Category Archives: Writing Books

The Grand-dogs – Fleuree

Fleuree's Puppyhood
Fleuree’s Puppyhood

I was never one of those people who wanted grandchildren, much in the same way I was never one of those people who desperately wanted children.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I have children, but if I hadn’t, I like to think I’d have been okay about it.

So when grandchildren became a possibility, I assured my children I was in no rush.  I’d just escaped from twenty–plus years of raising my delightful children.  I’d enjoyed almost all of it, but I was in no hurry to experience it all again one generation removed.

Luckily, my children seemed happy to comply and weren’t in any hurry to procreate.  But…they did add to their families.  Their “children” are furry and four-legged and completely delightful in small doses.

Fleuree, a Bichon/Havanese mix has been my daughter’s constant companion for over

Fleuree plays dress up
Fleuree plays dress up

ten years. Fleuree got her name, if I recall correctly, as a combination of the word “fleur” which I believe is French for flower, and “flurry” since she’s small and white.  Don’t ask me what we were thinking when we gave Fleuree to Dani for her 17th birthday, knowing she’d be leaving for college in six months  (Dani, not Fleuree.)  So for three years, Fleuree was our foster grandchild.  I got the opportunity to relive toilet training (yay!).  Fleuree had christened every rug in our house at that point. I put her back in basic training until she understood what “go out” meant.  By the time Dani was ready to take full custody of her baby, I was ready to let her go.  But sometimes I miss that little white dog.

Fleuree lost her sight when she was still fairly young but it didn’t seem to change anything for her, as long as we didn’t rearrange the furniture.   She is Dani’s alter ego.

Dani called me one day and said,”Mommy, mommy!  Guess what?  I got a kitten. It’s  little and gray and it’s so cute.”  Of course, my first repsonse was to ask why she wanted a cat and my second comment was, “Oh, sure, they’re all cute when they’re kittens.  But then they grow up to be cats!”  (Been there.  Done that.)  Turned out that gray kitten – Bella – bonded with Dani’s husband.  And kitten number two, Charlie, is Dani’s little darling.  And Fleuree?  Is mostly oblivious to both of them.

Fleuree, Bella & Charlie
Fleuree, Bella & Charlie

After a lifetime in Florida, Fleuree and family recently relocated to New Hampshire.  There’s been an adjustment to snow and cold, but luckily doggie sweaters make outings more bearable.

Got my sweater on!  Is it time to go out?
Got my sweater on! Is it time to go out?

The granddogs have given me a nice long time to consider what it might be like if a human grandchild came along at some point.  Note to the children:  I think I’d be okay with it.

 

