Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm right behind you, Julia!

I haven't been around for a month or more...

Severe and abject depression...NOT!  Snort!  Just living with my own stupidity...and that isn't very easy.

I forgot that most editors are working a "real" job, and can only get to your books when they have the time.  So after subbing and getting a contract, I now find that my edits will not even begin for another month or so.  Sigh.

 I adore my editor. Please don't get me wrong. But I have been dormant for so long, I can't wait several months for a book to take shape.  It's my own damn fault...I know that.  So now I either live with it...or...take the leap.

I am about to take the dive into self-publishing a couple of my books, just to get them out there.  And even though several friends have done just that, I find that leap terrifying.

I have several novellas that could be put into publication quickly.  I can make myself self-edit as ruthlessly as my past editors.  I can make myself toe the line.  But stepping out into the great unknown is rough.  :P

I have been getting a lot of fan mail asking when my next book is coming out.  I know for a fact that authors LOSE readers when they have so few books coming out. You have to stay on that roll.  If you do like I did, and let things get you down, and stop fighting, you can easily lose all the ground you've gained.

I think that I will be asking around and checking out possibilities.  Any ideas?


Fran Lee

Friday, July 29, 2011

I cannot remember a Friday to save my life!

News -

I'm on a massive blog tour for Incorporeal, my ghost romance. You can follow my schedule (if you have any interest) here:

What else is new? Um...good weather, getting in lots of hiking, dog basketball, baseball, gardening - my potatoes are ready, but I can't harvest them all at once since I don't have the proper place to store them. It's so fun to dig up these multi-colored gems! Purple, red and Yukon Gold! Plus they taste great. Hubby is asking if we're on the potato diet. Hey, worked for the Irish for a long time!

I have several works in progress - a sequel to Incorporeal - In the Flesh, another paranormal. I'd like to tackle a romance suspense that's been put on hold, and then I believe I'll have time to delve into a sci/fi series. Fingers crossed!

Have a wonderful weekend all!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bookstores - Outdated?

Borders, the 2nd largest U.S. bookstore chain is closing its doors after 40 years in business. Experts attribute this in large part to Borders being ill-equipped to adapt to bookbuyers migration to digital formats.

Obviously, ebooks are a big part of my life, but I truly hope print books and the places to go to buy them won't completely disappear in the future.

Over the years, I've spent countless happy hours in used bookstores, trading in paperbacks, combing through the shelves for 'new to me' finds, chatting with other book lovers. I've consumed large volumes of caffeinated beverages while reading in Borders, Barnes and Noble and Walden Books. The used bookstores around here began disappearing about ten years ago. When Waldens closed, my daughter and I shared hugs with the staff we had come to know very well. Many of them went to work at Borders. Of the seven used bookstores I used to frequent, only two of them are left.

Being completely honest, I have always preferred the atmosphere and selection of our local Barnes and Noble, but if I couldn't find what I was looking for, Borders was just up the street. Yesterday, as my daughter and I stood in line at Borders, our arms full of 'great bargains', I was overcome with sadness.

Purchasing ebooks over the internet is a solitary event. The act of shopping for them can't be a looked forward to event with your friends, or a bonding time with your kids. You can't dig through the boxes of them that you've saved over the years to discover that gem you forgot about. You can't touch the yellowing pages, or see the crease at the top of the page indicating where you stopped reading.

I don't know actual numbers, but I do know that there are still a vast amount of people who do not embrace all things digital! I wonder if this shift in the literary world will force them to conform to the changing times, or deprive them of a beloved pasttime?


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

John Carter and Barsoom on the horizon

When I was a child I was a big Tarzan fan. When I was very young my mother was kind enough to take me to Baldwin Gardens where the early Johnny Weissmuller, Tarzan movies were filmed, so I could play there and enjoy what was left of the Tarzan movie set, up close.

I also have a very clear memory of my mother driving up to the edge of the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate, getting out of the car and pointing out the house to me. Of course Edgar Rice Burroughs wasn’t home. He passed away many years earlier, but the house was still in the family. I don’t actually remember seeing the house. I believe it was hidden behind many trees, including (in my memory) quite a few large Spanish oaks. My mother said Burroughs had written Tarzan while nearly homebound and invalid. He looked out his windows at the dense trees surrounding his ranch-style home and dreamed of being free.

