New Release

“The Promise of Return – Book 2 of the Dream or Reality Trilogy” has arrived!

After waking from a coma, will Jessie be able to convince Walt, her fiancé, that she’s in love with another man? Will Walt convince her that it’s only a dream?

Now available on Amazon.com.

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To Edit or Not to Edit

I belong to an email group for indie writers. Recently the group had a discussion about professional editing and whether or not it is important to hire an editor to review your story. With the changes taking place in how we write (no more cursive, text abbreviations), will it matter if our stories aren’t perfect?

Books have been professionally content and copy edited for many years. The goal is to have a polished book that is clean of errors. But how many times have you read a book and found one or two errors? If you do find one, you’re caught off guard for a second, and then you get right back into the story. And for those readers who finish reading a book in a day, do they really “read” the book or skim through it? Would they even find the errors?

Many of the members in the indie group thought that errors are acceptable based on today’s standards. In a new generation of abbreviations and less focus on proper English, the grammatical errors aren’t as noticeable. Of course, other members responded, as I expected, that if you want to be a serious published author then you must professional edit your work. What surprised me is that the majority, even a bestselling author, leaned toward the side that standards are changing.

So what is right? I think it’ll be interesting how books will be edited in the future. Look at how writing has changed from the old form of English to our current version. Wherefore art thou Romeo? Say what? If proper English is turning less than proper, what will become the acceptable norm? The English language continually changes, including how we write it.

When I finished writing “Gitana – Life Plan,” I had a few friends read through the manuscript for errors before I even sent it to a professional editor. I loved getting feedback and their suggested changes, because I wanted a polished book. For my blog, I don’t have anyone proofread my work. I probably should, having found a misspelled word in last week’s blog, but I’m not a stickler because I consider my blog normal, personal writing. I will do my best to catch errors. I know my grammar isn’t perfect. I will misspell words and not catch them. I hope my readers are forgiving.

So is it safe to say that there are different levels of published writing? Will we become more relaxed in how we publish books? Less formality? I’m curious to how the next few years play out.

Writer’s Digest Contest

Writer’s Digest Contest

Last year I decided to sign up for the Writer’s Digest’s Self-Published e-Book Awards. I entered the contest and then mailed them three copies of my book “Gitana – Life Plan.” They said they would notify the winners at the end of the year. When the first of the year came around…heavy, sad sigh…I knew I wasn’t one of the winners.

Today, when I got home from work, I did a quick review of my emails. I had three emails from Writer’s Digest. The first email I opened was a greeting and a document of general marketing tips for entrants. I thought that was nice. The next email was a thank you for participating, a note saying that narrowing down the winners was difficult due to impressive talent, and that my score and judges commentary would be arriving shortly. I quickly went to the third email to see how I did.

The scores were 1 (needs improvement) to 5 (outstanding) for the following categories: structure and organization, grammar, production quality and cover design, plot, and character development. I received the highest score, 5, for all categories. Yay! My heart sang. Here is their commentary (in their writing):

“The cover is gorgeous. Love the mix of blues and grays to convey her blue mood. Also, the pier being a bit rubbly, with weeds growing, conveys her state of mind, that she has been walked on, that unwanted things grow (memories), and the model’s thin and slumped posture shows the weight of the world. Well done, conveying so much as well as a sense of place. Very engaging, and a strong impression to bring the reader to the book.
Great opening! The reader can see the smarmy doctor’s tan, the glitzy car, feel his tense presence and her tension in his presence. The reader tightens up at their meeting, which is very good when you make the reader react emotionally and physically in just a few sentences, that’s excellent craft.
Excellent imagery tied between Gitana and her scenery, such as when she looks up to the sun and the author ties it to the sailboats looking up to the sun and sky as well. Author does an excellent job with place, and giving Gitana a presence in it. It’s very 3D, very well-done.
The author excels at using sensory details, how things smell, taste, feel, textures, even the bend of a shoe. Great talent with this essential element of a novel that is an experience, not just a read. We are there with the characters. Beautiful inclusion of nature and animals. This is a real world she’s created.
BRUTAL that the ex gives her a bottle of Diazepam, especially with her history. Reader gets a visceral reaction, feels Gitana’s anger and hurt. This was a brilliant idea on the author’s part.
All of the characters are likeable and engaging, written well with differentiated voices and movements; the author has done great work in creating each of them as the surrounding characters. Excellent work with the supporting cast. Especially with Rex, who is a hoot, and it’s especially good that he’s distant and hesitant with her at first, then grows into a relationship with her. This shows maturity in the author’s writing, not just laying supporting characters in a scene like a paper doll. These supporting characters have depth and motivations, worlds of their own. Well done.
While there are just a few slow spots that are not at all a detraction from the book’s quality, the pace is good, the author moves the plot along well and naturally without any gimmicking, and the romantic parts are done naturally, lacking in clichés. Enjoyable to read and organic to the story.
It’s especially enjoyable to start with Gitana’s sadness over her infertility, her inability to create a child, then evolve into being a creator of art. Nice that this journey allows her to give birth to art.
The author does a good job of evolving Gitana from that mind-lock of imagining her ex with the other woman, the obsessive thoughts, to finding more freedom from that. We sense her strength growing, her learning from her life’s mistakes even with some backslides, and the surprises throughout truly take the reader for a ride. Nothing predictable here. A great read, with great characters, in a great world.
Well done.” —Judge, Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards

I didn’t win the big prizes or get honorable mention, but I was extremely happy with what I did receive. In a world with a million plus authors and zillions of books on the market, it’s nice to know that my scores were the highest given and they liked the book. They made my day! 

