Descriptions for heat levels in book list

------holding hands, perhaps a gentle kiss
♥♥ ---- more kisses but no tongue-- no foreplay
♥♥♥ ---kissing, tongue, caressing, foreplay & pillow talk
♥♥♥♥ --all of above, full sexual experience including climax
♥♥♥♥♥ -all of above including coarser language and sex more frequent

Sunday, September 29, 2013

snippet from Arizona Sunset

In Arizona Sunset, when Sam and Abby first actually meet, it's not love at first sight on either side. Here's a snippet from the book. For anyone thinking of reading this book, the eBook goes up to $4.99 in October; so save a dollar and get it now.

The setting is Arizona Territory 1883. Abigail Spencer has ridden with a coworker out of Tucson to retrieve a stolen shipment, she hopes, which is meant to be an adventure. She finds more than she expected. Her life is about to change in ways she never imagined possible and this is the beginning.




          She went to where Martin lay curled on his side, his eyes closed. There was blood on his hair. She felt for his pulse and determined it to be strong. She put her gun into the pocket of her jacket, threw it over her saddle, and took her canteen to where Martin lay. When she started to kneel at his side, she realized they were no longer alone in the clearing. How could she have forgotten that other man?
       She ran toward her horse and gun, but before she could reach them, a horseman had raced to her, swooping her up in a long, hard arm. Although she couldn't see the face of the one who'd captured her, there were six men on horses now ringing her--hard, rough looking men.
          She kicked out at the man, his horse, anything to force him to drop her. She heard a deep masculine laugh and it increased her efforts to free herself. She bent and bit the hand that held her, her teeth sinking deep into the soft flesh between thumb and finger. In another moment she landed on her knees, like a cat she leaped to her feet. Again she ran for her horse, but the man who had held her was quicker as he flung himself from his horse and put his hard muscled body in front of her. He was a solid wall, stopping her so abruptly that only his strong hand kept her from bouncing back so hard that she would have landed on her posterior.
          "Looking for something?" he asked, white teeth flashing in a swarthy, bearded face as he turned and delved into her coat for the gun.
          She reached for it, desperate beyond clear thinking. A tall man, he easily held it above her grasp and laughed again. "Don't think I'm that much of a fool, lady. I saw what you did to that one." He gestured with his thumb toward the body.
          She didn't know if it was the cool grin on the rugged face or his words that infuriated her more. She only knew she was too angry to be frightened. "Give me my gun," she demanded.
          He shook his head. The other men, who hadn't dismounted, laughed. One of them yelled, "I'd be glad to help iff'n you want." Another added, "She too much for you, boss?" "
          The tall man laughed. "Maybe so. We'll see." He eyed her a little warily, then glanced down at his hand which was bleeding from her bite. "Hope you ain't been foaming at the mouth, Ma'am." He chuckled at her thinly suppressed rage.
        She knew, not knowing at what moment she'd recognized the truth, that she'd seen him before, that he'd filled her dreams for nights since. He was the man in black, who was no longer a dream but now a living nightmare. She chastised herself for having romanticized an outlaw. Had a wish gotten through at the shrine despite her skepticism?



Thursday, September 26, 2013

mysteries in the eBook world


If you are a writer of eBooks, you are familiar with Amazon's policy of allowing someone to keep an eBook one day short of a week and return it for full credit with no reasons needed other than you were dissatisfied. So basically the reader can read it, decide it wasn't one they'd want on their device and return it. Writer will then not get the money which doesn't cost writer anything as writer didn't have it anyway; but Amazon is out some money for those transactions.

Most of the time I haven't had that happen except in the UK system where I am pretty sure there are those who regularly buy the books, read and return them as a way of economizing. From what I had heard, they cannot do it forever as Amazon will cut them off if they begin to see a pattern. Not sure though how many they can get away with before that happens-- or do they just open a new account? I hope they aren't also the ones who have taken some of my books, copied them and then put them on a site that gives them away for free.

Obviously, some returns are just accidents where someone clicked a button, didn't mean to and immediately retracts it. That one makes the most sense as reading a book, then deciding you didn't like it, is cheating and the equivalent of going into a clothing store, buying a nice dress, tucking in the labels and wearing it to an affair, returning it the next day to get your money back. It's stealing whether someone wants to call it that or not. I've read a lot of books I hated or at least the part before I quit reading. I delete them from my device or throw them in the garbage. I wouldn't even think I had the right to ask for a refund since I did read it (most of it) and had chosen it.

There is another kind of return, which might reflect a deeper level of disdain. It's where someone buys a book, and then just before a week later, they return it. I had one of those last week and it's the kind where I wish writers were given the information on the reason given for the return-- not who but why. It could turn up on a vicious review but often in my experience, it hasn't. It just disappears from the list of sales leaving a mystery.

Were they gaming the system? Or did they get some kind of misleading feeling from the blurb, sample chapters and cover that led them to purchase it and then be actually angry at what it really was about. I can see how the recent book might've been the latter. It wasn't a book I had been promoting; so its sale had been a surprise when I saw it. Remember one thing about the author lists (if you aren't one) that refund shows up. Maybe the returner wants it that way as the ultimate insult.

Hidden Pearl is a story about cults. It involves a mystery of sorts but it's not a real fast moving, filled with adventure story-- more of a building to recognize what happened and then what can be done about it. It involves our own inner search. I suppose where it could mislead is using a term that is in the Bible because Jesus was giving a parable about how we should look for things of great value and not be duped by those of lesser. Saving me writing the essence behind it here, below is one of my dialogues on it.



