Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Are your writing problems: wine, waste paper, or manure?

Authors wear at least three hats – writer, publicist, and business executive. Instead of investing time and money in another seminar on how to manage your time more effectively, consider reading Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. Don’t shake your head no, keep reading!

Set priorities
In Chapter One of Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, Linda Almquist receives this advice on setting priorities when she begins a new job.

“There are three types of problems. A few problems are like wine; those situations improve if you delay decisions and let them age. Most problems are like waste paper. You can ignore them because they don’t matter. Unfortunately like waste paper, they tend to be messy when they pile up. And some problems are like manure. You must identify them quickly before they stink.”

Most of us are so swamped by our “waste paper” problems, that we ignore the “manure problems.” For example, I dribble away my time agonizing over the position of pictures in blogs and the color of the background on ads and slides. I should spend more time on my “manure” problem – getting a larger audience to read my novels. That means I should spend my time scheduling more and diverse speaking and blogging engagements and more time editing my next novel.

Change your work activities as if you were dieting
You can lose a lot of weight rapidly and you can write a lot a 48-hour writing frenzy but these spurts of effort may not be the best approach to keeping weight off or to a long-term writing career. In Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, Linda Almquist loses weight because she makes lots of small choices, in terms of food and exercise, everyday. Similarly, setting aside time (even only a few minutes) to “work on your books” every day is smart. While you may not be able to accomplish much writing on a novel in fifteen minutes, you can outline a blog in that time.

You are more apt to attain small achievable goals (such as losing a pound a week or writing twenty pages per week) than larger goals with artificial deadlines (for example losing fifty pounds before your class reunion in six months or writing a three hundred page novel by Christmas). In both cases you have to stick to your weekly goal, every week for months to see results. Patience and old-fashioned “stick-to-it-iveness” are virtues.

Create your own action plan
= Keep notes on how you spend your time on writing and publicizing your books for a week.

= Analyze your time usage, in terms of what you accomplished.

How does your time usage align with your writing goals? If you don’t have defined goals for your writing, you’ve just uncovered a “manure” problem.

Are you surprised by how much time you spent handling trivial (“waste paper”) problems or surfing the web?

= Set workable weekly goals and stick to them for months.

Maybe part of your plan should be to read Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. Then you can decide if Linda Almquist follows this advice as she checks out allegations of medical malpractice against two diet doctors in a medical school rife with battling cliques. Her schedule is thrown out of whack when she finds one diet doctor dead and starts receiving threats.

Bio: J. L. Greger, a biologist and professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, can’t put her past behind her. She puts tidbits of science and snippets on the culture (good, bad, and ugly) of medical schools and science labs into her medical mystery/suspense novels. So far that’s Coming Flu and Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. A third is on the way.

Learn more about JL Greger at her website (http: www.jlgreger.com) and her blog (www.jlgregerblog.blogspot.com) called JL Greger’s Bugs. Coming Flu (http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Flu-ebook/dp/B008WDL84O/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372715303&sr=1-1&keywords=Coming+Flu )
are available from Amazon in paperback and ebook formats.

Great advice, Janet. I need to pay more attention to that myself. Best of luck with the new book!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Here I go Again!

Yes, I'm planning another blog tour. I forgot how hard it is.

This one is for my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Spirit Shapes. According to what I've been reading on different author lists, unless an author is a big name, they might as well forget trying to get a buzz for a coming book before the book is published.

That's not what I'm doing here. My blog tour won't be going on until the book is available. However, in order to get the tour set up I have to begin now. I have to find 30 bloggers willing to host me for a day. I'm almost there, have on four empty days. Of course this meant emailing people and asking if they are willing. Some of the likely candidates were people who have been guests on my blog. Surprisingly, some of them don't have blogs.

Of course keeping track of all this is also important, I need to have the date and the person, the URL for their blog, their email address to send the blog post when it's ready, and if they have something special they want me to write.

Next, is writing all of the posts. It's important that each one be different, because I have a contest going with the tour and the winner will be the person who writes a comment on the most blog sites. I don't want anyone to be bored reading the posts. This takes a lot of time.

I have to wait until I get a .jpg of the cover before I can send the posts off. I'm also hoping to have some new photos of me to send along too.

Once the tour begins, I have to check and make sure the posts are up and then that day keep coming back to respond to a keep track of any comments.

Do I think a tour helps with sales? That's hard to judge.  Of course I have to think it does since it is a lot of work.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Rowling Experiment

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about J. K. Rowling’s experiment in publishing a crime novel under an assumed name.

For the benefit of those who may have been in limbo and out of touch with the news, Rowling—famous for her Harry Potter juvenile novels—decided to publish a debut detective novel under the name Robert Galbraith, alleged to be the married father of two and a former undercover investigator.

Though the book sold about 1,500 copies in hardback (not bad for a debut mystery), sales didn’t really begin to soar until her cover was blown in a newspaper article. Some have accused Rowling of engaging in chicanery and leaking her identity to the press.

Whether you believe that or not, is of no concern here.

What is obvious, and hasn’t been stressed enough, is this fact: Names sell.

