Thursday, May 31, 2012

Racy, Sweet, or REAL?

Here is the dilemma:

I like to write Romance. But, as I’ve said before, I don’t like to write explicit details. Where exactly does this leave me?

Good question.

When THE AGENT told me my books wouldn’t fit in with the place he was considering sending them, I was devastated. I didn’t want to write about intimacy before marriage, and this seems kind of ridiculous in the Romance world. I thought, ‘maybe I’m trying to break into the wrong business!’

However, THE AGENT said I could try for sweet romance. BUT, I would need to tame my books before he could send them out.

Tame my books? Really? That shocked me. In other words, I didn’t fit into the regular romance niche, but I didn’t fit into sweet romance either. I was too tame for regular romance and too racy for sweet romance. What the heck?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like sweet romance. I kinda thought I was writing sweet romance. But, I also think there must be a happy medium between the two. Surely, there’s a market for the in between. Not racy, but not so sweet that no one ever kisses with tongue. (that’s NOT intended as an insult on sweet romance) Sweet romance has it’s place, some people don’t want to read ANY details at all. I get that. I applaud that. Good for you.

I’m hoping my books fit into the REAL category. (not that sweet romance isn’t real) In other words, real people, with real standards for themselves, but, they also have very real emotions, passions, and feelings.

There’s just one problem with that REAL concept. I have a flair towards the dramatic. I like drama. I like a book that makes me cry. I LOVE the whole Moulin Rouge plot of “hurt him to save him.” You know what I’m talking about?

Agents say Contemporary is in. They say KEEP IT REAL.

That’s probably my downfall. I like an entertaining book. A book that COULD happen in real life, but it’s highly doubtful. That’s what you’ll get from me. Every time.

REAL? Kind of.


Free images from

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Editing Hat

When you self-publish, you must edit your own books. (unless you choose to hire and pay someone to do it for you)

As I have donned my 'editing hat,' it has taken me much longer than I anticipated to edit my books.  I recently received my second proof copy of Lancaster House. So far, I’ve found about ten mistakes. That’s not too bad considering it’s a 90,000 word novel. I’ve debated about fixing the mistakes. They are small mistakes, and a few of them are subjective—comma use, paragraph formatting, etc. It’s not as easy as simply making the changes on my computer screen anymore. Now I have to re-submit my manuscript, re-check the formatting, have my manuscript approved for printing, and re-order another proof copy. Yikes!

But in the end I’ve decided to fix each of them. I want to put the best book out that I possibly can. Will there be mistakes? Sure. I’m not an editor. An editor would catch the mistakes that I simply don’t see. Still, I’m working hard to make it as flawless as I can—with my knowledge, and my understanding.

That’s all I can do. It makes my publishing date push even farther in the future, and I hate that. In the end, I know I’ll be glad I took the extra time to make my book as perfect as I humanly know how to do. It doesn't happen by magic. It's hard and tedious work. And it's certainly not the FUN part of writing. Good thing I love my stories. I love to read them over and over. That makes it all worthwhile.

Happy editing!

Free images from

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Old versus New

Old Cover
New Cover

As you can see the concept cover for Sierra didn’t change too much. It simply went from a real picture to an illustration. Since all of my other books covers are illustrations, I felt Sierra should be too. A cabin in the snowy mountains is THE cover for Sierra. No doubt about it. You’ll understand when you read it.

I’m getting ready to self-publish very soon. There’s been many a hiccup along the way. As a matter of fact, I feel as though I’ve had a bad case of the hiccups. For example, the first proof copy of Lancaster House—while an amazing moment—just wasn’t right. It was 6 X 9, white pages, and size 12 font on the inside. I didn’t know that it wouldn’t work till I received the proof copy—hence the reason why ordering that proof copy is so very important. Do not proof online and assume everything will be fine. Order the physical proof and hold it in your hands. I ended up changing my books to the 5 X 8 size with cream colored pages. I also changed the font to size 10. Now it looks like a novel and not a text book, manual, or self-help book. This change held things up and now my book will not be available as soon as I wanted it to be. But, if you’re going to self-publish, DO IT RIGHT. Don’t get in so much of a hurry that you don’t put the best product out there.

