS, that I'm eager to read.  The same goes for Nicole McCaffrey's WILD TEXAS WIND, Celia Yeary's TEXAS BLUE, and Paty Jager's DOCTOR IN PETTICOATS, all also from The Wild Rose Press. 

When I stay TBR stack, I mean STACK! Older books I missed when released include two by Jayne Ann Krentz and Loretta Chase's THE LAST HELLION. Then there are all the books Darling 2 has loaned me. She and I love cozy mysteries and she's loaned me Carolyn Hart's MERRY, MERRY GHOST, all of Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple series (I've finished three), Ryhs Bowen's Evan Evan series, and Mary Jo Putney's LOVING A LOST LORD. They keep stacking up, so I need to read faster!

Yes, and I should quit rereading books until I finish off the TBR stack. Hard to do. I want to reread Julie Garwood's FOR THE ROSES and PRINCE CHARMING as soon as possible. Both are all-time favorites and I love them each time I read them. She is such a terrific author.

But wait----this week in my email comes the list of the new releases from The Wild Rose Press and there are some I can't resist. Help! So many books, so little time.

Stop! You say, "Step away from the books!"

Write! Fingers on Keyboard, Seat in Chair.

Sigh! Yes, I know I should write diligently. I really do love writing and would be lost if I couldn't sit at my computer msot of the day churning out stories I love.

 Okay, so I'll write, then maybe I'll make enough money to buy more books. See, reading is an incurable disease. Not that I've ever tried to find a vaccine.

What are you reading? What's on your TBR stack?

Don't forget to leave a comment for this weeks's prize giveawy--WILD WICKED & WANTON: 101 WAYS TO LOVE LIKE YOU'RE IN A ROMANCE NOVEL by Christie Craig and Faye Hughes.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review WRONG TURN, RIGHT COWBOY by Denise B. McDonald

WRONG TURN, RIGHT COWBOY, by Denise Belinda McDonald, is an August 17, 2010 release from Samhain Press. In this book, Denise continues her popular series set in fitional and idyllic Paintbush, Wyoming.

Massage therapist Gillian Harwood and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Heidi, are on the run toward Montana. They’ve moved so many times in the past, they’ve both lost count of towns and states. Never staying long enough to make friends or trust anyone, they’ve moved on to evade the madman who killed Gillian’s sister twelve years ago. He's after Heidi because she witnessed the murder.

One wrong turn, and Gillian is lost on the Skipping Rocks Ranch near Paintbrush when she intends to be in Montana where a job awaits her. Swirling dust—okay, maybe it’s because she’s driving way  too fast on a dirt road—causes her to almost run down cowboy Quint Walters and his horse after Gillian plows through a fence. This incident launches this Paintbrush story.

Quint Walters has given up on love and on pleasing his father. He moved to Paintbrush to be near his aunts. His baseball career went down the tubes when he injured his knee for the third time, but he prefers ranch work anyway. If only he could get the new woman in town with the haunted, wary look in her eyes out of his mind. And if only his body didn't respond to her every move.

Although she believes she has no family except Heidi, Gillian learns good friends can replace family. And that her wrong turn was really the best she could have made because it led her to the right cowboy for her--and home.
WRONG TURN, RIGHT COWBOY is a terrific book for anyone who loves contemporary tales of the west, cowboys, or suspense-filled novels. Denise hooked me from the beginning and kept me chained to the computer to find out what happened next. Even though this is a fast paced novel, it includes Denise's fun sense of humor. Familiar characters from the first Paintbrush novel appear, but this definitely is a stand-alone romance novel.

I give it a 5 out of 5 rating.
Denise Belinda McDonald started her writing career at the tender age of eight. Her stories have changed over the years, but not her love for telling tales. An overactive imagination and a propensity to embellish have kept her books rich with lovable characters and interesting twists. A member of RWA, she belongs to several chapters. Denise lives in Texas with her husband, four boys and two dogs where she juggles her time between writing, carpool, Cub Scouts, sports galore, and a multitude of crafts. If you would like to learn more about Denise and her other books, please visit her web site: or you can e-mail her at

PLEASE join me tomorrow at for a Symposium on Building A Hero.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reading Levels and Our Books

Pat (my cousin) and I recently conversed on reading habits. She is ADHD and can hardly sit through a television show without hopping up. Me? Heavens, I am so opposite ADHD that I could sit and read for hours. Wait! I do sit and read for hours! I mentioned on a blog that my husband and I are both voracious readers (doesn't that sound salacious?) and each of us reads rapidly. We go through what seems like a ton of books a month. Besides, isn't it my duty to read the books of my friends and to keep up with the latest trends in publishing? Sure it is. That's my story anyway, and I'm sticking with it. LOL

Seriously, there are many people who don't like to read. My own mom didn't like books until she was almost retirement age. Once she discovered the pleasure of novels, she regretted wasting so many years to dicover the joy derived from reading. She grew up on a farm where she started to school late each fall after the crops were harvested and had to stop school each spring when it was time to hoe weeds. That meant she was always behind and didn't read well and was embarrassed. The more she read, her language and comprehension skills grew. I suspect there are a lot of people like my mom out there. Maybe they dropped out of school or graduated but never excelled in English or Literature. Perhaps they associate reading books with unpleasant school memories. Let's win them over, shall we? I seriously hope we can.

