Q is for Query: Here We Go Again

Happy Saturday. I hope it is for all of us since it follows a dismal Friday. Good Friday! There was nothing good about it this year–at least not as far asImage I’m concerned. In terms of my faith, my salvation was purchased in blood, for which I’m grateful, but in terms of my writing career, it suffered a death blow. Madison Connors announced she’s closing Front Porch Romance for health reasons. This comes on the heels of the Entranced Debacle, and that means I now have SEVEN books that need a home. Suddenly, I feel lost and terrified–all my children have moved back home and I don’t know what to do with them! I thank God for Crimson Romance and Sweet/Secret Cravings Publishing which are still vibrant. It wasn’t as if I didn’t know it was in the cards; I’d guessed a couple of months ago when things started to go south that FPR might be in trouble–hell we were warned. We chose to ignore the signs, and that was our stupidity. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck. Or may that word should start with an “F”. Unfortunately, I tend to look at the world through rose-colored lenses. I look for the best in people and situations, but inevitably, I’m disappointed. To paraphrase what P.T. Barnum is said to have claimed, I’m one of the suckers born every minute. Maybe I’ve learned a lesson this time–probably not.  I wonder if I’ll ever recapture the optimism I felt just two days ago.

ImageOn that dismal note, I’ve decided to talk about queries for today’s  A to Z Blog Challenge, For those of you who aren’t authors, a query is a sale’s pitch for a manuscript. It’s sent to an acquisitions editor, either directly or through general submissions, and you wait for a yea or nay. It’s an emotional process followed by weeks of nail biting and waiting. Sometimes the answer is yes; more often it’s no, without any reason given as to why it doesn’t fit the imprint beyond “this isn’t right for us now”. Years ago, once a publisher took your work, you were set. Not so today. Contacts are issued for one book at a time. If I did anything right last year, despite the failure of two of my publishers, it was that I didn’t put all my eggs in the same basket. Maybe that will sustain me now, but then again, maybe it won’t.

When I finish a manuscript and decide it’s ready to go off to a publisher, I’m excited about it and writing the Imagequery is fun and easy to do. I’ve got a tagline picked out for it and a sale’s pitch. I’ve got the dreaded synopsis ready too, so I’m good to go. Since I had a publisher who was eager to see and buy my work, I’d send out the letter and within a week or two, I got my response. Now that’s gone. The publisher has ceased to exist, and I’m back to square one–or worse.

The books scheduled to be released in May aren’t a problem because they’re unedited and unpublished, even if they were sold for a short time. Those I can try to find homes for right away, but I’m not sure where to start looking. After the failure of these two publishers, I have a fear of small publishing houses, and I’m not sure where I want to go with my books. Once bitten, twice shy. Twice bitten, get the hell out of Dodge. 

My greatest problem lies in the published books whose covers adorn this post probably for the last time. Many publishing houses won’t take previously publImageished books even if I have proof that the rights are mine once more. I’ve lost covers I loved, and I’m not even sure I have the rights to the manuscript versions that were published, although I did all the edits myself–the editor suggested some, but most of these were line edits. Content edits were all mine. That leaves me  with  the possibility of self-publishing–scary, but not as scary as the thought once was. I’ve had a number of fellow author go that route recently, and although it involves considerable work in terms of covers, editing, formatting, and may cost money to do, it isn’t impossible–but I have to wait for the reversion of my rights and the books to come down from the vendor sites before I can even consider that. Maybe, it’s my chance to rewrite them and improve the stories? Who knows? At the moment, the light at the end of that tunnel is burned out.

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The closing of FPR also affects the book I co-wrote with Misty Matthews. This one will be harder to decide how to handle. It was part of a series, the second book only just begun. I think this one bothers me almost more than any of the others because I know how devastated my co-author is. While we’ll still have a novella out there, it won’t be the same. I have other books published under my name, but for Misty, this novel was her baby, and no one likes to see baby leave home. Among the things I’ll miss most is our cover, the one we selected together. FPR retains the rights to all covers, but we designed this one. We chose the images and told the cover artist what to do with them, and now, we can’t use it  even if we decide to self-publish it. 