I was too little to realize at the time that my mother was very ill and slipping toward her own early death, but when I look back I’m so grateful she took the time to impress a few really important lessons on me before she left.

If you asked me, which was the most important lesson, I’d have a different story to tell you on any given day. Today I’m going to say she showed me and told me that when you have freedom of imagination you’re free. She insisted a free, creative mind could go anywhere and I try to live that truth today.

Edgar Rice Burroughs was a beautiful example of a free mind. Early in his life he was broke and working as a pencil-sharpener-wholesaler with a young family to support when he decided he could write a story at least as good as the pulp fiction magazines he was reading:

"...if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines." ERB.

Burroughs wrote the John Carter, Princess of Mars “Barsoom” series and it was an instant hit.  The Tarzan books followed a few years later.

As an adult I delved deeper into the Burroughs lore and was disillusioned to find a few controversial things about the man. 

No one’s perfect and I had to let childish ideals go and simply look at Burroughs’ body of work that I must say overall is highly creative and “free minded”.

Recently, I was very happy to see that next spring Disney pictures will be reintroducing the John Carter Princess of Mars, “Barsoom” series to a new generation on the book’s 100th birthday. 
(Please see the video above.) I also think its of special interest, at least to me that Disney chose Peter Gabriel’s moody cover of “My Body is a Cage” as the music for this trailer.

I have to say I liked Burroughs’ can-do attitude. It gave me the freedom, quite late in life to start writing my own "rotten" stories and I thank him for that.

What bit of freedom will allow your mind to embrace today?


Monday, July 25, 2011

My series on self-pubbing my first book!

As you read this, I am really in Utah at a Shakespeare Festival and absorbing the cool evenings and sights of the glorious red canyons! BUT for those of you who started my series on self-pubbing my first digital book, I hope you did come to my blog last week for all the parts of that.
Where is that?
As I do more, learn more, I will give you the blow by blow AND PUBLISH MORE IN THE SERIES. No holes in my/your knowledge left unfilled!
(FOR EXAMPLE: I still must put up the formats for Smashwords and ARe. Ah, yes. More adventures in publishing!)
And at the left, the beautiful artwork of LADY STARLING'S STOCKINGS!
Ciao, bella!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is it Friday already?

Beauty and the Feast

One of my favorite books - I'm giving away six copies - six Kindle uploads. Please email me at juliarachelbarrett(at)gmail(dot)com for further information or leave a comment letting me know how to contact you.

Eva Raines is an uncomplicated country girl who's all about food. Eva moves to the Napa Valley where her culinary skills come to the attention of the owners of a start-up, All Things to All People, and Eva finds her niche as a personal chef. Now all she needs is a man as perfect as her cooking, but she has serious doubts that such a creature exists.

When wealthy entrepreneur, winery owner, and noted lothario, Gabriel Abbott, makes plans to seduce his flavor of the month, his assistant hires All Things to All People to cater a gourmet dinner. Eva expects to use her way with food to showcase the startup. What she unexpectedly discovers is that her culinary skills showcase far more.

Once Gabriel finds himself seduced by Eva's voice, and the sensual flavors and textures of her food, his previous plans are quickly forgotten. He begins to obsess about meeting his little chef in person. But when Eva and Gabe finally come face to face, the question is, how hot will their fire burn?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Food and Romance

Happy Thursday! I'm thrilled to post my new cover! Matt's Return releases August 10th.

The following blog has absolutely nothing to do with Matt or his return.

I get a tremendous amount of ribbing from my family over my love affair with “food television”. The Cooking Channel, Food Network, all food ‘reality’ shows on Bravo, and anything with Gordon Ramsey (lord that man revs my engine) – I’m addicted!

Creating new recipes and cooking with my hubby, who is a barbeque master, are two of my favorite things to do!

When I’m in the author ‘zone’, it is a given that some culinary program is playing softly in the background of my writing cave. The experience of enjoying good food hits all of the senses.

In most of my books, sharing a meal happens. It is a time for the characters to connect, reminisce, learn about each other, or simply enjoy spending time together.

I become extremely squitchy, however, when food plays too large a role in actual love making. A well placed drizzle of honey or chocolate sauce, a dollop of whipped cream, those I get. The use of phallic shaped vegetables is okay, I guess, if there aren’t real toys around, and the lovers are desperate for additional stimulation.

