Saturday, August 19

Don't Quit Your Day Job?

I’m writing this shortly after getting home from the day job, and I’m wondering if it’s time to pack it in.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy going to my office to see my colleagues, both the human and the canine ones. (I’ve written before about our dog-friendly office.) I like the work. But I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire right now, writing-wise, and I’m finding it harder to find the time to do the things I want/need to do.

The last couple of days we’ve been working with our accountant on our annual audit, and since I do the month-end books, that’s my area. There’s some changes happening (a renovation to the office, some new software for taking payments and keeping track of members) that will necessitate a fair bit of my time. With our busiest season is right around the corner, including our annual winter conference which takes a lot of time to plan and execute, I’m feeling conflicted. Would my time be better spent writing?
My handsome colleague Huey getting some work done.
On the stick-with-the-day-job side, I do enjoy the camaraderie of work. I'd really miss my colleagues. Because writing is so solitary, it’s great to get out once in a while and actually see people. For several months of the year, I work only a few days a month and I can pretty much choose which days I work. I don’t work enough to make a lot of money, but it’s always nice to have a few bucks coming in on a regular basis. And having extra time doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to suddenly become terribly efficient and get a whole lot more writing done. Sometimes the most efficient writer is the one who knows she has limited time and uses it well.

On the it’s-time-to-leave side, I’m currently knee-deep in edits for the three-book series I plan to self-publish. I’ve got so much work to do on it still. And I have several other manuscripts waiting to be finished or polished. Not to mention the ideas buzzing in my head calling “Write me! Write me!” Then there’s the all the marketing I need to do to launch these books. Don’t get me started.

I’ve gone through this process before. A few years ago, I had to decide whether to quit one of my two part-time jobs. I decided to let one go so I’d have more time for writing, and also more time to spend with my husband, who had just retired. It was the right decision and I haven’t regretted it.

I realize my problem is minuscule compared to people who work full-time. My hat goes off to people who work full-time and/or have young children and still manage to produce books. How do you do it? I need more time. I’m lucky to be in a position where I can afford to consider leaving paid employment.

So friends, if you have a day job, how do you feel about it? If money was no object, would you give it up? Any advice you can give me about my choice is appreciated.

Friday, August 18

The Bane of Blurb-Writing

Last week, I struggled to write about 1,000 words. And the worst part of that fairly low number is the fact that I was really just re-writing and perfecting the same 215 words over and over and over again. I was writing the blurb for my third book. And it was a long, painful process.

Take your 90K+ story and concentrate it down to two-three paragraphs, keeping only the most important themes and details, and written in a manner that entices… that “sells” your book. No pressure, here. Unless you’re a household-name kind of author, the blurb and the cover are how you sell a book. So you gotta get it right. Or better yet, you gotta get it intriguing.

This is the catch and the biggest challenge. As the author of my story, I want the blurb to accurately reflect it. And as an author, I’m a little too honest for my own sake. So when my blurb cites “political intrigue,” I chew my bottom lip and hover my fingers over the backspace button. I’m no Tom Clancy…I don’t want the reader miffed when my “intrigue” is not the backbone of the plot. And when I type “the sexy, mysterious vampire king,” I worry that the reader won’t find my hero as sexy and mysterious as I do. I also cringe at my attempt to use powerful action words and phrases, like embroiled, blood-searing seduction, arouses a hunger more primal…

I want to hook the reader’s interest in buying my book. But the blurb always feels overly dramatic to me. Which makes sense. If I’m reducing an entire books to the most concentrated parts—like any chef’s reduction sauce—what’s left is the most potent, flavorful, taste-bud-popping essence.

Then there is the blurb-writing process itself. Capturing the main plot and character points. Flicking away unnecessary bits of information like so much lint. Honing it. Then sending it to my writer friends for their input and suggestions, which is always helpful but also often frustrating. If you gave a hundred writers a story to write, you would get a hundred different stories…and it’s no different when asking their feedback on a blurb.