That's why writers have to use language that takes into account the range of readers from the school drop out to the PhD. In one seminar at Romance Writers of America's National Conference in Denver years ago, Judith Stanton explained the Fleisch-Kincaid Scale and Readability Statistics available from Word's Tools section when one checks spelling and grammar. Ms. Stanton said that Nora Roberts writes at a fourth grade level. This is NOT an insult to the Great Nora! It means that someone in the fourth grade can pronounce and understand the meaning of each word--even if the reader does not understand the emotional impact of those words or the way they're used. Ms. Stanton recommended that everyone follow Nora Roberts' example and strive for an easily read popular novel.  We all know that whatever Nora Roberts is doing works! Nora is one of my heroes (heroines?) so I have stuck with Ms. Stanton's advice.

Since taking Ms. Stanton's seminar, I always check the readability level of my writing. In addition to the grade level, she suggested an ease of readability not less than 80% and no sentences longer than fifteen words. Also, she thinks we should not have paragraphs over five sentences long. She said many readers skip longer paragraphs. I don't know about you, but I want readers to read every word of my books.

If you haven't found the Readability Scale on your software and you use Word, click on Tools and check Options.  Then go to Spelling and Grammar and make certain the box near the bottom that says Readability is checked. I've found the Readability scale helpful for analyzing my writing as I go. It's one more tool (pardon the pun) to help me write the best book I can write.

Are there suggestions you'll share for making our books more readable?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review of HIS WOMAN by Diana Cosby

Yesterday I wrote about first lines that hook the reader. Today, I want to add one more from the book I’m reviewing in this blog, HIS WOMAN, by Diana Cosby from Kensington's Zebra.

He thought her a whore.”

The statement is made by Lady Isabel Adair about Sir Duncan MacGruder. Captured my interest, and the fast pace of Diana Cosby’s HIS WOMAN held my interest for the entire book. In order to save her gambling and drinking father, Isabel has agreed to be mistress to the ruthless Earl of Frasyer. Her life has been a living hell, but she has not admitted that fact to her father, Lord Caelin, or her brother Symon. She longs for the man she loves, Duncan MacGruder. Duncan is lost to her, or so she believes. This book contains intricate plot points and a real surprise (for me) ending.

Diana has researched the medieval Scottish/English era so thoroughly that a reader becomes engrossed in the period. Her writing is exceptional, with complex plots that keep the reader turning the pages. Whether you rooted for William Wallace or King Edward, any reader who enjoys historical romance will love this book. Of course, you’ll love HIS WOMAN more if you rooted for William Wallace!

Diana is a former Navy Chief Meteorologist/Oceanographer whose retirement allowed her to write romance novels. She has lived around the globe, so she has rich stories and characters to relate. Her first love, though, is writing and reading Scottish medieval romances. HIS WOMAN is the second of the MacGruder brothers series. HIS CAPTIVE was her debut novel for Kensington Publishing. HIS CONQUEST, the third of the MacGruder series, will be available in November.

Diana donates a tithe of her royalties to the various charities in which she is active. She firmly believes that each of us can make a positive difference in another person’s life. In the midst of raising children, moving across the country, and writing terrific books, Diana manages to work with Habitat for Humanity. She organized a group of writers from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to help with a Habitat project. One Thanksgiving she took a traditional dinner to the fire station near her home because the men had to work away from their families on a holiday. She bakes pies and cookies to take to others. I’m honored to call this compassionate woman a friend and hope you will enjoy her writing as much as I do.

Don't forget to leave a comment to enter my weekly drawing. This week I'm givin away a fun book, WILD, WICKED, AND WANTON: 101 WAYS TO LOVE LIKE YOU'RE IN A ROMANCE NOVEL, by Christie Craig and Faye Hughes. Please leave your email with your comment. A follow counts as a second entry. You know all that, right?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hook 'Em Quick, Keep 'Em Reading!

What hooks the reader? What first sentence—or first paragraph—pulls the reader into the book? Now that e-books have, for many, replaced brick-and-mortar bookstores, authors are still required to hook the editor or agent to offer a contract for the manuscript.

This train of thought began last week when Darling 2 and I were shopping for paperbacks in one of our favorite Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex bookstore chains. Of course, we always hit the clearance section first, then stop to check the shelves for our favorites writers or a new author to try. As we do this, we check the first page—especially the first paragraph to see if the writing measures up to our quirky standards.