Advertisements

FIRST CHAPTERS

ajtillock2013 012CLEO’S WEB

Chapter One

“Edgar Allen Poe. You come here. Ow! Dammit, Poe. Aunt Gertie will have my hide in a sling if something happens to you. Although, personally, I’ve always found you to be more trouble than you’re worth. Isn’t that right, kitty, kitty? Come on, now. Come here. Pretty please? Kitty, kitty? We’ll go inside. I’ll open one of those expensive tins of cat food for you. How about the one with the picture of the pretty white Persian on it? You’ve got a crush on her, don’t you, Edgar Allen. I know you do. I’ll open it and you can eat her—dammit, Poe! Owwwww!”
Daniel Webster shamelessly eavesdropped on the conversation between an unidentified woman and Gertie Petry’s tomcat, Poe. Daniel could hardly help it since the woman’s behind was sticking out of a circle of knockout roses Gertie’d planted two years ago, and he’d happened upon the scene purely by accident when he’d stopped his golf cart out front a minute ago.
Daniel happened to know that cluster of rosebushes was Edgar Allen Poe’s favorite place to hide each and every time he escaped the confines of Gertie’s two-bedroom, two-bath home. Gertie had called Daniel twice to help her corral the wayward cat, fretting the entire time until Poe was safely back inside.
Daniel also knew Poe wasn’t going anywhere. Not with a woman around to dote on him and cater to his every whim. Poe got two squares a day, his very own pristine litter box, scratching post and a basket full of catnip mice and assorted other playthings. At night, Daniel assumed, Poe curled up next to Gertie and slept the sleep of a cat who knows he’s king.
But this wasn’t Gertie’s behind peeking out from the bushes and it wasn’t Gertie’s voice alternately cursing and sweet talking the as-of-yet-unseen cat.
Daniel folded his arms across his chest, taking in the unexpected entertainment on what had so far been a fairly routine Wednesday here in the senior citizen manufactured housing community of Idlewood Estates. Oh, he’d had to settle a dispute between Don Clark and Buck Overly about whether the staghorn fern that had been living in the middle of the camphor tree that straddled their lots belonged to Don or to Buck. When Daniel, who’d mediated this exact same argument more times than he could count, suggested they cut the fern in half, they’d both looked horrified and once again agreed to shared custody.
That Solomon, Daniel thought, as he’d returned to his company-allotted cart, he knew a thing or two about keeping the peace. Don and Buck had been muttering together behind his back as he walked away about the craziness of the idea to kill such a majestic staghorn fern. Why it had been in that tree ever since Buck had bought his place from Myrtle MacCafferty four years ago. Long before that, Daniel could have told him. When Stella and Paul Sterling had sold their place to Don and his wife, the fern had been too massive to transport so they’d left it behind.
“Thanks a lot, Poe. You see this scratch on my arm? It’s bleeding. That’s what you made me do. I’ll be scarred for life and it will be all your fault. You are a worthless piece of poop, you know that? If I didn’t love Gertie so much, I’d leave you out here to fend for yourself. Serve you right, you spoiled, overgrown, sorry excuse for warm bloodedness.”
The bushes wiggled and so did the feminine rear end which was covered in a tent of pastel plaid housedress. Still, Daniel had seen an awful lot of fifty-five and over females from behind since he’d been managing Idlewood Estates. For that matter, he’d had the pleasure of seeing quite a few well under fifty-five year old feminine derrieres as well. This particular one, if he had to guess, was at least twenty-five years light on the age requirement for park residents. His day had become a whole lot more interesting.
Not to mention entertaining. The voice that floated out of the bushes had a soft Southern rhythm to it. Even when she was saying the most awful things to Poe she was using a sweet talking, coaxing tone, which apparently Poe wasn’t falling for. Probably that cat knew she’d insulted him whether he could understand the words or not. Daniel would not have been surprised to learn that Poe understood every word she’d spoken and had decided to teach her a lesson by retreating further and further into the circle of bushes until he came out on the other side.
More of her disappeared into the bushes. He could hear her murmuring softly to the cat. The oversized housedress had snagged on the branches and was not making the trip with her. Slowly the material lifted to reveal an inch of smooth thigh just above her bent knees. Definitely not the thighs of a senior citizen. Her feet were bare. Sadly, Daniel had seen a lot of elderly feet in his line of work as well. These feet were not a day over thirty-five. He’d bet his brand new circular saw on it.
“Aha! Gotcha!” she cried in triumph at the same time a massive yowl emitted from the edge of the bushes. There was a mighty rustle and every stem and branch in the circle trembled. A surprised “oomph” was followed by a black cat leaping out of the foliage and running straight at Daniel. When Poe leapt Daniel caught him, holding the cat securely close to his chest, although Poe seemed to have absolutely no inclination to go any further. He started to purr and they both watched and listened as a string of muttered unpleasantries issued from inside the circle and kept up as the body sporting that spectacular set of buns began to back out.
