Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Monday, July 30, 2012
I had to re-read that. Many times.
If we agree that the definition of "satisfying" is one the blogger would have to clarify and I note for you here that she did not define her term, then we can move on to her general statement and critique it.
Are you willing to read a mediocre work to get a high from the romance or the erotic aspects of it?
My answer is no, I am definitely not willing to "put up with" poor writing.
And while many readers might be looking for a quick fix or the Happy Hump, I am looking for a great story along with my HH. Specifically, with romantic suspense, I am looking for the crisis and plot structure that tell me I am thrilled. With historicals, I am looking for the accuracy of time, place and milieu as well as dialogue. With contemporary cowboys (especially because I live in cowboy country), I am looking for accuracy of character, dialogue and contemporary issues like Mexican cartels, gun-drug-prostitution and drought issues.
Yes, we all know that the indie side of the industry has (as another industry blogger has put it) shown us that the lack of gatekeepers has permitted, if you wish to call it this, a "race to the bottom" in quality. (Not my terms.) But it is still possible to see what an author is offering in quality and what a house is doing in terms of finding and editing talented authors.
How to find quality writers and their stories?
1. FREE is the new price point to find new authors, even those who are print/traditionally pubbed.
I must get 3-5 emails per day and ever so many Tweets announcing these offers.
I do take advantage of some, not all, of these. Some do not interest me, along the lines of: So little time, so many authors, etc etc.
But for those that do intrigue me, I bite. It is easy to download and very quick to ascertain if this author has what I want for my limited time of enjoyment each day.
Confession? I have downloaded quite a few books that I have deleted within 5-20% of the book.
I can tell ( and so can you) if an author understands POV, bad grammar, poor dialogue, info dumping and lack of research.
I can also tell a lot about the publishing house, too. If I find a house has poor formatting (which drives me up a wall), or no copyeditor. Worse, many houses will sign on authors who are frankly very new. Especially in erotica houses, I find most of their books offer up just a lot of Happy Humps. Great, if that is what you want in your reading. But I could go to a BDSM club or rent a few porno flicks and get a similar high. All in how you want your entertainment delivered I guess. But for this Reader, I want quality with my romance and erotica.
2. Sales at 99 cents and more are the new new upscale pricing points that denote other authors worth trying.
I will certainly spend 99 cents to try an author who is new to me.
Stats show this is true of millions of others.
What we are now seeing in sales analyses across many vendors is that anything up to $2.99 really sells a book, an author and has significant impact on his/her backlist. Any price point above $5.99 is not useful. Publishers have learned this and offer, often for limited times, their books at lower rates. Many offer the first in a series at a lower rate.
3. Trading books too is a great way to find new authors. The profusion of tablets/devices and lending programs means that I can discover new authors whom my friends and family like.
Heretofore, this was possible only if I bought the book and gave it away after finishing or told others to borrow it at the library. Both either involved time or money. Now, with the challenges to the library systems in the USA, this too becomes problematic.
Recently, a good friend of mine and I hooked up our iPads to each other's and gave each other more books than my eyeballs will ever read in this lifetime. But let me just say, her recommendations (and some of them were negative ones) were intriguing. Yes, I was intrigued by her negative reviews of some she gave me and those books (I use the term very loosely) along with the blogger's statement with which I began this post inspired me to write this ditty.
4. Reviewers really do not tell me about the quality of the writing and we know some of the old truths such as "everyone's a critic" and "what's good for the goose, is not..." often good for the next goose.
In fact, I find only a few reviewers whose assessments I trust. And I do mean people not sites.
So what is your take?
Do you demand good writing with your fiction?
Or will you take something other and call it worthwhile entertainment?
This inquiring mind wants to know!
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
This summer is going too fast! It's been another busy week and I'm nearly finished with my half of the first draft of "Claimed By Dragons". Amber and our editor have both been very patient with me while this book grew and grew. Thank you ladies it will be done this week.
Today I want to share a excerpt from "The Strix" book one in "The Bag Of Tricks" book series.
In this scene Arcona has inadvertently returned to the same occult shop she was in earlier in the day. Dame Bishop is a witch in authority who enlightens her about exactly what a Strix is.
“No.” Arcona shook her head, noting that the amulet was warming almost too quickly in her cool palm.