One epiphany that resulted from this process is the fact that I’m still figuring out my hero. It became blatantly clear to me during the hours I struggled to write his paragraph. I don’t have his character goal, motivation, and conflict quite figured out yet. I’m glad to know this, because I can give more thought to this as the story itself blossoms on my computer screen. Granted, I’m getting the cart before the horse, trying to write a blurb before I’ve competed even the first draft of the manuscript. Even so, having a finished, edited, and spit-polished ready-to-hit-publish book does not make writing the blurb any easier.

In what I’m hoping is a fun experiment, I’ve shown below the evolution of my blurb for Blood King. Not each reiteration, but the main ones:
Blood King Blurb 1
Count Dracula was a mere upstart nobody from an alien planet…
Kaz Lyon just met the King.
Count Dracula. The man, the myth, the legend…can’t hold a candle to the monarch of his alien blood-sucker lineage. Kazandra Lyon learns this truth intimately after she’s abducted from her “total getaway” vacation at a popular destination-planet resort. She finds herself in the clutches of a monster as an unwilling blood-donor, then in the arms of the sexy, mysterious king as an Honored Guest enthusiastically exchanging…well…a number of bodily fluids. Assuming she had failed at life and love on Earth, Kaz realizes hope for the future rests in the ashes of the past. But as her nightmares portend a mass murder, is her future—or her fate—truly alongside the lusty king who hungers for her?
Niko Lahdunae, King of Vahduna, has been away from his homeworld for too long. Upon his return, he finds a beautiful earthling in his bed and imbedded in his dreams. Struggling with the primal appetites she whets, he must reawaken the proud heritage of his race while keeping his randy fangs to himself where the traumatized Kaz is concerned. He will need more than his title and bedroom eyes to entice her love, but her fiery spirit makes the attempt all the more satisfying in the end.
Now, if only he catch the killer who is drinking his staff and guests to death.
Blood King Blurb 2
Dracula was a wannabee from an alien race of bloodsuckers…
And she just met their King.
Kazandra Lyon’s “total getaway from her failed life” vacation on a popular destination-planet sucks. But when she is abducted to a dark castle mired in twilight, her vacation sucks on a whole new level. First an unwilling blood-donor to a monster, then an Honored Guest in the home of the sexy and mysterious vampire king. As her nightmares foreshadow murder, will her dreams of love and a career grow long in the tooth? And will she dare to stick her neck out for the lusty king who thirsts for only her?
His family destroyed by his enemy, King Niko Lahdunae had long ago abandoned his people to the darkness. Upon his return, he discovers his royal influence is as welcome as a stake to the heart. On the bright side, there is a spirited earthling in his bed. Struggling with the primal hunger she whets, he must resurrect his race’s proud heritage from its ashes while keeping his randy fangs to himself where beautiful Kaz is concerned.
Now, if only he can catch the killer who is drinking his staff and guests dry.   
Blood King Blurb 3
Dracula was a mere upstart nobody from an alien race of bloodsuckers…
Kaz just met the alien race’s King.
 Kazandra Lyon’s failed life sucks. But her vacation to a popular destination-planet sucks on a whole new level. She’s abducted and whisked off to a dark castle mired in twilight where she struggles against the attacks of a bloodthirsty monster and her growing attraction to the sexy and mysterious vampire king. Embroiled amidst murdered palace staff, political power struggles, and the king’s blood-searing seduction, has Kaz bitten off too much? Will she return to the unhappy safety of her failed life or stick her neck out and embrace a future with the lusty king who thirsts for her?
King Niko Lahdunae has been away from his homeworld for too long, his influence weak and his vision for his people a relic from a bygone era. He struggles to regain his royal standing as monarch, resurrect his race’s proud heritage, and keep his randy fangs off his beautiful guest. Kazandra’s spirit and humor arouses a hunger in him more primal than the need for her life-giving blood, but can he entice her to remain as his Honored Guest…and possibly his wife? And can he thwart the relentless killer who is drinking his people dry before Kaz becomes the next victim?
Please don't tell me you don't like my final blurb, or that you prefer one of the earlier versions, or you'd recommend I change/tweak/delete/add something... it's already been sent to the cover artist! (Hmmm, maybe I should have waited for everyone's input...) But hopefully you can see how a blurb can evolve. 