This set me thinking about the hook needed to sell a book—to the editor and to the bookstore customer. Here are some I searched out of my own collection to give you a look at some hooks that I believe capture the reader’s interest immediately, including the author who wrote the words and book in which they appear.

There are some men who enter a woman’s life and screw it up forever.” Janet Evanovich in the Stephanie Plum launch novel, ONE FOR THE MONEY

It had been months since I’d needed rescuing from anything—no dragons, hideous monsters from hell, evil wizards, not even a really bad blind date.” Shanna Swendson in DON’T HEX WITH TEXAS.

There’s nothing like a woman’s scream to bring a man bolt upright in bed.” J.A. Jance in INJUSTICE FOR ALL.

“Belle Cantrell felt guilty about killing her husband, and she hated that—feeling guilty that is.” Loraine Despres in THE BAD BEHAVIOR OF BELLE CANTRELL

Greetings from the Big Lemon, formerly known as the City Of Brotherly Love.” Gillian Roberts in IN THE DEAD OF SUMMER

Yesterday, Carl Hades had been shot at by a man wearing a black thong and a pink silk nightie.” Christie Craig in WEDDINGS CAN BE MURDER.

If she’d had a foot fetish, Anna would have been an extremely happy woman.” Nevada Barr in FIRESTORM

At a quarter after ten on the last Wednesday in May, I put a beautiful woman in a taxi and watched her ride out of my life, or at least out of my neighborhood.” Lawrence Block in THE CAT BURGLAR WHO THOUGHT HE WAS BOGART

Katie Callahan needed a man, but Hell would be renting ice skates and serving bubble-gum flavored snow cones before she chose one of the three specimens presently being offered to her.” Christie Craig in DIVORCED, DESPERATE AND DECEIVED and one of my favorite opening lines.

What do you mean, there’s no law against it?” Bill Crider in CURSED TO DEATH

Sonofabitch! The bastards are burying me!” Caroline Clemmons in THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND. Yeah, I cheated and included one of my own works. Hey, it is my blog!

Personally, I like authors who paint beautiful word pictures to set the mood, but our instant-gratification society no longer tolerates a slow opening. We're always on the run, always in a hurry. We demand that a book suck us into the story’s action immediately and send us on a fast-paced ride to the finish.

Do you judge a book by the first line/first paragraph before you buy it? Do you rely on the back blurb?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Working With Editors

Vicki won Saturday's drawing. I'll be emailing her to send her a PDF of one of my books.

Working with book editors can be satisfying or frustrating. Editors probably say the same thing about authors!

Here are some of the frustrations editors can create: 

An editor might like a submission well enough to ask for revisions, but doesn't offer a contract with the revision letter. Making the revisions does NOT guarantee a sale, however, as many authors have learned to their chagrin and sorrow.  Some authors have gone through two or three sets of revisions only to be told the project is not for that publisher.

What if your editor asks for changes you believe ruin your story or change your voice? Do you make the revisions, or withdraw the manuscript?  Some houses fine an author for withdrawing a manuscript after the editing has begun, so withdrawing a work can be potentially a costly decision. However, my friend withdrew her manuscript and found another publisher when she felt the first editor wanted changes which replaced her voice with the editor's voice.

I've already mentioned an instance when an editor I trusted gave me a terrible book cover. I should have had a hissy fit, but I naively went along. Sometimes a hissy fit is undervalued. LOL

In another author's work, the editor above changed a little boy to a raccoon because she felt the hero's friendship and nurturing to the child might be misunderstood as perversion. Well, yeah, we have to be careful of giving a false impression, but a raccoon? Why not just strengthen the hero?

Okay, but none of the above is very helpful, is it? Let's talk about good editors whom we know are doing a great job--like those I've encountered at The Wild Rose Press. Say your editor asks for a change with which you disagree, what do you do?  Do you pitch a fit? In spite of my joke above, a fit is never professional. An author has to weigh the change against others. Has the editor asked for a million nitpicky changes that make no sense? Is this a voice thing, or is the change recommended legitimate? Is it a regional thing with which the editor is unfamiliar?

Even if an author disagrees with the change, one must make compromises. As the saying goes, "Choose your battles." Don't quibble over minuteae. Remember, the editor is in charge. Is this a change that will embarrass you? Is it unimportant in the long run? Most editors want the best book possible, so their goal is the same as the author's. Why not work together to accomplish that goal?

I've been very fortunate at The Wild Rose Press. My editors have been Allison Brennan, Kelly Schaub, and Leanne Morgena. Each has been knowledgable, efficient, and gracious. I couldn't be happier unless I were actually making money. LOL But I'll come closer to making whatever is possible if my books are well written and don't include mistakes that cause readers to cringe.

Here's the summary.

