NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Spy Tech


Some of the authors here at Not Your Usual Suspects write spy novels. And I am not one of them, but I still find the world of spy technology fascinating. It's scary-cool that a pen can carry a poison dart and that a working flashlight can actually be a gun. Check out this story about the weapons found on a captured North Korean assassin.

I think my love affair with spy tech began when I was a kid watching old episodes of Get Smart, Mission Impossible and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In fact, I was so affected by these that had a recurring dream about a shoe that doubled not as a phone, but as a vehicle.

My sisters and I played a game in which we were the “Girls from U.N.C.L.E.” If you’ve never heard of that spinoff, it’s because The Girl From Uncle, starring a very young Stephanie Powers, only aired a single season in the US, in 1966. In our game, we were the younger sisters of the show’s beautiful main character, April (named May, June and January). We used all sorts of weapons and communication devices hidden in everyday objects like hairbrushes that doubled as tape recorders and cameras and clothespins that were in fact poison dart guns!

So now that I’ve thoroughly humiliated myself by outing my geeky inner child, it’s your turn. How did you acquire your love of your favorite genre? 

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Great Bond Debate



Okay, we’ve overdue for a debate here on the blog. Not just any debate, but the debate. To celebrate fifty years of Mr. Bond on the silver screen, and the release of Skyfall, it absolutely has to be done. I know, I know, it’s a question that’s been argued about over many a bottle of wine or six across the decades, but still hasn’t been resolved.

Who is the best James Bond ever?

Since I’m older than time, I remember all the hype associated with the original films starring, of course, the legendary Sea Connery. A Glaswegian milkman cum body builder, (and what a body!), he was plucked from relative obscurity and catapulted to worldwide fame by the style, grace, sense of self and sheer magnetism he brought to Fleming’s character. Who can forget that scene in Goldfinger when Bond is secured to a table and a laser beam is working its way between his legs, getting perilously close to his most prized possession.

“Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?”
“No. Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”

That what Goldfinger’s mistake, of course. Everyone knows that James Bond is immortal!



Roger Moore had a tough act to follow. Quoted as saying “I’m not that cold-blooded killer type. Which is why I play it mostly for laughs,” Moore’s savior-faire and easy sense of grace brought the cinematic 007 unparalleled success in the 70’s and 80’s. It was a time when movie audiences needed escapist entertainment and Moore was on hand to serve it up for them.





Pierce Brosnan. Can we pause for a moment and drool, please. Okay, that’s better. Brosnan is credited with successfully bringing Bond into the 90’s and then the 21st century. He was eleven when he moved from Ireland to London and saw Goldfinger at his local cinema.

“I was an eleven-year-old boy from the bogs of Ireland and there was this beautiful gold lady on a bed-naked. It made quite an impression on me,” he’s reported to have said.

Well, Pierce, the same can be said for you.

Daniel Craig redefined Bond in Casino Royale, stepping out of the shadows cast by his predecessors and making 007 feel new, fresh and dangerously exciting. Craig is generally thought of as having brought a physical rawness, emotional force and darkly seductive air to Fleming’s character that’s closer to the author’s perception of his creation than any of the other 007’s.

Hmm, perhaps, but he doesn’t really do it for me.  

My choice? It’s a close run thing between Sean and Pierce. What about you?

Wendy

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Using Real Life Experiences...

Do you ever have anything bad happen to you and think 'well that sucked, now I'm going to use it in a story'?

It happens to me a lot.

For instance, two years ago, we were in Bamfield, BC, and a friend of ours took us out for a ride in his boat. Now, that was fine and dandy--until the engine failed. And then the second engine failed. And then the gusting wind and big swell drove us toward rocks. The water was too deep for the anchor to catch the bottom...and, oh, did I mention my then 8- & 10-year-old children were on board with me???

On the positive side we could literally see the Coast Guard station about half a mile away. 

When the CG dispatcher asked our position the boat's skipper told her to look out the window because we were waving at her as he said 'Mayday, Mayday'. The rescue boat got to us in under five minutes and we didn't smash against the rocks and no one died. Thank goodness :)  And I decided I WAS going to have a coastie hero/heroine one day because they are awesome. So, that's the next story I'm planning to write, assuming my editor goes for it (a little fairy dust on that one please ;)).



Tell me about your real life dramas. Anything stranger than fiction?

Toni's first Bamfield-set release, DANGEROUS WATERS, went on sale yesterday.

