Monday, June 25, 2012

What is there to learn about promotion?

I recently attended a one-day workshop that had Jimmy Thomas as the speaker.

Jimmy who?

If you're in the romance publishing area, he is a well known commodity. Jimmy Thomas is a cover model and he's on about a bazillion covers. See Romance Novel Center -- that's Jimmy, on the cover.

The thing that was very interesting about this workshop was his business acumen. Yes, he's a hunky guy with a great personality and very appealing eye candy. But from the minute he got into the cover business, as it were, he has controlled his destiny. He came up with the idea of stock covers (see the stock cover page) for authors in self-publishing (and for publishers). He knows how to set up a photo shoot and understands what makes an appealing cover. He created a "community" where authors can hang out and interact with others who are interested in cover art, etc.

He has made a career from his looks, true, but he's also set up a future for himself so he doesn't have to depend on his current appeal to support him. It's like creating a back list for an author -- have those books out there so people can discover them. They may read your 25th book (like mine, which came out a few weeks ago) then say, "hey, I want to read more" and they'll go searching for that back list.

The best way to sell is word of mouth -- reviews, recommendations, 'home grown' publicity. Jimmy Thomas has built up his reputation by providing a nice product at a reasonable price with consistent quality. Authors can learn from this. Always put forth your best work. Always remember with any book you are making a first impression with someone who just picked you up (as an author).

Work hard, do the kind of work you're comfortable doing, enjoy yourself, and focus on your career. That's what he did and it's working. I came away with a few new ideas and a reaffirmation of what I'm doing: writing the best book I can and making sure my products are available for a reasonable cost.

Thanks, Jimmy, for a very enjoyable day. You go, boy...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sweet Revenge

By Paisley Kirkpatrick
Many years ago while I was at the dentist office, I was talking to the hygienist. I was telling her about my writing career when I heard my dentist shout out from down the hall that it was only a hobby. I tamped down a retort, but knew the day would come when I could put him in his place - politely, of course.
This past week my husband had some simple dental surgery. When the dentist called to see how Ken's mouth felt, I couldn't resist. While I had him on the phone I asked him if he'd heard about my five book publishing contract. He said my hubby had told him and he was so pleased to hear my good news. I then asked him if he remembered his comment about my writing only being a hobby. He giggled and said he did, but then added he was glad I had taken the time to hone my skills and sold my books.
WOOHOO it was a long time coming. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?
I got the cover for my very first book which is scheduled to be released August 21st. After 22 years of writing and dreaming, it cannot happen soon enough. I am thrilled and honored to share it with you all right now. It's a historical west romance set toward the end of the California gold rush in 1853.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Man in Love

What makes a man suddenly decide he’s in love?

What makes a man take a good look at the woman who attracts him, and then stop, back up, and discuss with himself, before he takes a deep breath and reach a decision. That’s it. She’s the one.
How has SHE managed to attract him AND keep him?

She needs him. A man likes to be the one sheltering his woman. It makes him feel good about himself. Not that she’s vulnerable or helpless, but she often relies on him to build something for her, or help her fix her computer problems. How many times have you congratulate your man after he painted the walls, or remodelled the basement, or fixed the leaking faucet? All little tasks that a woman heartily abhors.

How many times have you called him when you have a flat tire on the high way?  Doesn’t he leave everything to come and replace the defective tire, and then tell you with a big smile, “Here you’re all set to go.” A kiss from you, a sigh of relief, or a big smile of admiration is all he needs for thank you.

She asks his opinion often. “Honey, should I invest in this stock, buy a house, or rent an apartment? Should I ask for an increase?" He loves you when you show him you value his brain.

She wears delicate feminine clothes. Any material that accentuates her feminine nature triggers an immediate response in men. Just wear a dress showing d├ęcolletage or molding your hips and watch his smile.

But she doesn’t cling and talk marriage. A word that means loss of freedom. A woman--or heroine-- who has her goal in life and shows she can be independent somehow makes her man comfortable enough to stay with her and pursue her. Even emotionally healthy men want assurance that their identities will be respected.

[Based on a study by Dr. P. Dobransky. The Secret Psychology of How We Fall in Love.]

When Greek billionaire Stefano decides to demolish the dilapidated villa inherited from his grandmother, the American co-owner refuses to sell his shares and sends his attorney—and pretty granddaughter—to contest the demolition. To check out the opposition before he faces at the hearing, Stefano meets her incognito and convinces her to take a sunset ride on his yacht. Sparks fly and passion sizzles during a memorable night.

In court, Ashley is in for a nasty surprise about her handsome Greek god and Stefano is about to lose the only woman who’s ever touched his heart. Will Stefano be able to convince Ashley he’s not the enemy anymore?

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with passion.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Today we leave the dock for three months on the boat (picture of INTREPID, below) and I’m in my usual grumbling stage: I’m cranky about the cold weather, about the two few spaces to store provisions, about climbing on and off the boat and up and down steep stairs, about the concentration of odors (some not so nice), about the too-small bed, about the lack of a desk to write on and about the lousy Internet reception.  Did I mention I’m chilly all the time?

You get the drift.  If my husband didn’t look forward to summer on the boat so much, I’d be warm and comfy at my desk at home right now.  I’ve told you about all the fabulous adventures we’ve had on our boat, so I’m not asking for pity.  Okay, maybe a little commiseration.  Mostly, I’m curious.  Tell me, what is it you do (or have done) for your sweet significant other, on a regular basis, that fits in the realm of sacrifice?  Must involve long-duration out-of-comfort-zone.  Name that sacrifice!

LAST RESORT on sale now, print & download
Wild Rose Press:

Thursday, June 14, 2012


There are several definition of the word "Thrashing", including some that have sexual connotations, but for this post I'm using the computer definition. To quote Wikipedia:

In computer science, the term thrashing is a colloquialism normally used to describe a computer whose virtual memory subsystem is in a constant state of paging, rapidly exchanging data in memory for data on disk, to the exclusion of most application-level processing. This causes the performance of the computer to degrade or collapse. The situation may not resolve itself quickly, but can continue indefinitely until the underlying cause is addressed.

To put this into layman's language the computer is trying to do more work than it has the capacity for and so is jumping from one task to the other so fast that it is spending more time jumping between tasks than working on tasks. Eventually it can get to the point that none of the tasks are completing and the system just grinds to a halt.

Wikipedia has suggestions on fixing this, the first of which is:

1. Increase the amount of RAM in the computer (generally the best long-term solution). 
Again in layman's terms, this means increasing the amount of internal memory the computer has so it can work longer on each task before switching to a new one. Assuming the workload of the computer is not abnormal and that you need to run your mail program, a few browser windows, Excel, and Word at the same time, then this is the best solution. Get someone to put some extra internal memory into your computer.

At the moment I have this problem since my computer regularly starts thrashing, although I have to admit it doesn't do it until I start to run the Hunger Games Adventure game on Facebook. Flash games take a lot of memory. But it isn't really computers that I want to talk about.

If you are anything like me you have a tendency to overcommit yourself, signing up for a lot of extra jobs that if you were being sensible you would admit you don't have time for. Human beings can get into a state of thrashing just like computers, spending tiny slices of time on multiple tasks so that nothing ever gets done. But unlike computers, the solution given above does not work. We can't increase our capacity the way a computer can, and so we must use one of the other solutions that Wikipedia suggests:
2. Decrease the number of programs being run on the computer.
3. Replace programs that are memory-heavy with equivalents that use less memory.
To put this into human terms: 
  • Reduce the number of things you are doing at a single time. 
  • Identify tasks that can be delayed until a time you are less committed and reschedule them.
  • At the same time split large tasks into smaller ones that take less time. Perhaps only one part of a commitment needs to be done now and the rest can wait.

Of course the most efficient answer is that you avoid over committing yourself in the first place, and only choose to take on tasks that you have both the bandwidth for, and which do the most to benefit you.

Unlike me, who, like the woman in my short story “The Woman Who Couldn’t Say No” is always saying yes to people who want her help. That short story is part of my short story collection “The Lizard’s Tail” which is available free tomorrow on Friday June 15th at Amazon:

I hope you download this collection and enjoy it.

Oh in case you were wondering, I have now ordered a new computer with four times the internal memory and a much faster processor so I should no longer spend any time watching the machine thrashing even when I want to play the Hunger Games Adventure...

At least for the next couple of years or so.

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

Monday, June 11, 2012

When Is It Okay To Criticize?

The other day I read a suspense thriller written and self-published by an acquaintance. I use the term acquaintance rather loosely. With the Internet, we make friends with people we may never see face to face. This person is someone I've emailed a few times and someone whose considerable experience in his field I respect.

Eventually, I got to read his book It started off promising, but soon ran into trouble. I'm not sure what happened with the formatting, but there were no scene breaks. This made it awkward when I would be in one POV and then found myself in another POV with no line break to indicate the scene or person had changed. Along with that came some spelling mistakes.

There was considerable head hopping as if everyone's POV needed to be heard, a classic beginner mistake. Compounding that, were bits of dialogue that didn't quite ring true. It made me wince at times, but I plowed on because the story at its most basic form had potential and it held my interest enough to want to see how it played out.

For all the weaknesses, the suspense was well developed overall and some of the characters were quite engaging. In fact, for me, a couple of the secondary characters occasionally stole the show. The climax happened with a bang and kept me riveted to the pages.

Given the way the story ended, I'm guessing there might be a sequel coming.

Now, I'm a teacher in my day job. I spend time working with students trying to help them improve their language skills. When I explain where a student is making a mistake, I also make a point of telling her where she is doing well.

I wanted to write this author to say, "Hey, I read your book." But I haven't. Because I know if I send an email me that inner teacher is going to come peeking out and start explaining all the areas where this book fails.

This story had potential but it should not have been published. Not yet. This author would have benefited from some classes on writing craft. Even then, the story needed to be professionally edited and professionally formatted.

Having your friends read it and tell you that it's great is not the most objective form of criticism. Something else I'd point out.

As much as I want to explain all this to this author, I can't. This is his baby. His pride and joy. Who am I to criticize? In the end, the real world can be the hardest teacher of all.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Highlander in Action--Cover for A Howl for a Highlander

Okay, I'm off to a hectic day of work, but I had to share this with you!

Here's Todd, the cover model for A Howl for a Highlander and Savage Hunger along with models for other books as they had the photo shoot. You'll see Duncan MacNeill in action!

Have a super great day! I'm off to work!


"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality!"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Joanne--Dave Barry's take on "How do I look?"

Hi everyone, It's the 8th of the month, so it's time for a Dave Barry chuckle. Here's his take on the classic woman's question: "How do I look?" "If you are a man, at some point a woman will ask you how she looks. "How do I look?" she'll ask. You must be careful how you answer this question. The best technique is to form an honest yet sensitive opinion, then collapse on the floor with some kind of fatal seizure. Trust me, this is the easiest way out. Because you will never come up with the right answer." OK, everyone, it's me again. Do you agree with his technique? :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pleasant Distraction from Life as a Writer

As if I didn't have enough hobbies, with camping, cycling, hiking, cooking and gardening, my husband purchased a new toy—a canoe.

Living on a peninsula provides many potential canoeing sites. This past weekend we chose a secluded spot and were rewarded with an abundance of wildlife. A plethora (love that word) of ospreys soared overhead, their loud kyews whistling through the air. My camera captured a few. I stopped counting great blue heron at ten, but they were too quick to photograph. Forget even trying to catch the green heron. Several river otters dove into the water on our approach, leaving me focusing my camera in vain.

A pleasant distraction, but I need to get back to work, writing. I have a submission to get out, a WIP to edit, and a new story to start—life as a writer.

What are your pleasant distractions?

Monday, June 4, 2012

What is Your Greatest Fear?

Remember what you were afraid of as a child? All children are different. I am always amazed whenever one of my children’s friends showed a fear of dogs or of almost any kind of animal. As an Indiana farm girl, I grew up among all types of animals, and often cantankerous ones. Perhaps the disagreeable rooster knew he’d be Sunday dinner eventually.  By living with these fear-inducing creatures I became familiar with them, and did not fear them.

Fear of an object, situation, or even person is often due to being unfamiliar or unsure of it. As a farm girl, girl scout, and boy scout volunteer, I was trained endlessly how to deal with poisonous snakes. There were also quite a few non-toxic snakes on the farm. I’d been to the zoo courtesy of teacher education and handled a python and a boa. So what do you think my reaction was when I saw a juvenile rattlesnake in my front yard? That’s right, I ran into my house…and got my camera. Unfortunately the camera shy reptile had crawled away before I could snap his pic.

As a school teacher I find I have many phobic students. They are afraid of dentists, moving, public speaking, and some teachers too. I like my dentist, but I hate needles. Public speaking I do every day as a teacher, so it doesn’t scare me too much; however, I hate presenting in front of other teachers. I used to be afraid of a few of my co-workers because my initial impression of them was wrong. Once I got to know them better I knew how to work with them with the minimum amount of stress.  My specialty is working with emotionally disturbed children, so I can definitely tiptoe around difficult adults without them even knowing.

That brings me to moving, the fear I know. Some of you know I hit the big 5-0 mark almost a year ago. I sat down and calculated how much I have moved in my life. I move about  every twenty-six months that means sometimes I may have lived somewhere only six months before packing up and moving again. My parents tended to be gypsies always moving to the next great adventure.  I moved around myself before marrying a military man. What I discovered with moving is that you lose things from friends to favorite places. Movers also don’t arrive on time, break anything glass, and sometimes insult your dog. It takes months to pack to move…okay maybe weeks. The flipside is I am always culling my closet, garage, and attic for things I don’t use because they will not make the next move.

Currently, I am in the midst of a major move-a-thon. My stepdaughter is moving to Seatle. My daughter is moving to a rental house with four other girls. My new husband is moving all his stuff into my current house…only to have us both move again with our short loan sale finally goes through. As a person who has lacked any type of permanence I envy people who have lived in the same place forever. Moving makes you adaptable it also makes you face fears since it throws so many at you.

In a bizarre way I’ve been fortunate to face most of my fears and conquer them.  I’ve moved, had loved ones die, got divorced twice, started new jobs several times, and even confronted a rattlesnake, bear, and an Indiana Panther, the feline kind. I’ve been chased across a field by a bull while wearing a red shirt; I tend to not to take those type of shortcuts anymore. Fear can make you run fast. Last weekend, I helped staged my stepson’s graduation party, and came face to face with my husband’s ex-wife. I’d been warned she’d be strange, and she was. (Remember my education specialty training; it comes in handy in dealing with adults, sometimes even more than students. J ) Now that fear is just another that is behind me.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do something that scares you every day.” This year I will try to push myself more than I ever had. Promoting my own books can be a little fear-inducing. Blogging can be too. What is your biggest fear? Have you conquered it?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

He Rode Into My Bedroom on a Harley...

Last spring, a submissions call went out from The Wild Rose Press for the Honky Tonk Hearts series. One pivotal scene in our 20-40,000 word novella had to take place at the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk, just outside Amarillo, Texas. A list of criteria was also included. Could I write something that fit? I wondered.

Several ideas flitted through my mind. I toyed with a few, but none felt right. So I resigned myself to skipping the series. Then one night in bed as I was in that fluttering, fragile state between wakefulness and sleep, a man rolled into our bedroom on a Harley.


Well, mentally, anyhow.
Since I was tired and eager for sleep, I snuggled up against Calvin’s back and closed my eyes. The man roared into our bedroom again. Only this time he got off his bike and adjusted his stance to accommodate his prosthesis. This commanded my attention, especially since I somehow knew he’d lost part of his leg in Iraq from an IED explosion.

He took off his helmet and sat on the edge of our bed. Tormented hazel eyes regarded me. “I need you to tell my story.”


“My name's Win, short for Sherwin, and I’m an ex-Marine suffering from PTSD. The hounds of depression are nipping at my heels day and night. My momma always said the best way to get over depression was to help others worse off than you. So I want to open a ranch for amputee children.”

I sat up against the headboard, stuffed pillows behind me and smiled. A hero in war and at home. How nice. “Go on,” I encouraged.

A slow hesitant smile spread. “I just met this girl. You see, she’s got these violet eyes…”

I hope you’ll want to read Win’s story, Those Violet Eyes. Release date is June 27th.

Evie Caldwell hoards every penny for her escape from the servitude life created by a worthless brother and the endless work on a ranch that will never be hers. The last thing she wants is a muscled man with a macho Marine attitude complicating her life. But, oh, how that man can make her insides do a twitchy thing.

Wounded vet, Win Fairchild, returns to Texas to heal, find a piece of his soul and open a ranch for amputee children. Finding someone to love was not on his agenda. Nor was dealing with a wildcat, until she captures his heart with those violet eyes.

But now that he knows what he wants, can Win convince Evie to stay in Texas—and his bed?