What I don’t ever want to read about again is the use of entire entrees, side dishes and desserts being put places they should never be!! Spaghetti with meat sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cheesecake belong on plate! Feed it to each other, lick your silverware seductively, but please stop there.

And on a related note, if the kitchen is going to be the setting for naked fun, let’s use the area wisely. The floor and the chairs are just waiting for someone to have sex on them. The counters and table are available to hold onto, lean across or against, use for leverage, but please keep them free of moist, sweaty parts unless the next scene describes, in eloquent detail, the participant’s cleaning regimen!!

Have a great weekend~


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Tree of Life

Last week was my anniversary. My husband and I celebrated by going to see the Terrence Malick film, “The Tree of Life”. The movie made a big impression on me and I’d like to attempt to explain my feelings about it, but I have to warn you this was a difficult film on every level.

The Tree of Life stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, but it’s a far cry from being anything close to a star driven drama. I’ve never seen anything like it. It not the least bit linear, the story and visuals wander chaotically the first 20 minutes, jumping back and forth in time between a high speed elevator ride in a modern glass tower to a suburban neighborhood in 1950’s Texas and even expanding outward into the cosmos. Quaint homilies are spouted such as “There are two ways through the world. The way of nature, (which is portrayed as selfish and ruthless) and the way of grace…”

My first thought was Oh dear this is going to be bad. I glanced sideways at my husband and almost apologized for dragging him to this “art house” movie. In the corner of my eye I saw others walking out of the theater. I was worried I had ruined our anniversary.

And then it happened scenes spilled onto the screen accompanied by gorgeous operatic music that were so beautiful they can only be described as sublime. Tears started rolling down my face. I realized I’d been set up and lured into a bored but receptive state of mind—the same state of mind Sean Penn’s character is occupying and “we” Sean Penn and the viewer, are having a soul-healing epiphany about life during the elevator ride. During the rest of the movie all aspects of love and forgiveness are explored. The proverb “So as above, so as below” is wrestled head on with the conflict between a disillusioned father beautifully played by Brad Pitt and his son. Malick spends the rest of the film proving the way of nature and the way of grace are one and the same. One follows closely behind the other as inseparable companions in scene after stunning scene.

Watching this movie was like a long meditative trip to an art gallery. Every scene is beautifully shot and loaded with symbolism. For instance when the mother in the movie (played with subtle strength by Jessica Chastain) is pregnant or giving birth to her three sons the orchid tree outside their home is in full bloom with brilliant pink flowers. Later we see her wearing a pale blue dress the same color as the robes of Isis or the Virgin Mary. She is standing enraptured beneath the tree and suddenly levitates into the air like an ecstatic saint and wildly flips and floats around the tree. Of course she never actually did such a thing but it’s symbolic of how Sean Penn remembers her self-sacrifice and goodness in his youth.
Later mother becomes the protector as Brad Pitt’s character suffers the loss of his job, a musical career and hope. He becomes increasingly harsh with his sons. It’s not terrible abuse. It’s subtle real life stuff like being cranky, angry and unloving and it’s so painful to watch because the viewer knows from the very beginning, one of the son’s will die in his late teens. It’s painful too because we clearly see what a good man the father is. He works like a dog, struggles to make time for his music and we get a glimpse of his intricate sketchbook filled with “78” patients he is trying desperately to sell. He has so much potential and so much to be grateful for but he does make the great mistake of letting his frustrations poison the family. We also see he lives to regret it.

There are parts of this movie that reminded me of the visual abstractions of “Altered States” and certainly the strongest comparison is Stanley Kubrick’s “2001 a Space Odyssey”. The suites of rich visuals and beautiful music are mesmerizing. There is ample time during these unrushed scenes to either get bored or deeply reflect on your own life and feelings about family, love and forgiveness.

