Sunday, November 15, 2015


I've been getting invitations to take part in anthologies. One issue of this new world order of marketing ebooks at large online stores like Amazon and Apple iBooks, is that getting attention is harder than ever.

If you already have a fan base, outstanding. You can send out announcements and people will preorder your book and you will sell well. But for most of us, that doesn't happen and so we have to be creative.

One creative way to find potential readers is to offer your work bundled with a number of other authors, some of whom will have a bigger audience than you. Since your audience and theirs only partially overlaps, then there is a lot of potential for getting new readers. Also you can split the cost of marketing a group anthology, even taking advantage of ads and the like.

I was invited to submit to a Science Fiction Romance anthology, and since that is one of my favorite genres to write in, I decided to put together my novella for the anthology as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for those who aren't familiar with this.)

I had been doing quite well on my story as this calendar will show:

I had a few hard days where not much writing got done. That was due to not feeling well last week. But otherwise I've been working hard and while I might not make it to a full 50K words written for the month, I will at least get this story done. And yes, it is part of my Gaian series.

So I'm not writing a long entry today since I need to get back to work and make sure those word count boxes fill up yellow and green rather than orange and red.

Janet Miller, J. L. Miller

Friday, October 16, 2015

My first J.L. Miller story coming out soon

On October 20 one of my favorite titles, Lady's Choice, a sexy outer space romance story involving a woman having to choose between two men, will be released as part of a new anthology of paranormal stories.

As you can see I'm using a new author name for Enchanted Eternally, J.L. Miller. As I've said before, the Cricket Starr name was cute, but it stopped being a good name for sexier romances a while ago. Most books I sell are under my own name, so using my initials for the hotter content will help brand the books that I want to keep the bulk of the sex in. Sometimes you just can't remove the sex without losing too much of the story, and this menage story is one of those times.

I'm grouped with a bunch of very exciting authors, including Ann Jacobs, Jan Springer, and Charlee Boyett-Compo, people I've known and respected for years. So I'm very happy about this collection. It is on presale now: for the vast sum of 99 cents! I hope people find it and check it out.

Here is another image featuring just my story:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Road To Mandalay

"Where the flyin' fishes play, An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay." - Rudyard Kipling

Actually the road to Mandalay is the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar (formerly called Burma) and there really isn't a bay along the river where China is due east for the sun to rise over. Also there aren't any flying fishes, merely dolphins that are rare enough so you don't see them much. For all that, this is an amazing place to be posting from.

For our big vacation this year hubby and I decided on a river cruise along the Irrawaddy River with Pandaw River Cruises, a fairly small tour company that offers 7 to 14 day cruises in Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia that are a mix of comfortable air-conditioned cabins, tasty cuisine, plentiful local beer and spirits, and a guide who provides local cultural experiences such as visits to pagodas, monasteries, a real nunnery, schools, villages, and workshops like potteries, silversmiths, and weavers, with plenty of opportunities to purchase souvenirs, whether you are looking for them or not. Let's just say some of the mobile vendors can be very persistent, particularly if they have bicycles to follow your horse-drawn cart with.

Days can be packed with activities. In one day I rode a bus, a truck, the aforementioned horse-drawn cart, and a small boat to glide up next to an old bridge to take pictures of the sunset. Then at the end of the day we ended up in a traffic jam due to a broken down vehicle between the bus and the ship, leaving us hiking along the road between the trucks, motorcycles and such to get back in time for happy hour. This turned out to be a highlight of the day as local kids and adults in the open vehicles around us cheered us on and mugged for our cameras as we passed them. Here, tourists are so rare, we become the entertainment with our light skins, light eyes, and light colored hair. I had one set of kids fascinated that my skin is so freckled that I have spots on top of spots rather than the beautiful even light brown they have. Beautiful children calling me beautiful with my frizzy blonde hair and freckles.

Today is a quiet day as we move along the river, green on every side of us. The river is a little high due to the flooding in the North, so some of the land is drowned, people relocated to higher ground temporarily. As they move into the dry season this will change and they'll eventually move back to their homes, seemingly only moderately inconvenienced. That is life along the river, it goes up and then down. We have a visit to a village later this morning and this afternoon a lecture on how the changing political situation in Myanmar is affecting the country. Finally there will be happy hour, and an excellent dinner.