So, for the three books unpublished, the whole selling process starts again. I may query agents first this time, although many agented writers got screwed with Entranced. I may try other publishers or send some to my existing publishers and pray they like them. Either way, the query process begins today. As Daffy Duck in his Duck Dodger persona would say, “To infinity and beyond.”  Where we land is anyone’s guess.

Don’t forget to check out today’s other Q postings on A to Z Blog Challenge

 

 

Look Who Dropped By: Lauren K. Mckellar

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It’s my pleasure this morning to be part of The Problem With Crazy Blog Hop PROMO  By Lauren Mckellar. Follow the link to mark this great NA book to read. GOODREADS

 ImageABOUT THE BOOK:  

 The problem with crazy is that crazy, by itself, has no context. It can be good crazy, bad crazy . . . or crazy crazy—like it was when my ex-boyfriend sung about me on the radio.

 Eighteen-year-old Kate couldn’t be more excited about finishing high school and spending the summer on tour with her boyfriend’s band. Her dad showing up drunk at graduation, however, is not exactly kicking things off on the right foot—and that’s before she finds out about his mystery illness, certain to end in death.

 A mystery illness she is likely to inherit.

 When your whole life goes from adventure and ecstasy to sad and suicidal, what’s the point? Not knowing who to love, and who to trust . . . where does it end?

 The Problem With Crazy is a story about love and life; about overcoming obstacles, choosing to trust, and learning how to make the choices that will change your life forever.

 TEASERS

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You can buy The Problem With Crazy here:

ITUNES

AMAZON US

 

CHARACTER PROFILE: KATE

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Kate is an eighteen-year-old girl from Lakes, a small seaside town about an hour north of Sydney. With d
reams of being a tour manager and a boyfriend, Dave, who is about to tour with America’s hottest new band, Coal, things couldn’t be looking brighter.

That is, until her father shows up drunk at graduation.

And Dave turns out to not be the perfect guy after all.

Kate used to be nice. She used to be relaxed. She used to be happy.

Now Kate is angry. Is that an oncoming car we can see in the distance?

 

BLOG HOP CLUE C

Your blog hop clue is: KATE

 AUTHOR BIO:

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Lauren K. McKellar is an author and editor. Her debut novel, Finding Home, was released through Escape Publishing on October 1, 2013, and her second release, NA Contemporary Romance The Problem With Crazy, is self-published, and is available now. 

 As well as being a magazine editor for a national audited publication on pet care, Lauren works as a freelance editor for independent authors, and was a Runner Up Editor of the Year in the Publishers Australia awards in 2013. 

 Lauren is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia and is obsessed with words–she likes the way they work.

 She lives on the Central Coast of New South Wales with her fiance and their two super-cute puppies.

 

P is for Passion

Today is Good Friday for those of us who are Christians, the day we set aside to remember the Passion of Christ. For my  A to Z Blog Challenge entry today, I want to speak about passion.

Passion has several meanings. According to Dictionary.com, passion is:

  1. Strong and barely controllable emotion.
  2. Intense sexual love.
  3. An intense desire or enthusiasm for something.
  4. A thing arousing enthusiasm.
  5. The suffering and death of Jesus

As I get ready to go to church and take part in out Passion play, I remember how much people have suffered in the last two millennia in the name of religion and how that hasn’t stopped. I’m a Christian, and proud of it, but I also believe that God is God, no matter what name you give Him. Torturing people simply because they don’t share your beliefs is just wrong.

So what am I passionate about? What am I committed to, above all else? Writing romance novels–any subgenre would do. I need to tell my stories. If I torture my hero and heroine in the process, there is a reason for it. The more annoyed I am with someone, the more I torture a character in my book. That’s how I vent my anger, my distress and also my joy. In the end, no matter how much they suffer, things always work out. So, what’s your passion? 

