How many times have you read a book or seen a movie billed as romantic comedy that simply wasn’t funny? I feel like I’ve read lots of those kinds of books and seen lots of those kinds of movies where the humor fell flat. It should have been funny but it wasn’t.
Do we even know what romantic comedy is? What it’s supposed to encompass?
Too often, I think romantic comedy is built around a situation instead of the characters. And if the humor doesn’t come from the characters, there’s no way it can be funny. You can force them into a comical situation, (think Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal) but if THEY aren’t funny, you won’t laugh. You probably won’t even be entertained. Sometimes it all seems just kind of dumb. Even a little bit sad. Sometimes writers try to force comedy to get laughs and when they try too hard no one is amused. And maybe, when they aren’t trying to force laughs, but a movie leaves you smiling and with that warm fuzzy feeling, they’ve succeeded (why did While You Were Sleeping work so well?).
My first book from Samhain Publishing (A Month From Miami) was billed as romantic comedy by my editor. I’d never considered it would fall into that genre. But when I read it now, I smile. It’s cute. Light-hearted. Warm. And the characters work well in the babysitting-for-car-repair trade scenario. Nobody’s Fool, a ten-year high school reunion story also got tagged as romantic comedy. It’s cute, but is it funny?
Maybe romantic comedy doesn’t have to make you laugh until you cry. Maybe you won’t laugh out loud at all. Maybe humor is so subjective no two people will find the same thing tickling their funny bone. But a successful romantic comedy? I think we all know it when we see it or read it.
With the soon to be released Cleo’s Web, I’m categorizing it as romantic comedy that’s actually funny. Not only is the situation comical (a 30-something disguising herself as a senior citizen) the characters play well off that (when the hero tries to keep her rule breaking secret in return for a favor. Or two.)
I’m still working on the cover. And the blurb. And the formatting. And all the other fun stuff that goes with publishing. But here’s a sneak peek excerpt from Cleo’s Web just for you:
“What do you want?” she asked so softly she wasn’t sure he could even hear her. She’d directed the question at the window instead of him.
“A home-cooked meal is what I was thinking.”
She turned to stare at him. “You want me to cook for you?”
She must have sounded horrified because he said, “Now who would have thought you’d find that more abhorrent than sleeping with me?”
“I didn’t. I don’t. I can’t.”
“Why don’t you pick one of those and go with it?”
“I, uh. I’m not much of a cook.”
“Oh, come on. You must have learned something from Gertie.”
“No. I’m a lousy cook.”
“Oh. Did you want to reconsider the sleeping with me option? I promise not to hog the covers.”
She stared at him not entirely sure he wasn’t serious. “I’ll cook,” she finally managed.
“See? That wasn’t so hard. One other thing. Don’t ever answer the door wearing what you did this morning. That disguise you had on? Wear something like that whenever you go out. I’m willing to look the other way, but the residents won’t, I can guarantee it. If they figure out you’re breaking the rules and I’m allowing it, I’ll lose my job and you’ll lose a place to stay. Got it?”
“And try to look less, er, that is, try not to be so, um…”
“So?” Cleo raised an eyebrow.
Cleo couldn’t help it. She started to laugh. And once she got going, she couldn’t stop. The tops of Daniel’s ears turned pink. But he grinned at her. Again.
And here’s my latest attempt at a label after the blurb:
Warning: Contains 30-somethings behaving like senior citizens, failed attempts to impersonate elderly individuals and numerous retirement community violations.
The current conventional wisdom is that the ONLY way for authors to find readers is to give books away. At least give one away and then all the readers who took advantage of the free offer will love your book so much they’ll come back and buy your other books.
Maybe they will. After they read the other hundred or so free books they have in their TBR pile.
Get noticed! Get on the bestseller lists by giving your books away. Only you’re not a best “seller.” You are a best “giver.”
In an economy where the price of everything has risen in recent years, books are not only cheap, they are free. Why? Does a book have less value than a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread? Do you go to the supermarket and look to see what they are giving away today? Or the gas station or the mall? When’s the last time the movie theater didn’t require you to pay for your ticket or your popcorn?
No one is giving anything away except authors. Maybe it’s a result of the glut of books on the market. But even if you’re giving your books away you are just one of the thousands of authors who are doing the same thing. You’re going to stand out how? By writing such a brilliant book that the free readers will flock to buy your others?