For some reason a gorgeous montage of Hubble telescope images caused my mind to flash on my father’s childhood. He and his father were prisoners of war in Asia during WWII, and suffered greatly. I found out later that day that my father was in a different city, sitting in different movie theater watching The Tree of Life—reflecting on his father… We might have been watching the movie at the same moment. My father said he saw a few people walk out of the theater in boredom, anger or utter confusion. He also said, “I was bored but strongly compelled to watch at the same time.” (Doesn’t that sum up so much of life? lol)

This movie is as close as we might come to watching someone else’s life flash before their eyes and experience their moment of enlightenment. If that sounds interesting to you, approach “Tree of Life” in a quiet state of mind and see where it takes you.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Bites the dust. It’s a shame as this store goes out of business. I remember when I first started writing I’d drive to Borders and spend many hours scanning the shelves for books. I’d spend hours in the magazine section too. Back then I wrote more for magazines like Modern Romance and True Confessions. I didn’t begin writing longer works until years later. In those days they offered a lot more money for All Rights. I didn’t mind I loved the extra income.
I’ve been sitting on a gift card since Christmas I guess I better do some shopping today before the store is no more. I’ll also have to get a subscription to a few magazines that I occasionally pick up in the large chain because I won’t be able to just walk in and buy it any longer.
In other news I’m in self edit hell, where I’ll be the rest of the week. But if all goes well I’ll have a new release in October. :o)
Sorry this is short, but I’m under the gun on a lot of things.
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Part I: MY SELF-PUB LIFE or How I learned to love new aspects of publishing

Stepping into self-pubbed world!

Am I ready this week finally to put up a 99-center at Kindle? As a self-published author?
Oh, dear reader and author, I AM! Do come to my blog for Part One of My Journey into digital publishing!

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Day.

I'm back, finally. Still pretty dang tired.

But...I am in the process of publishing Incorporeal!

No Kindle link yet, but I hope it will be available by tomorrow!


Sara Wise is sick of ghosts. They’ve haunted her since she was a child, destroying her family, endangering her life. When an incorporeal being appears in her shower, she curses him soundly and orders him out, but this ghost is sticky. Not only does he invade her shower, he moves into her home, invading her dreams, sharing her bed. The reluctant Sara finds herself falling in love with a dead man.

Despite Sara’s objections, Natan de Manua isn’t permitted to leave. Protecting the woman is both his penance and his means to redemption. She’s not easy to protect, she fights him nearly every step of the way, except in her bed. Nathan may have come to regain his soul, but instead he risks losing his heart.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Has it Only Been Two Weeks?

I was chatting with an author buddie recently regarding the concept of time in relation to writing.

Days zip by at lightening speed when a deadline is looming. Minutes drag on like days when waiting to hear if a manuscript has been accepted. Nights are endless when sleep won't come due to obssessing over an unresolved story issue. And of course, there never seems to be enough time to devote to blogging, emailing, and promo-ing!

Since my June 30th post, I wrote a short story, Matt's Return. It has been accepted by Resplendence Publishing (YAY!!), edits are finished, and it will release on August 10th. I have two other short stories almost ready to sub, and I am working on edits for Sensations. It was not that many months ago when the mere thought of sitting at the computer, trying to be creative, brought on waves of nausea!!

I'd like to add my thoughts to Kat's wonderful blog and the ensuing comments last week on short stories. I whole heartedly agree that it requires an author to select every word with care and to tighten the plot until it cries 'uncle'! Creating well-developed characters that the reader can believe in is quite a challenge, also, isn't it?! When writing a longer book, a couple of thousand words can seem like a million if I'm trying to meet a length requirement. When the entire thing can't exceed 5k, it seems as if 500 words hit the page in the blink of an eye - go figure?

What I find quite interesting is the perception of non-authors when it comes to the short story. The recurring comments I keep hearing from people are that less pages is synonymous with less effort! I've stopped attempting to explain the process because their eyes glaze over and I ultimatley end up sounding like a whiner!

Have a fantastic weekend~


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Carmageddon here we come!

This summer is already way too busy and moving far too fast, but its about to come to a screeching halt on Los Angeles’ 405 Freeway…

This is “Carmageddon” week in Los Angeles. This is the week the City of Angels chose to shut down the city’s busiest freeway to tear out an old bridge and put up sound-walls, and no one really knows what else. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but trust me, taking the 405 Freeway away from Angelinos for even a couple of days is going to bring millions of heat-stroked drivers to their knees for 70 miles in all directions—at least that’s what we’re being warned.