Never forget that being an author is a business.
Don't wear your feelings on your sleeve.
Toughen up.
Always act in a professional, courteous manner.

An author owes it to his or her reputation to publish the very best book possible. If that involves massive edits, major compromise, or withdrawing a manuscript, being professional is a major necessity. Publishing is a small world. Act in an unprofessional, temperamental manner, and news travels like lightning.  Besides, what kind of reputation do you want--that of gracious and excellent author or the hard-to-get-along-with diva?

Have your editor experiences been pleasant or frightening?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Review of FRONTIER WIFE by Margaret Tanner

FRONTIER WIFE, by Margaret Tanner, is a July release from The Wild Rose Press. In this story, Thomasina "Tommy" Lindsay arrives in Melbourne, Australia in the company of her two brothers. Her elder brother, David, was wounded in the Zulu Wars and left for dead, and is still frail from injuries received there. Her younger brother, Jamie, is only ten. Though she looks like a delicate English rose, Tommy leads the family unit. They've inherited eighty acres from their Uncle Henry, who died unexpectedly while they were in route to live with him after the deaths of their parents. They're penniless. Their only valuable posession--other than Uncle Henry's mediocre farm they've inherited--is a stallion that David believes will establish the Lindsays as horse breeders.

Adam Munro is the large landowner whose ranch rings their farm. He wants to buy them out because they have water he needs for his cattle and sheep ranch, especially now there's a terrible drought in the area.  One look at the city-bred English Lindsays and he believes they'd be far better off selling to him and living in town--or returning to England. Munro is a harsh man, or so his reputation would lead one to believe. Yet he and the Lindays forge a tentative bond . . . not friendship, but a wary neighbor relationship.

Will David Lindsay gain enough strength to raise horses? Will Adam Munro drive the Lindsays off their land.  Can the Lindays withstand the rigors of colonial life?

I thoroughly enjoyed FRONTIER WIFE. Margaret Tanner's writing paints a clear picture of Australian colonial life. The life is so similar to the tales I love of western United States ranches, that it was easy for me to identify with both the Lindsays and with Adam Munro. The only two words that threw me were "slab house" and "squatters." From its usage, I believe "slab" refers to hand-planed wood timbers used to build a home, and not to concrete as we would use the word in the U.S. The term "squatter" is exactly opposite of the U.S. usage, which I found amusing. The emotions, the plot, and the characters are well written and kept me reading when I knew I should stop and get to sleep.  I give this book a 5 out of 5.

One of the great things about this book was that I won my copy. Talk about lucky! The very day I planned to order FRONTIER WIFE, I received Margaret's email that I'd won a copy. .
Margaret Tanner is an award winning multi-published Australian author. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels, and prides herself on being historically correct. No book is too old or tattered for her to trawl through, no museum too dusty. Many of her novels have been inspired by true events, with one being written around the hardships and triumphs of her pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia. She once spent a couple of hours in an old goal cell so she could feel the chilling cold and fear. Her favorite historical period is the 1st World War, and she has visited the battlefields of Gallipoli, France and Belgium, a truly poignant experience.

Margaret is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, the Melbourne Romance Writers Group (MRWG) and EPIC. She won the 2007 Author of the Year at She also won it for a 2nd time in 2010. The Trouble With Playboys, set during the 2nd World War, finished in 3rd place in the romance section of the Preditors and Editors Poll for 2010. Margaret and her husband have three grown sons and one granddaughter. You can learn about her other books at

Friday, July 23, 2010

Effect of E-Readers on Book Collectors

In our home we have bookcases in the bedrooms, the family room, my office, and Hero's office. In addition, we have stacks of books beside the bed (both sides) and in numerous places around the master bedroom. We can't help ourselves--we love to read and we are both fast readrs. In addition, we often reread favorite books. I've read several so many times you'd think by now I could recite them. I have certain shelves for my "keeper" books. There are many, such as Julie Garwood's FOR THE ROSES and PRINCE CHARMING that I will keep forever and reread once a year or so. Same goes for Louis L'Amour's FALLON. I just dug out my Jodi Thomas books to reread them. So, there are hardback and paperback books I will always keep. They've brought me hours of pleasure and I treasure the books and admire the authors for their ability to create books that remains memorable.

There are tons of others I read once and pass to friends. Why shouldn't I buy those in e-book form and save money? How long would it take to make up the cost of the e-reader in the amount of paperbacks and hardbacks a voracious reader buys?

After reading a discussions on The Wild Rose Press authors' loops and on Hearts Through History's loop on the effect e-readers have had on the book collection of those posting, it's clear that I really need an e-reader. Really, really need one. What kind to choose?

I've entered all the contests I've found that offer an e-reader as a prize. Darling 1, who is incredibly  lucky in contests, has also entered to try for an e-reader she would give to me. Isn't that sweet? In reality, I'd like a Nook or a Kindle, but I wouldn't turn down any brand if it's free! Free is one of my favorite words.

