Especially for Writers

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Starting a New Project

While I wait for my critique partner’s edits on Ride to the Altar, I’m brain-storming other ideas, conducting research for a western romance, and reading the how-to best seller, Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need.

In case you’re wondering: no, I’m not writing a screen play. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find valuable info in this book. Countless novelists have read it and come away the wiser for it.

The first chapter offers the advice I’ve heard before: develop your log line (or one-liner or elevator pitch) before you start writing. Actually, this advice may have originated with the author Blake Snyder and has been passed along ever since his book came out in 2005.

The reason it’s been passed along is because it’s great advice. If you pitch your novel to agents and editors, you’ll need a log line, because the first thing they’ll want to know is what your book is about. And if your experience is true to the reason “elevator pitch” is an alias for “log line,” then you’ll want to whip out your answer before the door goes ding.

The same is true if you sell like I do—to the public at festivals and group book signings. Once people see the beautiful layout I have at my table, they’ll stop and browse. I have seconds to gauge their interest and pitch a book. Seconds before they bore and move on. If I can hook them with my log line, then my time with them is expanded and I can give them a more in-depth reason why they can’t go another day without discovering whether JoJo finally jumped from the plane.

But another reason the advice is great—a pre-writing reason—is that it helps you keep focused. If you determine what your book is about before you write, you’re more likely to stay on track. It doesn’t have to be written in stone, and you can change it as you go along, but it’s a terrific jumping-off point.

Here are some of the projects I’m noodling:

Southern Challenge, Contemporary Sweet/Christian Romance (comedy)—Kayla Mullins spent megabucks on a cutting horse with a heritage of prize-winners but discovers she has no clue how to train it. Can the previous owner’s son come to her rescue?

Untitled Christian Fiction (drama)—After yet another school shooting rocks the nation, one mid-sized city tries an experiment: putting God back in the classroom. Will He make a difference?

Untitled Women’s Fiction (drama)—After her grandmother dies, [Successful City Heroine] returns to the old home place by the river and tastes again life at a slower pace. Will her responsibilities draw her back to [the City], or can she find fulfillment where her heart calls home?

Untitled Western Historical Romance (comedy)—Cowboy Cal Harding stumbles upon a beautiful blonde, far from home and penniless, and gets her a job as a Harvey Girl. Now that she can live as a mature, independent woman, how can he ever convince her to marry him?

Notice I ended each short paragraph with a question, advice I’ve received from outside Save the Cat, but good advice just the same. It puts the conflict out there to hook the potential reader—and to guide me through my writing.

What about you? Do you have/use log lines? Ever pitch a book to an agent or publisher or the general public? Do tell!



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Preparing for Public Book Sales

Spring’s coming, and along with it are my public appearance opportunities—speeches, book signings, fun festivals. I have to admit, I love meeting readers, and I’m happy to go wherever I can to reach them. Later this month, I and other Texas authors have an event in Galveston that MSB and I are turning into a vacation. Who can turn down a few days at the beach?

But, back to the authors’ event, I had to make a few purchases to prepare. Like my table poster here. This was my favorite design, which I found on VistaPrint. One thing I like about VistaPrint is how easy it is to match items with your design of choice. My business card is the same as my poster:

I also have a full-sized, easel-mount poster of the same design, and matching pens, which I don’t carry anymore. They make great giveaways, but not at festivals and fairs where they’re given away to folks who could care less about your product. (Of course, they’re still useful at speeches. Maybe I ought to restock.) But, lesson learned: If you’re going to use pens as a giveaway, either buy less expensive pens, or be more selective where you give them away.

One of the things I noticed that didn’t even cross my mind while I was reordering is that both my posters and my business card specify Amazon. While all of my books are available at this mega-giant outlet, I’m aiming for a wider distribution in the future, so next time I renew my cards or reorder a poster, I’d better change that.

There are other sites that provide business cards and other marketing items, but I prefer VistaPrint. They have a wide range of items, they’re affordable, they ship on time, and they have an amazingly helpful staff. They also know how to make a sale. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up buying a whole boatload of wonderful sales tools, all bearing your logo. Just remember, if you’re traveling with these tools, you’ll want them to fit in your vehicle or plane. Put thought into your purchases.

One thing I couldn’t find at VistaPrint was a conference-sized table dressing. A quick Google search led me to 4imprint , which happened to be having a sale on them the day I was looking. 4imprint is similar to VistaPrint, but doesn’t seem to have the collection of goods that VP has. Still, they’re just as easy to work with.

The tablecloth was a bit more expensive because I added a logo to it, but it still was more economical than I found on other sites. I’m not sure I did a good job designing the logo, especially since I had more space on the cloth than I actually used, but I’m still satisfied with it:

You can see the dotted line on the cloth, indicating the size my logo could have been, but I think I like this too. It’ll work. (And the dotted line isn’t on the actual cloth.)

The logo was easy enough to design. I got the background from BigStock photos:

then went to picmonkey and chose my fonts and embellishments:

Add to this a few Spring table decorations, some fun, inexpensive giveaways, and, of course, my books, and I’m all set. As far as my table is concerned anyway. Among the must-haves for me is my Square so I can take credit card purchases, the Mile-IQ app to keep up with my deductible business mileage (if the new tax system allows), and, for festivals, my vendor’s license (required in Texas for certain events. Check your own state’s requirements).

