Writer's Notes

New Deadline

Last week, I pubbed my “to do” list for my book. At the time, it was doable. However, upon careful study of my calendar, I find tasks not so easily done.

For instance, cover art is still not HERE. Nephew Kevin has it done but needs to remember to send it to me. Yoo hoo, Kevie!

The formatting should be done by the end of the month. Given the upcoming rainy weather and my hubby being gone for the weekend, I hope to finish that up.

I’m narrowing down the new name to BY FORCE OR FEAR or CREDIBLE THREAT (-in that order of preference).

If the above were accomplished on time, I’d still have a problem. I need blurbs-you know, blurbs about the book, what readers think of the book, something to entice potential readers to order it. That means I have to contact those beta readers and ask them to send me a two or three sentence blurb (just like on the back of a paperback) about what they liked most. I have a friend who has published a book several months ago who asked me for a blurb about his book. It is now on the inside cover of OFF THE STREET by Det. Christopher Baughman.

Then, there is marketing. My nemesis-publicity. I’m normally a “fly below the radar” kinda girl. Doing all this social media, blogging and website stuff is what an “author platform” is made of. Publishers and agents are looking for an author who has a built-in audience, ie blog readers. So last year, I started using my Facebook entries to keep friends and family posted on my writerly escapades. I can Twitter when needed. You can see the progress of my blog-when I signed up two years ago to do this, I wrote sporadic entries at best. I’ve come to my senses, have a goal and am now blogging weekly…every Sunday or Monday.

Additionally for publicity, I will be ordering postcards and book marks with Kevin’s cover art — as soon as I get it — to send to clubs, organizations, churches and POA’s that I have been associated with. I will also schedule an appearance at the Redwood Writers Author Launch day on July 8th.

The upshot of all this is that May 1st won’t work for all this to happen as the entire week before, I’ll be on a family vacation in the Eastern Sierras (scheduled last year). While much of this could be done remotely, I should still be at home to facilitate this.

So the new epub date will be first week of June. Stay tuned for a more precise date!

Writer's Notes

Gettin’ down and dirty

Gotta get down and dirty. Plenty of work to be done. Time to get my story “out there”.

I need to accomplish four things this month:

  • Complete the formatting for my story
  • Chose a new title
  • Complete cover art
  • Publish my ebook

I am using Smashwords to accomplish this. They have a prescriptive program for formatting, cover art (and limited illustrations), and finally, publishing.

My timeline is to have this all done by May 1st. Formatting is an ongoing process that I may get done sooner but want to allow plenty of time. Yesterday, I met with my nephew and told him what I had in mind for the cover. Within three hours he had a viable prototype that looked GREAT!! It would have taken me three weeks to duplicate it–if I could have. Thankfully, I won’t have to. He got all excited when I asked him if he could do a YouTube trailer eventually for the book. He even had a terrific suggestion where to film it. You’re a wonder, Kevin Miller!

The new title has proven to be a bit more elusive than I anticipated. PROBABLE CAUSE is the name of a book by thriller writer Ridley Pearson, first published in 1991. It was well known enough that an independent editor suggested a name change.

So here is the story synopsis:

My book, PROBABLE CAUSE, is a 79,000 word suspense/thriller. It is the story of a female deputy detective Meredith Ryan, stunned by her husband’s tragic death, and Judge Stephen Giroud, a man so twisted by power he decides to use any means necessary to pull Meredith into his arms. PROBABLE CAUSE is Michael Connelly’s THE DROP meets Robert Crais’ THE LAST DETECTIVE. As Meredith is promoted to detective, she investigates the rape/murder of an elderly woman, and figures out the cause of her husband’s death as Giroud springs his trap.

My title offerings:


Feel free to drop me a comment with your ideas, especially if you have a better suggestion!

Writer's Notes

Ebook, Here I Come!

Ebook, Here I Come!

Last week, I felt I needed to decide: wait for a book publishing deal the traditional way or epublish. From the title of this post, you can see what my decision is. Many things influenced my decision.

First, traditional publishing is established and anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty conventional. However, traditional is also cumbersome-finding an agent which is similar to the proverbial needle in the haystack, revisions, finding a publisher, revisions, editing, revisions, loss of control (it is common to have a publisher re-name your property), that kind of thing.