I have been trying to wrap my mind around the concept of cuddling up with an e-reader for a cozy evening of reading. So far, my brain can't quite make the leap. I am positive I can adjust, though. I always have a book tucked into my purse, plus emergency books in the car in case Hero decides to make a quick stop while we're out. He can't pass a Harbor Freight store without going in. LOL But my friend Cynthia takes her Kindle everywhere. That appeals to me. Only one thing to carry, yet it holds too many books to count. Wow, I'd never be stuck somewhere with nothing to read! 

But my mind is quirky and I'm wondering if in the future there will be a special way to save "keeper" e-books?  Will we have multiple e-readers because we've filled the first one with all the "keeper" books it can hold? Can you see a full e-reader on a bookshelf. Yes, I know my mind goes off on strange tangets. After all, I'm a writer.

Do you have an e-reader? If so, what type?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How Do You Write?

How do you write? No, I don't mean with pen and paper or typewriter or computer keyboard. I mean the process of composing a manuscript for sale.  I have heard of writers who submit their manuscript without editing it. Wow! How do they do that? Unfortunately, I'm definitely not one of those writers.

I'm the world's worst at editing and editing and editing ad nauseum. It's a disease. LOL I try to pound out the pages without stopping to correct typos, but I can't help myself. Even with this, I have learned that I write in several stages or layers.

I've already finished my research before I start the manuscript. When I first begin writing, I get in the main details--the plot, the characters, the dialogue--especially the dialogue. Next I go back to layer in the setting--the mood stuff. You know, layering is like the layers of an onion. You build up details and emotions one layer at a time.

Is it daytime, is it raining?  What color dress is the heroine wearing? All the nitpicky details. If I did miss something in research or something new pops up, I research or ask my daughters to help me find answers. Both Darling 1 and Darling 2 are excellent at research.

I check the dialogue to see if there's difficulty discerning who's speaking. I add some action to the dialogue so I don't have pages of talking heads. This also helps let the reader know who's speaking without using tag lines. Not that I believe tag lines are bad, you understand. Many authors believe "said" is invisible. I prefer action instead.  I want to know what people are doing while they speak.

The last layer I check is emotion. This is hard for me. Readers have told me that they like the emotion of my scenes, yet it seems to me I am always layering in more. I view the scene through the Point Of View (POV) character's eyes as I write. Sometimes I forget that even though I know what the POV character is feeling, I have to write it down. LOL

My critique partners are excellent.  They let me know when they feel I've skipped an important chance to deepen a character or strengthen a scene. Thorough critique partners are a writer's best writing tool. I mean this.  Your family and your best friend may say your work is the best they've ever read. Sure, their opinion is important to you! But the reader who buys your book and pays hard cash for it expects more.  Dependable critique partners help a writer deliver a better product. The great editors at The Wild Rose Press are also invaluable. They spot problems and point them out graciously.

By the time I'm ready to turn in a manuscript, I've gone over it a gazillion times. Hmm, "gazillion" might be a slight exaggeration, but it doesn't seem that way when I'm finishing a book.  All that's left then is to sprinkle on a little fairy dust to send the manuscript on its way.

Every writer has his or her own process.  Above is what works for me--okay, maybe I don't really use fairy dust. Maybe I just pray a lot.  I say whatever method works for you is the one you should follow.

What does work best for you?

Don't forget to include your email with your comment to be entered in my weekly drawing.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Selling Your "Baby" and Making Choices

First, just for my info, what do you think of ads on blogs? No, I do not intend to place ads here! A friend is just setting up her own blog and we discussed them. I wondered how people feel about seeing ads when they visit a blog site. There are so many buttons of various types that I admit I don't pay much attention to ads one way or the other. How do you feel?

Now, on to selling your manuscript. We slave over a hot keyboard for months perfecting our latest work in progress. Finally, our critique partners say it's finished. In our hearts we know this is the best thing we've ever written. Then what?

If you already have an agent, you're fortunate. Your agent can tell you if the manuscript is marketable, if it needs tweaking, or if you need to spin it a little to meet current publisher demands. I've only had one agent, and she was so bad she almost killed my career. She's since been removed from RWA's list of approved agents. But I digress.

Say you do not have an agent, do you try for one or go it alone? If you opt to go on your own, several NY print publishers will let you query by email. A few even accept snail mail queries and manuscripts. With publishing costs increasing, however, the chance to break in with a major print house grows more and more slim. The lucrative contracts go to those writers with a proven fan base. Not without exception, of course. My friend Diana Crosby has managed to maintain good numbers at Zebra and her third book, HIS CONQUEST, will be released in November. 

A friend told me today, though, that Janet Evanovich wants fifty million (yep, that's right) for her next four Stephanie Plum books. I've no doubt her demand will be met because she has a huge fan base who will buy her books.