This has always been true to a certain extent, but is even more true today. Readers, deluged with tons of books being published each year, must rely on certain factors to select their next book. Though reviews, a good cover and/or advertising may have some impact, nothing sells like NAME RECOGNITION.

And why should it not? If a reader enjoys one book, it encourages belief the next will similarly entertain. Each reader you please could lead to multiple recommendations. And there is no better advertising than word of mouth.

Naturally, most of us won’t emulate Rowling or other big names—at least not in the short term. But reader by reader, each of us CAN build a following.

How you choose to build your name recognition is a matter of choice. There are many methods of marketing available to us and no one is certain which works best. What we can all do, though, is strive to improve our product in every way possible.

Oh, and one other thing—be appreciative of your readers.

--J.R Lindermuth

Sooner Than Gold Blurb:
It’s the summer of 1898. The nation, just coming out of an economic slump, has been at war with Spain since April. And Sylvester Tilghman, sheriff of Arahpot, Jordan County, Pennsylvania, has a murder victim with too many enemies.

There’s Claude Kessler, who is found standing with a knife in his hand over the body of Willis Petry. There’s Rachel Webber, Petry’s surly teen-aged stepdaughter, who admits an act intended to cause him harm. Then there’s the band of gypsies who claim Petry is the goryo who stole one of their young women.

If this isn’t enough to complicate Tilghman’s life, add in threats to his job by McClean Ruppenthal, former town burgess; a run-in with a female horse thief; scary predictions by a gypsy fortuneteller, and the theft of Doc Mariner’s new motorcar.

There’s plenty of good eating, church-going and socializing along the way. And, before all is over, Sylvester solves the crime and even comes a little closer to his goal of finally marrying longtime girlfriend Lydia Longlow. 

BIO: The author of 12 novels, J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in central Pennsylvania. A retired newspaper editor, he now serves as librarian of his county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research and finding much material for stories in both the people he meets and the books in the stacks. He has two children and four grandsons who try—not always successfully—to keep him out of trouble.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dynamics of Change by Cindy Carroll

Today my guest is Cindy Carroll who tells us about change and how it affects her writing.

"The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress." ~ 
Charles Kettering 

Nothing stays the same, even though for someone who hates change as much as I do, I wish some things would stay the same. My inability to embrace change was so bad that my work actually sent me on a course - Dynamics of Change. It was right before they laid a bunch of people off so I question their good intentions. For stories, as soon as I start writing them I start changing them. That's the only area of my life where I don't mind change. I embrace it even. Because I know when I change things I'll make the story better. At least I hope I'll make it better.

The story I just released didn't start out how it finished. I had the idea in university (mumble years ago) and I wrote it with a specific intent. I wanted to fluster my professor. She was prim and proper and looked down her nose at genre fiction. So I wrote the story and handed it in late so she wouldn't have time to read it before class. She read our stories aloud, you see. And I couldn't wait to see what she would do when she got to my story. In that story my cursed mirror replaced people with their sexy alter egos. Good news for the groom to be who had been denied sex by his bride to be. She wanted to wait until the wedding. Can you guess what happened in that story? The virginal heroine was replaced with her sexy double and hot sex ensued as soon as the groom to be knocked on her door.

In the version I just released the story is darker. Leaning more towards horror. The cursed mirror still replaces people with doubles. But the doubles are that side of you, you never let out. The side you keep in check because you know you can't act on those feelings. The side that scares you a little when you think about it too long. The side you don't want to admit exists. But we all have a dark side. Most of us keep in check. The group of friends in my story aren't so lucky. 

Reflections blurb:

When a cursed inn replaces her friends with evil reflections a woman fights to get the genuine articles back before the doubles kill her.

A road trip goes wrong for a group of friends trying to help one of them get over a break up. They find an inn where the mirrors are cursed. They realize they don't know each other as well as they thought they did.

Bio: Cindy Carroll is a member of Sisters in Crime and a graduate of Hal Croasmun's screenwriting ProSeries. Her interviews with writers of CSI and Flashpoint appeared in The Rewrit, the Scriptscene newsletter, the screenwriting Chapter of RWA. She writes screenplays, thrillers, and paranormals, occasionally exploring an erotic twist. A background in banking and IT doesn't allow much in the way of excitement so she turns to writing stories that are a little dark and usually have a dead body. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her fiancé and three cats. When she's not writing you can usually find her painting landscapes in oil or trying space paintings with spray paint.

Buy on Kobo: http://bit.ly/13CBz9M

 Thanks for visiting me today, Cindy.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Going in Several Directions at Once

This seems to be the way I operate all the time.

I've finished with my big job of putting together the Public Safety Writers Association's conference program. I will still be around to "back-up" my replacement, Mike Black. (Nothing like having an 80 year old woman as your back-up--will certainly be different for Mike.)

I'm nearly finished with a paid job--it is writing, but of a different kind--putting together a program design for a new residential facility. And there is another looming in the near future.

I spent quite a bit of time updating a book I got the rights back to when the publisher closed her doors. And was surprised at how many mistakes were in it--even wrong names. Amazing since I won a prize with that book. When it comes out again, it will have a new name.

