Thursday Writing Quote ~ Anonymous

A blank page is God's way of showing you how hard it is to be God. ~ Anonymous

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Don't Let New Releases Sneak Past You

If you're like me, you have authors who are on an auto-buy list. I want to know as soon as they have a new book out, so I can devour it. Goodreads has a nice feature with their New Release Newsletter, which you can set to let you know when an author whose books you've read has a pending release.

At least, that's how I thought it worked. Turns out that's not quite true.

When I contacted Goodreads, inquiring how an indie author could get in the newsletter (because indie and small press author's don't have the option of setting their releases up for pre-order on Amazon so how would GR know when they have a pending release?), this is what they said.

When we make decisions about the new releases mailer, we look at the site activity around those titles to determine what to include. We look at how people have shelved the book to determine the genre, and then we look at how many people have added it to their to-read list or rated the book. We take the top few from each of the selected genres and include them in the newsletter.

So as it turns out, if I'm waiting for a new release that's not by one of Goodread's "hot" authors, I'll only know it's out when I stumble across it. As a reader, that's not good enough.

As a writer, it really annoys me because, once again, those who need exposure most are getting cut out. Goodreads will, however, let you buy an ad in the newsletter. It really does feel like the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

So how do you know when your favorite non-best-selling author releases a new book?

There are other alternatives. There's Edelweiss, a site that wants to be your book discovery service, but they don't appear to include indies, so you won't see new books by authors like Courtney Milan, who decided to strike out on their own. Since Courtney's an auto-buy author for me, Edelweiss isn't a satisfactory option.

So who can give me the service I'm craving?

Are you going to be surprised when I say Amazon?

Love them or hate them, as with so many things, they do this particular service well and with a simple elegance.

You go to the author's page on Amazon (click on the author's name below any of their books to get there) then click on their Stay-Up-To-Date feature. 

And voila. 

As a reader, you'll now know as soon as it comes out. 

As a writer, you'll always have fans who don't want to be on your mailing list. You can point them here. Everyone wins.

If you want to jet over to my author page on Amazon to avail yourself of this nifty feature, click here.

Happy reading. 

Who are your auto-buy authors?

Thursday Writing Quote ~ Christopher Vogler

It’s best to acquaint yourself with the Hero’s Journey ideas and then forget about them as you sit down to write. If you get lost, refer to the metaphor as you would check a map on a journey. But don’t mistake the map for the journey. You don’t drive with a map pasted to your windshield. You consult it before setting out or when you get disoriented. The joy of a journey is not reading or following a map, but exploring unknown places and wandering off the map now and then. It’s only by getting creatively lost, beyond the boundaries of tradition, that new discoveries can be made. ~ Christopher Vogler

Release Day

I don't normally post on Mondays, but this isn't a normal Monday.

It's Release Day!

That's right. Snow White & the Eighth Dwarf is now available on Amazon!

I love fairy tale retellings, so it's exciting for me to add my own take to this genre. It's also different from my normal stories in other ways. First, it's told in first person by the eighth dwarf. The one every one excised from their version of the story. Bitchy.

Normally, I write in third person because I like being able to give both the hero and heroine's viewpoints, but I never even questioned that this needed to be in first. Strong characters tend to have a strong voice. One you can hear in your head. That was double true for Bitchy. With her snarky and sometimes sarcastic sense of humor, I couldn't have kept her off the page if I'd wanted to, and I didn't want to. She's just too much fun.

So to celebrate, I'm sharing Bitchy's description of a few of "the boys."

I’m not saying the boys are perfect. Far from it. But they’re mine . . . So some of their habits can be annoying, but I’m used to them. I wouldn’t change one single hair on their heads.

So, okay, maybe the girlie magazines under Doc's bed could go. No one really believes that cock 'n bull about him using them to study anatomy. After all, he ain't no gynecologist.

And Dopey could cut back on the pot smoking. (Really? His name wasn’t your first clue?) You should see him plow through a pan of brownies when he has a full-on case of the munchies. It’s a wonder that boy doesn’t weigh eighty pounds.

Grumpy understands me like none of the others do. Even so, he gets on my nerves sometimes with all his grumbling and negativity. No sense of humor at all.

You’ve probably figured out by now that dwarfs aren’t named at birth. The naming ceremony occurs later, when the child or adolescent (or even occasionally an adult) starts to show a dominant trait. Even so, we sometimes get it wrong. Sleepy’s a classic example. He doesn’t sleep any more than anyone else. He’s just a severe night person, so if you see him during the day, he’s often sleeping. Or fighting hard to stay awake. But once night falls, he’s the life of the party. I wouldn’t change a thing about him. Well, except maybe the snoring.

What can I say about Sneezy? I love that boy to death. It’s a pity about the allergies though. The forest is the absolute worst place for him, but none of us could bear to part with him, so he stays. It is kind of annoying though, having to make sure everything is hypoallergenic. I work my tail off dusting, and he’s very sensitive about the rocks I use to pound his clothes clean at the river. It’s a wonder they didn’t name him Hives.