I’ve read a couple of outstanding books in the past year. Some of those were by fellow Samhain authors Sophie H. Morgan and Donna June Cooper. One was a free book which was the start of a series by Jeffrey Archer. (I’ve resisted buying the second book—even though I’d very much like to read it—as the digital version is priced at $9.99! Yikes!) Cooper’s and Morgan’s books are in the $5 and under range. I either purchased their books or they were given to me by the authors in exchange for honest reviews.
While I don’t believe an ebook should be priced the same as a print version since there’s no cost for printing and paper and shipping, I don’t believe in free either. The same amount of work went into the book (writing, editing, cover, formatting).
You might get one of my books for free if you won a contest or entered a Goodreads giveaway. Maybe you’ll read it. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll love it and check out my other books. Maybe you’ll buy them. Maybe you won’t.
All I know is I’ve worked since I was sixteen. None of my employers ever suggested I shouldn’t get paid. I wonder why so many authors began suggesting it to themselves. I mean I love a good sale as much as anyone but I also wonder how many readers who take advantage of free books would be willing to work for nothing.
This morning I went for a walk down and a lady came out from one of the side streets just as I reached it. She hesitated to let me get ahead of her (I guess). This happens occasionally and I always think I could ask that person if they’re interested in walking together. But I never do. I don’t want to walk at someone else’s pace. And horror of horrors what if we start talking and I’m bored? What if they want to walk with me again? Once I’ve set a precedent, how do I say, “I’d rather walk alone” the next time?
I used to have walking buddies and I enjoyed them. But for one reason or another those relationships changed and I started walking alone more often than not.
I got to thinking how that’s a metaphor for (my) life. Maybe for yours, too. I always feel like I’m alone. Out of step with everyone else. I never fit in and I’m not good in groups. I don’t follow convention. I most likely won’t get on your bandwagon. What I will do is question why everyone else is and whether your platform makes sense or not.
I look at all the authors writing books, selling books, advertising books, promoting books, marketing books. Social media is full of them. I have researched book marketing ad nauseam and lately I’ve started researching “not” marketing. Are there any anti-book marketing proponents out there? Well, I found one. Kathryn Rusch was quoted in a Forbes magazine article as basically saying, don’t bother marketing your books, especially if you’re self-published. Focus your time and energy on writing more and better books. I like Kathryn.
I’ve made myself crazy trying to figure out how to get my books in front of the readers who will be the most interested in them. Conventional wisdom says you must market your books or no one will see them. No one will buy them. No one will read them.
But at the same time, no one seems able to quantify their marketing results. Various formats are tried, and combined but the authors who seem to me to be the most successful are the authors who consistently write good books and who have quite a few of them available. So who’s to say they’d have never been discovered by readers sans an expensive and time-consuming promotional platform? Even the so-called experts have no idea why some books fail to sell in spite of mega bucks thrown into promoting them and some virtually unknown author will take the world by storm. Publishing is and has always been a fickle business, most likely because it’s a reflection of its customer base.
I won’t say that a platform like BookBub doesn’t work because even I have purchased or downloaded for free the books offered by them. But I’ve never spent more than 99 cents and to date I don’t think I’ve read any of them. I might. Eventually. And I might write a review if I’m blown away by one of these books. But then again, I might not. There are no guarantees.
On social media I am bombarded with other authors’ promotional efforts, most of which is just white noise to me. There’s so much of it. It’s all different yet it’s all the same. Some of it is simply off-putting and redundant.
So maybe I’ll do something different. I won’t make myself crazy trying to promote my books. I’ll spend my time, money and energy on writing the best books I can, having them professionally edited and creating fantastic covers. I might still be the author no one’s ever heard of and no one reads, but that’s okay. I’m used to walking alone.
Dear God, Please tell me which is best path to take: Re Samhain contracts: Leave Cleo & Animal w/Samhain until deal is done or not done? Pros: Assuming they still publish it: No cost to me. (Is this about money?) Cons: Delay in publishing. (But could I do it any faster?) Cost to me for editing & cover. Will probably have a different editor. May be better. May be worse. So I could do everything Samhain did on my own. Plus I’d have control – complete control over cover and price. And I could put the book out probably faster than whatever Samhain’s new deal will. But will I? I’m still sitting on Cool Beans a year after I got the cover done. Why? What’s stopping me? I need to get over my reluctance of the process. Make myself do it. Learn it. God, please help me get over my aversion to all things technical! Meanwhile I started revising The Color of Nothing and White Roses In Winter. Have cover ideas for both. Editing? Maybe. Do I want to put that much $$ into them? I said I’d never put out unedited work. Did I mean it? Best option right now? God? Please weigh in.