Second, paper print has a high overhead. The author normally will receive 30-40% of the book price, the rest going to the publishing house.

Epublishing can be done completed in under a week (but it will take ME longer), guarantees 60-80% profit and complete control remains with the author.  Yes, the price is lower than a print book but so is the overhead.

Right now, zero percent of zero is zero. If, by some miracle, I sell 5,000 copies of my ebook, I will “qualify” to be interesting to a literary agent/publisher. If I don’t, I’m still published. What the hey?

What do I have to lose?

Writer's Notes

Another take on ebooks vs print books

Another stellar Redwood Writers’ meeting! The speaker was Peter Beren of the Peter Beren Agency. Beren is a Literary Agent and Publishing Consultant who came to our chapter armed with solid information about the future of publishing. He proposes a different scenario: e-publishing will support, not eliminate printed media. He predicts this will evolve in the next five years. Amazon’s sales of “singles” or novella-length stories have been hugely popular and seem to be indicators of changing markets. There is talk of “bundling” which include purchase of an eBook bundled with a print book-the theory being that one can read their eBook during their commute to work but read the paper copy in bed. He expects “how-to” books to be enhanced with video.
The majority of eBooks are mass market paperback-types. 26% is fiction, 17% is YA, 29% is sci-fi with juvenile bringing in the least—only 7%. Parents are reluctant to grab eBooks for their kids as they want them to experience color, print copy like they did as children.
Beren said both Simon and Schuster and Penguin e-published their backlists which accounted for an 11% profit in that media for S&S last year.
For authors, there is still the traditional means (time consuming, limited author control and lengthy process), self-publishing (pricey if you want to do it right), and epublishing. In all three methods, authors will still have to work like hell: promotion and platform. Discoverability remains the biggest issue. EBook authors who want to attract a brick and mortar publisher generally need to sell over 5000 units (books). Most eBooks top out at 1000-2000 units.
How do people discover books? 50% is word of mouth, 35% is store experience or employee tip. Reviews and social networking comprise the balance.
In the meantime, I have a book to publish. On to the agent queries, contest entries, and research into epublishing!

Writer's Notes


When I was a teenager, I was like everyone else: I thought I’d live forever and never get old.
Since I retired last June, I’ve had ample time to consider my projects and the attendant timelines. My most important task is to finish the novel into which I have invested so much time and energy. The book has a working title—Probable Cause—and is now complete. I say complete because it’s been written, revised and re-written, edited and revised. Within the next few days, I plan on sending it off to a fiction contest sponsored by the Public Safety Writers’ Association. I hope that placing in the contest will make my manuscript more marketable.
But here’s the thing: How much time will I allot for the traditional route of publishing? It is a cumbersome process—finding an agent who will represent you, re-working the book then waiting while the agent finds a publisher. Tick-tock, my literary clock is counting down. I don’t have time to waste.
At lunch last week with my friend and critique partner, Billie, we talked about the attraction of e-publishing. Low overhead, no agent, no real publisher, the book sells at a lower cost but still puts more percentage of profit into the author’s pocket. Also, we discussed how we need to push forward with our works to be published in whatever form we decide will work for us most expeditiously.
Redwood Writers next meeting is on March 11th and will feature Peter Beren, formerly publisher of Sierra Club Books, V.P. for Publishing at Palace Press International and Publisher of VIA Books, a division of the California State Auto Association. Beren is now a Literary Agent specializing in nonfiction with an emphasis on illustrated books.
Is this the Golden Age of self-publishing? Will self-publishers supplant traditional publishing and become the new mainstream? Is the rise of e-books simply giving traditional publishers a second wind? Beren, a 30-year veteran of the industry, will share his views and expertise on the subject, and offer guidance through the tangled terrain.
I can’t wait. I need some answers and soon!

Writer's Notes




We welcomed a new member to our critique group tonight. Patrice Garrett joined Billie Settles, Andy Gloege, Julie Winrich and myself for a full dance card. Actually, we’re looking at a sixth possibility due to periodic members absences.

When I first joined Redwood Writers Club back in 2006 or so, Christi Phillips, the author of The Rosetti Letter and The Devlin Diaries was the guest speaker at a General Membership meeting. After her talk, she took questions. Someone asked her what would she do differently if she had a “do-over”. Without much consideration, her answer was, “I’d have joined a critique group and gotten the first book done much faster.”