I could imagine a fundamentalist or even someone in a cult might be offended by that book except it seems they'd have recognized what it was about before they ever bought it, let alone had it for days. Maybe it was just a scam that cost Amazon some money and left me scratching my head.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

romance heroines are

So if bad boys have a lot of appeal in romances, who are the heroines? That can be pretty diverse; so all I can say is who mine are. They are always strong women. I just can't get interested in spending months working on a book with a heroine who constantly and stupidly gets herself into messes that a strong man has to fix. I know that has a lot of appeal from romance readers. It must as there are a lot of such books out there. Not gonna find it in mine.

image purchased from CanStock
What I like in a heroine, besides her strength, is her willingness to look at a situation with a clear head and deal with it. If she can't figure it out from the first, she will. She might have things to learn and as in one of my books, have a little paranoia based on past experiences, but she recognizes it and sets out to correct it. My heroines are all able to change their minds when the situation requires it.

I have never written a book with a bimbo or stupid heroine. I have had them be a mix of professions-- artists, lawyers, teachers, decorators, office managers, photojournalists, singers, gas pump jockeys, wantabe journalists, and only one homemaker. Pretty much they are young women from their 20s to their mid 30s who might be virgins or have been in previous relationships. They are never promiscuous.

The woman has to be someone I'd like because once I start a book with her, I am going to be with her a lot of time. She has to be someone I could find as a friend. To spend a book with a dingbat would have me wanting to kill her off by the last chapter!

My heroines are all pretty but mostly its their character that draws to them the kind of hero who is worthy of a book. Beauty is good but interesting people are better.

Interestingly it does help to visualize these characters and buying images has proven to be one way I do that. Mine generally have come from CanStock with a few exceptions. When I need to put them into an historical period, I get creative with my photo-paint tools. The main thing always is that they have faces that to me reflect strength-- modern or historical women.

I should add that my heroine for the fourth Oregon historical, she's a warrior herself. First one I've ever written like that although I've written plenty who can become warriors when required.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

bad boys-- oh yeah you know who I mean...


This is a biggie involving romance books in particular. If you make the 'bad boy' attractive, the desirable hero for the heroine to want (and hopefully remake), what are your books teaching? Is it leading women to make poor choices in their own life or does what someone reads even relate?

According to this video, there are reasons women in real life do choose bad boys. Maybe it helps to explain their popularity in romance novels also.


What I try to write is books where the heroes are rough boys but not bad boys. I do not write nor want to read the kind of book, that was so popular when romance novels first went sexual, with a hero who treats the heroine abominably (for assorted reasons including misjudging her) then changes when he finally falls in love with her. I still hold my nose when I come across the rare one of those. Sorry, but I don't buy the thesis in a book or reality.

But now, the rough guy who has a good center, who doesn't mistreat her but also won't let her pull him around by her apron strings, that is a great hero for real life as well as fictionally.

This isn't new. In his films, Humphrey Bogart was a good example of a bad boy who has a good heart. What he was in real life, who knows but he looked rough enough (think Casablanca) and yet he was vulnerable and open to love. Another actor  who can pull it off is Robert De Niro. The younger generation it's harder to say about as it takes a little seasoning to really look rough or tough. Acting mean, that's a lot easier and youth can handle that one but it doesn't make them the hero type.

Except today when so many films do have heroes that are mean and actually despicable. Where is that redeeming quality of nobleness that films used to have? Without it, what is the film or book teaching?

Writers write the story they have in them. I've said that a lot of times. But I believe there is a responsibility in what we turn out. There should be a message that enriches life-- not tears it apart. That may not always work out, but it's the goal or what is the purpose of writing?

I had experience with that rough man with the heart of gold with my father who was a mean looking man. Having a hero with a bit of a mean streak but who has had to work to suppress and overcome it, that makes for a good hero. He's the man who knows he wants a good woman and won't be hitting her around or browbeating her. I want a hero who can win the battles and not destroy everything as he does it.

The true bad boy, he's one to leave behind in literature or life. Okay, he can be the villain and maybe even redeem himself in the end, but he doesn't get the girl-- not in my books.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

creativity and food

Although I haven't written about it before, this was the summer I had to go gluten free. I had been having abdominal pain, figured it was just one of those things and tried all the natural things I knew before I resorted to the doctor who immediately said that with my symptoms, it sounded like food allergy. I had kind of been thinking that way and had cut out the gluten for about a week but what I have learned regarding gluten is taking it away for a week isn't enough because of what it's been doing.

So I went through some other tests to be sure there was nothing else wrong as I began to get an education regarding gluten and how to live without it. It's not easy and most of the time I find it's easier to just eliminate the bread type products than try to find something you can cook or buy that is a substitute.

Making it more difficult for me was needing to also avoid dairy. This is something I had known for sometime as it leads to eczema type breakouts for me. I've cheated and eaten the cheese or used real butter because it seemed worth a few breakouts. What wasn't worth it was if it was also impacting my abdomen.

What i learned about these abdominal problems is that pain isn't from gas. It's inflammation. You really cannot ignore it because it can lead to worse. So I've gotten an introduction to more and more gluten free flours, products, and found that if cooking regularly is a creative challenge, going gluten-free is even more so.