1)Finish read through of The Color of Nothing
1)Finish Cool Beans
1)Re-access where I am w/Samhain
a)If no deal yet ask for rights back (again)
b)If deal goes forward w/books there wait & see what happens
1) Finish revising White Roses in Winter
Today – Upload new blurb for The Forbidden Bean
ALL OF THE ABOVEI wrote this morning. I received an email from Samhain’s publisher just now that clarifies where things stand and tells me what I needed to know. In less than six hours God has provided an answer to all of my questions. He’s helped me clarify my goals. Helped me lay out a plan.
And in case you’re wondering I did upload that new blurb for The Forbidden Bean. And I’ve been editing The Color of Nothing most of the morning.
Today I welcome author Marianne Rice to share a little about herself by answering my quick questions and a bit more about her latest release, Then Came You. Plus, Marianne is doing a giveaway of Then Came You. First the Q & A:
Someone just gave you the best compliment ever. What was it?
“Your children are so kind, respectful and giving.” Hubby and I have been working on this with our 14, 12 and 9 year old. They believe the world revolves around them and we would like them to consider others before themselves. *sigh* I just want my children to be healthy, happy, caring individuals. I love this!
Name one thing that is guaranteed to make you laugh and one thing that will always make you cry.
Guaranteed laugh is when my 9 year-old Little Guy’s long eye lashes fill with laughing tears as he tells a random story that makes no sense to anyone else. The whole family can’t help but smile and giggle at his nonsense.
What makes me cry? A sick child, the St. Jude’s Hospital commercials, soldiers returning home. Heart in throat every time!
You get a month off from your regular personal life and writing routine to travel. Where will you go? What will you do? Why did you choose this destination or trip?
I love living in Maine, but the winters can be long and cold. My sister lives in San Diego and I’d love to get out to sunny California more often to see her and my adorable nephews. And an added bonus would be if my other sister in New Jersey and her son could come too! It’s fun when our families and cousins get together, but I’d also love to have just a sister visit. The three of us sans the kids, and a boatload of sun, quiet, loaded Kindles and an endless supply of umbrella drinks.
You get one do-over from your life so far. What is it?
Wow. This question has had me thinking for days. There are lots of little things I’d do over: my quick anger when my kids do something that drives me up a wall, words I said out of anger to my husband, silly, stupid little things I may have done in high school but will never admit. But really, I don’t have any major life regrets. I regret my children are living with life-long illnesses that I have no control over (one with type 1 diabetes and aspergers, another with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease), but there isn’t anything I can do to change these. It’s the daily battle that will make my children grow up to be strong, independent fighters. If I could change one thing, I’d rid them of their diseases.
You have no choice but to live your life from now on as one of your characters. Which character is it and why?
I would love to be Rayne Wilde, the heroine in my contemporary romance, Sweet on You, the first book in the Wilde Sisters series. She’s always happy and has a wonderful man who is funny, loyal and even bakes! The fun adventurous Rayne and Trent do together while discovering themselves and each other is worth the ride over and over again. As the middle child, Rayne is the peacemaker between her sisters. The three have a special and unique bond that reminds me of my sisters.
Thanks for sharing, Marianne. And now more about THEN CAME YOU:
Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll be entered to win book giveaways every month!
Marianne Rice writes contemporary romances set in small New England towns. Her heroes are big and strong, yet value family and humor, while her heroines are smart, sexy, sometimes a little bit sassy, and are often battling a strong internal conflict. Together, they deal with real life issues and always, always, find everlasting love. When she’s not writing, Marianne spends her time buying shoes, eating chocolate, chauffeuring her herd of children to their varying sporting events, and when there’s time, relaxing with fancy drinks and romance books. Connect with her on Facebook or visit her website at http://www.mariannerice.com
BOOK BLURB-Then Came You
Thyme Wilde doesn’t make long-term decisions—until she falls in love with one…
Easily bored and quickly distracted, Thyme enjoys her freedom, so being a temp at her sister’s company is the perfect job. But when she takes a position as a nanny, she instantly falls in love with the five-year-old princess named Maddie—and just two months later, Maddie’s parents are killed in a plane crash, leaving Thyme in an unfamiliar role of responsibility.