This is why I love my group. They make me a better writer. The call me on phony or stilted dialog, make suggestions when the plot is under-drawn and cheer me on when I need it. Of course, we all do the same thing for each other. I’m not special—this is a group dynamic.

Not all groups are created equally. I was in one in Bishop years ago and my offering was my police thriller in the middle of poetry and literary fiction. I got merciless criticism and left feeling like I should trade in my hobby for stamp collecting. I didn’t return to the group even though I did take a Creative Writing class from the teacher/leader. In fairness to the group, my writing wasn’t very good. The plot was riddled with my personal agenda and the scope of the novel wasn’t well thought out. In short, they were right.

Last Thursday, I put a problem scene to my group. We brainstormed and I walked away with some good ideas. The next day, Andy emailed me a scene synopsis he’d conjured up that was spectacular. I haven’t decided how much I’m going to use from his idea but at least I have a direction. He gave me some solid character quirks to work with and ways to advance the plot.

It doesn’t get much better than that.


Writer's Notes


I’m getting good at this. Twice a month, 4 other writers and I get together and “critique” my stories. Of course, we do this for each other’s works so it is balanced. There have been times, however, that I’ve felt pretty beat-up when I left. The bottom line is: no matter how I feel, I HAVE to consider what my colleagues (cool word, huh? Thanks, Ann Watters!) have said. The thing is, I use about 85-90 percent of the suggestions. These changes have improved my work immeasurably.

A few weeks ago, I sent off my manuscript to a critique service provided by Public Safety Writer’s Association (PSWA). In her written appraisal, Marilyn Olsen, the PSWA President said she enjoyed reading my story. She said, “It was a pleasure reading it. As you will see, I think the book has many strong points and, with just a few changes, would certainly be ready to be published.” Her overall impression reads: “My overall impression of your book is very positive. After I received it, my initial plan was just to scan a few pages and put it aside until I had the time to read it. However, even though there were other manuscripts I had received earlier sitting on my desk, I kept reading your book. It is well crafted and certainly keeps the reader anxious to see what happens next.”

Olsen goes on to praise my prologue. She states that the characters are interesting and remain consistent, although she had a problem with the amount of spare time my villain has (he is a Superior Court Judge and everyone knows they’re overworked!). Good point-I have two wonderful resources to explore a means to explain that. I think I have a workable plan.

First, not necessarily in this order, Olsen said of the grammar and punctuation, that the copy was “remarkably free of errors” but there were a few and they need to be cleaned up.

The second of three criticisms is the title, PROBABLE CAUSE. She did some research and found several books with the same title. Most notably, a novel by Ridley Pearson published in 2000. At the outset of this novel, I knew about Pearson’s book. I considered my title to be a “working title”. I expect to change it at some point.

The third and most important of the points that Olsen raised was that I used too much internal dialog. She said it became very distracting and detracted from the continuity of the story. As I leafed through the pages, it dawned on me that these italicized sentences weren’t necessarily internal dialog as much as sentiments I thought were important. Most of them were just as important as I believed but they worked just fine as narrative. She was right and I made all the changes. The story is better for her critique.

Now, to get the grammar and punctuation cleaned up, then I will submit it to the PSWA fiction contest.

Writer's Notes

All Fired Up

Redwood Writers Author Support and Craft Support Groups had our inaugural gathering today before the General Membership Meeting.
The Author Support concentrated on getting to know each other and deciding how the members could best support each other. Each person decided on a goal for next meeting and how to achieve it. Future topics could include: How/when do you write? What tricks have you learned to help carve out time to write? What do you do with ideas you don’t yet have time to write about?
Craft Support used a prompt to generate discussion: How do you organize your story? Do you outline? Each of the half dozen participants had a different answer. Some used outlines while others didn’t but everyone gained a different perspective on how to put together their story. A discussion began on plotting but alas, we ran out of time. Next prompts will include: characters, dialog, and developing resources.
Both groups were moderated by a member who kept participants on track (not an easy task for writers!). Leaders will vary each meeting as will those who attend. All members of Redwood Writers are encouraged to take advantage of these unique Writers Support gatherings. They are free and are held from 1pm-2:15 pm on the day of the monthly General Membership meeting in the Empire Room at the Flamingo Hotel.
I am still gathering names for critique groups. The plan is to offer the same venue and time slot to people who want to meet. In the next 3 weeks, I should have enough information to decide whether we can go forward with the critique groups at this time. I’ve also been considering who best to work in a technology discussion—maybe a panel, but that will have to wait for another day.

Writer's Notes

Guess I Better Start a File

Blog post January 26, 2012

Today in the mail, I received another rejection notice. It wasn’t too hard to throw up my defenses and pretend that I wasn’t disappointed. After all, I’m getting pretty good at this rejection business. This is the second one in two weeks. The editor at HarperCollins passed on my manuscript but said she felt my protagonist was strong. The second was an agent at Maria Carvainis Agency in NYC. While also bad news, this agent said she “found the premise compelling and the characters interesting.” She added, “I felt the dialogue had a tendency to feel stilted, and some of the narrative (particularly internal monologues/thoughts) was a little cliché.”
Finally, something to work with! Although I disagree about the dialog (I think that’s one of my strong points), I know I can use help in the internal monolog/thoughts area. Because I know that I don’t know everything, I’m going to look at the dialog again, as well. Also, as my husband pointed out, these critiques indicate she read the entire 100 pages I sent. That tells me that she was interested enough to get through that much—she didn’t dump it in the recycle bin after the first page.
So, I’m on the right track. Just need to keep at it. This week, I sent off my entire manuscript to the Public Safety Writers’ Association (of which I am a member) for a summary edit. I’m looking forward to their suggestions.
I started the sequel to Probable Cause last week, and so far, I think I like this story even better.
Still have two queries outstanding but time to send out more.
My husband, Danny and I came up with a reasonable schedule so I can dedicate quality time to my stories. In the past few days, I’ve racked up over 2000 words. Very promising! It’s a blessing to have a supportive husband!

Writer's Notes

Inspiration is in the air!

Blog post Jan. 9th, 2012
What an incredible group of people! Redwood Writers members have done it again!
Months ago, President Linda Loveland Reid had an idea to start genre groups before the Redwood Writers General Meeting. Over the holidays, we exchanged a few emails, came up with some thoughts and decided to meet with any interested parties on January 8th before the General Meeting.
The meeting time rolled around and two people showed up. Holy moly, I thought. This is going nowhere fast. Within the next 5-10 minutes we had a dozen people! Okay, so writers aren’t known for punctuality.
We started with a round-table on what each member wanted from the group. With some variations, the resounding answer was—craft support—as in “conversations”. We discussed meetings for techniques to enhance our writing as well as platform building and generally everyone agreed they could use help with this, too. However, the idea of small groups to meet, talk over ideas that pertain to the writing life, offer support and resources was the winner!
So here’s what I’m thinking: twelve people is too many for a discussion group so we’ll split into two. We’ll meet in the Empire Room at the Flamingo on February 12th at 1 pm. I want to designate a moderator for each group-someone who will keep the discussion moving forward and an eye on the time. This will be voluntary but I’d like to rotate the position.
The rules will be simple:
o Disagree kindly
o Wait your turn to speak
o Observe time constraints

Some seriously GOOD suggestions were offered and I want to memorialize them so we can come back to them as time allows (or dictates) later.
o Meeting more often than once a month-off site, probably during the day but flexible
o Topic/education focused groups-technology/platform building is a big issue that many would like more training in
o Critique groups-both genre-specific and general. I would only act as a facilitator to get people together. Group members need to decide their own terms. Please email me at if you are interested in finding a group.
o Resources-I will be taking this on. Our group is so talented that we should be able to find help for whatever ails the writer in need. Bear in mind, many of our members make their living at technology, social media, editing, etc. Discuss fees before making commitments with them so both of you know what to expect
o Mentoring wasn’t mentioned but I thought we could look at this for writers who have specific issues, for example: a member who doesn’t finish anything she starts. It wouldn’t take too much effort to call, email, or facebook her to keep her on a pre-determined track

I’ll be emailing a copy of this to Redwood Writers members. I want everyone to see the fruits of our labors. Someone might see something here that intrigues them. We can always take more members! Our muses are busy but sometimes they need a little nudge in the right direction. So stand-by for truly dynamic members who want to share and motivate each other!

Inspiration is in the air!

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