The housedress had not got the memo that it was to reverse and Daniel watched with interest and no small amount of lust as the material floated up another couple of inches. Definitely not the thighs of a senior citizen, he assured himself once again.
He did some quiet cursing of his own when a slight breeze blew alerting her to the fact that a few adjustments were in order. She yanked the hem of the dress down where it draped to mid-calf as she continued to back out. “Damn cat,” was the last thing she said before she cleared the bushes and sat down hard on the velvety grass in defeat.
“Gertie’s going to kill me,” she said sadly to herself. She swiped delicately at her nose with the back of her hand. Surely she wasn’t going to start crying over Poe’s supposed disappearance. Was she? Daniel hoped not. Women in tears scared the hell out of him. Made him feel helpless. He didn’t like feeling helpless and went out of his way to avoid it at all costs.
“Gertie’s not going to kill you,” he said from behind her. “Poe’s right here.”
She gasped and turned around at the same time she stumbled to her feet, moving way too fast and almost losing her balance. She righted herself and stared at him through a pair of ridiculously old-fashioned cat-eye glasses with black rims. He was pretty sure her eyes narrowed in irritation when she saw Poe sitting contently in his arms.
On her head she wore one of those equally ridiculous turbans women of a certain age and stage seemed to favor. It had come askew and several strands of blond hair were trailing around her ears and temples. One fell across her face and she blew it aside in irritation.
“Who are you?”
“Daniel Webster. Most folks call me Web.”
“Hmm.”
She continued to stand and stare at him so he returned the favor. The longer he looked, the more he liked what he saw. Even behind the crazy disguise she was wearing, which, by the way, wouldn’t fool even the least discerning observer, he could see she wasn’t a day over thirty, thirty-five tops. The intermittent breeze continued to blow and every time it did, the tent of a housedress got caught on her curves. He didn’t know what she was hoping to hide beneath all that material but from what he could tell she had nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, she probably had a lot she could show off if she were so inclined.
Her gaze was lasering through the lenses of those glasses, which he sincerely doubted were prescription. That turban? Maybe she needed to wash her hair or something, but even slightly askew, it lent her a rather dashing air of mystery. He half-expected her to pull out a cigarette in one of those old-fashioned holders and start speaking with a French accent. The thought came to him that maybe he was being punked. Yet there was something very vaguely familiar about Poe’s nemesis.
“And you are?” he finally said.
“None of your business,” she said huffily, absently rubbing at a scratch on her arm, courtesy, no doubt, of her encounter with the rosebushes.
Daniel cocked his head to one side surprised by her response. Most folks here in Idlewood Estates were the friendly type, and the ones who weren’t were, at the very least, civil. He didn’t want to throw his weight around, but he would if she pushed him.
“You want your cat back?” he said with a smile, stroking Poe’s black head right between his ears the way he knew Poe liked.
She sniffed. “He’s not my cat,” she informed Daniel. “And frankly, if it were up to me, he’d never set foot inside again.”
“But it’s not up to you, is it?”
Her bottom lip trembled. A tear slid out from beneath the frames of her glasses. “No,” she said so softly he almost couldn’t hear her.
“Want me to bring the cat in?”
She took a deep breath and Daniel took note of what that did to the material covering her chest. Then she let it out with what sounded like a heartfelt sigh of resignation. “Sure. Why not.”
He followed her, assuring himself that her walk was not the walk of a woman who’d been on earth more than half a century. She held the door open to Gertie’s unit and Daniel walked through. The moment she closed it behind her Poe made a leap for freedom, darting into a bedroom. She walked past Daniel and firmly shut the door to the room as if she’d finally taught the cat a lesson. Daniel bit his lip to keep from smiling. He happened to know Poe’s favorite place in the world was underneath the guest bed.
She proceeded down the narrow hallway to the kitchen, so Daniel followed. She opened the refrigerator door and reached inside. “Want a beer?”
“It’s barely ten o’clock in the morning,” he pointed out.
“Yeah, well, I’m having a rough morning.” She unscrewed the cap and took a long draught from a Bud Light. “You in or out?”
Daniel had been so mesmerized by the movement of her throat as she swallowed, that long smooth column of throat without a line or wrinkle in sight, he barely registered her question. No way was he leaving now and he had the uncomfortable notion that she’d kick him out with pleasure if he didn’t agree to be her mid-morning drinking buddy. “In. I guess.”
She withdrew a second bottle, opened it and handed it to him. She tapped the neck of her bottle against his. “To new friends.”
“New friends,” he agreed, although he was becoming more uncertain by the minute if that’s what she was going to be to him.
When she yanked the turban off her head and sent it sailing toward the overstuffed recliner in the sitting area, he forgot all about the cat in the bedroom and the beer in his hand.