Multi-millionaire architect Grayson Montgomery lives in the lap of luxury—but at a cost…
Being the sole heir of his family’s fashion empire and his father’s architectural firm, Grayson has never lacked for anything. But in return, he must stay subservient to the matriarch of his family—his grandmother—and date the heiress of their largest business partner. The only freedom Grayson has is his architectural designs, which are his true passion.
One day changes Grayson’s future forever…
A lawyer summons Grayson to Maine for the reading of the will of a woman he once knew. He doesn’t expect to be named the father of a five-year-old orphan. Then he meets his newly-discovered daughter—and her incredibly sexy nanny.
While acting as Maddie’s loyal nanny, Thyme develops feelings for her new employer that are more than professional. And after several passionate nights with Grayson, it’s clear the feeling is mutual.
When it’s made evident Grayson sees her as a convenient placeholder, Thyme must push aside her desires and put Maddie above herself—even if it means sacrificing her heart to do it.
Excerpt from Then Came You:
Grayson slipped his hand from hers and gently cupped her cheek. “I’m going to kiss you again,” he said, just inches away from her lips. “And I’m not going to let you go so easily this time.”
Oh, gush. She clamped her legs tighter and felt an instant stirring in her chest. Her headlights pointing straight at him, lighting the way to her heart. Slowly, painfully slowly, Grayson lowered his head inch by inch until his breath mingled with hers.
“If you don’t want me to do this,” he whispered, “you better say so. Fast.”
Thyme’s goal was to keep her hands to herself, but Grayson looked so sexy coming down the stairs after putting Maddie down for her nap that she couldn’t do the responsible thing. He grinned at her as if he knew her thoughts. Without saying a word, their mouths met, their hands tugged on each other’s clothes, and they fell to the couch in a naked, sweaty tangle.
Just one more romp and then she’d turn their relationship into a professional partnership.
Since 2003 I have worked for a global coffee company. The benefits (like reasonably priced health insurance) are good and I get all the free coffee I want. Mostly I brew coffee and take orders and make lattes. I don’t work full-time, it’s not a hard job and it suits me.
But lately I’ve been re-evaluating my life choices. This started when a customer told us we had an issue in our restroom that needed to be dealt with. I had been in the restroom earlier and noticed a rather unpleasant odor, but that is not unusual. I often wonder what goes on in there.
But this particular afternoon, there was a bit of a lull and since no one else volunteered, I decided to see what was going on in the restroom, a decision I will regret for the rest of my life. Because what had happened in the restroom was that someone had shit on the floor. On purpose. Behind the trash can. Then the trash can had been moved which smeared the poop across the floor and onto the bottom of the trash can.
Gross and disgusting does not begin to cover it. And guess who got to clean it up? I don’t suppose I had to, but my philosophy is, once your child has thrown up in your hand, not much grosses you out. But this came pretty damn close.
So I’ve got a mop bucket and restroom cleaner and gloves and the whole time I’m literally cleaning up someone else’s shit I’m wondering where I went so horribly wrong on my life’s path that this is what I’m doing now. I’m also thanking God that our delightful guest didn’t decide to smear the gift across the walls.
Seriously, who does this? What is wrong with people? For future reference, if you’re unhappy with your drink, we’ll remake it at no charge. We do it all the time. We get enough figurative shit from the general public on a regular basis. There’s no need to leave the real thing on the bathroom floor.
So the shit gets cleaned and eventually we all have a good laugh about it and I get a pat-on-the-back award from the shift supervisor with a note that says, “Thanks for cleaning up the shit around here.” Har har.
Then the next day I find out my publisher is going out of business.
There aren’t quite words to express how that felt. Disappointment. Sadness. Frustration. I just can’t seem to catch a break. And I seriously have to wonder how I ended up where I am. At the proverbial fork in the road, did I choose the wrong path? Because these days that’s how it feels.
Should I just stop writing? My books don’t sell in big numbers. It’s been an uphill battle ever since I sat down to write a novel oh so many years ago. Maybe I wasn’t meant to do what I’m doing at all.
Except when I mention this to two friends, both of whom formerly worked with me slinging lattes and one of whom is now my marketing guide, I was reminded of a blog I just wrote about how hiding your talent under a basket is dishonoring God and the gift He gave you. I swear as I was sitting there talking about that blog it was like God saying of course you can’t stop writing. No matter how much shit gets thrown at you. (I’m paraphrasing, of course.) And then He said, “I’ll help you shovel.”