I hate to be a tease--well, okay, that's not true--but if you want the rest, you'll have to go to Amazon to get it. If you do, I'd love to hear what you think of it.


My apologies to customers of B&N and other retailers. I'm experimenting with Amazon's Select program to see if it's worthwhile, so this won't be available elsewhere until the 90-day exclusive period is over. I figured y'all would rather I experimented with a short story than with the next installment of the McKnight's romance. (Which is coming before too much longer.) In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Bitchy's story.

The Soundtrack - Chris LeDoux

Music is one of the things I consider when I think about my characters. Who they listen to says something about who they are. So who does Sol, the hero in my upcoming release, listen to? Why, Chris LeDoux, of course. Who else would a bull rider listen to but an honest-to-God Champion Bareback Rider?

Chris is a little hard to categorize. He called his music country with a western attitude. He wrote many a rodeo song, but sometimes he put a rock spin on them. He's not only recorded with country greats Garth Brooks and Charlie Daniels, but also with rocker Bon Jovi.

I like everything Chris recorded, but at heart, I'm a ballad kind of person, and Chris gave us some lovely ballads. I slipped this one in at Zach and Maddie's wedding reception because that's where this song belongs.

At one time, many, many moons ago, Garth Brooks was Chris's opening act. Garth credits Chris with teaching him how to put on a show. Garth's first hit, Much Too Young (to Feel This Damned Old) includes a line about driving down the road listening to "a worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux" which put the spotlight on Chris. The two developed a close friendship and Garth was featured in a couple of Chris's songs.

Sadly, some things do change. Chris died far too young in 2005, but his music keeps him alive in the hearts of his many fans.

Thursday Writing Quotes ~ Richard Curtis

Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks. ~ Richard Curtis

Writer's Guide to Character Traits - A Review

Writer's Guide to Character Traits
By Linda N. Edelstein, PH.D.
Writer’s Digest Books

At almost 400 pages (trade paperback sized), this book looks really promising, but it bites off more than it can chew, trying to be all things to all people. Four hundred pages isn't enough for that.

It’s set up in an encyclopedic format, starting with the general categories of personality types and child and adolescent types and moving into more specifics such as psychological disorders, criminal types, sexual issues, etc. In each of these areas, you’re given the stock description of whatever the topic is. 

Not only does it try to define character types, it goes on to discuss life stages: childhood, adolescence and young adulthood; falling in love; getting married; having a family; divorce; step children, aging, bereavement, etc.

So we’ve got character types AND life stages. That’s awfully ambitious. Too ambitious, IMHO, because what you get is a superficial look at all of it. My feeling is that if I built a character on what’s here, I’d end up with a very clich├ęd character.

So what good is it?

Well, if one used this as an initial resource, it might have value. For instance, if you have a character (let’s say a villain) who has certain traits and you want him to appear consistent, you might peruse the psychological disorders section.

Let’s say, for instance, you decide that your character fits the profile of a narcissist. This book would give you some basic core traits but not a true in-depth understanding of the possible ways that personality profile might manifest itself. FREX: How does a narcissist respond when his view of himself is threatened? That’s not really covered here. (Having worked for a narcissist, I can tell you that they can do some pretty surprising—and appalling—things in the name of ego.) So you’d need to move on to more specialized source material, but this would work as a jumping off point. Just don't expect too much.

Thursday Writing Quotes ~ Faulkner

I write only when I'm inspired. Fortunately I'm inspired at 9 o'clock every morning. ~ William Faulkner

Earning the Happy Ending

Some years ago, I submitted one of the rare short stories I’ve written to a magazine. It was good enough to come home with a personal rejection that explained that hero hadn’t earned his happy ending. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant at the time, but I’ve since figured it out.
Happy endings (or unhappy one for that matter) can’t be gifts to the character. They can’t be happenstance or the result of someone else’s actions or choices. They can’t occur because the character happened to be in the right place at the right time. They must be the result of something the character did.
I was reminded of this recently when reading an early draft by a fellow writer. In chapter 1, the couple meets. In chapter 6, the hero thinks she’s the one. For me, this qualifies as insta-love.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, insta-love is when two characters in a romance fall in love too quickly. Insta-attraction, insta-like, insta-lust are all okay, but insta-love? Not so much.

Like happy endings, love has to be earned. It’s earned in little moments as the two get to know and trust each other. It’s earned when he holds her while she cries or when she keeps his secrets or takes care of him when he’s sick.

Insta-love is too much like that guy who wants to get laid and doesn’t care who the woman is. All he’s looking for is a warm body. In a romance, you don't want readers to feel like the heroine is the warm body who happened to be at the right place at the right time. The reader needs to feel the this is the woman he'd have searched his whole life for.

So that's two things your characters have to earn. Love and happy endings.