Monday, November 19, 2012

New, improved Authorgraph

Don't you think it'd be great to be able to sign your books for readers - even when they're in e-format?

The authors at Not Your Usual Suspects have always been great fans of the Kindlegraph initiative, where our readers can ask for autographs on their Kindle copies. Well, now the scheme's founder Evan Jacobs is annoucing a New, Improved system called AUTHORGRAPH.

If you've been to Kindlegraph, the process is still much the same. But, more importantly, it's now open to all devices, not just the Kindle. And readers don't have to access it through Twitter - they can use just email. As Evan says:
I have exciting news to share with you. Kindlegraph is now Authorgraph!
This is a big deal since it means that readers can now receive digital inscriptions from their favorite authors regardless of which digital reading app or device they use.
In addition, I've bundled a bunch of other significant updates into this relaunch including the following:
  • Readers no longer need a Twitter account to request an Authorgraph (they can simply use an email and password)
  • The website has been completely redesigned
  • Readers can submit an Authorgraph request via the widget on your blog or website
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to announce that there are now more than 5,000 authors using the Authorgraph service to connect with their readers! This is something I never imagined when I started this service more than a year ago. I want to thank you for your support and enthusiasm for Authorgraph and I look forward to sharing many of the exciting new features that I'm currently developing.
The latest news is the launch of a WIDGET.

The most common request I've received since the relaunch has been about the availability of an Authorgraph widget. I'm happy to announce the availability of this widget in the new Author Tools area of the website. There are instructions there for adding the widget to your blog or website. It even works for blogs that are hosted on Wordpress.com!

Here are some other highlights:         
  • As a result of the easier request process, readers are requesting 40% more Authorgraphs than last month.
  • Authors are adding 200% more books thanks to making the "Add your books!" link more prominent.
  • Readers have indicated that they use a wide variety of reading devices and apps. Authorgraph makes it easy to connect to all of them!
Regards,
Evan Jacobs, Founder
http://www.authorgraph.com

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

Here's an example of my page on Authorgraph. Looks cool, doesn't it? The instructions are easy to use, for both authors ("Add your Books" page) and readers requesting an autograph ("Authors" page).

Go and try it out! We'd love to share it with you :)




Here are just some of the participating Not Your Usual Suspects authors.  To find us, GO TO www.authorgraph.com/authors/ then type:
Toni Anderson  toniannanderson  / Anne Marie Becker annemariebecker
Wynter Daniels WynterDaniels  / Marcelle DubĂ©  MarcelleDube
Rita Henuber  ritahenuber  / Kathy Ivan  KathyIvan
Cynthia Justlin  CynthiaJustlin / Clare London  clare_london
Maureen Miller  MaureenAMiller  / Julie Moffett  JMoffettAuthor
Wendy Soliman  wendyswriter  / Carol Stephenson  CStephensonFL
Shirley Wells  Shirley_Wells  / Julie Wachowski   JulieWachowski
Josh Lanyon  JoshLanyon  / Shelley Munro  ShelleyMunro
Angela Henry  MystNoir



     

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    WHAT'S IN A NAME?

        

         Photo by Maximus 117 www.stockfreeimages.com
         Dickens had a way with names. Who can possibly forget Scrooge? His name is one of the most memorable in fiction. Then there’s Wilkins Micawber and Nicolas Nickleby and what about Pecksniff, Bumble and Sweedlepipe? Who can resist characters with names that conjure up irresistible stories?

         “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.”

         Juliet told Romeo that a name is meaningless, and she loves the person who is named, “Montague,” not the name itself and not the family. But the names Romeo and Juliet live—reflections of romance and love through generation after generation. Then there is Shakespeare’s Richard III—disagreements have raged for years about this unforgettable king.
         The names given to characters in novels, stories and plays reside in the minds of readers and are borne by generations of children named after fictional characters. Think of the Bible—a perennial best seller—and names like Mary, Joseph, Ruth, John, James, David, Daniel and Matthew. How about Margaret Mitchell’s Ashley in Gone with the Wind and Lyman Frank Baum’s Dorothy in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and we look back on childhood’s Christopher Robin and Benjamin Bunny? I will never forget the first book I read as a little girl titled Wags, Tags, Rags and Obadiah—the names of dogs.
         I often use the first names of people I like or on my villain (revenge can be sweet and non-lethal,) names that history preserves or a name that fits their personalities. If a name comes with ease usually the writing does to.
         What influences the names you give to your characters?