“You won’t find this myth in many books; few know or speak of the Strix. The Strix was a compilation of all ancient Rome’s guilty fears about the so-called barbarians they enslaved, punished, and brought under their own roofs as domestics, lovers, and lethal entertainment. The Strix combined fearful barbarian lore and Roman superstitions in a single horrific creature that traveled the night as a grotesque bird of prey, sucking the blood from innocent people and turning them against Rome.
“The Strix might start life as a worshipper of Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft and necromancy. She could be born Roman or Celtic and work as a healer, witch, or midwife, but somewhere along the way, hatred and the need for revenge against the oppressor corrupted the witch’s capacity for doing good. Rage and destruction took the place of healing acts. Stray witches made bargains with dark forces in exchange for the power to grant invincibility in battle to others, who in turn would walk the earth in violent wrath.”
Arcona grimaced. “The Strix sounds absolutely repulsive.”
“She isn’t, and by the way the Strix is always a she. The essence of Venus imbued the Strix with the power to seduce and sexually torment any young man she approached. She sought out strong, battle-worthy men. Her victims were powerless to refuse. At the climax of the sexual act, she’d drink their blood and send them into a violent rage. During these unnatural couplings, rarely but sometimes a male, Upir Likhyi, was created.”
Arcona was almost afraid to ask. “What’s an Upir Likhyi?” She struggled to pronounce the unwieldy words.
“It’s an old pagan Baltic term for wicked or foul vampire. It is a revenant, or undead soul, that seeks the thrill of blood sport and warfare. In ancient times many were recruited to secretly serve Mars.”
A shiver trembled up her spine. “We certainly don’t need any more of those violent, bloodsucking sorts hanging around, that’s for sure.” She laughed with nervous self-consciousness until she noticed Dame Bishop’s serious face. It was apparent she did not share the dismissive attitude.
Arcona struggled to compose herself. “I don’t mean to sound so disrespectful, because I love mythology too. It’s had a huge influence over human history, but myths are just a way to explain human desires and behavior. I’m a bit puzzled that you’re talking about the Strix as if it’s a real entity.”
Dame Bishop blanched. “It is a real entity. Make no mistake; every myth carries a grain of truth within. There are realms loosely tethered to this one far stranger than anything you can imagine. To say these realms are less real than ours is to profess the Earth is flat. It is a statement only the ignorant can speak freely.”
“I’m sorry.” Damn, she really put her foot in it. Arcona gently lowered the amulet back into its box. “Thank you for sharing this with me. It’s fascinating.”
She gazed at the skeletal bronze birds and strange craftsmanship one last time. “How exactly did you come across this? A rare artifact of this age seems like it should be safely stashed in a museum.”
“I agree.” Dame Bishop’s expression brightened. “Some associates of mine at the Universita di Roma know my interest in such things and were kind enough to allow me to examine the amulet.”
“I’m familiar with the University of Rome! My ex-husband once taught there. Who are your contacts; perhaps I know them?”
“I highly doubt it.” Dame Bishop’s mouth drew tense. “My colleagues are very private people.” Her gaze dropped toward the amulet. “Tomorrow it’s headed to the Smithsonian in an armored car. I just wanted to share it with one last soul before it continued on its journey to lie locked away in some sterile vault until the curators can figure out what to do with it.”
A heightened gleam shone in Dame Bishop’s eyes as she lifted the amulet from the box and held it toward Arcona. “Why don’t you try it on? Just to see what it feels like.” A sly smile crossed her lips. “This is a bit of living history. You may never get an opportunity like this again.”
Something about the amber riveted Arcona’s attention. The center of the amulet was translucent and glowed like a fiery ember. Against her better judgment about carelessly handling antiquities and possibly ill-gotten property, she reached for the leather thong and looped it around her neck.
The amulet hung heavy and prominent atop her breasts. Arcona glanced downward. This was a big, bold piece of ornamentation obviously meant to immediately identify its wearer as a witch who had wandered over to the dark side.
A loud knock pounded on the front door of the shop.
“Excuse me.” Dame Bishop pulled the curtain to the back room aside. “Let me see who’s at the door.”
Arcona was left alone in the back room to gaze down at the amulet and decided that in spite of the somewhat disturbing bronze motifs it was actually very beautiful and must have made a strong impression in its day.
The warm, subtle scent of amber resin reached her nose. She sniffed again in disbelief, knowing there was no way this ancient piece of fossilized amber could possibly be emitting a scent.
