Monday, January 27, 2014

#Contests everywhere!

I've had some rather bad experiences with contests.  Not because I didn't win, but because the judges were so far apart in their views of my submissions that I wondered what was their training, and what really qualified them for their role.  And what was the verdict of the subbed piece.  It was really hard to walk away from the contests with something valuable to prepare me for the next contest, or even to clean up the errors and learn from them.

So, for many many years, I have stayed far far away :-) from contests.

But, there are so many, and my stance is softening toward them a bit, just a bit.

Some of the contests sponsored by RWA chapters include:
-Fire & Ice - Sounds interesting
-Great Beginnings - I may have a few of those
-Touched by Love - I love inspirational romance

What do you think of contests?  Do you have any that you plan to enter this year?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Books and Bears!! And a SALE to Sourcebooks!

Another book sale
This makes #16 in the popular werewolf series and we’re back to Silver Town and the Silver wolf pack in the Christmas adventure!

Today’s Book of the Day is a Historical Romance novel by USA Today bestselling author, Terry Spear, and it’s 80% off for a limited time. Taming the Wild Highlander has a 4.4 star rating and is on sale for only 99 cents – save $4!
“Ms. Spears really knows how to craft a story and this one is a winner in my book.” D.C. – Amazon Reviewer

Taming the Wild Highlander
by Terry Spear
Rating: 4.4 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Price: $0.99 save $4
Taming the Wild Highlander – Sony Reader
USA Today Bestselling Author
Edana Chattan senses concerns where people she knows could be in danger. When her brothers warn her they’re in trouble, she can’t convince her father to listen to her, so with an escort, she tries to locate them. Separated from her escort during a storm, she is discovered by Angus MacNeill, who is tasked to return her home.
Only Edana has other notions–and convinces him and his companions to allow her to use her abilities to locate her brothers who are manacled in a dungeon somewhere. That leads to a faux marriage and more dungeons and more trouble than Angus had ever thought possible. So why is the bewitching, fiery-haired lass making him think of marrying her for real?

in the dead of night 3664x3664 (800x800)
In the Dead of the Night is now in audio book format!

Shadow Elf 800x800
The Shadow Elf  is in audio book now!

Campbell Clan Bear is done!
And I have 3 more orders for Australia!
 Best Friends Purple Sweater Bear

 Happy Birthday Blue Sweater Bear
 Pink Hearts Sweater Bear
And I finished Jaguar Pride!!!
In other words, I’ve written THE END!!! I love when that happens. I’m halfway done with editing it–which is the advantage of editing as I write because it’s not a totally rough draft. Some have to write the book first and then edit or they’ll get stuck editing and not writing. For me, I would be way over word count when I didn’t flesh out my scenes until after I wrote the book. :)
Jaguar Pride the end (640x425)
And then I’m working on 13 blogs for the blog tour for Silence of the Wolf!
Silence of the Wolf:
Book 13
(March 2014)
And because I don’t have enough to do, I started bird watching.

But… I had to take a break, so see what I did on my break?
I took pictures! I read about another author who had bird feeders out and so she got a new camera and took some fun pictures of the birds and squirrels, and I thought how cool! And another friend tells me how she’s always refilling her bird feeders in snow-buried Minnesota, so I thought I would get some bird feeders too. Only nothing’s feeding at them.  I realize from this I’m rather impatient. LOL
Still, the winds were so high, they scattered finch seed from the feeder on the patio, and I had white crowned sparrows feeding. And my male cardinal came down also.
white crowned sparrow2
The female cardinal usually hides, but this evening, she was out with the male, and they were dying to come down and eat some of the sunflower and other seeds I put out for them today. Here is the cardinal in a pear tree. :)
cardinal pear tree
And here is the female. He joined her when I came out to take a picture of them, but I missed capturing them together.
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So do you have feeders out and if so, what kinds of birds are you getting?

We have frigid winter and high winds back so right now, I’m getting ready to work some more on Jaguar Pride edits. Hope to have it done by the end of the week!

And then, it’s time to work on all those interviews and guest blogs (13), read the rest of the Rita books (8) plus I’m making up a couple of raffle baskets for Romantic Times Convention!

How do I do it all and actually get it done? I set goals, prioritize, and whittle down the things on deadline. Every time I got too tired of editing Jaguar Pride, ie, I was just reading but not looking for mistakes, I'd take a break and work on interviews, then go back to Jaguar Pride. Or take a break and stare at the feeders, wondering where the birds were. Every night before I go to sleep, I read on a Rita book. And bears, I'll throw on some Supernatural or Castle, and take a break to work on the bears. So it all gets done. All have deadlines. All in March. And I aim to get everything done way before that, and jump on the next projects! :) And it works!
Oh, and I’ve had 3 things go out on me in the past week–my microwave, computer, and now a floor heater. That’s it for a while now, right? 3 things is the max? Right?

Have a super great day!!!
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male!”

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A first for me: tracking my writing

I've never been one to note how many words I write, how many pages, etc., but this year I thought I'd try something different.

Last year I used a calendar to just note when I wrote. I just crossed off a day on the calendar if I wrote that day. If I mucked around and didn't do much, I put one line through the day. On a good day, it was a big X on that day.