Hope this thought helps someone out there is who is self-publishing. If I’d known this beforehand, it would’ve saved so much time.

Sidenote: ai finale was last night. Phillip Phillips: You had me at VOLCANO.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


On my road to being self-published, one of the first things I had to decide upon was my covers. Self-published authors have the privilege of creative control. But, if you choose incorrectly, it could also be your downfall.

Think about it. If your books are available online, all people see is a small little picture representing your novel. It better be good. It better capture people’s attention. Or it could be a deal breaker.

This created a great deal of anxiety for me. I had already chosen my covers and I was quite happy with them. I have them hanging on my office wall. Even though I wasn’t published as yet, looking at my covers gave me a feeling of accomplishment. They encouraged me when I was down.

“Your covers are good, Mom,” my daughter said. “But, they’re boring.”


She was right. While they matched my stories beautifully, they were not eye-catching.

I decide to send out an e-mail to close friends and family and ask their opinions. Would my new cover choices catch their eye? Or would you pass? The answers surprised me.

It was 50/50. Some loved the old covers. Some loved the new covers. One even said she’d hang the new cover pictures on her wall! Some said the new covers looked to young-adultish. Some said they’d be drawn to books with my new covers. Some said they would look at my new covers and have no idea of the genre.

I had a decision to make. In the end, even though the old covers were a perfect representation of the inside of the books, I decided to go with the new covers. It was a marketing decision. I felt they would be eye-catching. And I loved the new images, they just spoke to me, from the moment I laid my eyes upon them. Love at first sight. I look at them and feel happy.

Another thought. Going back a few posts, I talked about my novels not being like your average romance novel. (no explicit details) If my covers look DIFFERENT, then they ARE a representation of what you are going to get on the inside. Something different.

 Perfect. The decision was made.

What do you think? Which one do you like better?

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I knew I wanted to self-publish, but, honestly, I had no idea how to go about it. I mean, I knew I could get my books ready and make them available for purchase, but then what? There the books would sit, alone and untouched, while no one knew they even existed.

If you self-publish, you must market your own books.

Again, my daughter saved the day. First of all, she informed me that I must have an online presence. I need to have a website and I need to begin to blog. I need to follow other people’s blogs and leave comments. In other words, I need to NETWORK. “If you leave comments on other people’s blogs, they’ll leave comments on yours,” she told me. It’s the unstated rule of blogging. Blogging 101. You follow me, and I’ll follow you. Those who don’t follow this unwritten rule are . . . well, considered jerks.

I had no idea this blog-o-sphere existed. At first, it felt like ONE more thing to do. And I had no idea what to write about. “Write about your writing journey,” my daughter said.

“Oh, that I can do. I have a lot to say, after all. And it has been quite the experience.”

My daughter designed my website and walked me through learning to blog. (I’m not techno-savvy at all) To my surprise, I discover BLOGS. Oh my, what a world. One could spend all day simply reading blog posts. It’s fun to search out other writer’s blogs and hear what they have to say about publishing. As a matter of fact, I’ve learned a lot by doing this. The writing community is supportive, kind, and encouraging to one another, and I like that.

“Okay,” I tell my daughter. “I’m ready to publish my books.”

“No, Mom,” she says. “You need to release one book at a time. Otherwise you’ll give your readers OPTION ANXIETY.”

“But . . . but,” I object. Then I realize she’s right. I can’t just dump my books into cyber-space and hope for the best.

It’s all about marketing.

When I started writing, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

Image: digitalart /

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


As I mentioned in my last post, there is a lot to do when you make the decision to self-publish. I was out of my element. I can sit and write a novel all day, but navigating book formatting and website design was entirely foreign.

Luckily, I have a great daughter who has been an avid blogger since the ice age—long before it was as popular as it is now. The next business expense was to fly her and my first grandson (who I hadn’t seen since he was two weeks old) home. During this “horribly rough” week, I tended my adorable seven month old grandson (life is hard) while my daughter worked away on my new website, my book covers, my author photo, and marketing. It was fabulous to work alongside my daughter and draw upon her knowledge. (communications major) I couldn’t have done it without her. She educated me on so much. (Guess all that college debt is paying off!)