Anyway in the midst of this, I came across this by someone's posting it on Facebook. It's not only funny but lovely. If you've ever tried to go gluten-free, it's even funnier.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

why it might have gotten boring


I was scanning over someone's blog, someone I don't regularly read and at the moment, can't recall how to get back to her, she asked her readers to find a favorite quote on writing. It could be their own or someone else's. Now I have said a lot of great things on writing-- too bad I can't at the moment recall any-- but her saying that made me go looking for something someone else said that I particularly liked because I can so relate to it.


"In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it 'got boring,' the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.”  
Stephen King in On Writing

Sunday, September 15, 2013

our choices...

?
 guess who broke the electric line
are they supposed to be here
do they care

As a writer of a certain type of book, a writer who writes the stories I want to write, I am always interested in why others choose to write or read the books they do. The latest book to tweak my interest arose from an article in the Daily Beast.


The question I have often asked others-- why read a book about unpleasant people and events (unless it's non-fiction). Why be wrapped up in a writer's story aimed purely at disillusioning you about life with fiction as the tool to do it? Isn't the newspaper enough to do that?

One possible reason could be what is suggested in the article:
 “It’s a novel, and once you’ve finished a novel, what happened in it is of little importance and soon forgotten. What matters are the possibilities and ideas that the novel’s imaginary plot communicates to us and infuses us with.”    from The Infatuations by Javier Marias
The thing is-- what will those ideas leave us with when the story is about horrible happenings and worse people? Can't we get positive ideas from far more enjoyable reads? Is this some kind of torture bearing test? You know, even a lowly romance can leave the reader with thoughts and ideas that don't leave when the plot ties up the ends. So what is the benefit in reading all these books that tear the reader up?
 
I get it that some are prestigious books to read and that alone will draw readers. They then have something to talk about with a literary group of friends as they possibly debate how valuable are the writer's endless ponderings and whether he/she was too graphic or not graphic enough regarding life.

The review in Daily Beast suggests that the appeal of Marias' books are because they offer a possibly lurid adventure in a literary setting which means the literati can read them and not feel guilty at lowering their standards-- particularly since it was a Spanish writer.

The last time I read books because they were 'the' books to read I was in college and I wanted to read a lot of what was at that time considered the greatest writings. I read everything by some writers like Steinbeck or Hemingway and a lot of others on the list of 'supposed to have read'. The project ended when I was pregnant and about to have a baby. Baby books, like Dr. Spock took over and I rarely ever again felt a need to get back to reading something because I should.

I felt a bit tempted by this one. It's on Kindle and even though the sample had run together paragraphs and already seemed ponderous, still it's an example of what some consider the thing to read-- which might mean that I, as a writer, should find out what that means. I'm still trying to decide if that's enough reason to put myself through it. I have a feeling it won't be.

As a writer you do have to wonder what is doing well. You ask yourself if there are aspects to these NY Times bestsellers that you could adopt. It would be easy for me to write pages and pages of endlessly philosophizing.  I think that way myself. But... maybe readers only tolerate that when they think it came from a literary genius.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Inspiration for a book-- Joyce Maynard

There are some writers whose work I follow even if I don't read all of their books. One such has been Joyce Maynard where I got my start with her years back when she wrote a weekly newspaper column about her life (forerunner to blogs). She evidently revealed more than was comfortable to her family; and when her marriage broke up, she ended the column.

She again appeared in the news for her book regarding her relationship with J.D Salinger when she had been in college and they became lovers for a time. Some condemned her for the book feeling she invaded the famous recluse's privacy. Sorry but it was her life also, and I think she had every right to tell her story. Now that he has died, there are more such stories out there as people try to piece together who this man was-- more than who the women were.

Maynard is still writing best selling fiction, living a creative life, recently got married, has a blog, as well as does writing workshops. In the link below, she wrote about her most recent book, due out in August, and the inspiration behind it. I thought prospective writers here might find the story interesting.


Ideas for books come from so many things and if you are wanting to be a writer but have yet to find the inspiration, definitely newspaper stories are one possibility. It naturally takes more than one story to get a book but it can be a start along with research.

She also discusses the importance of sales even to a writer who has been out a long while. Sales gets her books onto the NY Times lists. Sales get an indie writer onto Amazon's lists of books. It's all about sales as sales lead to sales. With her book, Labor Day, having a film coming out this year starring Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet, you wouldn't think it'd be an issue for her but it obviously is.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Support and networking


In Saturday's blog at Rainy Day Thought, I wrote about the lack of support often seen in our country for all indie arts (painting, writing, sculpture, music). One of the commenters said something I thought was so true. "I do find that fellow artists ... are more supportive than folks who don't produce art. We know the creative experience, and the joy of selling our work."

In Amazon's Meet Our Authors forum, I have seen so much support for other authors that it's heartening. They take joy in someone's winning a contest or getting a good review from a top reviewer. They write about the works they have bought and enjoyed or what other authors are doing. What these writers understand and in which I've written here and totally believe-- we don't lose when we encourage others in what we are also doing. The pie isn't a certain size; and if they win, we lose. We all win by building positive energy.

In that vein, I thought I'd share a few of their blog URLs here for anyone who is interested in learning what's going on with other writers, what their latest project is, and who they are. These are just the ones I regularly peek in to see what they are doing. There are many more out there like them and if you have such places and would like to tell others, share them in the comments.