It’s pretty apropos to read something like this from the editorial director of Harlequin’s Carina Press just as I’m ready to blog about WHY WRITERS NEED EDITORS.
I am SO sick of reading unedited books. I’m sick of the arrogance of writers who think their writing is so good they don’t need to be edited. Or proofread for that matter. In fact, many of them don’t believe in using the spell check/grammar check programs included with their word processing program.
Whoever said it’s important to know what you don’t know could have added that it’s important to see what you can’t see. For a writer, that’s an editor’s job.
I am one of those arrogant writers who has self-published a few novels in the past few years and I might publish a few more in the future. I didn’t pay an editor to edit any of them. I can tell a pretty good story without an editor and these particular books weren’t going to sell to a publishing house anyway, so I didn’t want to invest too much money in them. But I did proofread them. They are cohesive stories that make sense. Except now I wonder how much better they could have been if they’d been professionally edited.
Earlier this month my sixth book (Fantasy Man) with Samhain Publishing release. It is the third book of mine edited by Noah Chinn. It is probably also the most he has had to edit one of my books.
Fantasy Man was one of my “manuscripts under the bed.” I’d started it early in my writing quest and for years I kept pulling it out and working on it. I’d originally submitted Fantasy Man to Noah along with another book (Nobody’s Fool 2/15) and he turned it down. He outlined his objections to it. He didn’t ask me to revise and resubmit, but I could see he was right. So I revised it on my own and asked if he wanted to take another look. Reluctantly, (I think) he said he’d look at the revised synopsis. On the strength of that as I recall, he offered a contract. We both learned a lesson from this experience.
When Noah started first round edits, I started getting emails from him. Although I thought I’d “fixed” most of the manuscript’s problems, apparently what I did was create more. Noah was giving me a heads up. We had a lot of work still ahead. By the time I got the first round edits back I had nine pages of notes lifted from our emails. I was not prepared for how much editing and revision was needed. I don’t think Noah was either.
For two weeks I did nothing but go back and forth from the manuscript to my notes while I spent every spare moment working on this book. Then I just couldn’t look at it any more. I didn’t know where to go even though I knew there was still work to be done. Back it went to Noah.
We both learned something. Noah learned to be a bit more careful when accepting an old manuscript from an established author. I learned I shouldn’t be publishing ANYTHING that isn’t professionally edited. Not if I want it to be the best that it can be, that is.
Chapter One of FANTASY MAN (Samhain Publishing 02/16) is not exactly PG-13, while my blog is. Below I’ve posted more of Chapter Two. Once you’ve read it, leave a comment briefly explaining what you think happens in Chapter One either here on the blog or on the post on my Facebook Author Page . I will choose at least one winner from the comments for a digital or print version of FANTASY MAN.
Reif watched the woman depart, his state of shock growing. What the hell had just happened here? Where had she come from? Who was she? What was she doing in his bed? What the hell was he doing having unprotected sex with her?
Idiot, he cursed himself. He stood up, dragging the sheet with him. He tugged it away and threw it back on the bed. A pair of pink panties fell to the floor.
He stared at them. His brain was about to explode with all the rampant thoughts running through it. Why had he drunk so much last night? A celebration, that’s why. After closing one of the biggest deals of his career, he’d let himself be talked into another round and then another and another until he was so far past his limit he’d had to take a cab home.
He’d come home alone, though. Of that he was fairly certain. He wasn’t in the habit of having one-night stands. Surely he’d remember that particular girl if he’d ever seen her before. Something vaguely familiar about her nagged at him. Who could forget that cloud of dark hair, those expressive brown eyes, that killer body?
“Pervert,” he muttered, disgusted with himself as he went into the bathroom. He braced himself above the sink, groaning at the reaction from his alcohol-laden brain. Pain exploded at his temples and behind his eyes. His mouth was like a ball of steel wool.
He splashed cold water on his face, making a mess around the sink and not caring. He was facing a potential disaster here. He estimated she weighed about a hundred and twenty pounds, and unless he missed his guess she was waiting downstairs for answers.
