Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Yippee!! Double Dipping is officially out today! For those interested, it's the story of opposites colliding when a dedicated second-grade teacher fights the school’s new financial director to reinstate a much-beloved autumn festival. But there are secrets, ambition, attraction and meddling family members complicating matters in this small Midwestern town. Part light mystery, part romantic comedy and entirely packed with delectable sweets, including a step-by-step recipe for making homemade chocolate-cherry ice cream -- hey, I take my book research seriously -- it's available now on Amazon, B&N and Smashwords for just $2.99! (And there's a full Chapter One excerpt here.) End of commercial -- I do hope that anyone who reads my latest digital romance will enjoy it, though. This story went through a gazillion revisions over the years and was originally critiqued by my wonderful writing friends, Simone Elkeles, Jennifer Stevenson and Sara Daniel (as well as most of the Chicago-North RWA chapter ;), and I am infinitely grateful for their help. 

 In other news, I just found out that On Any Given Sundae was recommended as a Hot Pick in Self-Publishing in the October issue of Romantic Times BOOKreviews!! Thanks, RT! Looking forward to seeing it in print when my copy of the magazine arrives this week. Oh! FYI, there is a Goodreads giveaway going on for A Summer in Europe. Ten readers will get an autographed ARC, so please sign up and spread the word. And, in completely unrelated news, I went to see the film "The Help" this weekend (along with millions of other people), and I thought it was tremendously well done. Who else has read the novel? Anyone else go to the movie? And is it wrong that I now have a serious crush on actor Chris Lowell??! He makes me wish I were 25 and from Atlanta...sigh. Would love to hear what's going on with all of you! Wishing you a great week.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Austen Characters, Goodreads Giveaways & Summertime 'Magic'

HAPPY FRIDAY! Just a heads up that I'm over at Austen Authors today talking about "Austen Character Encounters" (aka, meeting people in real life who resemble in manners or appearance a character that populates one of Jane's novels). I'll confess to having met a modern-day Mr. Collins or two... Also, there's a Goodreads giveaway for U.S. residents that just began this week. Winners will get one of ten autographed advanced reading copies of A Summer in Europe. If you're interested, you can enter here! Finally, just because school's starting next week (YAY!!!), it doesn't mean summer's really over. I had the first line from this song running through my head all day yesterday so, perhaps, a little 1984 "Magic" from The Cars is in order... (*cue the song*)  

Ahhh, the Eighties... That's what turns me upside down. I'm in the mood to get just a bit nostalgic this weekend and will probably have a YouTube video marathon tonight. I want to see John Waite sing "Restless Heart" and "Change." I could use a Huey Lewis and the News boost, too. And Journey. And Asia. And REO Speedwagon. And Bon Jovi, of course. (But I listen to them even when I'm not feeling nostalgic. ;) What were some of your favorite '80s tunes? What's a song I should definitely cue up this evening?? Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Double Book Giveaway & a GBC Visit

Just got back tonight from an out-of-town family event and now have up my blog post at the Girlfriends Book Club on the subject of "Questioning Our Relevance: Fear, Change & the Digital Revolution."

FYI: I'm hosting a double book giveaway there for commenters, so please stop by. I'm giving out one PDF copy of On Any Given Sundae and, because they just arrived (!!!!), one bound advanced reading copy of A Summer in Europe. Drawing will be Monday night, August 15th, just before midnight.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Creating Celebrations/Giveaway!

Happy Friday!

I'm over at Magical Musings today, taking about creating our own celebrations, and I'm giving away some prizes, too, so please stop by!

On a sad note, I was just reminded that it's been two years since we lost Blake Snyder...sigh. His Save the Cat series and story-structure beatsheets have helped me so much over the years -- I'm indebted to him for his insights. Thankfully, his work lives on at his website. And, for anyone interested in writing-craft posts on the subject, I've written two of them: one on Seekerville and the other on Blake's blog.

Wishing you all a fun and relaxing weekend!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Celebrating Joan Reeve's Romeo and Judy Anne

[Book Two in Joan's "Texas One Night Stands" Series]

**Quick Announcement: Congrats to Pamala Knight -- you won the copy of Michelle Diener's In a Treacherous Court! I'll contact you for mailing details.**

I'm delighted to have the kind and talented Joan Reeves here today to celebrate the release of her newest ebook, Romeo and Judy Anne!! Joan is an awe-inspiring wonder in the indie pub world. In just 4 months, she's sold over 91,000 ebooks on Kindle alone, which is nothing short of phenomenal! She also runs a fabulous blog, Sling Words, and offers really helpful advice on navigating self-publishing, along with other fun posts and great reviews.

Welcome, Joan!

Can you tell us about your latest book?
Romeo and Judy Anne was the result of being asked to write a book with an obvious sexual premise by an editor who liked my writing. I don't think along sexual premise lines though, more's the pity. I think along the line of a character having a compelling reason to do something she ordinarily wouldn't do, and if what she does is sexual then the reason is never because she's seeking sexual gratification. So for this romance, the premise became an over-the-hill virgin tries to get a life because she feels life passed her by due to circumstances beyond her control, and she picks a man she thinks she'll never see again to inititate her into that life. Of course, as Burns noted, "The best laid plans of mice and men often gang astray." With my romance novels, that's especially true.