We're had lots of company and celebrations. My granddaughter and her family are back in California and visiting every weekend. Love seeing and playing with our great-granddaughter. And a great-grandson turned 2 and we went to his birthday party in a loud pizza place with lots of games and other celebrations. Their grandpa, our son, lives right next door, so we get to see these kids a lot.

I've finished my next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel which has the title Murder in the Worst Degree. I still need to read more chapters to my critique group who always have great ideas and find mistake. I consider them my first editor. Then I'll send it off to be edited once again before it goes to the publisher. Readers who follow Officer Gordon Butler will like this one.  If you'd like to know more about Gordon Butler read Fringe Benefits, Angel Lost, No Bells, and Dangerous Impulses. He's in other books too, but has starring roles in this one. (Remember, I write these as F. M. Meredith.)

As for my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, I'm awaiting the edits for Spirit Shapes. And in the meantime I'm planning a blog tour for the book. This takes a lot of time too, contacting people who might like to host me and figuring out the dates--and of course, writing the posts.

It doesn't end there--I also plan in-person promotion because I love meeting readers. My next one will be at the Nipomo Library the first Saturday in August from 9 to 2. I'll be on the porch with my books.

Guess what? I also need to start planning the next book in the Tempe Crabtree series. I have a few ideas floating around in my head--but nothing concrete as yet.

One thing I can say, "I am never bored."

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Monday, July 22, 2013

E-book or Print

Judy Alter give her thoughts on this question:

I plunged headlong into the book world both as author and publisher in the 1980s, a different world from today. Hardcover books were the norm, and we used to agonize over the print run—1,000 copies, 1500? We didn’t want to run out but neither did we want a stock of unsold books in the warehouse. It was strictly a crap shoot—sometimes we lost, sometimes we won big time. After a book came close to selling out its cloth edition, we went to trade paper, assuming sales justified it. Then along came Print on Demand (or Print to Order as some call it) and e-books, and the whole publishing world turned topsy-turvy. I’m not sure it’s righted itself yet. Don’t get me wrong—I think both technological advances are great for both publishers and authors.

I retired from publishing (I was director of a small academic press) four years ago and turned my attention to what I really wanted to do—writing mystery novels. After the usual futile try to find and agent, I was fortunate enough to find a home with a wonderful small press, Turquoise Morning Press. I didn’t know it at the time, but the press was less than a year old. Now, with five years under its belt, it’s grown dramatically. And things have changed. TMP is now first a digital publisher, which means print comes much later than the digital edition. And this has set me to thinking about the important of print—or whether it’s important.
I have no statistics but mystery lists online are full of opinions—e-books are dying; e-books are flourishing; the sale of digital readers is down (but not out); the e-book sales surge is over; e-book sales are climbing; the free book program (principally on Kindle) is no longer as effective for publicity and increasing sales as it was when new. 

A couple of things are obvious: I think the free book program in general is not as effective, though there are exceptions and the Goodreads giveaway program still seems to be working; more people are reading e-books but with the increased opportunities for self-publishing, more people are publishing them. So for the self-publisher, it’s a question of whether or not your book will be found.

And that, to me, is where print books come in. Print books are easier to promote—through reviews, signings, giveaways, etc. Sure, there’s an ego thing about having a book in hand, but I know enough about economics to realize that ego is not enough to justify print. But I still think print is important…and I have at least a few fans who don’t do e-books and are waiting for the print of my latest, Murder at the Blue Plate Café. The books were finally available in mid-June, after the e-book appeared in February. Meanwhile, my next book, Danger Comes Home, debuts as an ebook this week. 

Abut Judy Alter:

An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of four books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, and Danger Comes Home. She is also the author of Murder at the Blue Plate Café.

Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. 

Judy is retired as director of TCU Press. She is the mother of four grown children and the grandmother of seven. She and her dog live in Fort Worth, Texas.

Danger Come Home Blurb:

Kelly O’Connell’s husband, Mike Shandy, insists she has a talent for trouble, but how can she sit idly by while her world is shattering. Daughter Maggie is hiding a runaway classmate; protégé Joe Mendez seems to be hanging out again with his former gang friends and ignoring his lovely wife Theresa; drug dealers have moved into her beloved Fairmount neighborhood. And amidst all this, reclusive former diva Lorna McDavid expects Kelly to do her grocery shopping. In spite of Mike’s warnings, Kelly is determined to save the runaway girl and her abused mother and find out what’s troubling Joe, even when those things lead back to the drug dealers. Before all the tangles in the neighborhood are untangled, Kelly finds herself wondering who to trust, facing drug dealers, and seeing more of death than she wants. But she also tests upscale hot dog recipes and finds a soft side to the imperious recluse, Lorna McDavid. It’s a wild ride, but she manages, always, to protect her daughters and keep Mike from worrying about her—at least not too much.

P. S. Thanks for visiting today, Judy. I have similar thoughts--though must of my books come out in print and e-books around the same time. No matter what we do, a lot of our time must be spent in promotion.