***********************************

Above is the start of an idea for a contemporary romance novel.  I wish I knew where it was going, but it’s all a bit muddled at the moment.  Look for more FIRST CHAPTERS posts in the future.  Meanwhile, visit me at http://www.barbarameyers.com

Follow my infrequent Twitter posts @barbmeyers and @ajtillock

Like my Facebook Author page at https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraMeyersAuthorPage

 

If I Only Had a Plot

ajtillock2013 012
Lighting a candle is not helping me come up with one for my current wip.

I have several scenes written. I know the characters fairly well, especially the hero. But I’m in that “what is this book about?” stage because I don’t exactly have a plot. I have a blurry idea of a plot that won’t come together in my head or anywhere else. Certainly not on the page.

As part of my novel-writing process, for every book I have a file entitled “notes” usually attached to a character’s name, in this case, the hero, Niko. My earliest entry in “Notes Niko Morales” is 6/28/10 which is probably when I first had the idea that Niko, who appears in A FOREVER KIND OF GUY could have his own story.

Why, you may wonder can’t I come up with a plot? Contemplate this gem of an entry from my notes file:

7/18/10 OR…

She keeps the kid because the child’s mother is actually her half-sister, although maybe she doesn’t know it at the time. Maybe her father had an affair with this woman’s mother (history repeats itself) who was a maid in their house 20 years ago…and his wife found out??? And sent the woman back to whence she came, but the woman was pregnant with his child and he knew it but before he could make other arrangements his wife got rid of her. So then he tracked her down and maybe has been sending her money all these years to help support his child and he’s the one who got her into the States and got her work in his household? But she doesn’t know he’s her father? Or does she? But he encourages the heroine to keep the child. I think maybe he’s had a stroke or somehow been disabled and the heroine is like his voice. Or he can instruct her to do as he wishes but is somehow impaired and needs her to carry out his wishes. So maybe he knows the woman is his child. Maybe he tells the heroine? Or she has suspected and he confirms it? And neither of them knew about the affair between his daughter and her husband.

So…internal conflict, loyalty to her father, hatred of her ex, responsibility to an innocent child who’s actually her father’s grandchild. Where is mother in all of this? Bitchy and oblivious? She can’t know and never wanted let’s just call her Leslie to keep the kid.

So there’s a parallel here. Leslie’s father had an affair with a maid which produced a child and then Leslie’s husband did the same thing. Only she ends up with the child even though she has mixed feelings. Maybe she tries to love the kid, but isn’t quite there. Maybe she’s afraid to be free or to let her guard down. In her experience, men are not to be trusted. Somehow through Niko she will learn to trust and to love and be herself. She’s tightly wound and holds herself inside. A control freak.

I think my mother let me watch way too many soap operas when I was a kid.

Apparently I started thinking about and making notes about this book three years ago.

I hope if I keep writing this story will straighten itself out and all will become clear. That’s what happened with THE FIRST TIME AGAIN. That’s what happened with all of them, I suppose but it’s a frustrating process, which leads me to wonder once again why more writers aren’t bald.

Visit me at http://www.barbarameyers.com where you can check out my next release, THE FIRST TIME AGAIN, from Samhain Publishing.
FirstTimeAgain,The72lg[1]FINAL

Follow my infrequent posts on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock

Picky Reader – 25

Flirting in Cars by Alisa Kwitney. Sort of a women’s fiction/romance story. I liked it.
Glitter Baby by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I thought I’d read everything of hers, but I must have missed this one. True to form, SEP never disappoints her readers.
Violet by Design by Melissa Walker. I don’t normally read young adult fiction. This was a pretty good book, although if young adults tend to annoy you, don’t bother. The character of Violet is full of contradictions and waffles between being wise and immature. But that is the nature of young women her age.
A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff. I enjoyed this book. It has a lot parallels in it and connections made from past to present through the main character who owns a vintage clothing shop. She heals her own emotional wounds by helping a dying woman put her past to rest.
Fools Paradise by Jennifer Stevenson. I read this on my Kindle. It is a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy about stagehands and union infighting. There is one bedroom scene in particular which I found wildly hysterical. Fun and entertaining.
Picky Reader - 25 Here is another book I’m recommending. Scattered Moments. I am still working on a good blurb for it. (Don’t get me started on the angst of writing effective blurbs.) What’s a married woman to do when she meets her soulmate thirteen years too late? Sure there’s lots more to the book than that, a frenemy with her own agenda and a hidden camera, a husband she doesn’t know as well as she thinks she does, and vows she made to herself long ago which she now must re-examine. Scattered Moments is available for 99 cents on Amazon.com and bn.com right now. P.S. I would have posted this blog much earlier if WordPress wasn’t being a pain and not letting me upload my gorgeous cover. I still don’t know how I did it!
Visit me at http://www.barbmeyers.com
#postaweek2011