Don’t forget to check out the other P entries A to Z Blog Challenge 

 

Optimism

Good morning. Today’s bright and sunny, cold enough that we still need to heat the house, but overall it’s a great day. On this day’s  A to Z Blog Challenge, I want to talk about optimism, my “O” word of the day. The word was derived from the Latin optimum, meaning “best.” Being optimistic generally means expecting the best possible outcome in any given situation. Lately, the last thing I’ve been is optimistic, in fact, I’ve done a 180 by looking at the worst possible case scenarios since the start of 2014.I’ve started to doubt myself, and self-doubt is the kiss of death to any form of creativity. 

2013 was one of the best years of my life — a milImageestone to be sure. I sold and had released five books of my own and one I co-wrote with a wonderful author from Newfoundland. I was on an all time high, so proud of myself, and my accomplishments. I was a published author–me–Wow!

I’d spent hours and hours at the computer writing, editing, learning more about my craft, trying to correct the writing flaws pointed out by critical editors. I learned how to use social media to promote myself. By the end of the year, Misty and I had sold a novella to another publisher, and  I’d sold another manuscript of my own to what I thought was a good publisher. I’d finished NaNo month with a request for the edited manuscript and was working on Book 3 of my Holiday magic collection. Things were going well. My submission to Harlequin had been turned down, but  even Stephen King got rejections. So what if I hadn’t made it to the “Big 6″,  I was a published author. I was anticipating another great year. Silly me. I’ve always heard it said that when you think something’s too good to be true, it usually is.

ImageProblems started right after New Year’s when I got sick. I’m asthmatic and somehow picked up a bad bug that clung to me for almost two months. During that time, I had little energy, but did what I could. With Misty, I made the edits on Grand Slam,our novella being released under the name Misty Matthews.  It was scheduled to be released at the end of January. I finished the edits on Holiday Magic Book 3 and sold it and another manuscript to  one of my publishers. Grand Slam came out and seemed to be doing well, and I sold Just For The Weekend to Crimson. Everything looked great, right? Wrong.

Appearances can be deceiving. If there is one thing I have always been and will seek to be in the near future is naive. I look for the best in people. You want my help, ask. It’s amazing how many times I’ve been stabbed in the back because I did that–have I learned my lesson–maybe–probably not. 

Other things conspired to burst my bubble. First, as many authors working with small pubs and virtually no publicity can attest, none of the books seemed to be selling well. Then, to make matters worse, what little money owed me, wasn’t being paid– and still hasn’t been. There were countless excuses given–and I believed them all–hook, line and sinker.

Down and depressed, I got a rejection for a manuscript I really liked “because a book with a similar theme hadn’t done well and though my book was great, they were going to pass on it.” How was that for a kick in the teeth?

The icing on the cake came when Entranced just shut its doors, leaving myself, other authors, editors, cover artists, publicists, high and dry. After spending weeks on edits, suddenly the book wasn’t going to be published. I was devastated, but like all awful things that happen, some good came from that blow. I met an incredible group of people who’ve taught me what perseverance and dedication to the craft really are. They’d all lost far more than i had, but they were picking themselves up by their bootstraps and getting back on the horse. Once they’d received their rights, they chose to resubmit their books or self-publish them. They’ve helped me turn another 180.

I resubmitted the book to another publisher and hope to hear from them soon. Crimson, who has always paid me on time, sent the royalty check out when it was expected and the money’s sitting in my little U.S Funds account. They released Just For The Weekend on Monday, and thanks to their efforts and the help of my newfound friends, the book is selling better than any of my others have done so far. The editor even got me a spot on Heroes and Heartbreakers.com next month. I’m thrilled about this and optimistic the book will do well.  

I got sales report from another publisher and Grand Slam is doing moderately well. Misty and I won’t be getting rich anytime soon, but we’ve sold over 200 copies in two months. It’s a start. I sold a new manuscript to that publisher too, so I’m looking forward to the July release of Echoes of the Past.