There are a few others I read when I come across them, not to mention some group blogs which you can find if you click on the authors' names above.

Marketing is my weakest point; and when I got into this in December 2011, I knew without a corporation behind a writer, marketing would be key. I understood that it would take going beyond Amazon to even get books seen.

To figure out how to market your work, you can buy a lot of books or go to many websites. Some of their ideas I have tried like Twitter (which I still don't really understand how it works to get your work seen), Pinterest, Facebook, and blogs just for the books.

In my opinion, after almost two years, it is the networks that help the most; and when it is made up of writers who support each other, that's the best of the best. Even if it didn't sell a book, it's the support that makes a writer not feel so alone.

For me, when I see the writers encouraging each other, it puts out a positive energy. So much of being a writer is solitary that it's good to go somewhere and see that kind of support which I've seen time and again at Meet Our Authors Forum and its 'Western Romance Authors Post Here' link.

August sunset in the Oregon Coast Range from our place

Sunday, September 8, 2013

when everything isn't perfect

For about a month I've had a bout of sinusitis. I even resorted to the doctor and antibiotics when I got a fever. That took care of fever but the allergy situation remains which means I have to take antihistamines and sometimes decongestants. There is very little that drags me out more than that. Oh one thing does-- a bout of sinusitis. Anyway it makes it hard to stay enthusiastic about books or really any kind of thinking. Thinking? what's that? Just something I used to do.

So I've been editing, working on revamping trailers, and generally trying to get my body to remember what it's supposed to be doing-- contrary to what it is doing.

Oh was this supposed to be upbeat as a post? Not like the news is going to do that either... So about all I can put together for the blog here is a piece out of one of my books-- Desert Inferno.

Hey, it's a romance-- gotta be some of that once in awhile in a snippet, right? I created an image for the back of the paperback and the trailer because Jake is not supposed to be the typical handsome type guy. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a a model image of someone who can both look ugly and handsome? It might appear in Google images but not in the sites that sell images royalty free. Let me tell you nearly impossible-- hence I created my own.



“Babe, it’s all biology.”
“I don’t think it is. I think with you and me there was something there that first day and we both could have walked away from it. You would have.”
“And why didn’t you?”
“Because I hadn’t felt it before, that magnetic pull to get close to a man, to learn who they were, to follow the trail where it went with them. I wasn’t sure I ever would again if I walked away from what was possible.”
“What is possible is a dead-end.”
“I won’t deny that could be, but don’t you want to know—for sure? Some things aren’t logical. Feelings don’t always fit facts. Sometimes though they are strong enough to surmount what might seem insurmountable.”
“You think that’s what this is?”
“Jake, ours is a story that hasn’t yet been written. It could be by us.” Her smile was confident and so sexy that he felt as though the wind had been knocked from his lungs. "How would you write our story? If I am the princess, who are you?”
“I wouldn’t write a story about us because there isn’t an us.”
“No imagination,” she teased. “Want to hear mine?”
He shook his head.
“The princess looked over the men in her father’s kingdom and everyone was found wanting for one reason or another. One was handsome, but so boring. Another was pretty but nothing behind his eyes. She had decided she would have no prince at all, no marriage if these were all her choices.”
“Poor little princess,” he teased.
“She was very strong-willed. Then one day she heard of a dragon. Several of the princes suggested they would slay him to win her favor. She felt that was very unfair and went out to meet him for herself.”
“She does sound like you.”
“Be still. Do you want to hear this story or not?”
“If I said no, would you stop?”
“Well, she met him and saw he was indeed fearsome, big, strong, but oh so beautiful in her eyes. She went back to her father and told him that she would have none but the wild dragon.”
“I’m sure her father was thrilled.”
“Well, what could he do—as we have established, she was very stubborn and so he agreed.”
“And then he turned into a handsome prince as soon as they married.”
She laughed, the sound went deep into his soul. It was both joyous and so precious that he wanted to find a way to hold onto the memory of it for when it was gone from him.
She leaned against him, her lips inches from his. "What a terrible ending that would have been when it was the dragon she wanted. A dragon who hadn't ever learned how to love, who was powerful but didn’t realize how powerful. Who was beautiful but thought he was ugly. He stayed a dragon, but her dragon." 
   





Thursday, September 5, 2013

CreateSpace

For writers who have not yet opted to create a paperback, I thought my experience with the process might be helpful-- as it benefited me to hear from others what they had learned. I am a huge believer in writers encouraging each other. The pie is not a small one; and if one piece is taken, somebody gets left out. It's a big world; and the more people read, the more they may choose to read-- hence encouraging each other is not diminishing our chances in the writing world-- it is increasing them.

CreateSpace is where we opted to create Arizona Sunset as it's an easy adjunct to Amazon who will then list the book (in our case) along with its Kindle twin. CreateSpace makes it easy to submit a book; and if the writer is not handy with tech issues, they will do the work for a range of prices from $247 for a basic book on up for more complex books. They also offer free templates to create covers if someone isn't into that (That's my department and I am into doing those).

When they get your book, they even look for mistakes. How much better can that get? On the technical end, it's not that difficult to maneuver through their instructions-- or so the more techie savvy Farm Boss assures me... Even though it took him hours and three proofs to get it all figured out (they promptly mail you finished (so you think) proofs for which you pay a reasonable price for the book and shipping).