God – The Original Forever Kind of Guy

My contemporary romance novel, A Forever Kind of Guy, came out this month and in preparation for its release I started thinking about a lot of things.
Marketing, first of all, which I don’t begin to understand and its importance is something I balk at. Not to insult all the marketing experts out there, but bear with me.
Of late, there’s been a lot of buzz about Twitter. You’ve got to be on Twitter, you need to tweet X number of times per day, use hashtags and @ signs, let your followers know you’re there and you’re interested. Have conversations. Etc.
I tried to join an online workshop to learn more about Twitter, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. There are many online marketing shoulds for an author like me. Have a Facebook fan page. Blog about things readers are interested in. Etc.
Of course, I want my own personal marketing tools like bookmarks and such. Sometimes the list of what I should do seems endless and I’m reminded I’m only one person. A rather humble person, at that, and marketing oneself doesn’t come naturally to those of us who aren’t comfortable tooting our own horn. Really, my biggest problem is trying to think of something even remotely interesting to post even once a day. If I can’t be clever or entertaining, what’s the point?
I began to think, is this all really necessary? It seems like too much. When I feel overwhelmed, I hand things over to God. “Here you go, God. You take care of this. I’m not going to worry about it any more.” Immediately the response I heard was, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this. I’m in control.”
I heave a huge sigh of relief.
He must know I could literally bust my behind doing everything marketing experts tell me to do. I could drive myself crazy trying to keep up with it all, get my name out there, post my status six times a day and Tweet ten, and it’s entirely possible it will make little or no difference in my sales. There are a million other authors climbing on the same bandwagon doing exactly the same thing. At some point, don’t we cancel each other out?
When my first two books came out I decided if only ten people read one of them, then those were the ten who were meant to read it. There was a message there just for them, or they needed that escape. Whatever reason my book ended up in their hands, I was fine with it.
Caroline Myss says something about doing whatever you were put on earth to do, create whatever you were inspired to create, then let it go out into the universe and the universe will respond. Your part is done. This may explain why so many authors try different marketing ploys and can’t quantify the results. You can put forth a lot of effort for questionable results. The only thing that is under my control is writing the best book I’m capable of writing.
While the hero of A Forever Kind of Guy is an earthly forever kind of guy, I kept thinking about God being the original forever kind of guy.
I imbue my heroes with all the qualities I admire in a man, but upon further examination, they are God’s qualities as well. Patience. Kindness. Loyalty. Understanding. He doesn’t give up. He protects and fights for the ones he loves. He offers comfort in difficult times. He makes a promise to be there forever and he never wavers. I like creating a hero who is always one step ahead of the heroine. Imagine how many steps ahead of us God is.
All of this led me to the title of this blog. (Even if nothing I’ve written here makes sense to anyone but me…it doesn’t matter. God gets it.)
On my books’ acknowledgments page I always thank God because without him, where would I be? Maybe people wonder how a romance writer can profess to have a relationship with God. After all, those characters I write (sshhh) have sex before they’re married. Horrors!
Whether or not an author chooses to address it, pre-marital sex has been a staple of American society for many years. I doubt God is shocked. He understands the emotional component of a sexual relationship, which is what romance novels like mine are based on. It’s why the characters are in an exclusive relationship and why they head for marriage at the end of the book. The journey they shared through the story becomes the glue that bonds them together. Their search for someone to belong to is over.
Sadly, many of us search endlessly for a forever kind of guy while overlooking the fact that He’s always been here.
http://www.barbmeyers.com
#postaweek2011

This Lemonade Is Making Me Crazy, Part II

I said I was going to contact the author (see my blog from 10/5/11) about the lemonade issue that was making me crazy and I did. Below is my e-mail to her and her reply to me. She asked that I not use the name of her book or her name if I used this in a blog, so I didn’t. I also deleted the names of the characters in the book when they were referenced in either of our e-mails.