    Bests,

    Elise

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    I-Spy: Writing the Gay Mystery – Creating a Series


    Join the authors and friends of Not Your Usual Suspects for an occasional series of posts about their world of reading, writing and publishing.


    Short and sweet, hopefully both informative and entertaining - join us at I-Spy to find out the how's and why's of what we do.

     TODAY'S POST: I-Spy: Writing the Gay Mystery – Creating a Series

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


    Well, we’ve nearly come to the end of our series on writing the gay mystery novel. Next month will be a Q&A session, so feel free to post your questions for December’s blog in the comment section below.


    My final column is on a topic I’m asked about a lot: writing a mystery series. Or, more exactly, writing a successful mystery series. Because, let’s face it, we all want our series stories to be a big hit with readers. We want a series with legs, a series that will take off and run for years.


    The first thing to know about writing a mystery series is you don’t begin a series because you love your characters. Loving them is a plus, but not being able to let go of your characters is not really enough. Nor is it enough that readers – or even your publisher – beg for more. Again, that’s all great, and those are all factors in the decision to continue writing about a particular set of characters, but the main reason to write a series is you have a story to tell that can’t be done justice in one book.


    This is a little different from writing a romance series where often the subsequent books will feature supporting cast members from previous stories (all those Hot Men of Seal Team 8 or Sexy Donahue Brothers or Sassy MacCafferty Sisters spinoffs spring to mind). It’s also different from writing fantasy where there’s such a huge overarching plot that the hero’s personal quest is almost secondary.


    In a mystery series, each story – case -- is complete in itself, although there may be a greater and overarching mystery to be solved. The real story has to do with the central protagonist(s) major and ongoing conflict with…well, whatever that conflict might be. The conflict might be internal and personal or it might be with a powerful antagonist. But in all instances, we begin with the protagonist(s). The characters are what keep readers coming back for more, even in series books that seem to have run their course (and we can all name several of those).


    An ideal series protagonist is a someone readers will be willing to spend a long time with, years with, someone they will watch grow and change – and yet still recognize as an old and familiar friend. What makes readers fall in love with some characters and not others is as great a mystery as any concocted by Agatha Christie’s, and I don’t have any real insight there beyond making your character as real as you can – giving him both strengths and weaknesses, but don’t let the strengths be superpowers and don’t let the weaknesses be more interesting and dominant than the strengths.


    I do have some useful tips, though. Don’t give your protagonist a lot of quirks and mannerisms. However amusing that stuff is in the first book, by the fifth book, trust me, you won’t be laughing. Don’t saddle him with a disability or any kind of health issue unless you’re prepared to deal with it realistically and long term. Don’t make the supporting cast of friends and family too large, too zany or too psychotic. Don’t make your main character a cop or any other member of law enforcement unless you’re willing to do a LOT of homework.


    Do keep extensive notes on supporting cast as well as the main characters. It doesn’t seem like it when you’re writing the first book, but you will forget the make of your protag’s car (let alone the color), what year he graduated from college, and the middle name of his youngest sister. Yet without fail these are the very kinds of trivial details you’ll have put down in print in one book or another.


    Do consider carefully where your protagonist will live (and how easy it will be for you to research that place) and what he does for a living (same as above). Consider whether his profession is something conducive to a life of crime. Any category of crime fiction is suitable for a series, but consider carefully what you want to write in the long term. Don’t write a comical amateur sleuth first book if you don’t actually enjoy writing comedy or amateur sleuths. You can’t change tone and genre mid-series without some heavy reader attrition.


    Do give your protagonist family and friends and a community to live in. Your supporting cast is not only the source of sub-plots, they will be useful for future main plots. A personal investment on the part of the protagonist always makes for a more intense and interesting story.


    It helps to know you’re writing a series BEFORE you start writing the series. That allows you to do two very important things: plan the course of your character (and perhaps story) arcs and – most important – avoid tying up all the loose ends at the end of the first book.


    That last point is especially important because, while readers will inevitably complain at the end of the first book that you didn’t tie up all the loose ends, if you do tie up all the loose ends, there is no point to writing the rest of the series. While you don’t want to leave readers entirely unsatisfied, you do not want closure at the end of any but the final book in a series. “Closure” is succinctly defined by Sara Paretsky in Writing Mysteries: A Handbook by the Mystery Writers of America, “…the decisive resolution of conflicts plaguing the protagonist in such a way that a sequel can destroy or intrude on the reader’s relief.” 