She inhaled the mystery fragrance, and sure enough, the rich scent of earthy amber was filling the air. She glanced around curious to know if there was anything near that could possibly be the source of the aroma and saw nothing she could hold to account.
She glanced toward the curtain. What was Dame Bishop up to? She didn’t hear anything going on in the front of the shop. All was silent.
She turned to leave the back room, and her knees buckled. A moment of extreme dizziness knocked her off balance and sent her flailing toward the dusty countertop in a scrambling attempt to keep from falling to the floor.
She blinked in shock as she doubled over the countertop. God, it was getting warm in here. Her skin felt burning hot. She gasped and tugged her coat away from her body, but it didn’t help.
A terrifying sensation of thousands of vicious needle jabs prickled the tender soles of her feet and spread upward. She struggled to kick her tall leather boots free of her feet but couldn’t. The burning sensations licked higher up her legs. She gulped air, fighting rising panic. Her skin felt crispy as if it were being cooked. The pain escalated until it was unendurable. “Help!”
The curtain of the back room was thrown open, and Dame Bishop appeared. “What’s wrong, dear?”
Arcona pulled herself upright. Suddenly nothing was wrong, except the sleeves of her trench coat were covered in dust up to the elbows from writhing against the countertop. The horrid burning sensation left as swiftly as it had arrived. “Dear God, that was weird. For a moment it felt like I was on fire.”
“Really?” Dame Bishop didn’t look the least bit surprised.
“Really. I think this amulet is cursed. Wearing it feels awful.”
“Cursed?” Dame Bishop balked. “I thought you were a skeptic?”
“I’m still a skeptic, but I’m telling you there is something unwholesome about this piece of jewelry. Perhaps it should be kept in a sterile museum vault.”
“Hold on a minute. Don’t be so quick to judge.” Dame Bishop wagged an admonishing finger in the air. “You were the one who was burning. Maybe we should concentrate on that.”
“Are you implying that what just happened to me was my fault? I put the amulet on and immediately felt like I was on fire. That never happens to me. Does that sort of thing happen to you? It’s kind of weird. I think I’m entitled to blame the amulet.” She half listened to herself, cringing at the childish tone of her argument.
Arcona took told of the leather thong and tried to yank the amulet over her head, but it tangled in her long auburn hair. She grasped the bronze setting and tried to untangle the thong. The setting hooked onto her sweater and clung like a bur. “Look at this thing!” She tugged at the amulet in exasperation. “It’s like an octopus grapping me.”
“Leave it alone,” Dame Bishop said tersely. “Don’t provoke it.”
“What?” Arcona frowned. “I want it off.”
“It’s not coming off, at least not until it’s ready.”
“No way.” Arcona grabbed the thong and gave it a sharp upward yank. A hellish burning sensation reminiscent of having cooked skin peeled from her bones racked her. “Oh my God!” she wailed.
She let go of the amulet, and the pain stopped in an instant.
Dame Bishop’s brow creased with serious concern.
“You didn’t know this would happen, did you?” Arcona fought a rising sense of panic. “Please take it off me. I don’t want it near me, and I’m afraid to touch it.”
“I wouldn’t dare.” Dame Bishop took a cautious step backward. “I can’t take it off you. You’re the only one who can free yourself.”
“There must be something we can do? It hurts too much if I try to remove it, and I can’t walk around wearing something the Smithsonian is waiting to receive. I’m supposed to be at the airport bright and early tomorrow morning! What can I do?”
“You’re not leaving Salem with the amulet. That is unacceptable and cannot happen.”
Arcona huffed. “I don’t want your amulet. I’d love to take it off and hand it back to you; please just tell me how to do it.”
“It’s not my amulet. I’m just a caretaker.” Dame Bishop’s gaze was piercing as she spoke calmly. “You’re the only one who knows how to break the curse. I’m not the Strix--you are.”
“Whoa, wait a minute, this is nonsense. Is this a Halloween joke?” Arcona glanced around. “Is this being filmed? Are you having fun jerking a tourist around? Because I’m not enjoying it. Whatever you’ve rigged up to this amulet is causing real pain. If this is a prank, it’s getting abusive.”