I love knowing I can contact an author, ask a question, and that she’ll take the time to reply. It means a lot to me as a reader. I thanked the author via e-mail, of course, but I want to thank her again here.

Dear Author:
I am reading your book and arrived at the section where they are in the Dakota Territory and one character is teaching another to shoot and she serves him lemonade. Later she gets sick from drinking lemonade someone else on the wagon train made. (Why?) She reaches her friend’s place in Utah and I believe they are drinking lemonade once again.

I am curious as to whether this is historically factual and if so, where/how did all these lemons arrive in the Dakota Territory and where did they come from? How were they kept from spoiling? Wouldn’t they be a luxury and quite costly? I am genuinely curious. I’ve tried to look up the possibilities online but come up empty.

I would love to know the answer. My husband’s degree is in U.S. History and he is stumped as well.

Thanks in advance,
Barb Meyers

The author’s reply via e-mail:

Hi Barbara,
Thanks for your email. I hope you are enjoying the book. About the lemonade, it probably wasn’t what we drink today. However, they did have lemons. Columbus brought them here and by this character’s time, it was quite an industry in California and Florida. Like the sailors who journeyed for months at sea, pioneers could take real lemons with them. They can last a few weeks, but she would mostly have had lemon juice, which women could make themselves. They could use the juice for cooking and cleaning, too. The character could have also used lemon extract, which was probably more alcohol than lemon. They were amazingly resourceful women. Here’s a recipe from 1866:

To Preserve Lemon Juice for a Voyage.
Select only the best, freshest lemons. Squeeze them well through a strainer. To every 1 qt. of juice add 1 oz. cream of tartar. Let it stand 3 days, (stirring it frequently) and then filter it through thin muslin pinned tightly on the bottom of a sieve. Put it into bottles, filling up the neck of each bottle with a little of the best olive oil. Cork tightly, then seal. When you open a bottle avoid shaking it, and carefully pour off the olive oil that is on top of the lemon juice.

Don’t know how this tasted, but if you try it, please let me know.
This book began as a chapter for a history book, so my research was primary, and I did my best to be accurate. I travelled the route the character took and researched at libraries, government offices and historical sites from NYC to Utah. I studied maps, tax records; I read diaries, letters, newspapers, cookbooks and guidebooks (I found an original one of NYC from 1868). Of course, history is subjective, depending on who is reporting what and when, but hopefully, the character would recognize the world I placed her in. 🙂

Thanks again for reading the book.
The Author

Visit me at http://www.barbmeyers.com
Write me at barb@barbmeyers.com
#postaweek2011

P.S. But you see the part in the recipe where it says to avoid shaking the bottle? Travelling overland in a covered wagon seems like there’d be a whole lot of shaking going on. They’re fording rivers, the wagon almost tips over. I’ve decided this “lemonade” they were drinking must have been truly disgusting. Thank God for Minute Maid.

This Lemonade is Making Me Crazy!

I am reading an historical novel by an author I’ve never read before for which I paid 99¢ and downloaded to my Kindle.
I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I’ve read a fair amount.
The story takes place in 1868, after the U.S. Civil War but before the transcontinental railroad is completed. The main characters are leaving New York City and heading west. Their ultimate destination is Utah. They start out on a train, but eventually (somewhere in Kansas I believe) buy a wagon and mules and join up with a wagon train.
I’m reading along, following the story, all is well. Until they arrive in the Dakota Territory and all of a sudden they are drinking lemonade.
I am yanked out of the story immediately. Lemonade? Under these circumstances? In this time period? In this setting? Is that possible? Believable?
I begin to ask the obvious questions: Where did they get lemons? If lemons were available, wouldn’t they be considered a luxury and therefore expensive? How did they transport them from…wherever to the Dakota Territory in a timely enough manner to keep them from spoiling?
I query my husband about this, figuring with a degree in U.S. History he should be able to shed some light on the situation. He points out that Florida was settled at that time and lemons would have been available. I agree, but we’re both stumped by the transport issue. Later he suggests that lemons are also grown in Mexico. Again I agree (I’m nothing if not agreeable) but point out that the distance from there to the Dakotas is about what it would be from Florida. Without preservatives or refrigeration what is the shelf life of the average lemon?
Back to the book. A short time later, one of the characters becomes ill with gastrointestinal distress and admits to drinking lemonade made by one of the other families in the wagon train. Okaaay.
They eventually arrive in Utah. They again drink lemonade.
Now it’s the Fourth of July and there’s a big celebration at a wealthy man’s ranch. Lemonade is once again served. (He at least could afford it, but I doubt he could move lemons across the country any faster than anyone else.)
I’ve tried to research this online. I’ve recruited a couple of friends to help me, but I’m coming up with nothing.
If you can shed any light on this lemonade, preferably backed up by facts, I’d like to hear from you.
As a last resort, I e-mailed the author to ask her these questions. I hope she sets my mind at ease and explains it all and offers me a peek at her research documentation. Because at the moment, all the lemonade in this book is leaving a sour taste in my mouth.
Visit me at http://www.barbmeyers.com

#postaweek2011

What Do Readers Want?

A recent meeting with a marketing expert goes something like this:

HER:  What do you feel is most important when it comes to content on your web site?

Me:  (Mental response) I don’t know.

Me:  (Verbal response)  Whatever will draw more readers to it and encourage them to buy my books.

HER:  Why is your blog so author-oriented?

Me (Mental response)  Because I’m an author.

Me:  (Verbal response)  Because I write what I want to write on my blog.  That’s why I started writing a blog.

(If you want to know who I am, read my blog.)

HER:  But your readers aren’t interested in author content.  They want to know about your books.

Me:  (Mental response)  They do?

Me:  (Verbal response)  They do?  How do you know what my readers want? 

HER:  Ninety-nine percent of marketing is research.  I’ve done my research.  I’ve studied other author web sites and blogs for content.

Me:  (Mental response)  That sounds boring.

Me:  (Verbal response)   I guess if I’m paying you for your expertise I should listen to your advice.

Me:  (Mental thought)  I’ll ask the readers what they like to see on an author’s web site. 

Do readers look at author’s web sites? 

What are they looking for on an author web site?

Do they read their blogs? 

Do they want to be Facebook friends or follow them on Twitter? 

Do they want to enter contests? 

What do they like as a reward? 

The winner having a character named after them? 

A free book? 

Something else?

I can tell you what I think authors want from readers:

1)       Authors want readers to love their books.

2)       Authors want readers to buy their books.

3)       Authors want readers to tell all their friends how much they loved the author’s book(s).

4)       Authors want readers to encourage all of their friends to buy and read the author’s book(s).

What I hope readers want from an author is a really good book they can enjoy and escape into for a little while.  A book that takes them out of their own world, gives them a break from their own reality, uplifts, inspires, or maybe just entertains them for a couple of hours.

If there’s something else readers expect from authors I don’t know what it is.

But I’d like to.

In the words of Popeye, “I yam what I yam.”

And in my own words as an author, “I write what I write.”  Humor, emotion, romance, love, happy endings.

Which leaves me with two burning questions:

How are readers going to find me? 

Really, truly what do readers want from authors?  (Besides the best book I can write.)

 

Check out A Forever Kind of Guy coming from Samhain publishing in October 2011.

visit me at www.barbmeyers.com

 

 

 

Writer Envy?

There has been a bit of a furor lately about John Locke’s book on how he became a bestseller offering ninety-nine-cent eBooks while also admitting he isn’t that good of a writer.  I have not read his how-to book.  From what I’ve read about it, it appears he takes a cold-blooded business approach to making money from writing, which many other authors who’ve honed their craft for years may find offensive.  It’s also possible they might envy his approach and wish they could be so hard-headed and business savvy and make the kind of money from selling fiction that Locke does.

I read one of Locke’s books and blogged about my opinion of it recently.  https://barbmeyers.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/picky-reader-and-a-kindle-book-1/

What I find interesting and somewhat amusing is the reaction among some published authors to Locke’s approach.  Let’s face it, any of us could have done what he did, and probably still can.  The book he’s written detailing how he did it is selling like hotcakes.  I’d love to know how many disgruntled authors bought the how-to book versus bought and read any of his novels.