My plan was to dump all six of my novels into the public’s lap and see what happened.

Not a good marketing strategy.

So, how did we do it?

More on this next time.

Image: renjith krishnan /

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thrilling Moment

It just so happens that my thrilling moment happened on the same day that I posted the prior blog post. My very first copy of one of my books arrived in the mail today. It's the first time I've held one of my books in my hot little hands as an actual book! WOW!

Once its been proofed, I'm ready to offer it to the public!
It's strange to read your book in book form. I'm used to reading it on the computer screen. If I want to make changes, it's easy. Now, not so much.


End of the ROAD?

Now, just because there was nothing more THE AGENT could do for me, did not mean my life was over. Although it felt that way. THE AGENT was very honest and told me there were many ebook places to publish my books, but I didn’t need him to go that route, (he only represents traditional publishing). He’d just be taking my money, when I could do it for myself. I appreciated his honesty and integrity. We ended our contract amicably with the promise that I could contact him at any time if I had another story he might be interested in. He asked me to keep him informed of my progress and wished me well. If I need an agent in the future, I will call him first.

I made the decision to return to my original idea: self-publish. I just didn’t feel like querying more agents. I also liked the idea of total creative control. Of course, with that decision also came many other aspects I wasn’t prepared to face. Marketing my books, editing my books, designing my own covers, making a website, learning to blog, etc. etc.

Suddenly, it wasn’t the end of the road. I had two million things to do. And it was all a little overwhelming.

At the same time, it was exciting. Finally, I’d get to hold a finished product in my hand—in actual book form, with a cover and an ISBN number and everything.

What a thrill!

Image: digitalart /

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


The phone call that ended it all.

That’s what happened next in my story.

Let’s backtrack. Again, I love Romance, like most women. But, do I want to read explicit details? NO! Do I want to write about where the man and woman are touching each other and what areas of their bodies are throbbing with desire?

Nope. I want to write about romance, not sex, and there is a HUGE difference. I think romance novels have a stigma because of this. When you say, I’m writing a romance novel, people assume you are writing smut. If you can capture the romance in a story and make someone’s heart beat a little faster, then you’ve succeeded. In my opinion, the feeling of falling in love is what most women want to read about. Obviously, not everyone feels the same. There is a huge market for erotica, but that’s not what I want to write. And I think we’re overlooking a huge portion of the population here.

I believe there is a huge market out there for ROMANCE. I think women are sometimes wary of romance, because they don’t want to read smut. On the other hand, I think sweet romance tends to be a little unrealistic. People kiss. People make love. I believe you can write about it without going into EXPLICIT details.

At any rate, this is where I ran into a problem.

THE AGENT called and said he loved the current book we were working on. But, he didn’t care for the ending. So, he asked me to remove the wedding night/honeymoon ending and have them make love earlier in the book.


I knew it was OVER at that moment. And I was right.

Now, I had asked THE AGENT early on if it was a problem that I didn’t want to write explicit details. THE AGENT said it was fine, that many romance authors write in varying degrees of explicitness.

I was so relieved. I mean, how was I going to be a romance author if I didn’t want to write about details? Sounds kind of absurd, right?

It gets worse.

I chickened out over the phone and wrote THE AGENT an e-mail. I explained that not only did I not want to write about intimate details, but I also didn’t want to have my characters be intimate before marriage.

Another HUGE romance faux-pas.

I’m not trying to get on a soap box or anything. To each his own. But, this is what I believe in, therefore, I have my characters follow this ideal. And I can’t go against it.

I just can’t.

So there it was. Out in the open. I had foolishly assumed that it was obvious in my novels. I had assumed it wasn’t a problem.

But it was.

THE AGENT called me the next day. THE AGENT was very nice and told me no one should have to write anything they weren’t comfortable writing about. THE AGENT was not mad, but, very polite and professional.

That being said, there was nothing more THE AGENT could do for me.


It was over.

Image: digitalart /