I’m currently working on a new manuscript with a publisher in mind and I’m feeling optimistic it will find a home. I have a revise and resubmit for a historical romance I wrote last year, and I think it’ll get picked up too.

And the other thing?  Most likely I’ll never see the money I’m owed, but I’m not going to let it get me down. When the time is right, I’ll get my rights back and maybe I’ll self-pub those books. The few people who read them enjoyed them so I have a small following out there and millions of others to find. I’ve learned a lesson. I don’t regret anything I’ve done. You have to fall down a lot of times before you can learn to walk. I’m just going to pick myself up, dust off my ass, and get back in the game. Optimism is my word this spring and I’m going to stick to it. 

Don’t forget to check out the other  A to Z Blog Challenge entries for today. 

 

No, Nada, Nyet, Non, Nein means NO!

ImageWell, we’re on the downhill side of the alphabet. Today’s  A to Z Blog Challenge is reserved for the letter “N”. On this bright, sunny, but still too damn cold day, I thought I’d blog about saying no. I think as a parent I’ve said “no” a lot more than I’ve said “yes”, and the results are inevitably the same–they do what they want to do. Does this make me a failure as a parent? No. It puts me in the same class as billions of parents around the world. Let’s face it. Even God’s kids broke the rules and did exactly what He told them not to do.

It’s been my experience that children learn to say “no” well before they can even speak–the mouth that won’t open for the spoon, the toy tossed on the floor, and the endless hours of tears when they refuse to be comforted. Once they can speak, “no” comes out of their cute little mouths far more often than “yes”, so why don’t they understand what it means? As a parent, I’ve got a closet full of examples of the times I’ve said “no” or “don’t” to my children, and they went ahead and did it anyway. Invariably, they were found out and the appropriate punishment doled out, but you could bet your last dollar, the time would come when I’d say “no” and they’d do it anyway.

Unfortunately, I have to admit to being as guilty of ignoring “no” and “don’t” as most others. I think for some strange reason when our brains were wired, it was done in such a fashion that when we hear “don’t” or “no”, we immediately view it as a suggestion rather than a command or request. For example, how many times have you told yourself “don’t buy that” or “don’t eat that” and you’ve done it anyway? Yup. I hear you. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt factory.

Look at mystery and horror movies for a moment. How many movies have you seen where someone is told “Don’t…” and they do it? I’ve sat through countless movies whispering to the screen “Don’t open the door..”  or some such nonsense. What happens? They open the door. They get attacked, killed, eaten, you name it. Typical!

Lately, I’ve come across a whole new cadre of disobedient characters. I want them to do this, that, and the other thing, set it up for them, and Boom! No. They want to do something else. I can hear you sniggering. You’ve met them too. So, explain to me how imaginary characters, created inside my head by me, can be as wilful and stubborn as human children? If I try to bend them to my will, I get writer’s block, or worse–a plot so full of holes it resembles Swiss cheese.  If I give them their heads, and allow them to deviate from the plot, I’m looking at a different ending, one I didn’t anticipate, and another three or four days to finish the manuscript.

So, what’s my answer? You guessed it. “Go with the flow, and hope for the best”  No means no, and in this case, I’m the one saying, “No, it’s okay. This time, we’ll do it your way. After all, it’s your story too.” Right?

Check out today’s other  A to Z Blog Challenge entries for the letter “N”.

Mid Week Tease: Just For The Weekend

ImageGood morning. It seems appropriate to select this week’s tease from my new novel, Just For The Weekend, released last Monday. The contemporary romance is set among the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas. Cleo agrees to accompany her author friend to a sci-fi convention and dress up in a costume. She didn’t expect the outfit she got. We’ve all met the guys with a little too much liquid courage under their belt and not enough brain power to light up a 15 watt bulb–guys who behave like total jerks. Here’s how feisty Cleo deals with some of them. 