Thursday, August 17

 by Margie Senechal
It's another day, another week, and another time where I have to admit, I have nothing. Nada. Zilch.
My mind has been everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Anyone else having this problem?

 At the end of June, one of my best friends had a heart attack and then he had double-bypass surgery a couple weeks later. He's doing well, but still working on his stamina. We've spent a few of my days off over the past few weeks taking walks in Portland.

That is how much I care about him. I'm willing to white-knuckle drive in Portland traffic to spend time with him and then take a walk on my day off. We skipped a couple of weeks because of his doctor appointments and then 100+ in temps. 

Yesterday, we walked in the Mt. Tabor Park which looks down over Portland. We did the East side and I got this view of Mt. Hood. Wildfire smoke is the haze you see in between the range and the mountain. 

Eclipse mania has hit the PNW. There's already traffic pile ups in central Oregon. Nuts. Just nuts. I went on Amazon to see about buying glasses and a five pack is close to $300. How crazy is that? Talk about jacking up prices--did those vendors get advice from the epi-pen people?

I finished a really good book this week. The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert. As a Washingtonian--I know, you all think I live in Oregon because I talk about Portland so much, but actually, I live in Vancouver--just across the border. Anyway, as a Washingtonian, it was great to read a book about apples. While I have two apple trees that came with my house, I don't harvest them or do any sort of maintenance, so it was kind of cool to read about that side of orchard growers. Plus, the book has a bit mystism/magical realism in it as well. I love those touches. So, win-win, all the way around.
And now, I'm going to end with this beautiful picture by my life-long bestie, Chris Medearis. Her family has had a horrendous year with several deaths and tragedies, but still she can find the beauty in the world around her. This picture just fills me with a little peace and serenity. And I think we could all use a piece of that.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 16

#AuthorInterview: Melinda Dozier's #NewRelease

Hey, WordWrangler Readers! We're excited to welcome author Melinda Dozier into the Round Corral today. We're interviewing her first, and then she's going to share a snippet from her new release Time Changes Everything. Welcome, Melinda!

WW: What was the first seed of an idea you had for your book? How did it develop?
Melinda: Time Changes Everything started out as a young adult love story. Then the adult versions of Jake and Amanda spoke to me and said they wanted to be grown ups. So, the story went on from there. It took me about seven years to write this book, so I’m happy to say it was finally published. By the way, the young adult version is the prequel and is free on Smashwords.

WW: What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question? A theme? The last line of the book?
Melinda: The characters are always my driving force for my novels. They take charge and force me to write them. The first chapter is what really propels the story forward. Once I have that, then it’s time to plot and plan.

WW: Was there a scene that was more difficult than others? One that you pondered whether or not to include it?
Melinda: Since this was the first novel I ever wrote (and re-released), the sex scene was hard to write. The other scenes were the young adult versions of Jake and Amanda. I didn’t know if it should be a prologue in the book or not. My editor and I opted out of the prologue and got right into the action.

Fast Four:
WW: Sweet or Salty: what's your favorite writing-on-deadline snack?
Melinda: Salty and Lays Potato Chips
WW: Comfort read or literary masterpiece: what's your favorite type of book to read?
Melinda: Comfort read. I usually pull out Jill Shalvis or Kristan Higgins when I just want to relax with a good book.
WW: Smexy or sweet: what is your favorite hero type?
Melinda: Smexy of course! I love alpha heroes, because I think bossy, manly men are hot!
WW: Sassy or vixen: what is your favorite heroine type?
Melinda: Sassy, especially sarcastic ones.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Melinda! Readers, read on for a glimpse inside Time Changes Everything. 

He turned her hand in his and rubbed her palm. “I thought we had something good going on back there.”

“Me too, but I changed my mind.” Amanda pulled her hand from his and stared out the window. She’d been having a good time – maybe too good – but that was before Jessica Rabbit and Bimbo Number Two appeared on the scene.

Jake sighed. “I’ll get your door.” He got out and ran to her side of the car. As he opened the door for
her, he held out his hand.

Amanda ignored him as she got out. I can’t look at him. If I look at him, I’ll melt into his stare. Get out, say goodnight and go home. As the car door closed, she turned and he leaned against the shiny, black fender with his hands in his pockets.