    In a gay mystery series there is always the immediate puzzle to be solved, but over the course of the series there is also the greater puzzle of the who the protagonist really is and what he ultimately wants out of life.  Which I suppose brings us to the end – and also back to our starting point. I began this column in January with the same quote I believe I’ll use to end it.


    The gay sleuth symbolically confronts the ultimate mystery every gay man must face at some point in his life: his difference from his family and the general society into which he has been born.

    The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film, Drewey Wayne Gun  


     Questions? Thoughts? Opinions?

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


    A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist


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

     




    OTHER POSTS cover:
    Kindlegraph / the art of research / writing male/male romance / rejection and writer's block / building suspense / writing love scenes / anti-piracy strategies / audio books / interviews with editors and agents / using Calibre.



    We welcome everyone's constructive comments and suggestions!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Giving Thanks: Here's To Friendship

    A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.
    Elbert Hubbard

    Thanksgiving is on the horizon and I already know what I'm most thankful for: friends.  My personal circles range from those I made through writing to those I've known over a quarter of a century.  Some I only 'get together' through the Internet; others I'm at their homes week after week. They're all precious; they all enrich my life beyond comprehension.

    For example this past Saturday I attend a Florida Romance Writers meeting. Being with others who get being a writer and understand the high's and low's is soooo comforting. I always come away with the love of writing renewed.  Then on Sunday afternoon I scrapbooked with two close friends. As we sat creating our latest albums, we enjoyed wine, good food and great companionship, not to mention gossip.

    When I was young, little did I truly comprehend the true scoop of friendship. After all, family is blood and those connections are complex, but ultimately a family's duty, loyalty, tolerance and love flow from being related.

    A friend, however, can choose to walk away at any time and not look back. The connection is based on that mysterious karma of simply liking another person. A tenuous thread that could snap at any time or strengthen over the years.

    This vital fabric of my life is reflected in many of my books. The three law school friends in the Legal Weapons series who form a criminal defense law firm [Courting Danger, Courting Disaster, Courting Death]; Emma-Lee Dalton's relationship with her ailing college girlfriend in Chasing The Truth; and Gail Malloy's bond with Angela Rivera in Her Dark Protector. Although the women may differ on many things, they have each other's back. They listen, give comfort or a kick when needed. For them friendship is thicker than blood or water.

     What are your favorite stories of friendship?

    :) Carol Stephenson

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    Veteran's Day


            November 11 is the official day to remember veterans around the world.  Here in the US, today is  the federal observance of the day.  



    My blog posts are generally light and snarky. Today not so.
                    In our modern society, veterans are remembered and revered.  Thank you. But, many of you may be surprised to learn in the past veterans were not highly thought of, respected, or helped.

                 After World War 1 the U.S. Congress voted to give a bonus to veterans.  $1.25 for each day served overseas, $1.00 for each day served in the States. The catch was that payment would not be made until 1945. What?

                    By 1932 the world was full on in the depression. More than 15,000 Veterans went to Washington DC to demand their money. Money that meant survival to them. Veterans, their wives and children camped in and around the city. They said they would stay until they received their money.  The House voted to pay the money. The Senate voted no. When the veterans refused to leave the Attorney General ordered Washington police to clear them and their families from government property. Shots were fired. Two veterans were killed. President Hoover ordered the army to clear them out with infantry, cavalry, and tanks with Douglas MacArthur in command. This was against men who had served honorably, were destitute and only wanted money due them. The cavalry under George Patton’s command charged the veterans. Soldiers with fixed bayonets went into an unarmed crowd tossing tear gas.  MacArthur ignored the President’s command to stop. He routed 10,000 people and burned the camp. Two children died and there were hundreds of casualties. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the military liaison to the Washington police.

                  Today, thanks to improvised explosive devices, our men and women in uniform sustain horrible wounds. Traumatic brain injuries that take years to fight back from.  Burns that scar the body. Lost limbs that are replaced with carbon fiber apparatus allowing the injured to hold their children, walk, run, dance and compete in sports. Their family and community support them.

                   In WWI and WWII we did not have many veterans come home with those injuries because few survived them. They had no body armor. No quick helo medivacs to a field hospital that rivals any trauma center. Many of those vets that did make it home, and it breaks my heart to write this, were shunned. Woman crossed the street with their children to avoid these less than perfect veterans scared from burns and with missing arms and legs. The worst part was our veterans had no outlets to talk about it. What is now called PTSD took a huge toll on this group.