He ran damp hands through his hair, making it stand up in spikes. He checked himself in the mirror, not unhappy with what he saw. His eyes were a bit bleary and bloodshot, but other than that, he looked like he always did—just enough of a tan, in pretty good shape for a guy pushing twenty-nine. He wasn’t what you’d call dedicated, but he worked out a couple times a week, played tennis and sailed whenever he got the chance.
He dumped ibuprofen into his palm and took it without water. This was LA. No one drank water from the tap.
He yanked on a pair of beat-up jeans and a white T-shirt. Like a man sentenced to death but still not quite believing in his fate, he stuffed the panties in his pocket and started down the stairs.
He stared at the pot of coffee that was already brewed, its fragrance wafting beneath his nose even as he reached for a mug. The light on his answering machine was blinking double time. Usually he got messages on his cell phone or through his office. Nobody called him on his landline.
He listened to the playback as he dumped sugar and cream into his mug. “Hey, man. I just put Quinn on a plane. I know it’s short notice, but things got out of hand here. Trust me, it’s important. She gets in at six o’clock on Delta. Flight 687. I’ll call your office, make sure you get the message. You take good care of my baby sister, now, you hear?”
“Oh, God.” Reif leaned his elbows on the counter and dropped his head in his hands as the machine bleeped and the next message played.
“Hey, Reif, it’s Marty. Some guy called, but wouldn’t leave his name. Said his sister is flying into LAX today. Delta flight number six eighty-seven. Gets in at six. He wanted to make sure you knew. I told him you were unreachable at the moment, but I’d pass on the message. He said he called your cell, so maybe you got it off your voice mail. Okay, that’s it. It was pretty quiet here this afternoon, nothing going on that can’t wait until Monday.”
His assistant’s cheery voice faded and Reif groaned again. He went to the table in the hallway where he’d dropped his keys, wallet and cell phone last night. He powered the phone on and listened to an almost verbatim repeat of Tony’s previous message.
Great. Now he knew who she was. Quinn, Tony’s younger sister. Five or six years younger to be exact. Which made her twenty-two or twenty-three. No wonder she’d only seemed vaguely familiar. She’d been in her teens the few times he’d met her before, which made her strictly off limits. She’d certainly grown up since then.
Wonderful. Tony Fontana, his best friend since school, had entrusted the care and security of his baby sister—his only sister—to Reif. And Reif had fucked up big time.
Reif knew how protective Tony and his father Rocco, aka The Rock, were of Quinn. Rocco’s precious daughter, the apple of his eye, and Tony’s beloved sister. Any man who mistreated her was guaranteed a slow and painful death, Tony used to joke.
Except Reif knew he wasn’t joking. If Tony ever found out what had happened this morning, Reif would be so much dead meat.
Reif returned to the kitchen and chugged a bottle of water, delaying facing Quinn as long as possible. What was he going to say? There was no excuse for what he’d done, even if he hadn’t exactly been awake when he’d done it. He knew only too well how carefully Tony and Rocco had watched over that girl, and after her mother had died their vigilance only increased. They’d put the fear of God into every male within a twenty-five mile radius of Coral Bay, Florida. The fact that Tony was a cop, and Rocco was the county sheriff of that pretty seaside resort area, made the task of monitoring Quinn’s activities that much easier.
Reif poured coffee into a mug and carried it through the house, keeping an eye out for her. His place wasn’t that big; there weren’t many places she could hide.
Why assume she was hiding? Maybe she wanted to see him again.
Except he remembered all too well her earlier distress. Get your hands off me, she’d said, although it had been a little late for that.
He opened the French door and stepped out onto the pool deck. The blue water in the small kidney-shaped pool was just beginning to reflect the early morning sun. She was there, half-hidden behind a section of lattice covered with overgrown bougainvillea. He made a mental note to tell the landscaping guy to trim it next time he was over. She’d made herself comfortable in one of the four cushioned chairs which surrounded a glass-topped table. She clutched a coffee mug in both hands, her brows slightly knit in puzzlement as she stared at the pool.
He hesitated, unsure of his welcome. Then again, it was his house. What was she going to do? Kick him out?
He approached the table. She glanced up, but he couldn’t meet her gaze. He set the pink panties on the table next to her, then pulled out a chair and sat down, hanging on to his own coffee mug for dear life. Now what? An apology would hardly cover what he’d done.
She ignored the crumpled underwear. “It’s cool out here,” she said, still staring at the water.
“I can get you a jacket.” Reif half-rose from his chair but she waved him back.