Lessons Learned: Two Goals for “Gitana – Life Plan”

One of my goals for this year was to publish my first book. In March, I published Gitana Life-Plan in electronic format. The eBook is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iBook, and other outlets. A second goal for this year was to publish in print format. Drum roll…I’m happy to say that Gitana Life-Plan is now available through Amazon in print format!

When seeing Gitana Life-Plan for the first time on Amazon in March, I was thrilled to no end. I immediately went to my Kindle and bought my eBook. I clicked through the pages with a big smile. I did it! I was a published author.

Front Cover

Front Cover

However, being old school, I knew there was nothing like holding a real book in my hands. I decided to wait at least six months before publishing in print. I began the process in October, using CreateSpace (Amazon) for my POD (print on demand). Again, I was thrilled to no end when I opened the box that held my proof for review. I loved feeling the book in my hands. I loved how the cover, spine, and back turned out. I read each cream-colored page (and so did my husband!) to make sure all was correct before clicking on the “Publish” button. I’m still smiling to know that I’ve accomplished my two goals. I can’t wait until my next one comes out 🙂

Back Cover

Back Cover

Fall Writing Retreat

Last weekend was our RWA, WisRWA Chapter, writing retreat for the Chippewa Falls group. Once a year our small group dedicates three days to focus on writing. This includes learning what we’ve been up to, helping each other out, sharpening our skills, and hiding around the hotel to work on our own projects.

This year we shared our successes and presented one author with a framed copy of her first published article in “Tea Time” magazine.

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We also brainstormed ideas throughout the day. If someone had an issue with a character or storyline, we were all there to help. We love getting those “aha” moments, and we had a few of them this year.

To sharpen our skills, we reviewed Michael Hauge’s Story Mastery presentation that he gave at our WisRWA conference last June. We decided to watch “Hitch” and “Shrek,” movies that he used in some of his examples. We were able to identify his six stages of plot structure and the turning points in both movies. This was a great exercise to study plot structure. I’d highly recommend it.

And last, our biggest goal of the weekend was to write. The retreat gave us a chance to write without interruptions, renew our energy, and bond with friends who love to write.
I’m fortunate to belong to my writing group, and I look forward to next year’s retreat. I’m sad that the weekend has ended, but I’m also supercharged to finish my next book.

RT Convention – Kansas City, MO

Today was the first full day at RT – the Romantic Times Convention. I had fun talking to authors that I met last year and to meeting new people – authors and readers – as we sat at tables, waited in line, or walked to our hotel. I came with Tina Susedik, my roomie from last year. We drove to Kansas City versus flying. This way, we’d have room to bring home all the goodies from the events and promo or swag tables.

Last year, Tina and I vowed that we would attend RT in 2013 as authors. What a year. Both of us accomplished our goal. With my eBook Gitana – Life Plan published at the end of March and with her eBook Riding for Love released today, we did it! We signed up for a promo spot, a section of a table to promote our eBooks. We tag teamed, having similar postcards. Mine said “Take Me” and hers said “Ride Me” with the backs having our book information. Many people commented on our cards, loving the concept.

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During the day I attended the Welcome Party and went to four sessions on marketing. Tonight’s parties were Rose Gulch’s Saloon and Ellora’s Cave Bad Girls of Romance Disco Inferno. The male models of Ellora’s Cave danced on stage to classic 70’s music. Oh yeah……..not a bad sight!

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s events 

Even Small, It’s Still Exciting.

Last spring, I attended the RT Booklovers Convention to learn more about ePublishing. I had a conversation with Jim A. from Smashwords when I visited their booth. He asked if I would be interested in talking to someone who was writing an article on ePublishing. Of course, I agreed. After exchanging email addresses and correspondence, I received an email from Andrew Rice who writes for Time Magazine. He asked if he could interview me, but he couldn’t guarantee that he’d use the information for his article. I was fine either way. We set up a time for the one-hour interview.

During the interview, we talked about why I was at the convention, what I wrote, what my story was about, and how I felt about the ePublishing process versus going the traditional agent/publisher route. We talked a lot during the interview, and when our time was up, he had to state once again that he wasn’t sure if my information would be used or not. For me, I was just excited about the experience!

Mr. Rice thought that the article may come out sometime in June. June came and went. I didn’t think too much about the interview after that. I figured the timing wasn’t right for the story, or that the story may have been completely dropped.

Two days ago, I received an email from Mr. Rice stating that the ePublishing article he wrote should be in stores soon. The issue would have Egypt’s leader on the cover (the December 10th Issue). In the email, he included a PDF version of the article.

My little fingers clicked open that PDF in no time. I scanned the document for my name, and there it was near the beginning. My name in Time Magazine! I was okay with the one sentence blurb – a sliver of the article. From our conversation to what he wrote, I understood the reason why he said what he did.

Thank you, Andrew, for including me in the article. You made my day!