Locke’s admission that he doesn’t consider himself an exceptional fiction writer reminded me of an unpublished writer friend who told me a couple of years ago she wanted to write fiction to make money.  She didn’t think the writing had to be that good.  At the time I was offended by her attitude, but with the dumbing down of America, turns out she was right.  The John Locke story proves her point.  If I were him, I’d be chuckling all the way to the bank at how easy it is to take advantage of the reading, book-buying public.  First they will buy his fiction because it’s cheap (as I did) and even though it’s may not be well-written, they either don’t care or can’t tell.  (I do and I can.)  Then they will buy his how-to book so (God forbid) they can go out and write their own not-so-great novel and make millions from it.

Although I’ll refrain from naming names, I’m sure we’re all aware there are traditionally published, best-selling authors who are not great writers. 

Ever since I started writing what I heard from the “experts” is there are no new ideas.  You need to put a new twist on an old idea.  Simple, enough, right?

What I also heard ad nauseam was “Write the best book you possibly can and it will sell.”  The cream, supposedly, rises to the top no matter what.

In my heart of hearts, I want to believe this is true.  I haven’t spent twenty-plus years writing so I could slap garbage between the covers of a book and laugh at the readers who lap it up.  My goal was and has always been to write the very best books I am capable of writing.  It’s my mission statement.  I care about my readers. 

Would I love to be a best-selling author and make piles of money from my work?  You betcha!  But money isn’t what motivates me to write, and there’s something sort of sad about money being the motivation behind almost anything.

For years I worked with people who hated their jobs but were there for the money.  Life is much more joyful if you find something you love to do and are good at, and you can get paid for it.  John Locke found something he’s good at and obviously has a passion for (selling his books) and he makes money doing it. 

I admit I have a Pollyanna-ish view of life and writing and business.  I don’t have piles of money, but I’m pretty satisfied the books I offer to the reading public are my best effort.  No one can take that away from me.

#postaweek2011

http://www.barbmeyers.com

Avid Reader Interview – Danielle

Today I am starting a new blog interview series featuring avid fiction readers.  Danielle agreed to be my guinea pig and aid my research in finding an answer to the question “What do readers want?”

Tell me what immediately comes to mind when I ask what is your favorite book of all time?

The Hunger Games Trilogy

What are you currently reading and who is the author?

I just finished reading He’s So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott 

Are you loving it?  Hating it?  Feeling ambivalent about it?  Want to give a shout-out to the author?

I loved it. 

Why did you choose this particular book?

It’s the second book in a series and it just came out.

Do you have a favorite genre?  (i.e., romance, suspense, thriller, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.)

Probably YA (young adult)

Do you have a favorite author?

Probably YA author Kieran Scott/Kate Brian 

Do you primarily read Ebooks? Paperbacks? Hardcovers?

Ebooks

 Where do you obtain books? i.e., library, bookstore, online, share with friends, buy used, etc.?

Online.  I have a Kindle. 

How many books do you read in a month on average?

Ten to fifteen a month, but some are favorites I’m re-reading

Does price play a part in your book-buying decisions?  How much is too much to pay for a book?

Yes, it does play a part.  For a Kindle edition, I usually won’t pay more than $13, but if it’s a new release I really want I’ll pay a higher price even if it’s more.

What is something authors do that you like?

Write series. 

What is something authors do that bugs you?

When they make the series go on too long and the quality suffers.  I also don’t like if they write characters that are too perfect and/or unrealistic.

 How important are covers in your book-buying decisions?

Not very important.  Usually it’s the title that grabs my attention first.

In what ways do you discover new authors?

I often find them through Amazon.  They send me e-mails of top books in the genres I read.

Do you belong to a book club?  No.

Have you ever attended an author booksigning?  Yes

Danielle is female, between the ages of 20 and 30.  She has a college degree and lives inCentral Florida.  I would like to thank her for taking the time to be interviewed.

If you are an avid fiction reader and would like to be featured in an upcoming blog interview, contact me at barb@barbmeyers.com.  I will send you a questionnaire via e-mail which you can complete and return to me via e-mail.  I won’t add you to a mailing list, sell your information or anything else like that.  I only use a first name. 

 #postaweek2011

http://www.barbmeyers.com