The beauty of this approach to self-publishing is you aren't stuck, as some of my self-publishing friends have been, with a garage or attic full of books that you cannot sell. CreateSpace doesn't require any outlay or purchase of your own work. Books are only created as they are sold. You set a price for the book that you agree they will be in stores or through Amazon to avoid unfair competition. Your price has to cover CreateSpace charges, Amazon's percentage or the store's if you opt to sell books on consignment-- as well as leaving the writer something.

You have the choice of letting them purchase (and own) your ISBN or doing it yourself and they will use it. For someone like me with a lot of books, the logical approach was buying my own and getting the package of ten because we do plan to bring many of the other books out as paperbacks now that we have figured out the process.

As you look through the options, one will be the size of the book. The length of your book is one factor in that cost. Since my historical is a fairly long book at 128,587 words, we opted for the 5.5"x8.5" which is standard in bookstores but not the smaller and thicker size of many romance covers. Some of these choices will impact the cost of printing your book.  We were aiming for something that looked reasonable for books in bookstores.

For those wishing to do a photo book or maybe art, with a lot of interior images and maybe wanting them to be in color, the cost would go up and accordingly make your book have to cost more to the buyers.  But even then, your original cost would only be proofs and any copies you wished to purchase for gifts or to sell on consignment. Some writers take to shows or stores where they can do book signings and potentially get more sales. I haven't decided yet on consignment sales but definitely do not plan signings or going to shows. I think that works better for a different sort of book than mine.

The beauty if it is, and I know I am repeating it, these books are published on demand; so there is no cost to the creator other than their proofs-- unless they need help putting together that proof.

To me, seeing the proof is essential. Yes, you can see it online without a purchase but it shows up better when it's in paper and you can more easily evaluate how it worked out. If it doesn't look professional, only family or close friends will be buying it and even they won't be happy.

My plan now is that in late November Tucson Moon will come out in Kindle and paperback. It stands alone as a romance but, set three years later, carries forth some of the characters from Arizona Sunset (and yes, whenever I finish the fourth Oregon historical, it's possible there will yet be a further historical about the O'Brian family as there were a couple of possible characters I could see carrying forward.

With nine more ISBN numbers, we plan to bring out some of my contemporaries in paperback. The first of those will be Desert Inferno because its heroine is an O'Brian and the ranch on which she lives gets its start in Tucson Moon. O'Brians are also in the contemporaries Evening Star and Bannister's Way. They were an interesting family with an Oregon branch (all from my imagination, of course).

Finally, I want to add on a personal note that I have so appreciated the help and encouragement from friends in all that has happened since I began bringing out my eBooks but nobody has contributed as much as my publisher, editor and partner in the whole operation. It takes that kind of support, I think, in any creative endeavor; and I sure appreciate his particularly in dealing with the techie end of all this. :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

pitfalls in editing

I suppose if this was just a blog to sell my books, I'd never admit the following. Writers must pretend it is all wonderful, and the books all perfect, right? Not so much.


Of all the things I  have learned in writing my books-- editing is the hard part. And I don't mean it takes more talent to do it or anything like that. Just it's where so much can go wrong. No matter how many times you, the writer, reread what you wrote, things get by you.


The solution some claim is to find a good editor, pay them what they are worth and hence avoid this. It isn't that easy. First of all, a really good professional editor (which doesn't mean you don't have a great friend who can do a great job) will want over a thousand dollars to edit your book.

Seem like too much? It's just what it is as they have to read the work with an eye to detail, and they have to know as much about the craft of writing as you do-- or even more. There are many editors out there who will do it for less, and they are quite capable of totally screwing up your whole work because they don't understand why your dialogue is as it is. They don't know the market any better than you do. They will use Word (which you should have already used) and it not only isn't always right but can put in the wrong words; and correct grammar sometimes can make a sentence unwieldy and unnatural to read. Perfect grammar isn't always what sounds right.

A writer wrote a book recently which I got for free for my Kindle but it is currently $.99. I won't say it had a lot of new info in it but it's about the pitfalls in self-publishing-- [The self-publishing industry in denial].  Kind of negative but let's face it, there are millions of books out there and how do you get yours seen? What goes wrong when you put it out?

If you pay that pro $1500 to edit your book, for which they will catch all the logical goofs and the mistakes in unwieldy sentences. The pro might also tell you about redundancies (which you could have already gotten if you had done a search for key words). They could tell you when something sounded cliched. If they're really good, they could tell you the plot made no sense at a point where you then have to justify why it did or change it. If you did too much retelling of the same thing, they'd catch it. That's a little of what you get from a top-notch editor.

The bad editor, well you paid them a few hundred dollars or less; they use Word (like you should have done) and maybe catch the use of coffee in one sentence and tea in the next-- or maybe not. But still you have money in it and how much money can you get out of that book once you are selling it? Where does any of that get your book seen by enough readers to get its ratings higher? How does that get great reviews because reviews are as much emotion as perfect grammar?

One way many authors get great reviews is they ask friends, they review friends' books and the symbiotic relationship benefits both for reviews-- which might be truthful depending on the friend. Mostly though people don't like to find fault with their friend's work, and they sure don't want a negative review of theirs; so they overlook the glitches with what they write. The reader comes along, buys the book based on that glowing report, starts to read and recognizes it's not legitimate praise-- hence their own review is sarcastic, negative, and the writer is back where they started with a mix of reviews and the next potential reader unsure what the heck this book is like.