Those of us in the real world, though, have tough decisions to make. Do we wait for the perfect agent to send us to the perfect publisher or do we strike out on our own? I waited for a long time. In fact, I almost quit writing from discouragement.

Then a lovely group of women took me in and accepted me as one of their own. These are the women whose blog is Some of them talked about doing an anthology and most wanted it to be about the Civil War. I love nonfiction about the Civil War, but shy away from fiction in that era due to the nastiness of the slave issue. However, to be a good sport among my new friends, I agreed to participate. Then, some had to drop out due to other committments. In the end, six of us participated in the anthology, NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES. This experience introduced me to The Wild Rose Press. What lovely people with whom to work!

Okay, so here I found a press who (1) liked my work, (2) with whom I actually enjoyed working, and (3) who provided great covers. What more could I want, right? Only one important thing---The Wild Rose Press does not pay an advance. Sigh.  Oh, well, three out of four isn't bad.

The point here is that you have to make choices. Is it all about money, about satisfaction, about prestige, about having people read what you wrote?

When I began writing, I thought all I had to do was write a great story and the rest would take care of itself. Not so. I know many great writers who still have not been published.  I also thought the publisher took care of promotion. Wrong again, unless you're a major name.

Who takes care of my promotion? Me. My daughters help, my husband foots a lot of bills, but I plan my promotion and post on a gillion sites, write guest blogs, and appear wherever people will let me. Check for my latest guest blog. Am I making money? Not much. Do I enjoy writing? You bet I do.

Does that make it all worthwhile? I believe so, especially if occasionally someone tells me how much they enjoy my books. To quote MasterCard's commercial, "Priceless!"

Don't forget to leave a comment for my weekly prize drawing. Please include your email in your comment. 

Celebrating Women and the Right to Vote

Congratulations to Celia Yeary, who won my Saturday prize drawing. Celia wins a PDF of my current release OUT OF THE BLUE, a paranormal time travel. I'll be emailing her with her win.

Now for my blog post for today. I  recived this in an email from a cousin, but it's written by an anonymous woman. I've never  used information from an email before, but I think this is worthy of a reminder. So, her goes:

This is the story ......of our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

(Lucy Burns)

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh MY memory. Some women won't vote this year because - Why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Mrs Pauline Adams in the prison garb she wore while serving a 60 day sentence.

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

Miss Edith Ainge, of Jamestown, New York

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

(Berthe Arnold, CSU graduate)

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. "One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie," she said. "What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn." 

"The right to vote," she said, "had become valuable to her all over again."

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco/Bingo night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

Conferring over ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at National Woman's Party headquarters, Jackson Place , Washington , D.C.

Left to right: Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, Mabel Vernon (standing, right))

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk , Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying a banner, "Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed."


Thank goodness, I didn't have to withstand this terror to gain the right to vote. Personally, I appreciate all these women did so that we all could share in democracy.

Thanks, Caroline

Saturday, July 17, 2010

More on Covers

Just yesterday I received the cover for my sweet contemporary, HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME. This is for a TBA release from The Wild Rose Press. Nicola Martinez designed the cover, and it fits the story so well.  The story is about a young woman in Dallas who is suddenly without a job at the same time the teenaged brother for whom she's guardian has started mixing with a bad crowd. Fortunately for her, she inherits a home and other interests from a man who befriended her when her mom was hosptialized. The inheritance takes her to West Texas, about twenty minutes from Lubbock. Incidentally, I grew up in Lubbock, so this story has special meaning for me. Anyway, she is linked through her inheritance to a handsome rancher with two darling kids, a boy and a girl. See how perfect the cover is?  Courtney, the heroine, has a dog named Bingo that crowded into the cover art. LOL The man from whom she received the legacy always called his dog Bingo. Saved choosing a new name and remembering it.

This is not the first cover Nicola has designed for me. In fact, she's designed all of my covers from The Wild Rose Press. My favorite is the one for THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE, which will be released on September 3. I'm sure the cover will help sales for this book.

What do you think? Do you ever purchase a book based on the cover? I admit that I have. In fact, I just bought one by Caroline Fyfe because the cover looked so appealing and of the sort of historical western romance I love.

Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in my Saturday prize drawing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hero Qualities

What's the most important trait for a hero? Some have mentioned in previous comments they like a brooding hero, but that's not really what I mean. Let me list some of the qualities I'm referring to:

1. Honor -- does he keep his word? Is he known for his dependability because once he commits, he can be counted on?

2. Intelligence -- is he clever or super intelligent? Those are not the same, you know. A man who lacks brilliance may still be clever at figuring out puzzles.

3. Strength -- is he strong as an ox or the guy bullies pick on?

4. Dedicated to family -- is he the one who holds the family together or is he a loner who's estranged from his family or orphaned?