                  Korean Vets were largely ignored and forgotten about. I never heard stories from this group.  How I learned about them comes from an unlikely source. A Catholic priest who lived in Korea during the war. He told stories of the sacrifice allied soldiers made to help people. The horrible cold.

                 Vietnam veterans coming home suffered at the hands of US citizens. Hard to believe. Veteran’s homes were vandalized. On the west coast, groups trolled the airports for men in uniform coming in from the pacific rim. They took it upon themselves to spit on our men in uniform, say horrible things and throw fecal matter on them.  No one. Not one person in authority stepped in to help them. It took two men being badly beaten by their fellow citizens before the powers that be in the military allowed men returning from duty in the east to travel in civilian clothes.
                 I often wonder what those creeps who did that to our veterans think now of their behavior.

                 When our military forces went into Bagdad, one of my sons was with the first Marines who entered the city. My husband was watching the 24 hour news feeds from imbedded journalists. He turned to me and said, “When these kids get home they damn well better treat than better than they did us.” He meant veterans from other wars.

                 I wish he could see that they are being treated with honor and respect. Sadly, he died a few days after saying that. Making people aware of our unsung heroes is one of the things I do to honor my husband.

                 I’m asking you to remember not only those that wear the uniform today but those heroes and heroines who reside in a garden of stones with only their names and the dates they died engraved in marble as a reminder to the rest of us. Remember the heroes and heroines who wore the uniform many years ago. You know, the ones who taught us to ride a bike, did their best to set us on the right path, and sacrificed so we could have a good life. If you have someone like that in your life please call them and tell them you are grateful for what they did for your country and you. Tell them I said thank you also.
           
                 Today I’m also at Just Romantic Suspense talking about our heroes. Come over and  leave me the name, rank, branch of service of your hero and I’ll donate a dollar to Wounded Warriors Project for each unique name posted. 

    To learn more about Rita and her books about strong military heroines visit her web home  http://ritahenuber.com 

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    What's in a name?



     When I won an award for romantic suspense with a historical, it really made me think. Almost every book has an element of suspense, because we need to introduce conflict—without conflict, and it doesn’t have to be antagonistic—there is no story.
    Two of the series I write have a great deal of suspense. It’s built-in. The Department 57 series, where paranormal beings fight against a hidden enemy, all without the public knowing, and the STORM series, where shape-shifters, vampires and other paranormal beings are “out,” a world I want to develop as it goes on. The STORM world is set “tomorrow,” when paranormal beings have come out of the closet and are trying to live in harmony with other humans. I take the view that we are all humans, but different kinds of human. Just as cheetahs, lions, tabbies and Persians are all types of cat, vampires, shape-shifters and others are all kinds of human. We share a DNA.
    That makes it difficult because whenever something unknown emerges, the response in some quarters is fear and anger. Although I’m busy writing a non-suspense series for the publisher of the STORM books, there is another one in the pipeline, and I want to plan more. But set in the world of politics.
    I’ve already sent one Talent (that’s what my vampires etc call themselves) to Washington, DC, but little has been heard of him for a while. I want to develop that side. Because isn’t it going to be really complicated to legislate for people who are different to you? Who might have superpowers but also vulnerabilities that need to be catered for? But I don’t want to concentrate on the debate and discussion side. Rather, the people who oppose Talents being given full human status. Who want shape-shifters to be legally animals. That would give them the power to control them.
    See where I’m going? Conflict.
    I absolutely adore that kind of thing, and mirroring it in the private lives of the characters in the books. Because, above everything else, I’m a romance writer. I believe in the power of love, and how it can bring people together, as well, sadly, as driving them apart. But the redeeming power of love is awesome, and something people often overlook these days, except for romance writers. I like to blend the love story in with the suspense and get the people involved, counterpointing everything so that just when their love life is working, something comes up to threaten everything they’ve just discovered.
    I also like vulnerable characters, something some reviewers dislike. I had a book in the STORM universe about a character who until recently was in a wheelchair. His conversion “cured” him, but his mind was slow to catch up, so although he was now powerful and healthy, he still thought of himself as handicapped. It’s when he’s forced to go undercover as his old self that he begins to realise what he’s won—and what he’s lost.
    That was called “Shifting Heat,” and it was really interesting to see the reviews. Some reviewers absolutely loved it, and some hated it. Because the hero wasn’t an alpha, he was a loner, the type I love best, because they tend to be more complex, and he was deeply vulnerable. Some readers prefer a straightforward hot romance between an alpha and his woman. I do write those, too, but I found it really interesting to see that the people who loved it, really loved it. The dichotomy was different, interesting and it taught me a lot about how people read romance books. Some read them purely for escapist pleasure, and some want to see more complex relationships. I suspect that very often the two “kinds” of readers are just the same person with different moods, because that’s the way I read. A multi-layered Nalini Singh or Lynn Viehl novel is a treat and invariably ends on my keeper shelf, but there’s times I want a less nuanced, more straightforward read.
    It just goes to show, it takes all sorts to make a romantic suspense community!