What brought this on for me is my own recent re-edit for the first book I turned into an eBook. I had originally written it maybe more than 20 years back, edited, edited again and thought it was out in fine form. I thought I had corrected any inconsistencies. Here I was, doing it again for its paperback version and........... grrrrrrr

Yes, when I got into it again, I found so many errors of the stupid kind that at first I felt like throwing in the towel on ever writing for publication. The book is still solid. The story is still one in which I believe. I love the characters and the situation into which they are thrown-- but those stupid errors. How could they still be there? If I go into this book again in six months, will I find others? Or do I finally have it in its right form? I honestly cannot say because I do keep improving as a writer but as an editor-- I can only hope.

When I bring out a book, I use grammar and spell check to catch things Word sees as wrong or awkward. When it underlines it and I disagree, I think about it long and hard.  I read the book for logic, to keep the times consistent, characters not doing something right after I said they were doing something else. Word doesn't catch errors of the stupid sort-- only an aware reader can do that.

The most recent read through and editing has made me mad at myself, but it doesn't make me believe a professional editor would have done better for me-- unless I had paid them that $1500 as I actually did some years back on another of my books. I learned a LOT from that professional and felt it was the equivalent of taking a class as I'd get my manuscript back with red-lines and notes. It was worth it for the learning, but if I did this for all my books today, I'd be in hock and never have the profits capable of paying it back.

The truth is if a new author makes say $7000 in a year, they are doing really good. Those like the lady who wrote the million dollar books are rare indeed out in the indie or corporate world. $7000 or so is not a living wage, but it keeps that book out there to be seen, keeps sales coming, and to me it's very successful. It keeps the potential readers coming to them. It's A+ in my book. That isn't what most indie writers probably make. Some make nothing. Others, like me, might make $700 counting all of their sales. Where do you pay for editing any book let alone all of them?

The truth is even the books going out from big publishing houses often have errors because editing is a big expense in an iffy market. They expect the writer to hand them a finished work. The writer thinks they did. I thought I did with this book. Its plot, characters, dialogue, are all good (in my opinion) but the glitches... Argh (a word not in spell check but should be). After doing it so many times I cannot believe I missed these mistakes but clearly I did; and this time I hope I am not missing others. I am reading it for both the beauty of the sentences but also the flow of logic.

What it at first made me feel is-- write don't publish. Writing is rewarding. Realizing I made these kinds of amateurish mistakes, that I thought I was past, that's not so rewarding. But I can't afford to think negatively about this. I do believe in my stories. I have never put out one I didn't like myself and that wasn't a book I'd be happy to buy from someone else.

And for this book. I believe in it still. I fixed the mistakes.  I can make it the best book I can write today. I can make sure there are no inconsistencies or places where it's coffee one moment and tea the next. What I can't do is be sure that in six months, if I look at it critically again, I won't find places I can improve it.

If my creative work is what matters the most to me. If I want to put out the best product I am capable of doing, then I just have to keep at this and not become depressed at the fact that in six months I'll be a better writer.

However, I can see why some writers never publish... I want to publish and so am at least glad that if someone bought one of my books and I have improved it (I have had this happen with the books of others that I have bought), they can download the new version for free. It's the best I can do.

Incidentally if you bought Desert Inferno, go back to your Kindle in say three days (give Amazon a bit of time-- make it four) and ask for the newest edition. It'll be out there and fixed! The story stays the same but those glitches-- they're gone... er uh, in case you find one that isn't-- email me............................


This book will also be out in paperback probably in a month given the time to look over proofs. The heroine of Desert Inferno is a direct descendent of the marshal in Arizona Sunset. He has his own story coming in Tucson Moon-- out in late November.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Arizona Sunset

It seems no matter how often we have put out kindle books, glitches can still happen and that seems to be the case with the current entry into the ePub world. Maybe because of doing a paperback and a Kindle, the Kindle version got screwed-- a bit :(.

Normally when someone goes to the buy page for any of my books, it should offer a free sample to read. It didn't. Weirdly it has always automatically done it but it did not. That's always bad news.

It also indicated it had accepted the map that is in the paperback but it did not-- which may be how it screwed up the free sample. As much as we do this, it seems it's never a slam dunk.

Here's the map that should have been there which was only intended to give readers an idea of the region of that time.


Southern Arizona 1880s

If anyone here has  purchased the eBook and finds it isn't reading right, one good thing about Amazon, they allow you to re-load the corrected version-- which should be up later today.

Meanwhile, this is the sample that should have been offered and will be later today-- we hope:

Tucson, Arizona Territory-- June 1883
    She leaned against the wood frame door, arms crossed over her chest, watching dust devils whirling up the street. The faint breeze that had kicked up the spinning spirals did nothing to cool her skin. The sun blazed down with an intensity that seemed to suck the life from all living things. She shifted her gaze to the distant mountains, a hazy purple, their outlines jagged against the intense blue of the sky. Somewhere up there, they said it was cool. She’d have to take their word for it as her world allowed for no such escapes.
    In the office behind her, the uneven clicking of Martin Matthew’s typewriter told her he was struggling with the report for her father. Loud voices carried up the street from one of the string of saloons that began at the corner of Congress and Meyer Streets. Apparently, she decided, with a cross between amusement and disapproval, there were a few activities that weren't affected by heat.
    A woman’s voice rang out with joy—most likely coming from one of the bawdy establishments north of Congress, the Tenderloin, which no gentle woman was supposed to know existed. As to why it was called by such an odd name she could only speculate because she could never ask anyone apt to know.
    Farther away she heard the steady beat of a blacksmith's hammer, a horse's nicker. A heavily loaded wagon lumbered past, accompanied by the clip clop of hooves, muffled curses of the driver, and squeak of the springs. The heat put man and beast in a foul mood… well, except for those in the Tenderloin.
    "Abigail, I could use help on this," came Martin's whine. She moved farther onto the boardwalk. Holding her dress away from her skin, she wished for the hundredth time since April that she could wear the loose cotton blouses and skirts of the Mexican women. At this time of day, they would be down along the Santa Cruz, their colorful laundry stretched across bushes to dry while they chattered and enjoyed the shade of big, overhanging cottonwoods.
    Changing one’s station in life, however, was not an option. She sighed. A woman was born where she was; and from that time on, important decisions were taken from her control. She either washed clothing along a river bank or she wore clothing ill suited to the climate. Little of it mattered what the woman wanted.
    Martin’s complaints penetrated her musings. Why on god’s green earth, not that there was much of that in this land, was it a threat to his manhood for her to dare to go outside for a few moments?
    She heard his chair squeak as he rose from it. She waited. “What are you doing out here?” he protested as he squinted at her against the glare of the sun.
    "Nothing, Martin. Absolutely nothing."
    "You should come inside."
    “It’s not cooler inside.”
   “Abigail, ladies do not stand on boardwalks.”
   “How do you know that?”
   When he had no answer for her, his irritation grew and turned his face pinker. It wasn’t as though she should blame him for what he was. He was doing what was written out for him also. She wondered if he thought he was going to be able to grow a full beard and mustache. The scanty effort on his face seemed rather sad. Was he fond of those starched shirts, tidy ties. Perhaps he was as trapped as she. Did he even think of such things?
    Despite what she knew had to be a mutual lack of attraction between them, she had begun to believe he was the man her father hoped she would marry whenever he, instead of hinting, got around to doing something about it. Of course, she would be expected to approve the convenient arrangement.
    She knew she was not a pretty woman. Beyond marriageable age, she had no prospects to change that. The fact that she wanted no prospects was beside the point. She had spent her twenty-five years obeying her father’s dictates; and with such a opportune marriage, she could continue to take care of him, merely adding a husband and any children that might be immaculately conceived.
   She was determined that there would be no marriage-- not to Martin Matthews, nor any demanding, unappreciative male creature. She didn't know how she would escape the trap that had sprung closed on her long deceased mother and, so far as she could tell, the spirits of all women; but she would find a way.
    Martin’s eyes reflected nervousness as he glanced down the street and back at her. "I must insist you come into the office.”
   "No."
   "No?"
   She smiled, raising her eyebrows. "No."
   He glared. "I cannot accept that, Abigail."
   "I don’t see what you can do… other than tell on me."
    He opened his mouth like a fish; then shut it. She expected more arguments, but he swung on his heels and headed into the office, the footsteps not stopping at the front desk, but heading for her father's inner sanctum. She almost laughed. He was going to do it. He was going to tell on her.
    She turned her gaze to the street where she noticed for the first time men coming out of the Pedrales Bar. They were roughly garbed, laughing, their boisterous voices and crude words carrying on the heavy air.
    If she hadn't known that to go into the office now would make Martin believe he had won, she might have ducked inside when she saw several of the men mount their horses and wheel them up the street, a route that would take them past her.
    A tall man, garbed in black, strode from the cantina, cast a last laughing comment behind him, and gave a quick running leap to vault into his saddle. The whole movement had been like that of a big cat. She found her attention held by the grace of the man's seat on a large black horse that showed its spirit by rearing up, then settling down under a sure hand on the reins.
    In seconds the man had wheeled his horse and was heading up the street at a fast canter. Abigail pressed herself against the wall. She could not explain the mix of emotions-- repulsion and fascination-- in equal parts. She didn’t turn her gaze away even when she saw his head turn toward her. He wouldn't see her, wouldn't notice a mousy woman like her even if he had, but she felt a sudden fear.
    A heavy gun belt hung on his hip, slung low. That gun identified him as clearly as her own plain, gray cotton dress and tightly bound hair would identify her. He was a gunman; she was a spinster.
    Startled, she saw him wheel his horse to a sudden halt in the street in front of her.  Good Lord. His black shirt was open almost to his waist and she saw through the opening a bare chest. Good god. She should look away but she couldn’t tear her eyes from him. He took his hat from his head, ran a muscular forearm across his forehead as he turned and looked straight at her. No gentleman would have done such a thing; he would’ve pretended not to see her. Not that she had any reason to suspect such a man to be a gentleman.
    Their gazes met and then to her shock, he looked her up and down, giving her a clear view of an angular face. Beneath his bold stroke of a mustache and heavy beard, she could not tell if he was smiling. She sensed for one wild moment that he was considering coming toward her, saying something, but he settled his hat onto his head and kicked his horse into a gallop, leaving a cloud of dust and hundreds of tiny dust devils in his wake.