What's one scene from this story you loved writing and why?
My favorite scene to write is one I can't describe because it's a plot spoiler. Actually, I loved writing this book in its entirety. It was just a lot of fun. The "meet cute" between the hero's brother and the heroine's best friend tickled my funny bone because, if the series proves successful, these two will star in another book in this series.

What were the things that led you to indie-pub your recent novels?
To be honest, it's because I became so frustrated with big publishing. I just couldn't seem to hit the agents and editors with the right story. I was told so many times that my writing was wonderful but my stories didn't possess strong marketing hooks. I did a lot of spec writing as was the case with Romeo and Judy Anne. By the time I finished that manuscript and got it to the editor, she'd left! The new editor didn't want it. If you've been in this business for longer than a nano second, then you know that's usually the case. I began to feel like the round peg in a square hold--I just didn't fit.

So when I bought my Kindle last year, I immediately loved the convenience and ease of buying books. So many of my favorite authors had ebook editions available, and I discovered new authors to try because the prices were so low! I started reading more than I had in years, and I loved it. I also started researching the indie book scene and saw that you didn't have to get past editors or agents. You only had to appeal to readers. I always believed in the manuscripts that I wrote, and now I had a way to test my belief. And I had a backlist and a great inventory of romance novels just waiting to find an audience.

What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your writing journey?
Believe in yourself. Some writers find early success. Some, like me, find a bit of success then just can't leap over the rungs of the ladder to the next step. To keep writing when you have no validation that what you are writing will ever be read requires gut-level belief in yourself. Belief that you're a good writer. The reason I said read, not sold, is because writers aren't just looking for a few bucks. Sure, the money is nice, but what we want is an audience for our words. We're looking for readers to appreciate our work. I'm sure some wise pundit first said this, but I don't know who that might have been. "Writing without publishing is like acting without applause." That's why we seek publication.

[Book One in Joan's "Texas One Night Stands" Series]

Do you pay attention to reviews? If so, has there been any particular review that made your heart do a little dance?
I try hard not to read reviews. If you emotionally invest in the good ones, then you also end up emotionally invested in the bad ones too. Some of the bad ones are soul crushers. I don't have that many reviews, and they seem to reflect the opposite ends of the spectrum. Readers either adore my books or hate them. *LOL* The ones who adore send me emails telling me that "this is the best book I've ever read." I'd be lying if I said that didn't put a smile on my face. I get a lot of those kinds of emails since I started putting a reader email address in my books.

Funny, but the people who post reviews online seem to really like to post negative reviews. The discerning people who email me don't usually post reviews, but I always ask them too.

I've been on readers forums where readers say they won't buy a book that has 5 stars because they figure the review was posted by a friend of the author. Well, I write a lot of reviews and give 5 stars when it's warranted so does that mean I've kept someone from buying other writers' books? Also, I've read too many reviews where the person wrote "I hate romance, and this is romance and I only got it because it was free and it sucks." Seriously? Don't get a book just because it's free if you don't like that genre. Authors make their living by writing, and bad ratings affect an authors' income. Please be fair.

When I got my first bad review for an ebook, I was so embarrassed. Every author I know feels this way. One thing you have to learn in this fishbowl of ebook publishing is to expect bad reviews. Learn from them if there's something to be learned then move on down the road. I spent hours reading other reviews posted on the ebook bestselling authors' books. Oh my! That will certainly put things in perspective. There were so many of those "worst book I ever read" and "if I could give less than 1 star I would" and "not worth even the free giveaway." So, I figured I was in good company.

[Author Joan Reeves]

What’s next for you? Is there a new book in the pipeline?
I had hoped to be finished this month with Old Enough To Know Better, the first book in my new novella series The Good, The Bad, and The Girly. However, my daughter came home from grad school, and her fiance proposed. She goes back to grad school for the next semester this weekend. I had to drop everything and plan a wedding this week. She and her fiance want to marry next spring break, and that's less than a year away so we had to get busy. So instead of writing about a romance, I'm helping the happy couple with their real one.

Actually, I created a business plan that calls for the publication of 12 ebooks this year. I now have 5 published and am working to make the other 7 happen. Of those 7, some will be books in the series I have out and others will be single title stand-alones. I'm doing something special for the holidays with a Christmas setting for one romance and the release of Stone Angel, a book that can only be described as a romantic thriller with a reincarnation theme.

Oh, I also want to mention Hot Toddy Sizzlers, a companion book to my little brainstorm Summer Sizzlers which my 2 best writing buddies Elaine Raco Chase and Cynthia Wicklund and I produced. Summer Sizzlers is now free on Amazon. It's a book of novel excerpts--15 to be exact. Hot Toddy Sizzlers will be another book of excerpts from different novels we've written as well as hot beverage and snack recipes for the holidays.

It's a good thing I planned to produce so many this year because I have a feeling I won't have much writing time from the holidays through the spring wedding. Wish me luck!

Thank you, Marilyn, for having me.

Joan, it was an absolute pleasure to have you! Thanks so much for visiting and for sharing your wise advice with us, too. Wishing you much success on Romeo and Judy Anne, as well as on all your great stories coming up and your daughter's wedding, too!!