Dame Bishop gently shook her head. “I’m not doing anything to exploit or harm you; I swear it. It hurts because you’re in the process of remembering your most regretful deeds. Take note that you came to me. I saw you were in need, but I let you go, and you quickly returned to the shop of your own volition.”
“I was lost.”
“Yes, you were, but a clear path has opened to you, and I heartily encourage you to use this brief opportunity on the eve of All Souls’ Day to walk the path and set your wrong deeds right.”
Arcona’s temper and deepest fears flared. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What is it exactly that you think I’ve done? I know I’m not perfect, but honestly my misdeeds in this life have been petty. I have no idea how you would know any of this, but if you’re talking about the potato I shoved in Principal Ross’s tailpipe in middle school, I apologized profusely for that. I had no idea a potato could do that kind of damage to a car, a plank fence, or a plate-glass window.”
Dame Bishop closed her eyes and clasped her hands in front of her face, almost as if she were absorbed in prayer. “I’m not talking about projectile potatoes, and I’m not referring to this life. I’m talking about the deeds of the past that have come full circle.”
A sickening and sad feeling gripped her. “I just want to leave. Please tell me how to safely get this amulet back in the box so I can go back to my hotel,” she pleaded.
“I can’t tell you how to free yourself from the amulet because I don’t know the secrets of the Strix.”
Hearing Dame Bishop pronounce her a Strix caused a wave of melancholy to wash over her. At that moment Arcona wanted to go home so badly, though her little bungalow near the beach was practically empty and there was nothing waiting for her there, not even a pet. “How do I know if any of this is true? I’m not sure I believe in reincarnation, let alone any of the rest of this wild tale.”
“Everything in the universe recycles itself. You can see it with your own eyes. A human being is a single soul with many facets that returns to life again and again to polish itself. Would you like a chance to look back at one of those facets?”
“Can you do that?” Arcona’s mood lifted. “Will it help?”
Dame Bishop motioned for Arcona to follow her into the front of the shop. “It might help to know what you’re dealing with.”
They returned to the cozy, firelit shop. Dame Bishop walked toward the front window and tugged the velvet curtain aside. A blaring red sunset glowed in the west. “It’s already nightfall.” She bent forward and retrieved a Romanesque bronze dagger from the front window display and turned with the polished blade clutched in her hand.
Arcona gazed warily at the elegant but dangerous-looking blade pointed at her. “What are you going to do with that?”
“We are going to do some scrying, my dear.” Dame Bishop closed the curtains and invited Arcona to sit at a small table.
Next week it's back to actual writing. There's another book in the Bag of Tricks series to get done!!!!
See ya next week.
Monday, July 23, 2012
French, late 17th century
1880, European. Silk.
Approx. 1775, French.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
It seems so fitting that The Strix is about a witch who goes wrong and has to redeem herself... Ummm.
Thank you Honey for the book trailer. Thank you Trent for writing inspiring music.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
The other day my work buddies, my daughter and I enjoyed a delightful lunch at our favorite Asian restaurant. As is our way, at the end of the meal, fortune cookies were opened and read from right to left around the table. Two were quite profound, one was incredibly stupid, and one made no sense at all.
I was the last person to crack open a cookie. It was EMPTY!!!
I don't consider myself to be an overly superstitious person. However, I do try to be mindful of spelling. For some reason, I just hit 'thesaurus' after spell-checking 'superstitious', and was surprised that the words irrational, gullible and illogical came up.
Irrational - my instant fear over the lack of a fortune in my cookie.
Gullible - my worrying about not getting a fortune in my cookie.
Illogical - my instant fear over the lack of a fortune in my cookie.
Have a great weekend -
Don't step on any cracks in the sidewalk,
Don't walk under ladders,
Don't let black cats cross your path,
Toss some salt over your shoulder!
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Amber and I got our new book cover for "The Strix" last week and we were jumping for joy! I love the gorgeous cover that artist Valerie Tibbs designed for us. The eyelashes on this man really get to me.
I also have a beautiful slightly spooky book trailer coming soon that I hope to have posted in the next couple of days.
Meanwhile the countdown continues. The Strix will be released next Tuesday July 17th
from Loose Id Publishing. We are really looking forward to sharing this book.
Blurb: The Strix
In other news...
"Something Wicked This Way Comes Volume 2", which includes one of my stories "Asterion" is available today in PRINT! from Ellora's Cave Publishing.
Have a wonderful week!