Excerpt From Just For The Weekend:

Cleo let her gaze roam over to the bar where the man who’d kissed her sat. She was almost positive it was the guy from the lounge—those brown eyes were familiar and the gesture with the glass he’d made minutes ago mimicked last night’s salute. She didn’t see the women he’d been with. There were several men in the room dressed as Cardassians, but he stood out from the others. He’d taken a lot for granted with that kiss, but she wasn’t as upset about it as she should be. She suspected he was a player, but what a kisser! It had been an incredible experience. If anyone else had tried it, she’d have busted his balls. She’d noted the way he’d rarely taken his eyes off her. While some of the men made her uncomfortable with the way they stared at her, he didn’t. Go figure. Normally she abhorred macho men, but there’d been times in the last two hours when she’d wished he’d been closer to the booth to glower at some of the more unsavory men she’d dealt with, especially the touchy-grabby jerks, like the one approaching her now. Mitch owed her big-time for this, and she’d collect. She started out trying to be polite—after all, some of these guys were fans—but she was fed up with their lewd innuendos. She’d resorted to sarcasm, but they were either too drunk or too thick-skinned to appreciate it. Why did some men think they could objectify women the way they did based on the clothes they wore? This was a costume. It wasn’tImage who she was.

“Back again?” She forced a fake smile on her face for the blue-skinned Andorian who’d been plaguing her the last hour. His battery-operated antennae wiggled more slowly now than they had earlier. “I can’t imagine I have anything left to give you.” His hand shot out, but she quickly stepped back out of reach.

“I can think of a couple of things I wouldn’t mind holding.” He smiled lecherously at her, showing a mouthful of poorly maintained teeth that weren’t part of the costume. “What can I say? You’ve entranced me. How about you and I get together later tonight? I’ve got a room upstairs and a bed just waiting to be broken in.”

You can break it in alone, you slime ball.

“Sorry, that’s a tempting offer, I’m sure, but I’m busy later.”

“Thought so; I saw you with the Cardassian earlier. What about tomorrow night? The convention lasts three days.”

“Sorry, busy all weekend.”

“Sure you are.” He winked. “If you change your mind, I’m in room nineteen eleven. We’ll have a party—it’s come as you are.” He leaned over. “I’d like to lick every inch of that green paint off you. You can return the favor.” He blew in her ear and she shuddered, the stench of his beer and stale cigarette breath making her want to barf. What a loser.

“If the soap doesn’t work, I’ll keep it in mind.” She breathed a sigh of relief when he took the bookmark she’d been holding, but almost gagged when he turned her hand over and licked her palm.

Gross! She rubbed her hand on the tablecloth.

 She replenished the pile of books next to Mitch, added more swag to the table, and jumped when a man dressed as a vampiric, hive-dwelling Wraith from Atlantis leaned across the table. He’d been standing over to the left of the booth watching her, and she’d tried to ignore him as best she could.

 “Hey gorgeous, I’ve been watching you turn down the guys all night. If you like to party with the ladies, I can arrange a ménage à trois. I’m all for new experiences. What’s your name?”

“Leaveme.”

“Leaveme? Is that an Orion name?”

“No, it’s one hundred percent Terran as in ‘leave me alone.’”

He laughed loudly, drawing the attention of several people nearby. “I like my women feisty. I’d love to suck the life force out of you.” He raised his mini-suction-cup-covered hand and ran it along her bare arm.

She shuddered at the uncomfortable feeling of hard plastic against her smooth skin and pulled away. He stuck out his tongue—it had to be as long as Mick Jagger’s. She rolled her eyes. Really?

“Yeah, well, it isn’t going to happen. I like my life force right where it is, thanks. You’ll have to find someone else to play with.” She shoved a bookmark in his hand.

“Relax. I’m just looking for a good time same as you. That’s why we come to these things, right? There’s nothing I’d like better than to look down at you with your mouth on my…”

“Stop right there while I bleach my eyeballs to get rid of that image. It isn’t going to happen; not now, not ever.”