5. Hard worker -- does he frequently spend a few days at the lake or is he in the office 60 hours a week?

These qualities shape the hero of the story. What traits do you feel are most important?

Don't forget to leave a comment to be entereed in my weekly prize giveaway. A follow counts as a second entry.

And don't forget my June release, OUT OF THE BLUE, is available in print and e-book download from The Wild Rose Press and others.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hero's Book or Heroine's Book?

A romance involves two main characters, the hero and the heroine. However, each novel is more the story of one character than the other. You can't tell simply by the opening of the book. It may open in the hero's POV (point of view) yet be the heroine's story.

How does the author decide whose story a book is?

Sometimes the author may not realize the answer until he/she is into the book. For instance, the author may plot the book as if it's equal. During writing, though, one character's story will emerge larger than the other character's. Let's use a movie reference because that's so easy. "Sleepless In Seattle" was Annie's (Meg Ryan's character) story.

How do we know? Who has the most at stake or will lose? The Tom Hanks character isn't moving--he's already lost his wife and relocated. Now all he's losing is sleep. Meg Ryan's character gives up her lifestyle and her fiancĂ© to meet Tom Hanks and will ultimately (we presume) give up her job and relocate to Seattle to be with him.

As you're writing your story, who has the most at stake? Whose life will be forever altered by the outcome. Yes, both will be altered because of the committment. One will totally change, though, even if the ending is a compromise.

Can you think of other instances where the story is clearly that of one main character?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why Do We Write?

Why do authors write? There are probably several dozen answers. Here are some I've heard:

1. I can't help myself. (That's me)
2. To make money. (Poor soul unless he/she is like Nora Roberts et al)
3. So I can work at home in sweats. (Merline Lovelace once said that and I agree)
4. Because I have stories to tell and want people to read them. (Me again)
5. Writing is a form of immortality. (Oh, yeah?)

Most of us no doubt have multiple reasons for writing books, novellas, and short stories. Sure, I'd like to make money, who wouldn't? But that's not my primary motivation--which is really good, because I'm not making much here. But I want to tell all these stories collecting in my mind. In fact, all these people in my head need to be written down or they'll just keep hammering at me to do so. Writers understand this--we have to write! If possible, I want people to read my stories. One step further, hopefully readers will enjoy my various tales and be happy they read them--and want to buy my next book. See, this leads to the miniscule amount of money I'll make for each sale.

Okay, I also love the working at home in sweats, no pantyhose, no dress shoes, no makeup aspect, too. Who wouldn't love that aspect, especially is you've had a job that required dressing up? No transportation problems, no special work wardrobe, cut the cost of cosmetics, no business lunches or dinners--already my income has increased. Of course all bets are off for booksignings or presentations, but those are only a few compared to daily writing.

Immortality? Sure, print books are supposed to be a form of immortality. Shakespeare and other masters prove that. Truly I doubt the stories in mass market and e-books will be immortal, but I suppose there's always a possibility. Certainly I have authors whose books I save to reread. How that will translate to e-books is anyone's guess. How many books can an e-reader hold? Is there a way to transfer them to a CD Rom or something to store them for future reference? I don't have an e-reader yet, (it's high on my want list) so I don't understand all the functions.

How about you? Do you reread your favorite books? Why do you write?

Don't forget that one lucky person who comments will be entered into my Saturday prize drawing. A follow counts as a second entry. Don't forget to leave your email with your comment.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Guest Blogger Rae Summers, Author

Readers, today please help me welcome a guest author, Rae Summers. Rae lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is a working mom. Welcome, Rae!

Thank you for hosting me here today, Caroline.

My novella, LET’S MISBEHAVE, which released from The Wild Rose Press last week, is set in the Jazz Age. It’s not a period often seen in romance novels, but I just adore the 1920s.

It was a time of adventure, when people let go of the restrictions of the past, experimented and indulged. It was the time of youth, with society dominated by young writers like Scott Fitzgerald, and by young Hollywood icons or celebrities like the dashing Charles Lindbergh. At lavish parties, jazz was in the air. Party-goers danced the Charleston and drank exotic cocktails or bubbling champagne.

Best of all for me, was that the 20s were really the time when women came into their own. They bobbed their hair, wore short skirts, drove cars and drank alcohol. Women poets and writers, sportswomen and actresses, made names for themselves, and everywhere women were getting the vote, getting jobs and gaining their freedom. We modern women owe a great deal to those pioneers of the 20s. At the very least we can thank them for originating compact mirrors and metal lipstick containers.

My heroine is one of these modern women and I hope you enjoy reading about her and her rocky path to love, as much as I enjoyed writing her.


Gabrielle is the quintessential Flapper, a wild child who turns her back on home and a resentful and unloving mother to become a nightclub singer. She wants nothing more from life than freedom and pleasure.

