Thursday, 4 February 2016

Why Writers Drink (as stated by someone with good authority...)

Below are the 8 stages of birthing a novel, and why fiction writers drink.

THE STAGE OF:

JOY – You are finished your manuscript.  Damn, it’s good!  The best thing you’ve written, and it’s ALL DONE and on deadline!  Time to open the Glenlivet.

ANGST -  You submit manuscript to your publisher.  Yes, even though they’ve already published 5 of your novels, you still don’t know if they will publish this one.  Will they like it?  Is it as funny as you think it is?  Is it garbage?  Glenlivet is required to get through the next few days/weeks.

RELIEF - They send you a contract – YAY!  You are not a has-been!  Your baby, which was a year in the making (not merely 9 months) will have a life!
Glenlivet is required to celebrate.

ASTONISHMENT – The first round of edits come back.  What do they mean you have substantive changes to make?  That story was PERFECT, dammit!  This is the 15th draft, not the 1st.  Commiserate with other writers over Glenlivet in the bar at the Drake. 

CRIPPLING SELF-DOUBT – The changes they require are impossible.  You’ll never be able to keep it funny/full of high tension, by taking out or changing that scene.  What about the integrity?  Motivation? And what’s so darn bad about being ‘too slapstick,’ anyway?  This is comedy! 
Can’t sleep.  Look for Glenlivet.

ACCEPTANCE – Okay, you’re rewriting, and somehow it’s working.  Figured out how to write around their concerns.  New scene is not bad.  Not as good as the original, of course (why couldn’t they see that) but still a good scene.  Phew.  You’re still a professional. 
Professionals drink Glenlivet, right?

 JOY – They accept all your changes!  YAY!  All systems go. This baby will have a life. Celebrate the pending birth with a wee dram of Glenlivet.

 ANGST -  Are they kidding?  THAT’S the cover?  

(Note to readers: The Bootlegger's Goddaughter is at the Publishers!  Contracts signed!  Release date Spring 2017.  Haven't seen the cover yet...)


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

IWSG DAY! Star Ratings - how they haunt us, and what they mean

Welcome IWSGers!  My biggest insecurity?  Star ratings.

When my first novel was published, my mentor told me: “Don’t look at your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  Particularly Goodreads.  No, really.  Don’t.  If your book continues to sell, then you know it’s good.  If your publisher buys your next book, then you know it is good.  Don’t  torture yourself by reading the criticism of non-writers.”

I found it next to impossible to follow his advice.  The lure of reviews on your work is pretty strong.

It took ten books – all published by traditional publishers – before I really felt I had a handle on ‘the dreaded review star rating.’  Here’s my list. (My opinion only, everyone. You may have a different interpretation.)

Anatomy of Star ratings

Five stars:  Just one word: Joy!
Bless them, every one.  A million thanks to reviewers who take the time to tell you they loved your book.

Four stars:  Okay, they really liked it. Maybe even loved it.  But even if they loved it, some people  reserve five stars for their very favourite authors, and the masters, like Jane Austen.  And literary writers.  A genre novel is...well…a genre novel.  Not quite as worthy (in some eyes).  But they really enjoyed it.

Three stars:  These are the ones that make me sad.  A reader is telling me that the book was okay.  I want them to think it was great!  Sometimes, this can be a reader who loved your books in another genre, and decided to try this book that is in a different genre, one they don’t normally read.  Often, they will give you that clue in the review (“I don’t normally read scifi”). 

For instance, I have enjoyed Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series very much.  Recently, I tried one of her romantic comedies (classified under the Romance genre.)  I am not a romance reader, and not surprisingly, I found this book lacking in the type of fast-paced plot I enjoy.  I would probably give it a 3 rating, where no doubt a seasoned romance reader would give it a 4 or 5.

Two stars:  These are often people who wandered into your book by mistake.  They thought it sounded interesting, so they bought it thinking it was one thing, and it wasn’t.  They’re mad at having spent money on something that isn’t their thing.  It’s not a happy event when you get these, but understand that these people aren’t your market.

One star:  These are simply people who enjoy hurting others.  Ignore them.  I do.

Here’s my advice, if you find that reviews haunt you, and keep you from writing:

1.  Stop reading them.  Really.  

2.  Never comment on a review.  Never.

3.   If you can, employ a personal assistant to read your reviews as they come in, and forward you the good ones only.  (This is my dream.  One day.)

One more thing: When you give away a book for free, there is a downside: you often get people picking it up who wouldn't normally spend money on that type of book.  Not surprisingly, they might not like it, as they are not your market.  Always expect some poor reviews, if you give a book away.  There are still many good reasons to do so.  Just be prepared.

Check out other great IWSG posts today!
 http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Writing Funny with Frankenpoodle



If Dr. Frankenstein were creating a dog, this is what he might end up with.   Standing 30 inches at the shoulder, Frankenpoodle is a giraffe in a dog suit.

I got my start writing comedy.  Frankenpoodle got his start as the klutzy giant of the litter. No breeding for him.  Instead, he became a canine muse.  Together, we have slogged through eleven novels; me at the keyboard, him on the worn brown chaise beside me.   Both of us snarfing snacks and looking forward to walk time. 

Damn straight, this dog inspires me.  Toker, the big black poodle-cross with the Mohawk hairdo in The Goddaughter’s Revenge, steals the show.  He came back for a cameo in The Artful Goddaughter.

But that’s only the beginning.  A vigilante group leader who also manages the local Humane Society?  Look for Del and her dogs in THE B TEAM, a madcap comedy currently in the works.

This one’s for Frankenpoodle.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Behind THE GODDAUGHTER series...and a few secrets exposed!

Many thanks to Terry Ambrose for hosting this interview which takes us behind The Goddaughter series and exposes a few secrets along the way.

Click here for the link:





Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A smart-talking mob goddaughter who doesn't want to be one. A bumbling mob family that never gets it right. THE GODDAUGHTER CAPER!

Excerpt from THE GODDAUGHTER CAPER



“Where’s my box?” I blurted into the phone. Getting Seb’s box back was my absolute first priority.
Pause. Sounds of confused chatter. Mad Magda must have been in the room.
I sighed. “The one that came from my store. Mario and gang picked it up by mistake yesterday.”
“Oh. That box. I think we buried it,” said Jimmy.
“WHAT?”
“Last night.”
“You buried it?”
“It was a nice service. You would have liked it.”
My box got a funeral?
“It wasn’t supposed to be buried, Jimmy! They took the wrong box.”
More commotion. Mad Magda came on the line.
“Gina, don’t panic. We can unbury it. I know exactly where it is. Meet us at Black Chapel Cemetery at eight tonight. Bring a few strong lads with shovels.”
She rang off.
I stared at the phone in my hand. My inheritance got its own funeral. This family was freaking nuts.

Now Available in Chapters, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and all the usual suspects.

Amazon
Kobo

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

It's HERE! THE GODDAUGHTER CAPER Now Available in stores and online



THE GODDAUGHTER CAPER!
Book 4 in the hilarious award-winning series featuring mob goddaughter Gina Gallo,
who is having a hard time leaving the family business.
Now Available in Chapters, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all the usual suspects!

Strange things are happening in Steeltown. 
A body shows up in the trunk of Gina's car. 
Another is mistakenly delivered to her cousin Nico's store.
And then Gina and Nico stumble across a stash of empty coffins! 
Worse, everything points to her own retired relatives at the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home....

What critics have said about The Goddaughter:
“Just right for Janet Evanovich fans…impossible not to laugh”  Library Journal
“Hilarious”  Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

On Amazon

Monday, 11 January 2016

Star Ratings and What They Mean (in which we are actually serious for a change, even as we take a totally partisan view)



When my first novel was published, my mentor told me: “Don’t look at your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  Particularly Goodreads.  No, really.  Don’t.  If your book continues to sell, then you know it’s good.  If your publisher buys your next book, then you know it is good.  Don’t  torture yourself by reading the criticism of non-writers.”

I found it next to impossible to follow his advice.  The lure of reviews on your work is pretty strong.

It took ten books – all published by traditional publishers – before I really felt I had a handle on ‘the dreaded review star rating.’  Here’s my list. (My opinion only, everyone. You may have a different interpretation.)

Anatomy of Star ratings

Five stars:  Just one word: Joy!
Bless them, every one.  A million thanks to reviewers who take the time to tell you they loved your book.

Four stars:  Okay, they really liked it. Maybe even loved it.  But even if they loved it, some people  reserve five stars for their very favourite authors, and the masters, like Jane Austen.  And literary writers.  A genre novel is...well…a genre novel.  Not quite as worthy (in some eyes).  But they really enjoyed it.

Three stars:  These are the ones that make me sad.  A reader is telling me that the book was okay.  I want them to think it was great!  Sometimes, this can be a reader who loved your books in another genre, and decided to try this book that is in a different genre, one they don’t normally read.  Often, they will give you that clue in the review (“I don’t normally read scifi”). 

For instance, I have enjoyed Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series very much.  Recently, I tried one of her romantic comedies (classified under the Romance genre.)  I am not a romance reader, and not surprisingly, I found this book lacking in the type of fast-paced plot I enjoy.  I would probably give it a 3 rating, where no doubt a seasoned romance reader would give it a 4 or 5.

Two stars:  These are often people who wandered into your book by mistake.  They thought it sounded interesting, so they bought it thinking it was one thing, and it wasn’t.  They’re mad at having spent money on something that isn’t their thing.  It’s not a happy event when you get these, but understand that these people aren’t your market.

One star:  These are simply people who enjoy hurting others.  Ignore them.  I do.

Here’s my advice, if you find that reviews haunt you, and keep you from writing:

1.  Stop reading them.  Really.  

2.  Never comment on a review.  Never.

3.   If you can, employ a personal assistant to read your reviews as they come in, and forward you the good ones only.  (This is my dream.  One day.)

One more thing: When you give away a book for free, there is a downside: you often get people picking it up who wouldn't normally spend money on that type of book.  Not surprisingly, they might not like it, as they are not your market.  Always expect some poor reviews, if you give a book away.  There are still many good reasons to do so.  Just be prepared.