Jake lowered his gaze in confusion. “I hope you had a good time tonight, even though you’re acting like you didn’t.”

Amanda crossed her arms in front of her chest and sighed.

He took a step closer and shook his head, looking hotter than she’d ever seen him. His hands still rested in his pockets and his serious deep-blue eyes stared at her. “You don’t have to be scared of me.”

“I actually don’t trust myself, Jake.” She switched her weight to her other leg and rolled her eyes.

“Why? You think you’re going to jump me?” He chuckled as he took his last step to her. “I wouldn’t mind.” His gaze traveled over her face, as if he were memorizing every freckle.
He wanted more. Hell, she did too. But then what?

“So, you think that after I jump you, all this will go away?” She pointed back and forth. “That this attraction will be out of our system and we can continue to be friends? Is that how it works for you?”

He clasped her body tightly to his, his hands wrapped around the sides of her waist, his breath on her face. “What I know is we’ve passed the line of friendship already, so we should just stop holding back.”

Then he kissed her. Completely. Thoroughly. Long and slow and deep. His lips were perfect and she found herself moving to get a closer touch – if that was possible. His hands roamed her back and warmth shot up her neck and back down to her toes. The man knew what he was doing. Either he was a pure player or his desire ranked up there with her own.

Since her knees wobbled, she balanced her hands on his chest, and before she was ready for it to end, he stepped back and smiled, “See what I mean?”

Amanda Larson is dedicated to her job and doesn't want to make time for anything else. Until she runs into Jake Edwards. He used to be the cute boy next door; now he's a sexy, big shot lawyer.

Jake Edwards isn't interested in commitment. He's successful, sexy, and single--and that's how he likes it. When he reconnects with Amanda, Jake realizes he might have to rethink his philosophy on the carefree, bachelor lifestyle.

But, is it too late for them? Or can he convince her that he's ready to give her his heart?

Book Links:

Author Bio:
Reading romance has always been at the top of Melinda's favorite past times. You can always find a book in her hands no matter where she is.

Melinda is Louisiana born, New Mexico raised, Guatemala adopted, and recently a newcomer to Houston, Texas. So, it's only natural that her stories take place all across the world.

Melinda loves reading, reality TV, traveling, blogging, and playing Zynga games.

Find Melinda on social media at:
Sign up for Melinda's Newsletter:

Tuesday, August 15

Spam...And Not the Meat-In-a-Can-Kind

I'm baffled. My guru for my personal website has done all he can to prevent me from being spammed—you know when some robot trashes your blog with about a hundred comments, selling everything from luggage to t-shirts to medicines to make a body part that I don't even own work better? It seems when I post more frequently than once a week, I end up coming in to clean out a ton of spam. The good news is all comments have to be approved by me, so none of this crap is ever seen by my readers. But geesh, it’s demoralizing to get a note saying “you’ve got 36 new comments,” only to find out I have 5 new comments and 31 spam attempts. So how is it getting through? And is it just the fate of a blogger to deal with this stuff? I don’t like it.

And speaking of things I don’t like… I also don’t like the fact that my personal email is getting spammed as well. This really ticks me off even more because I’m getting ads for…get ready for it…seniors. No kidding! People are trying to sell me hearing aids, for pity’s sake! And deals on senior housing and products to make  my “golden years” more comfortable like walk-in tubs and collapsible canes. Come on! Really? I’m turning 64 next month, not 90!  And how does anyone know to target me anyway? There’s nothing in my email address to indicate how old I am. I don’t remember signing up for any senior deals. Who gave these guys my contact info?

I don't need to be reminded that I'm getting older every minute. Why not send me ads for sexy lingerie, delicious chocolate, or amazing wines? Send me a promo for an incredible deal on a trip to Tuscany or a ski weekend in Vermont or some drop-dead gorgeous CFM shoes.

How about it? Give a girl a break. Don’t tell me how great it would be to prevent my ancient bones from crumbling or or how amazing it is to move my bowels regularly—tell me how wondrous it would be to spend a month in Paris. Okay?

Anybody else getting spammed like crazy? I hope it's not just me...