“No, no, I’m fine. I guess I’m surprised. I think of California as being warm all the time, just like Florida. Only if I were home the humidity would be building, the mosquitoes would be after me and it’d already be in the mid-eighties.”
Reif tried a smile. “I remember those Florida summers. You’d walk outside and feel like you were underwater the air was so heavy. The rain used to pour down day after day.”
“According to The Mamas and The Papas, it never rains in southern California.”
“Oh, it rains. Occasionally. But not like summers in south Florida, that’s for sure.”
The weather? They were talking about the weather? How perfectly inane. Someone had to bring up the fact that there was an elephant wearing hot pink panties wading in the pool.
What I thought she wrote was that it’s not enough to write a good book. But what she actually wrote is, “It’s not enough to have a book.” Her post is about having a platform from which to sell your book, i.e., market your book to readers.
Kristen didn’t say it, but I feel like I’ve heard it said elsewhere: It’s not enough to write a good book.
I’ve believed this for a long time. I write good books that don’t sell, so I often ask myself what’s the point? What I just woke up thinking was that’s the question I wanted to ask Kristen Lamb. But since that’s not what she said, I guess I will ask myself.
Before I do, let me just say I suck at marketing in case you’ve never read my blog and didn’t already know that. I’ll repeat it: I SUCK AT MARKETING MY BOOKS. I can say I don’t enjoy it, but the truth is I HATE IT. In that context, it really, truly doesn’t matter if I’d published ten or fifteen years before I actually did, and it won’t matter how many books I publish now that I at least have a publishing platform. Very, very few people will ever know or care that I’m an author who not only believes in writing quality books but makes every attempt to do just that. I will die just as anonymously as I came into the world.
Five years after my last book is published (if not before) the rights can and probably will revert to my estate and that will be the last anyone will ever hear of Barbara Meyers, Author.
So I wrote a bunch of good romance novels before then. (I’m not dead yet, let’s remember.) So what? Because I didn’t market them, they didn’t sell and hardly anyone knew about them or had heard of me. Then why am I doing this?
Here’s the easy and most truthful answer I can give: Because that’s what I want to do.
If you’re an artist, you create art. It’s what you do. Great. Now I sound like a Geico commercial. Why can’t we create art for art’s sake? Why can’t it just be something beautiful we put out into the universe for others to enjoy? Does it have to be noteworthy? Does it have to sell for megabucks or in mega numbers or be considered worthless? Is that the only value we have of perceived quality now? If it doesn’t sell for a lot, or doesn’t sell at all, then it’s less than useless?
Thanks to Samhain Publishing, I have a wonderful editor who makes my books even better and a company who gets them into the sales venues. Samhain’s philosophy is “It’s All About The Story.” I’ve even connected with a group of Samhain authors to do cross promotion. Sadly, the rest is up to me. Not only do I drop the marketing ball when it’s thrown my way, I try to avoid being anywhere near it.
OMG I can hear those more knowledgeable voices who’ve preached to me for years: “It’s a business, Barbara. You have to treat it like one.” Ugh.
As an author must I reach some bestseller list before what I offer readers has value to them? Side note: There are countless numbers of authors who have made the USA Today bestsellers’ lists whom I can guarantee you’ve never heard of. Don’t believe me? Start Twitter-stalking authors. You’ll start to believe that every author besides yours truly has been on that list. (Hangs head in defeat.)
Likewise, I would imagine, there are countless authors who have marketed their butts off whom you’ve never heard of or read either and probably never will. Are their books as good as mine? Probably. But again, I ask you, what is the point? How many more readers do they have because of marketing? How much did they invest in their marketing campaign? Did they figure it out? Did they find the magic key to fame and fortune? While I’m not making any money from writing, even if I did I wouldn’t be investing every dime in advertising. Because then, I’d what? Be breaking even. Well, I’m already breaking even. I don’t get paid to write books, but it doesn’t cost me anything except my time and brain power and creativity to write them. And if that’s how I choose to spend my time, then so be it. I’m not hurting anyone except myself and maybe I’m giving a handful of readers a respite from a stressful day or a chuckle or a sigh here and there.
So shoot me. Because for me it is enough to write a good book.
Today I welcome author Penny Estelle to answer my five quick questions and tell us about her latest release, Hannah Bride of Iowa. Plus, Penny is offering one lucky commenter a free copy of her book! Welcome, Penny.