Sebastian is a dutiful son, following in his father’s footsteps and on the verge of marrying a suitable bride. But as the Twenties roar to their conclusion, he finds himself torn between duty and the urge to indulge his adventurous streak.

From the moment Gabrielle and Sebastian meet, the tension between them simmers. When he rescues her from a boorish suitor, Gabrielle discovers a kindred spirit beneath Sebastian's serious demeanour, and she sets out to seduce him into one last passionate fling before he settles for a loveless marriage.

But the fire that burns between them threatens to consume her. Will Gabrielle survive falling in love with the one man she cannot have?

If you’d like to find out more about LET’S MISBEHAVE, or about London in the Jazz Age, visit my blog at

You can view the book trailer here:

To buy a copy of LET’S MISBEHAVE:

Rae, LET'S MISBEHAVE sounds intriguing. I love that time period, too. Thanks for being my guest today. Good luck with your writing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Book Review, WELCOME TO HARMONY by Jodi Thomas

Congratulations to Cathie, the commenter who won my Saturday drawing of a download of her choice of either OUT OF THE BLUE or the Civil War anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES. Cathie, I'll email you to learn your choice.

Jodi Thomas is one of my favorite writers, and I keep all of her books. She is a Texas writer and I identify with her stories and her characters. Her latest release, WELCOME TO HARMONY, is set in a fictional West Texas town located--in my opinion--between Lubbock and Amarillo. I loved the people in this town. The story is launched by Reagan, a sixteen-year-old runaway from the foster system that has abused her, who has yearned for a home. She decided that Harmony sounded like the perfect place, so she's come hoping to stay--and hoping that she can fulfill her dreams. We never learn her last name, but it's not important. She is the catalyst in a story peopled with numerous lovable characters and a few not-so-lovable ones. 

When I read the back blurb of this book and realized that a teen was the main character, I wondered how Jodi Thomas would pull this one off. Knowing how much I'd enjoyed each of her previous books, I bought this one in spite of the back cover blurb. I need not have worried, because once again Jodi Thomas delivered a winning story. I grew up in Lubbock, and her characterizations are spot on for the area.  Her descriptions of the landscape made me feel at home. Although the primary conflict is resolved, a couple of loose ends dangle to tempt readers to pick up the next book of the series, which is due out this fall. I know I'll be first in line for the next one.

I might also point out that WELCOME TO HARMONY ties in nicely with the previous book, titled TWISTED CREEK.  You can't go wrong with a book by Jodi Thomas!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Authors and Book Covers

My friend Alice Duncan wrote recently on the Mayhem and Mystery blog about book covers, both good and bad, which brought back a lot of memories for me, both good and bad.

Readers might wonder how much authors have to do with their covers. For major publishers, the answer is little or nothing. We submit a sheet of details and then are at the mercy of the art department, budgets, and the gods of Fate and Whimsy. I beleive Fate and Whimsy are in charge a lot of the time.

Fortunately, at The Wild Rose Press, life is much saner. Covers for OUT OF THE BLUE and for THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE were designed by Nicola Martinez. I asked for her—yes, we even get to request the artist at The Wild Rose Press!—because she did such a beautiful cover for an anthology in which I participated, NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES. I thought her design for the Civil War collection was impressive, and still do.
In my pre-The Wild Rose Press life, I’ve had good covers, mediocre covers, and really terrible covers. The worst was a white cover for my THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND. That cover was white with no indication of genre, subgenre, or subject. Needless to say, it did not sell well in spite of great reviews and award nominations. If stores don’t stock it, there are no sales; and chain buyers don’t order all white covers.

Wait, you might ask, don’t the marketing department and the art department know that? Yes, they most certainly do. Some guy in the marketing department was mad at me because I didn’t want to change my name. So, both the publisher and I lost out there. I’m sure the guy in marketing made out okay. The late Kate Duffy, senior editor at Kensington at the time, later apologized to me for my raw deal. Her words not mine, bless her heart. By then she knew she was dying, I suppose, and apologized to both Alice Duncan and me. Doesn’t put money in the bank, but it was nice of her.

On the cover of my first book, the heroine looks as if she’s bursting out of her blouse. I suppose that was supposed to make her look breathless with lust, but to me it looks as if she’s recently gained too much weight for her clothes. At least she and the hero have  sort of the right color hair--hers is supposed to be auburn. Many authors have complained that the characters on their book cover don’t even resemble their hero and heroine. What’s with that?

I’ve had both good and weird covers for foreign sales. One wonders what the translations say in the blurb. Maybe it’s best not to know.  At any rate, I’m very happy to say that the covers at The Wild Rose Press are my favorite. Hooray for Nicola Martinez!

Comment for a chance to enter my Saturday prize giveaway drawing. A follow counts as a second entry.

Have a nice weekend!