I don’t live in Los Angeles anymore but I was born and raised there. My family, friends and business associates are still there. It’s an amazing city with far more depth than its critics give it credit for, but man is it hell to drive around down there! Everything you’ve heard about LA traffic is true. The only place in the world where I thought it was worse was Manila-but that’s another story…

Two weeks ago my family and I drove to the Anaheim Angels Stadium near Disneyland to see a U2 concert. I loved the concert but I didn’t love the drive. We hit a thick patch of Friday afternoon traffic that took us nearly 5 hours to drive only 70 miles. We were in second gear, bumper-to-bumper hot, smoggy traffic most of the way. We were driving so slow I was able to read trash wrappers by the side of the road. The people around us became eerily familiar faces. If I wanted to, I could have rolled down my car window and held lengthy conversations with the other drivers—traffic was that bad and it wasn’t even Carmageddon!

As we rolled slowly across Los Angeles, I saw mile after mile of heavy equipment and materials assembled along the 405 waiting to snap into action.  All I can say is, I hope the new bridge does these folks some good. There is no wiggle room on these crowded roads.

Since I don’t live in LA anymore why am I complaining? I’ll tell you. Two different sets of friends and family from out of state have chosen this week to fly into LAX and visit. One on July 15th the day before Carmageddon and one set of friends on July 17th right in the thick of the mess. They all need a ride from the LAX airport… They want to visit the Los Angeles cathedral and take the kids to Disneyland too. One group even wants to drive the 405 to San Diego, stopping to do fun things along the way. (I don’t think so, unless you think camping beside the freeway is fun…)

I had to break the bad news to everybody that we would be changing our plans and heading out of LA as quickly as possible by train…

Today is my anniversary. I wish I could celebrate quietly with my husband, but we have yet another set of friends coming to visit from Texas tonight… No private, romantic anniversary dinner for me. Oh well, there’s no rest for the wicked. It’s almost time to get in the car and start rolling slowly toward LAX.


Busy, Busy, Busy

Sorry I wasn’t here last week. I was in the hospital and learned the hard way that my mini laptop wouldn’t allow me to post any blogs. It was a bit frustrating, but I’ll know for when I go in that I’ll have to pre-post or not blog at all. I spent three days in the hospital for pre-term labor. Luckily the doctors were able to get it under control. They sent me home with no real restrictions, but I am taking it easy.
Well I was until yesterday when I returned to work. I spent over 10 hours on a conference call, on top of dealing with little kids, big kids, family who were leaving to head back to NY and dogs who wanted to go to the park to run, but it was too hot. Why is it when it rains it pours?
The stress settled somewhere around 8pm when the DH and I crashed to watch some television.
The only positive to the day was I added words to my wip. It was the first time in a long time. I did this before all hell broke loose, so that was a plus. Only 14 workdays before I take my leave of absence, unless the doctor pulls me before that. Even though I’m just coming back from vacation, I’m really looking forward to the longer leave. LOL

Summer is not going the way I planned, but it seems I’m not alone. I hope you are all enjoying the warm temperatures and beautiful days.

In other news I found I have a new print book out. It’s currently only available on Barnes and Noble, but you can check it out here -

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flash Fiction

(This is a Damien Hirst butterfly painting. I posted it just because I think it's a thing of beauty. The original is huge 84" X 210")

After an unending, cool, damp spring, I know summer is finally here because I have the concentration abilities of a startled rabbit. I’m can’t sit still. Everything distracts me. At the slightest hint of something fun, off I go mentally or physically into some new thing at least three times an hour.

Is all this activity good for the writing? Not really but I am collecting a lot of interesting ideas and enjoying myself and my family along the way, so I can’t say it’s all bad—it’s just not very productive. I haven’t even touched my older WIPs since mid-June.

In June, I did manage to complete and submit a 13k short story for possible inclusion in an anthology. No word yet on the status of that one. I also decided to break my own rule about entering my work in contests and started writing a 3k paranormal short story.

I have to admit I took on both “short” projects thinking they would be a refreshing walk in the park and path to instant gratification. Instead these shorties are kicking my ass! I had no idea writing “shorter” was so difficult. There’s no room to ramble or get off target. I discovered the painful way shorties are concise, hardboiled little bits of fiction that require a lot of skill and planning. I’m on version six of my tiny 3K and I’m still not finished…

I deeply admire any author who can write flash and short fiction well. I’ll compare writing a short piece of fiction to cutting a very small but valuable gemstone. One must be cautious, go slowly and plan the angle of attack carefully because there’s no room for mistakes.

I’m wondering, does a background in poetry make writing short fiction easier? I have no poetic talent but I know many of you do. What do think? Do poets and authors of short fiction work from the same tool kit?