Someone just gave you the best compliment ever. What was it?
Another author once put in a blog post that she tries to use my writing technique because I always start each of my stories with something that will grab the reader’s attention immediately. “Wham, Penny Estelle’s readers are hooked right from the get-go.” I thought that was so nice – and something I’ll never forget!
Youhave no choice but to live your life from now on as one of your characters. Which character is it and why?
I’m going to go with Andy Thompson in Hike Up Devil’s Mountain. What can I say – He’s magic! I was going to go with my heroine in Revenge, the Cowboy Way. She’s beautiful, wild, has an unbelievably sexy husband with a huge ranch in Texas. But it’s in the mid 1800s. Come on, no air conditioning…..
Ugh, no a/c. We wonder now how they did it!
You can never write another work of fiction. What will you do instead?
If I were rich, I would be a professional gambler. I suck at it, hence the rich part. I like those casinos!
You get a month off from your regular personal life and writing routine. You can spend it doing which of the following? Feel free to elaborate.
Traveling -Again, money permitting, I would travel. I love going places. Small towns, huge metropolises, parks….anywhere.
Other (fill in the blank)
You get one do-over from your life so far. What is it?
We built our retirement home in a very rural area and we live off the grid. It’s about 1,600 sq ft. One big great room with kitchen and dining room combined and one BIG bedroom. I would have made it two bedrooms. That, seriously is all I’ve got. My life has been pretty great!
Optional: Name one person who has either influenced you the most or you learned the most from and why.
Hands down – my mom. Everything good in me came from her – from being a good person to work ethic. She is my biggest fan and I can go to her (and visa versa) for anything!
You are so lucky to have such a great mom.
About Penny Estelle’s book:
Hannah Brown, a mail order bride, is everything Samuel Morrison wants in a wife and more — or so he thinks. Hannah brings with her a secret that, if revealed, could destroy the life she has come to cherish with Samuel and his daughter.
An Excerpt from Penny Estelle’s Hannah Bride of Iowa:
The man who greeted her was fairly short in stature with gray sideburns and an upper lip and chin covered with stubble. He wore a dirty floppy-brimmed hat and his body was lean and muscular for an older man. His arms and face were dark and leathery from the sun. His clothes looked clean, though they were ripped in a few areas, but the distasteful smell that so many men had, was absent from this man.
“Howdy. What can I do for you, ma’am?’
Maddie jumped down from the wagon and approached the man. “Mr.?”
“Mr. Slim, I…”
“No Mr., just Slim.”
“Slim, I need to get a train ticket to Pennsylvania. The ticket was more than I had anticipated. I find I must sell my mule and wagon.”
The man stepped to one side looking passed her at the rickety wagon and old white mule. “Can’t use ‘em.” He turned to walk back into the livery, dismissing her.
“Sir, please!” She ran in front of him, blocking his way. “I have no family left and no place to turn. I’m supposed to go stay with cousins I’ve never met and I can’t even get there.” Tears welled up in her eyes and her lower lip quivered. Maddie swallowed a lump of emotion so she could speak. “Sal is all I have left in this world. I can’t just leave her uncared for.”
Surprise, or maybe fear, registered on the old man’s face. He held up his hands and took a step backwards. “Now, little lady, there ain’t no need to take on so. You need to calm yourself right down. Thing is I just ain’t got no money for that old bag of bones.”
Tears slipped from her eyes, making dirty paths down her cheeks from the dust of the night’s ride to Jamestown. She didn’t care. “Mr. …I mean, Slim, you don’t have to pay me. Sal doesn’t have much time left on this earth and she doesn’t eat much. She wouldn’t be any bother at all.” The last few words were muttered as a fresh wave of tears fell.
Buy Penny Estelle’s book Hannah Bride of Iowa here:
I would love to offer one commenter a digital copy of my story, Hannah: Bride of Iowa. Please be sure to leave your email address in the comments.
A little bit about Penny in her own words:
I write for all ages, from the early reader to adults. My books range from pictures books for the little ones, to fantasy, time-travel adventures for ages 9 to 13. I also write adult stories, including a family drama and contemporary, paranormal and historical westerns romances, under P. A. Estelle.
I was a school secretary for 21 years. My husband and I moved to our retirement home in Kingman, AZ, on very rural 54 acres, living on solar and wind only.
More about my books can be found in the following links: