Monday, June 30, 2008


I'm in Revision Purgatory right now with the contemporary romance I'm writing for Kensington Publishing. I love the story, but it's slowly killing me, which is the reason this post is so cranky.

I borrowed from Jennifer Cruisie's lingo and dubbed my first draft the Don't-Look-Down draft. This basically means you just write the story. You don't worry about typos or grammar, and you certainly don't worry about any of the Writing Rules - point of view, the five senses, showing vs. telling. You just write.

Which appears to be fine - until you come to the revision stage and realize what you have is Blue Ribbon Drivel. I'm confident the story will shine like fine jewelry by the time I have to hand it in to my editor. It's getting to that shine that I'm struggling with.

During the Don't-Look-Down draft, I focus on the action: who does what, where, when, why and how. While revising, I layer in the five senses - what the characters see, hear, smell, taste and feel - and I dig deeper for the emotions. I also focus on making my characters individuals rather than having them all sound and react alike. After all, these aren't meant to be Stepford Children.

I'm going to end this cranky post and get back to my revisions.

I hope everyone has a safe, happy and healthy Independence Week!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Book Booty

Just a quick note today. There's a great entry on "Paper Cuts," the New York Times' blog about books. It's about the little promotional items that writers/publishers send out with books in the hopes of convincing the recipient, usually a book reviewer, to review the book.

In addition, there's a wonderful slide show that features photographs of a variety of items, "book booty," as the Times' calls it. Click here to see it.

I'm sure that, after reading the entry and seeing the slide show, you'll wonder about the efficacy of using promotional gadgetry -- at least when it comes to reviewers.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Royalties & Reality

Many authors’ dreams of making writing their full time gig. I know I do. To be able to support myself solely through my writing is my ultimate goal. Only I need money to do that. The only way to earn enough money to write full time is to get multiple book contracts, and sell lots and lots of books, which is easier said than done.

There is no real way for an author to tell how many books they’re selling. You can ask your editor but they don’t have access to all the sales data. Amazon rankings mean nothing as do Ingram sales and demand numbers. So, you’re stuck fantasizing about your books selling like hot cakes, while waiting for something you get in the mail twice a year to give you an idea of how well your books are truly selling. . . your royalty statement. Of course they should be renamed Royal Pain in the Ass.

Nothing snaps you back to reality like getting a royalty statement. Forget the fact that they’re about as easy to understand as hieroglyphics. Usually, the big numbers you’ve fantasized about turn out to be just that, a fantasy. Add the tiny royalty check you got, or didn’t get, to the mix and those full time writing dreams go up in smoke.

But royalty statements can also be very informative. For instance, my first book, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, released in ’05 and released in mass market in ’06, remains my biggest seller despite the fact that I haven’t been actively promoting it for two years. You’d think that my newer books would be selling better as they’re more likely to still be in stores. According to the royalty statement I just got on Monday, in the last six months my first book outsold my new book by double the copies. Why? It’s a mystery to me.

So, now it’s back to writing, promoting, and of course, fantasizing. December brings yet another royalty statement, and another taste of reality.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Mid-year goals check

I'm sorry I missed the June 9, 2008, post. I got a bit overwhelmed last week.

I attended the fourth annual Readers & Authors Get Together in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 6 and 7. It was another wonderful event, but it wore. Me. Out. Once I got home, I had to play catch up with my writing as well as some personal chores. By Sunday night, I was just too tired to address the post I'd planned to write.

So, let's talk about it now.

We're halfway through 2008. What writing goals did you set for yourself this year, and how are they coming along? Are you on schedule or do you need to make adjustments?

I'm at least a solid month behind schedule. By this time, I'd hoped to have completed the initial revisions for my first contracted manuscript and submitted the proposal for my second contracted manuscript. However, I'm still working on the draft of my first contracted manuscript. <>

Needless to say, I'm making some adjustments. :) I just hope they won't have too negative of an impact on the writing schedule for my second manuscript.

So, how are you doing meeting your writing goals?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Reading List

It’s that time of the year again. Everyone is releasing summer reading lists. I usually look forward to checking out the recommended books to get new ideas for my TBR pile. But I’m always disappointed in the lack of diversity most of these lists offer. So here is what I’m interested in reading this summer.

My Best Friend’s Girl By Dorothy Koomson
Koomson has written an enchanting tale of life's most unpredictable loves and heartaches, and the improbable bond between a single woman and an extraordinary five-year-old girl.

Sepulchre By Kate Moss
Following on her bestselling novel "Labyrinth," Mosse pens another haunting tale of double crosses, murder, and the occult set in both 19th- and 20th-century France. 

Don’t Ever Tell By Brandon Massey
From an award-winning author comes a bone-chilling new thriller about a ruthless murderer who will do anything to get back what belongs to him.

Orange Mint and Honey By Carleen Brice
This haunting, exquisitely written story about mothers and daughters and the power of healing and forgiveness marks the stunning debut of a new novelist.

Blood Colony By Tananarive Due
There's a new drug on the street: Glow. Said to heal almost any illness, its main ingredient is blood--the blood of immortals. A small but powerful underground railroad of immortals is distributing the blood, slowly wiping out the AIDS epidemic.

Fearless Fourteen By Janet Evanovich
A latest installment in the popular Stephanie Plum series places the irrepressible bounty hunter and her motley companions--including Grandma Mazur, vice captain Joe Morelli, and Bob the Dog--in a new adventure involving the Burg's premier funeral home and a family pot roast.

The Exorsistah By Claudia Mair Burney
The author of the Amanda Bell Brown mystery series makes her teen fiction debut with this smart, sassy, and fun new series about a young girl who must simultaneously battle the ups and downs of being a teenager, while fighting the forces of darkness.

The Spiritualist By Megan Chance
Acclaimed author Chance weaves together a tale of murder and intrigue, class and the occult, as one woman's search for a killer reveals that truth may be the greatest illusion of all.

Whiskey Road By Karen Siplin
This passionate and edgy love story asks the question: Where does a black woman born and raised in the big city go when she wants to escape, and what happens when she gets there?

Murder on the Down Low By Pamela Samuels-Young
Savvy L.A. attorney Vernetta Henderson takes center stage in another fast-paced legal thriller that erupts into a scandalous tale of vengeance.

So what's everybody else excited about reading reading this summer?


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The State of the Mystery Genre

Last month  Sisters in Crime (not to be confused with the Crime Sistahs) sent a publishing summit team to New York to speak to publishing professionals about the state of the mystery genre. You can click here to read the entire four part report. Here's a brief overview of what I thought were the most interesting things that publishers had to say:

1.  Thrillers are super hot right now as are cross genre books such as historical suspense.
2. Thrillers and suspense books get bigger print runs than straight mysteries.
3. Cozy mysteries are becoming a harder sell though crafting mysteries are still big.
4. In bookstores, mysteries are selling better in the fiction section than the mystery section.
5. Though thrillers are hot, mystery readers tend to be more loyal than thriller readers.
6. The most successful authors, and the ones getting the most publisher support, are the ones writing more than one book a year.
7. In order to broaden a mystery's audience, many publishers are avoiding the "mystery" label.
8. Hardcover book sales are down. Trade Paperbacks are doing well.
9. There is a demand for mysteries for younger readers.
10. Publishers like for authors to be active in book promotion.


Monday, June 02, 2008

The Power of Love

Initially, I was reluctant to talk about my latest release, The Power of Love, on the Crime Sistahs blog. The Power of Love, which is scheduled for release June 3, 2008 - tomorrow - is a benefits romance anthology and will be shelved under contemporary romance. However, the issue the anthology addresses is a crime.

The Power of Love (Berkley Publishing) is an anthology comprised of original short stories from Lori Foster, Erin McCarthy, Toni Blake, Dianne Castell, Karen Kelley, Rosemary Laurey, Janice Maynard, LuAnn McLane, Lucy Monroe, Kay Stockham, J.C. Wilder and me. The theme is female empowerment and the healing power of love. All of the authors and our agents have donated all of our proceeds to the Hamilton County (Ohio) YWCA Battered Women's Shelter.

You see, the crime this benefits anthology addresses is domestic abuse.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, in 2001, more than half a million women were victims of nonfatal violence committed by an intimate partner. In a national survey of more than 6,000 families, 50 percent of men who frequently assaulted their wives also often abused their children.

In addition to raising money for the shelter, this anthology is helping to raise awareness of domestic abuse. It's physical. It's emotional. It claims victims now and, if the cycle isn't broken, will continue to claim victims for generations.

If you're interested, there are links to excerpts from each of the short stories as well as reviews for the anthology on my Web site, And, if the excerpts and reviews persuade you, I've also posted order links on my site. In addition to supporting a worthy cause, I hope the anthology provides readers with hours of enjoyment.


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