She turned her back on him and focused her attention on the remaining books. She was spitting mad. How dare he make those assumptions and suggestions? She straightened the bra that had a tendency to slip and was glad to see her nemesis had gone. At least he’d taken the hint. That guy had left a bad taste in her mouth.

Buy links for JUST FOR THE WEEKEND:

Amazon:       Barnes and Nobles:      Kobo:

Check out the Other Mid Week Teases

  

M is for Media

ImageAs I hit the midway mark in the  A to Z Blog Challenge  I realize how much harder and time consuming this actually is. As a teacher, I was never at a loss for words, as many of my past students can attest, and yet, as I contemplate the next topic, I keep wondering who really wants to read this stuff? In front of the classroom, I had a captive audience–they were stuck there, whether they liked it or not. Did they all listen? Of course not, but in my ignorance, I assumed some of my knowledge would sink in by osmosis.

Is there actually anyone out there who cares what I think and say on a daily basis? As an ebook author, I truly hope there are people waiting to hear what I’m going to talk about next, but as a person who has a hard time believing I could be interesting enough to grab your attention, I sincerely doubt it. So, if you are one of the few waiting to hear what marvelous wisdom I’m about to spout, I hope you won’t be disappointed.

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter “M”. So many great things start with that letter– Matthews, memories, money, mothers, mistakes, marriage, movies, monsters, me, and media. What to choose? I thought I’d write about media, in particular the social media that seems to be the be-all and end-all of a budding author’s career. I wanted to be an author and discovered I needed to be a publicist as well. 

When I decided to write Fire Angel,the only social media I understood and participated in–in a very limited way–were Facebook and Twitter. I had a personal Facebook page and that was it. I used it primarily to view pictures of my grandchildren. I might visit FB once a month, but even that was a stretch. The only reason I had the Twitter account was to pitch Fire Angel in a Twitter Pitch event. Condensing everything I wanted to say into 140 characters wasn’t easy, but Jennifer wanted the book, and the rest is history.

Where to begin? I needed to establish a media presence, but knew next to nothing about such things. This old dog had to learn some new tricks. My contract asked for a bio, and social media links. The first thing I needed was a fan email address, separate from my regular email address since it would be posted on the publisher’s website and in my book. Next, I needed a blog address. What the heck was a blog, and why did I need one?

I asked around and found WordPress. I looked at a few of the blogs posted there. You wrote about different things. In essence, it was an online diary you let anyone read. I was pleased with myself when I managed to set it up on my own with actually very little trouble. At first, remembering to blog was a challenge. As time passed, it got easier, and I blogged not only on my own Living the Dream site, but on others too. I joined blog hops and even managed to give e-books away to generate interest in my writing. Eight months later, I’m hosting guest authors as well as boring people with the minutia of my daily existence.  As they say, I’ve come a long way, but have I come far enough?

I’d heard horror stories of people being stalked online. I wouldn’t want some individuals admiring and stealing pictures of my grandchildren. Deep down, I didn’t believe it possible, but recently I’ve  learned that people do indeed live down to your lowest expectations. So, I needed author sites where my fans could learn a little about me and my books. I managed to create a Facebook Author page and to date, have over 1200 likes, two marriage proposals, and a few other weird personal messages, but so far, so good. I also set up an Amazon author page and  Goodreads author page. By the grace of God, and thanks to my wonderful techno savvy son, I have  a  Webpage, a glitzy wonder to which my son manages to link everything and keeps updated. If I blog, it’s on my website. If I sell a new book, it’s there too. Imagine in one year, more than 11,000 hits have gone to my website, 3100 of them unique hits. I have 652 Twitter followers as well. All of this from someone whose media presence didn’t exist a year ago. 

What about the old-fashioned media? Well, we have a newspaper in town, and I managed to get Interviewed for it too. 

I’ve learned a lot in a year. Have I got a big enough media footprint, probably not, but I keep at it. Who knows? Someday, I may make it.

Don’t forget to check out the other  A to Z Blog Challenge

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