This year I'm doing the same thing, but jotting notes, too. For example, Research, or Set up, or Too Busy. Then I'm noting when I start a milestone in the book (Chapter 4 started). I'm going to do this for my next few books so I can see if there's a pattern there. Do I always stall out at Chapter 6? Do I get a good jump then sag in the middle?

Stay tuned. It's another year and yet another writing experiment!

(30 books and counting)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Do your writing skills spill over into other venues

     To earn additional money (so I can spend more time writing) I am setting up an Etsy store for my soup and seasoning mix business this weekend--one of my New year resolutions. I'm crafting detailed product descriptions, a return policy, international shipping procedures, and a business profile.
     I've had to generate keywords, pick a slogan, weigh so many options. Take a risk. Read dozens of helpful suggestions that trigger more questions. Deal with frustration at my e-commerce limitations.
     One site how-to suggestion--that I am capable of doing--is writing good descriptions. I know how to vary sentence structure. I can replace a wordy phrase with one succinct word. Spell and punctuate. Front and back load sentences for impact. Paint verbal pictures.
     This takes work, just like in story telling. I'm still wrestling for the right emotional verbiage for my shop banner, but I'll find it.  And later, if I think of something better, I can change it.

     What I can't do is take pictures. Everything in e-commerce is visual, just like the cover of a book. The image hooks the shopper/browser/reader to click on the link, to read further.
     Images for e-commerce need to be really good. Hi res, specific number of pixels. Set dimensions. Taken in natural light. Taken with camera-linked flash. Close up. In a mood-setting background. Demonstrate use and usefulness. Mind boggling options with real-life kickback.

    When I was visiting my daughter in NYC, I watched her friend, a professional catalog photographer, take pictures of her leather and brass necklaces. (She's setting up an Etsy shop, too.) Cocooned in a sheet draped studio, with ten-foot tall backlights and flash lighting that popped like a gun in thousandth of a second bursts, he stood on a ladder and angled a reflector so a ray of light highlighted the shaped brass.
     The camera immediately sent each image to a laptop monitor, where he assessed the initial quality of the image. If he was satisfied, he tweaked an array of settings to further improve the image. (He can take component images and assemble them so the final image looks like it was just one shot.) Her pictures look amazing. Professional. Taken on his day off. We went out for dinner after. He's a really nice guy.

     I know how to overcome my image limitations. At least I won't have to hire a copywriter.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Keeping New Year's Resolutions

Every New Year's day I try to make a few promises to myself with respect to what I'm going to accomplish in the new year. Sometimes I'm able to keep these promises and sometimes I'm not, but like most people my intentions are good.

This year I've sworn to get some of my incomplete manuscripts finished and ready for editing. Where I send these new works for publication is still up in the air. I might try sending them to one of my existing publishers or I might self-publish them. But I have to get them finished first.

Another thing I need to do is organize my office. It is cluttered and I'm not using the storage as well as I should. Once the room is straightened out I might even be able to include in the room a futon bed so we have an extra bedroom for visitors. This will be a big job, but one I should be able to tackle over the course of the year.

The last thing on my list of resolutions is to take better care of myself. I get to the gym a couple times a week, try to keep my weight under control, and make sure to get the medical check-ups I need. But more than that I need to take care of the inner me, my mental health. I should get more sleep and watch what I eat or drink in the evening so that I sleep soundly. I also need to stay focused on the joy of living and not let the minor and not-so-minor aggravations of life get me down.

There are probably more things I could add to this list but these items are a good start. What sorts of resolutions do you have for this upcoming year? Use the comments to let us know.

Janet Miller / Cricket Starr

Monday, January 13, 2014


I love my small press publisher, top-rated by Predators and Editors.  But, alas, my contract with them stipulates that I must not use brand names in my novels.  I explain what that means in Joanne Stewart’s blog:

I am not a person who easily takes ‘no’ for an answer, yet I want to honor my contract and not cause problems for my publisher.  So here’s the story of my entirely legal branding adventure.

A key aspect of my double murder mystery in LIE CATCHERS is a waterproof notebook found in the back pocket of a dead man.  He washes up to the shores of Puget Sound, with ID showing he comes from Petersburg, Alaska.  What’s written indelibly in that waterproof notebook brings a Treasury agent to the fishing town.

Rite in the Rain produces waterproof paper and notebook.  I thought:  Why not contact Rite in the Rain to see if they would give me permission to use their brand name in my book?  I did this on a lark and because I love the product.  Think about it: you write in the book with pencil and the marks never disappear.  Heck, you can even write on the paper when it’s raining!

I wrote to the folks at Rite in the Rain on e-mail.  No answer for weeks.  Oh, well, I tried.  Then, I get a phone call from the president of the company!  I’m on my boat heading into the resort town of Roche Harbor in Washington State when I get this call, so I’m shouting over the sound of our engine and as we’re searching out a place to dock.  I can’t believe how excited he is about the concept.  Then he tells me: Rite in the Rain notebooks are in the hands of Iditarod mushers and Bering Sea crabbers.  Stories abound about fishermen and naturalists who depend on the waterproof notebooks to keep information intact.
I say:  “But you haven’t read my novel, and don’t forget, the notebook is found in the back pocket of a not very nice dead man!”  He says: “Cool!”

Amazingly, Rite in the Rain agreed to make mini-notebooks for me (with my LIE CATCHERS cover on the front and information about my books inside the cover).  The price they gave me per book was amazing, a fraction of the normal $2.85.  WE WERE PARTNERS!

But now I had to talk my publisher in allowing me to use the brand name in my book.  After some time and some negotiation, we worked out a way to do it and the rest is history.

Here’s one way I’m using the mini-books:
A waterproof Rite in the Rain notebook, found in the back pocket of a dead man sets off turmoil in an Alaska fishing town.  A Treasury agent from Fresno and a free-lance writer from Petersburg have their careers on the line if they can’t figure out the meaning of what’s in the notebook. Read LIE CATCHERS and if you enjoy it and write a review of it, contact me on my website
and I’ll send you a Rite in the Rain mini-notebook! Find the book on Amazon:

Whew!  I did it!  I followed the rules, yet created something unique for Lie Catchers.  More fun, I have a partnership with the generous folks of Rite in the Rain

So, this is LIE CATCHERS, set in Petersburg, Alaska, where a 1932 crime and a 2013 crime MUST be solved.  Here’s the shortened Amazon address (it's on Kindle exclusively for until April...I'll let you know when print and other versions come out).

Two unsolved murders will tear apart an Alaska fishing town unless a writer and a government agent reveal their secret obsessions.
Treasury agent Parker Browne is working undercover in Petersburg, Alaska to investigate a money scam and a murder. His prime suspect, Liv Hanson, is a freelance writer struggling to save her family’s business. Free spirited, full of life, and with a talent for catching liars, she fascinates Parker.
Trying to prove she’s a legitimate writer who cares about Petersburg’s issues, Liv pens a series of newspaper articles about an old, unsolved murder. When her cold case ties in with Parker’s investigation, bullets start to fly.
Parker understands money trails, and Liv knows the town residents. But he gave up on love two years ago, and she trusts no one, especially with her carefully guarded secret. If they mesh their skills to find the killers, will they survive the fallout?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

How do you use your public #library?

As a child, I loved the library.  It was a source of escape and fun because  I loved books :-), and while I was there, I was surrounded by other people just like me!

As a writer, I still love the library. It's a great place to research project ideas.  It's a great place to write.  At my local library in Memphis, TN, we have a great location, that if you go to the top floor, you are surrounded by some of the best views.  Awesome place to sit and think my way through a scene.

As a result of my love for libraries, I joined a group that supports libraries.  There's an annual fee, nominal, and the funds go to support something I love.  Like many organizations, after you join, you receive a monthly magazine.  Flipping through the magazine the other day, I saw that authors like Sue Monk Kidd, Alice Greenway and Gabrielle Zevin will participate in an upcoming event for the ALA.  What a great way to reach out and and speak to librarians and an audience that love books!

I've done a few events with local libraries, one of them a major event, locally, which had many many authors from the area attend.  My books are located in the libraries for readers to check out and, hopefully, love :-)  Librarians ask me to participate on panels quite frequently.

I love working with libraries.

How do you use your local libraries and librarians?

Friday, January 10, 2014

And the Word of the Year is ....

Every year I choose one word to sum up what I want to accomplish in the year ahead. Last year it was Flexible. I tried to be flexible with people, my life, my deadlines ... and mostly it worked.

I struggled this year to find a word, but I finally came up with "Accepting." It's not quite what I wanted, but it's close. I want to accept the fact that some things are out of my control. I should ignore them if I can, and if I can't, just note it and move on. I want to accept the fact that I really have nothing to do with my success -- I can only write a good book, throw it out there, talk about it some, and hope.

Accepting...let's see if it works as well as Flexible did. I'll report back in 350 days or so.

30 books and counting

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Looking Forward

Happy New Year!

Sometimes, I wish I had a crystal ball. What will the future bring?

Many of us craft New Year's resolutions. I set goals that I hope are achievable. For 2014 my writing plan is to release three books. That could be tough. I write slow. Still, it's my goal.

The first to release will be Sea Panther (A Crimson Storm Novel). A 2013 Golden Heart® paranormal finalist. Later in the year, the third and fourth books from the Highland Gardens series will release. I'm really excited about all three books.

Another goal is to blog more often. I've started posting photos of garden gates for fun. I love garden gates. They inspired the writing of the Highland Gardens series. Stop by my blog on Wednesdays for garden gate photos and other tidbits from the garden. Sundays are for Sneak Peeks. And stop by on Fridays for more Folklore Friday posts.

What about reading goals? Stop by my blog this week (January 5th - 12th) for the New Year's Reading Resolutions Blog Hop where I join other authors with our top picks from 2013 and our reading resolutions for 2014. I should mention there are prizes.

I'm looking forward to a great year. What are your resolutions/goals?

~Dawn Marie

note: Blogger is misbehaving and won't let me load the photos that go along with this post.