    In moments he was at the head of the other men. Like the pack of wolves they resembled, they raced, yelping for the outskirts of town, woe unto the human or beast in their way. She watched until the desert haze swallowed every sign that they had passed. Only then did she go into the office.
    "It's about time," Martin snapped, his expression disapproving. "Don't you consider the consequences of your actions? Didn't it occur to you men like those could kidnap a woman, carry her off into the desert, and she'd never be seen or heard from again?"
    Abigail laughed with genuine amusement.  "I think they could do better than me if that was their intent.”
    He ignored her logic. “Who would have to save you if you were kidnapped?”
    She realized then that he must have seen the men coming from the bar before she, and it explained his own quick retreat inside.
    She sighed. “Martin, are you reading dime novels again?"
    "Tucson is a dangerous place. There was another killing last night, and I don't read dime novels.”
    She smiled and walked to his desk, pulled out a side drawer, and revealed his hidden stash. "Let's see what do we have here? Bat Masterson in Dodge, Sam Bass Races Destiny."
Martin, his face flushed, slammed the drawer before she could read more.     "You are no lady," he snapped.
    "Oh, I definitely am a lady, Martin," she retorted still smoldering over the limitations that placed on her life. When she saw his hurt expression, she regretted having ridiculed him. The poor little man was caught in his own limited world as much as she was. His books were probably his escape. "I'm sorry, Martin. I shouldn't have made fun of your choice of reading material."
    "You're sorry?"
    "It was unfair of me."
    "I shouldn't have demanded you come inside either. I was officious." His tone told her he had decided to be magnanimous. She wasn’t at all sure that she didn’t prefer him overbearing. For a moment Abigail considered finding something else for which to apologize. It was too hot for such games. Better to leave it that he'd bested her as she turned to her ledgers.
    As she struggled with the numbers she was supposed to be organizing and tallying, she found her thoughts going to the gunman who'd stopped and for a single moment had become part of her boring life. She remembered her feeling of fear, something she didn’t experience often. Despite her denial to Martin, she had felt something dangerous swirled around that man. She just was not sure what.
   Foolishly she wondered what he had seen when he watched her for those few seconds. Had he seen her as it had seemed? Had he really considered coming toward her as she had momentarily sensed?
   Ridiculous thinking. She knew what she was-- a plain woman, one who would be old before her time, would never have lived. She knew her own lack of beauty all too well. Her face was a pleasing enough oval if it had been softer of line, but instead she had prominent cheekbones, a stubborn chin, none of the roundness that was so favored in the great beauties of the time.
   Her eyes were brown, not a clear blue or unusual violet, and worst of all was her nose. She sighed. Her nose was not that delicate button that graced her friend Priscilla’s face. Nor did she possess her friend’s delicate, finely tinted porcelain skin. At least for her own darker skin, she could only blame herself. Despite wearing a hat when out horseback riding, it seemed nothing protected her enough to avoid darkened skin.
    If she had one characteristic that might be considered beautiful, something a reckless gunfighter might even notice, it would be long, brown hair. She was proud of its thickness, the auburn highlights in the brown, but its very virtues were also its untidy sins. The thick unruliness forced her to wear it pulled into a bun where only intense efforts kept it in a semblance of order.
    Abigail had never cared that she had no physical beauty. After all, what difference did it make to be comely when a woman didn’t desire a husband? She had never cared until that gunman had looked at her and she'd wanted, for that one moment, to know that a man had seen her as beautiful.
    She drummed her fingers on the desk. What was wrong with her? She had always taken pride in her strength. Although tall for a woman, another mark on the debit side of the ledger, she could work longer and harder than the Priscillas of the world. The hours with her mare had given her a strong body, long lean legs, well-muscled arms. She had a good mind, capable of doing the accounting for her father's Wells Fargo office, leave at five to go home, manage his household, and still help in the evening with a church bazaar. She had all the skills desired in a woman of her station. What did any of them mean?
    Interrupting her personal inventory, she realized Martin was talking to her. "What is disturbing you so much?" he asked, obviously not for the first time. He left his desk to hover over hers.
    "It's hot."
    "Always wickedly hot in June."    Martin sat in the chair in front of her desk. "Why don't you go home early?"
    She looked up at him-- surprise, mingled with suspicion. "I have work to finish."
    "Which will wait for tomorrow morning, Abigail."
    She managed a faint smile. "You're right."
    Now it was his turn to show surprise. He recovered and gave her a grin. "Would you consider going with me to Carrillo's Gardens tonight? I think the coolness of the lake might be refreshing. Perhaps the amusements would take your mind from the heat."
    What was this about? Martin had never asked her to go anywhere. Although she had guessed her father's intentions regarding him, she'd never been certain as to Martin's own. One invitation didn't give her that answer, but it did mean she had best tread carefully.
    "Thank you for the thought," she said with a smile, "but I feel you are right. The heat is bothering me. I don’t feel up to going anywhere tonight."
    "Did your father mention I will be there tonight for the repast?"
    She remembered. Not difficult to do since Martin dined with them most evenings. She gathered the files she’d been working on and placed them in a stack to deal with in the morning. "I'll see what Serafina has planned."
    "Something special, I hope?"
    "I wouldn't count on that. You know Serafina."
    "Perhaps you might suggest--"
   Abigail shook her head. She would never consider finding fault with whatever Serafina prepared even if it was frijoles every night. She herself could boil water for tea and had little interest in doing more. If she offended Serafina, she didn't know where she'd find such a congenial cook. Besides they were finally overcoming the language barrier.  Between her smattering of Spanish and Serafina’s slowly growing English vocabulary, they might someday manage a real conversation.
    Martin shrugged as he gave a grimace. "She does fix tasty enchiladas."