    Lynne Connolly

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    ESCAPING REALITY WITH A GOOD BOOK

    I've had a lot on my mind lately that hasn't been writing related. The real world seems to have flexed its muscles and put me in a headlock and it hasn't been fun. Between job stress, deadlines, health scares with dear friends and associated other things, taking a little time for myself ends up at the bottom of the list.

    It shouldn't. Not for any of us. Life's stressful enough—we can use a little escapism from reality. It's healthy for our psyche and our spirits. A fresh new book does that for me.

    I can immerse myself in the life and times of people I don't know, places I've never been, or even a galaxy far, far away. Starting a new book is grand adventure for my mind. I get to know each character, care about their goals. I root for the good guys to overcome every obstacle the villain throws their way, urging them to pick themselves up and persevere.

    I want the heroine to evolve and grow on her journey through the story. Same goes for the hero. If it's a mystery or suspense, let me follow all the clues as well as the red herrings thrown in the path of the lead characters. Let me see, feel, and taste the nightlife of the seedy bar the private investigator finds the femme fatale in. With urban fantasy—show me the underground city that's the playground for demons and vampires or the shapeshifter leading his pack.

    Most importantly, let me feel what the people in the story feel. The curiosity, the wonder, the heartbreak and sorrow, but mostly let me share in the love. Let me have the resolution to the journey I've taken with my new friends be one of hope, understanding and happiness.

    Real life often leaves us feeling drained, emotionally and physically. While I may not be able to hop on a plane or stroll onto that departing cruise ship, I can escape for a few hours in the pages of a book.

    Do you use books as your coping mechanism, even for just a few hours? Are you reading anything now that's pulled you into the story and helped you escape between it's pages? Share with me, I'm always looking for the next leg on my journey of imagination.


    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    I’ll Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

    For years the South Carolina Lowcountry RWA chapter has hosted a Masterclass at an Isle of Palms mansion. I’ve come home from previous weeks re-energized, my head bursting with new craft knowledge and insights, renewed after spending time with friends who share a passion for writing.

    This year, the focus of the week was on the business of writing. Sometimes as authors we get caught up in our love of words and fail to acknowledge that what we do is also a small business, just like a company producing widgets or a bakery making the most beautiful, custom wedding cakes.

    Most of the participants in this year’s Masterclass are published, many are multi-published, some New York Times Best Selling authors. And every one generously shared her experience, from developing a business plan to sitting with me, surrounding by a Nook, Kindle and Kindle Fire, patiently determining if one of the conversion programs would get rid of the annoying tab addition to the dedication page of my novella.

    The theme of the week, as you might have guessed, was summed up by CJ Lyon: you are the CEO of You, Inc. In short, CJ said you, and only you, decide what is the correct path for your writing career: Traditional, Digital, Small Press or Indie—or a combination of the above. But you also bear the responsibility for your decision.

    With the encouragement of this group of friends, I made the first toe-dipping foray into Indie publishing with a novella. HONOR CODE officially releases on Friday, November 9, 2012. While I’m excited about the story’s theme—honor and personal integrity—and characters, I still initially hesitated to publish the story. While I think my editor at Carina is terrific and learned a lot through a traditional, digital press with my first book, I made the “CEO” decision to go Indie with this story. I want to thank all the friends who made that happen. You know who you are. J

    In anticipation of HONOR CODE’s release, I’ll give away an ARC of the novella to a commenter. The Blurb: In a small southern town where everyone knows each other’s business, veteran detective Larry Robbins must solve the disappearance of eighty-year-old widower George Beason.
    When evidence arises that Beason may have left town on his own, it would be easy for Robbins to close the case, but his gut instinct tells him more’s at stake. As he uncovers clues about Beason’s deceased wife and his estranged daughter, Robbins must untangle conflicting motives and hidden agendas to bring Beason home alive.

    So what about you? Have you accepted the position of CEO in your career? Set up a business plan? Are there friends who reached back or pushed you up to give you a little help?

     

     

     

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