This really doesn't have much to do with writing other than giving me a break from the real world, one I've needed badly. Time to let my mind and imagination wander while the boat flows gently down one of the great rivers of the world. Time also to remind myself just how lucky I am to be able to visit a place like this.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

What to do in Las Vegas other than the obvious

This weekend hubby and I are in Las Vegas, one of those places that you can seriously call an Entertainment Mecca. People come here from all over the world to gamble, see shows, swim in luxurious pools, and eat at restaurants run by famous chefs. You can spend a lot of time doing all these things and never need to do anything on this list.
So why do I have this list? Because my husband and I tend to go to Las Vegas at least once a year, don’t gamble, he isn’t into spending all day at a pool, and there is just so much time one can spend eating or going to shows. So this is a list of offbeat Las Vegas offerings that we’ve done over the years. Most of these things can be done in a few hours at most, as opposed to going to Lake Mead, or out to Red Rocks parks.
1. Of course there are the multiple galleries of art that are part of the Las Vegas hotel scene:
These are all relatively small galleries that don't take a lot of time. Just enough to kill part of an afternoon between pool, drinks, and dinner. Hubby and I have done some of the galleries when there have been special exhibits. At the moment there is a Picasso exhibit at the Bellagio and we might see that if we get the chance.
2. The Neon Museum -
Have you ever wondered what happened to those old neon signs that decorated the outside of the hotels in Las Vegas back in the old days? Well it turns out that much of that old signage was actually rented from the company that made them, Young Electric Sign Company, rather than owned by the hotels. So when the hotels swapped out their signs for newer ones, the old ones would get returned to the company, which dumped them out in the desert in their “boneyard” to ultimately rot. But that seemed like an ignominious fate for some of these iconic signs so the Neon Museum was born. Some of the signs are restored and are now placed around the Fremont Street Experience, and a number of others are placed in the medium strip along Las Vegas Blvd near the museum. Guided tours will take you through the new “boneyard” where you can get close to some of these old signs, including many that light up. Check out the following from Google Maps:
Yes, that is the Pirate Head from the old Treasure Island display staring up at you!
One of the testing sites for nuclear devices was just north of Las Vegas, which makes this something of a local history museum. It is worth more than a few hours to explore the exhibits, including the “Ground Zero Theatre” that simulates what it was like to view a nuclear explosion (from a “safe distance” of course.) They now also have an Area 51 exhibit, which I haven’t seen so I might be heading there again soon.
And now for something completely different… this is an installation of a ganzfeld by artist James Turrell, a chamber of light that somehow tricks the eye into making your surroundings disappear. At the time of this posting hubby and I just got back from that and it was a trippy an experience as I'd been led to expect. You stand outside a chamber that is a large bowl shape and when the light goes to just the right intensity, the bowl loses its edges and just becomes this intense void of color that shifts shades from red to blue to purple. There are spots that seem appear and disappear and I'm told later there were the blood vessels at the back of my eye. Okay then.
So as you can see there is a lot to do in Vegas. Hope you all have a great upcoming month!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Reverted titles, too

I, too, have a book or two that has come back to me, and like Janet, I'm not quite sure where to go with it. I did re-do 3 books already with the titles I wanted and covers I wanted. And I did one more for the same reason (it had a cover I absolutely hated).

But this last book is one I'm not sure what to do with. So I may just wait and get Janet's report when she comes back and see what she has to say. I'm not going to RWA, so I hope she'll provide a full report!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Reverting titles and heading to a convention

For the past several months I've been cleaning up my contracts with one of my oldest publishers. My books had a good run there and the contracts have expired so over time I've emailed them asking for my rights back, pointing out that either the contract duration had expired (most were for seven years) or that they no longer met the minimum number of copies sold to be considered "in print". In the ebook world it is very important that a contract have clauses in it so that the book can be reverted. Life of copyright contracts don't make any sense for an author to sign given how fluid the publishing world has become. You never know what the next big push will bring.

So I now have most of my books back and need to decide what to do about them. There are so many possibilities. I can do final edits, find a cover, and upload to Amazon, Smashwords, and the other ebook distributers' and that's what I have done for some titles with moderate success.

But more recently I've simply sat on the titles, thinking that perhaps it would be better to come up with a real publishing plan rather than continue to roll books out without one.

And so next week I'll head for the RWA national conference, where I'll sit in many seminars about the topic "what to do with reverted titles". Even a short review of the schedule shows many relevant seminars for me to attend and I'll be making a list of the ones I feel will be most interesting.

Hey I might even talk to a traditional publisher about my work. Not expecting much there but it could happen. That's the point of going to a conference, to find out just what is going on in the publishing world. Accompanied by 2000 of the people most like me in the world, it should at least be exciting.

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr/JL Miller

Monday, July 13, 2015

Suspense! Cover Reveal of FEAR LAND by Rolynn Anderson

"I see fear in a handful of dust."
So said T.S. Eliot, renowned poet, who, as it happens is a 'high-reactive,' a human beset with anxiety. How he became a profit-making, revered writer is another story.  His sentiments about fear lead into my novel, FEAR LAND, a suspense story about many strains of anxiety.

I'm giving you a sneak peak at my cover and blurb and can't wait to tell you when the novel will see the light of day.  As you can imagine, a novel about anxiety...those who have it and those who treat challenging enough.  Add suspense and a truckload of villains and we've got major fun...and stress.

Here's the cover and here's the blurb about FEAR LAND.  I'll let you know when you can buy the book on Kindle and CreatesSpace.

Tally hates to hear rants from people’s brains.  What does she do when those mind-screams threaten the man she loves?
Tally Rosella, an acclaimed psychiatrist who helps children fraught with anxiety, avoids adults because their brains rant at her.  But the chance to start a second child study and connect her findings to PTSD, sets her squarely among devious colleagues at a big California university.

Army Major Cole Messer, Tally’s new neighbor, won’t admit that trauma from combat tours in Afghanistan, destroyed his marriage and hampered his ability to lead.  As a teacher of college ROTC and single parent, he’s focused on enrolling his highly anxious son in Tally’s study and getting back to active duty.

Someone is dead set against Tally’s presence at the university, and blowback from her battles with co-workers put Cole and his son in jeopardy.  Watch what happens when people struggling with shades of anxiety collide with corrupt, revengeful foes.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Faith, Hope and Love can work wonders ...

but ruby slippers never hurt, either.

Just got back from a trip to the land of Oz. Specifically, from Kansas and a visit to the Wizard of Oz museum in Wamego, KS. Go ahead. Look it up. Or I'll help:

This is an amazing collection of memorabilia that is a Must See for any Oz fan. Not just movie stuff, but interesting things about Frank Baum, the books (all of them, all 40 or so), those who wrote the "other" books (not the original 13 by Baum) -- in short, lots of interesting stuff.

And let's not forget the Oz Winery, just down the street. Also a good spot to stop. I scored some Flying Monkeys Wine and Can't Find My Way Home White (sampled and they were good).

So go ahead, click your heels and take a trip down the yellow brick road. You won't regret it!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The END!!!

Last Saturday was a red-letter day because I finished a story I've been working on for a couple of months... the first time I've actually finished something in I'm embarrassed to say how long.

I've done drafts of novels... two in fact, but those haven't gotten beyond the draft phase. And I had a short story I was working on that stalled out. Basically I fell out of love with the characters and if I don't love them how can I expect anyone else to?

But this time I finished the story, revised it a couple of times, and turned it in. This will be part of an anthology a group of us is putting together for the next RT Booklovers convention in Las Vegas, May 2016 and it will also be offered up for sale.

Things are moving now so I'm real excited. I might even get one of the novels I drafted finished.

Janet Miller

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pairing Golf with Writing by Rolynn Anderson

First you have to know that I am the golfer, not my husband.  He hates golf as much as I love it.  What this means: twice a week (or so), I go off golfing on my own.  When I'm home, I play with my women friends, but when we travel and I haul my clubs along, I play as a 'single,' rounding out a foursome with three men I've never met before.  Two wonderful aspects of playing as a 'single:' I can play anytime I want to...and I get to play with very interesting people.

Yesterday I played with two men from Houston and one from Atlanta.  One of the fellows from Texas sells massage business franchises across the country.  Recently he's added a lucrative bundle of franchises for glue-on eyelashes, a ballooning industry.  What?  I am not making this up!  In fact, the man had to drop out of playing a couple of holes while he was wrapping up the sale of an eyelashing franchise.

I gather some plot and character ideas from my golf partners, but I also grab readers.  They are entranced by the idea I write suspense novels.  They always ask for my card, quiz me about my writing process, and promise they'll buy my books (or their wives/girlfriends will).  Some of my new golf buddies want to tell me stories I might use in an upcoming novel.  They are tickled when I tell them about the next suspense novel I'll be polishing, which centers on golf and is entitled BAD LIES.  Check out my works on my website:

Until I get that story out to you, you'll have to be content with my funeral planner series: FADEOUT, SWOON and FAINT (releasing this summer).  The setting is a golf course community in Arroyo Grande, California.

Here's the gist of the series:

When their research upends terrible secrets about the dead, a boutique funeral planner and a hard-charging journalist confront danger and clash over how to protect the living.



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A nostalgic feeling

Conference season is almost upon us. This time of year always reminds me of when I was first starting out in publishing, and I'd go to conferences HOPING to snag that perfect interview with an agent or editor that would change my life forever.


Don't get me wrong: I love remembering those old days. I had so much fun at conferences, and had so much fun being an aspiring author. My first books released in 2007 and after 25 books out, I still enjoy the rush of having a new release. This is the first year I don't have any books out (looking for a publisher for an 8-book series), and I'm enjoying the feeling of free time, promo time, and writing time.

So to all of you who are embarking on the conference go-round -- have fun. It really can be a blast and it can be so energizing and fun. And who knows? I may surprise you and show up at one now and again -- maybe not this year, but next year, I think RT may get a visit from me. And maybe one other ... only time will tell!

J L Wilson
(Writer at Play)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Who am I?

Today I'm posting from the RT Booklover's convention in Dallas, Texas. In the past couple of days I've danced at a number of parties, dressed in costumes, and attended several seminars on independent publishing. In general I've had a great time.

I've also introduced myself to a number of people I've never met before, which means I try to tell people who I am. They know I'm a writer because my badge says "published author" and I hand out promo cards that mention what books I've written. But is that all I am?

I am also:
A software engineer who works at a large company in Silicon Valley.
A wife and mother of two children who are now grown up.
An avid gamer who plays social games with people all over the world, many of whom are much younger than I am.

I love movies, good television, and books. Lots of books in lots of genres as I am a very wide reader. 

And that is only a part of who I am. I put a lot of me in all my books. My characters have been known to watch movies (albeit on a "holovid" rather than a DVD) and they make things that I have made myself. They play games and garden... I even have one character who is a romance author.

So that who I am. 

Who are you?

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What Do You Cook to get ready for a Family Gathering? by Rolynn Anderson

As you read this, I'm busy entertaining my family, brothers, sister, in-laws and nieces/nephews, at a family reunion.  Over the second week in May, they're all gathering at my house to celebrate my birthday.  Seven of these ten members of my family, have never visited me in California before.  To say I'm excited is an understatement.  To say I'm in a flurry of preparation?  Oh yes!

I'm wondering what you prepare when a crowd of loved ones comes to visit?  Here are some of the foods I'm preparing before they all arrive:
1.  Banana Bread
2.  Yule Kake (A Norwegian sweet bread)
3.  Peanut Butter Cookies
4.  Granola
5.  Tapenade (variety of chopped up olives and garlic in olive oil)
6.  Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

There's something about a trove of homemade stuff that says 'I'm glad you came.'  What are your favorites to have on hand?

Here's my standard (Quaker Oats) recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Simple, but yummy!
    • 1/2 Cup(s) (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 3/4 Cup(s) firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 Cup(s) granulated sugar
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 Teaspoon(s) vanilla
    • 1-1/2 Cup(s) all-purpose flour
    • 1 Teaspoon(s) Baking Soda
    • 1 Teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 Teaspoon(s) salt (optional)
    • 3 Cup(s) Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
    • 1 Cup(s) raisins
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Writing to spec

One of those things that I have done a lot during my writing career is write a story to meet a given specification. What this means is that there is that a company puts out a request for a story that meets some criteria and I then figure out how to do a story that meets that criteria and still makes sense to me.

For example here are a few of the story specs I've written to:

1. An Ellora's Caveman story that involves one of the following: a heavyset heroine, a vampire, futuristic, or bondage.

Or as I put it "so if I write a story about a vampire who lives on a space ship and finds a heavyset heroine tied to a tree, that would work, right?"

My editor said "Yeah, that would work."

And it did work. The story was "Darkpilot's Bride" and it is in Ellora's Cavemen Legendary Tails, volume 1

2. A story based on a Tarot card to be part of a card set put out by my publisher.

I wrote "Imperfect Judgment" and it was about an abandoned space colony that uses Tarot cards to make important decisions, and the "judgment" card featured prominently in the story.

To date I haven't written another story in that world, but I really enjoyed creating it.

3. A story where people ask Mrs. Claus for something that changes their life.

In "Perfect Hero" my heroine puts on a white board at work her request to "Mrs. Claus" for a new monitor and gets a magic one the next day. When she uses it to design a game character she ends up with a"hero" that steps out of the monitor. He then goes on to ensure she has a magical Christmas.

I've done others but you get the idea. I enjoy the challenge of taking a story concept and twisting it into something I want to write.

Recently I joined a group of writers who are doing an outer space anthology. The concept is a short work, ten to twenty thousand words, set in a casino on a space station. Now there are all sorts of ideas this brings up but I've decide to do a story set in my Gaian world. So the story will be a Gaian man who finds his match in a woman working the equivalent of a black-jack table in a small space station. The tentative title is "a turn of the cards" and I've already gotten several thousand words written and the plot planned out.

I'm pretty excited about it so watch this space for more information.

Janet Miller/ Cricket Starr

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


As you read this posting, I’m golfing at La Quinta with two friends, an event I bull-dozed into happening.  Enough of saying ‘let’s take a golf trip together.’  If this is something a bunch of friends want to do, then someone has to organize the ding-dang thing. 

Time’s a wasting and I'm not getting any younger.  I'm taking control of my bucket list!

Most of you know I’m a golfer, leaving my writing desk to play a couple times a week...for exercise, for the competition and for the camaraderie.  My husband doesn’t play golf, so I’m going on these trips with my girlfriends.  Ready?  Set?  Go!

What golf courses are in my bucket?  Easy!  I pulled up a list of the 30 best golf courses in California:
1. Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach
2. Spyglass Hill, Pebble Beach
3. Pasatiempo, Santa Cruz
4. Torrey Pines (South), La Jolla
5. Trump National LA, Rancho Palos Verdes
6. Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach
7. CordeValle, San Martin
8. PGA West (TPC Stadium), La Quinta
9. Pelican Hill (Ocean South), Newport Coast
11. Rustic Canyon, Moorpark
12. Pelican Hill (Ocean North), Newport Coast
13. Poppy Hills, Pebble Beach
14. Indian Wells (Players), Indian Wells
16. Marriott Shadow Ridge, Palm Desert
17. Aviara, Carlsbad
18. The Grand, San Diego
19. Barona Creek, Lakeside
20. TPC Harding Park, San Francisco
21. Desert Willow (Firecliff), Palm Desert
22. La Costa (Champions), Carlsbad
24. Old Greenwood, Truckee
25. Maderas, Poway
26. Half Moon Bay (Ocean), Half Moon Bay
27. Indian Wells (Celebrity), Indian Wells
28. Journey at Pechanga, Temecula
29. Saddle Creek, Copperopolis
30. Coyote Moon, Truckee

Three of us are driving to Palm Springs, staying there three nights to play golf courses #10, #21 and #11.

No question about it, we will have fun and we will be challenged…and we’ll be ready to play more of the courses on our bucket list next year.  Goal?  Three courses a year for the next 9 years.  Can we do it?  You bet we can!

Talk about meeting goals: I’ll be trotting out two novels this summer.  Here’s a sneak peak at one cover; expect pages in June or July.  Meanwhile,  grab LIE CATCHERS if you haven’t yet read it!

FEAR LAND is coming soon.  Watch for it in June!  Happy summer adventures.  Rolynn