Oh–and shopping bags. I found a great set of clear bags with handles at Staples, but Amazon has them too, 100 bags for $27.99. At one time I had totes made that carried an ad for my Circle Bar Ranch series, and they were great. They were also expensive. Not that I won’t do that again, but the simple clear sacks are great because the book covers show through. Automatic advertisement.

Planning on going public with your books? Let me know how you do things. I’m always shopping for new ideas.

Oh, and if you’re in the area later this month, come see me in Galveston!


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Especially for Writers

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Distribution: Going Wide

 I mentioned at the end of “After Revisions: What’s Next” that I might write another post about some of the things I didn’t mention in that one—like distribution. Well, here we go. I’ll let you in on my experiment.

I decided to go wide with  Skydiving to Love to see how well it does before committing Ride to the Altar to the same plan and forfeiting my Kindle Unlimited advantages (like getting paid per-page-read).

Fortunately for me, one of my favorite websites gave a blow-by-blow description of how to use Draft2Digital—including a YouTube video. Because I read Kathrese McKee’s article first, I knew what to expect on the Draft2Digital site and had everything ready before I went there. I was amazed at how very easy it was. As of now, my novella is up on Kobo, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Playster, Scribd, and Tolino—through very little effort of my own.

“Why not Kindle?” you ask.

I took Kathrese’s advice from her article:

it may be to your advantage to upload directly to Kindle Direct Publishing and to Kobo so that you don’t give up any of your royalty to Draft2Digital. But as long as you are going “wide,” you may as well use D2D to reach all the other platforms.

Except I don’t have a Kobo account, so I just let D2D distribute there too.

Few things I’ve encountered so far:

  • I had an “also by” page in which I listed my other publications and included that they’re “Available on Amazon!” Oops. Apple wouldn’t publish my novella at first until I got rid of the “competitor mention.” (Funny how no one kicked up a fuss about my character wishing for her iPad.)
  • I followed their pricing advice, which seemed high for a novella. I’ve already had one person ding me on it when I announced the release (with a link to Amazon). She wanted to know why a 77-page e-book is $3.99. Frankly, that sounded high to me too, but I wanted to see what would happen.
  • Advertising the novella with a link is awkward. D2D gave me a generic link that sends readers to one page which lists all the distribution sites so they can choose. But since I have a separate Amazon link, I want that included too. In Monday’s blog post, I listed them both and had the image linked to the D2D page also. But for a simple “ad” I put “Available everywhere digital books are sold”—as you can see in my banner. We’ll see how that works.
  • Second point about advertising is that the newsletter services, like E-Reader News Today, Free Kindle Books & Tips, Fussy Librarian, etc. prefer Amazon links because Amazon pays them (per click, I think). I’ve never used BookBub (can’t afford it yet), but it may be the same. Anyway, if I run a sale and promote it with the newsletter services, I’m only using Amazon. For the other distributors, I’d have to use other means to advertise the sale, like askDavid, individual Facebook posts and tweets, and my personal blog and newsletter.

Back to pricing: in general it’s hit-or-miss. Big pubbers release their ebooks for almost as much as the print version. Last I heard, they’re wondering why their ebook sales are down. I wouldn’t pay $15.00 for an ebook, I don’t care who the author is. However, though I made some sales at the current price, this one probably should be less, and I will lower the price soon (keep an eye out!). But I tell ya, pricing is tricky. I just have to keep playing with it to see what the market will allow.

Next thing I’m looking into is IngramSpark for my print versions. I don’t know what Amazon’s doing with CreateSpace, but I’m using them too. The point of using both is that Amazon is a competitor to everyone in the book retailing business, so retailers and librarians are leery of purchasing from an Amazon link. And if you allow CreateSpace to provide your ISBN, it’s even worse. The first three digits in the ISBN are a code, and a CS number is recognizeable by those in the business. So, I buy my own numbers from Bowker and use them in both CreateSpace and IngramSpark. I also have a publisher identification: Canopy Books of Texas.

But Amazon is more author-friendly in a lot of ways. Buying author copies is less expensive through Amazon than IngramSpark, and CreateSpace is considerably more user-friendly than Ingram. Sometimes I get so frustrated with Ingram I have to quit working with it a while. I don’t release books often enough to feel comfortable with either site, but sometimes Ingram can be a booger-bear.

Oftentimes, I feel like I’m muddling things up as I play with my career. As long as it doesn’t go up in smoke, maybe I’m doing okay. Is there a way to fine-tune all this publication mess? I doubt it. Everything seems to change from one release to the next—primarily because there are so many options and so many things to consider. I guess we just have to figure things out as we go along. The point is to get the book out there, and I’ve done that.



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New Christian Titles for March!

Excited to announce my own novella, released for March, Skydiving to Love available today on Amazon and everywhere digital books are sold. Hope to have the print version available everywhere soon, so if that’s your preference, be patient. It’s coming!

JoJo Merritt is a country veterinarian who has never jumped out of anything higher than a hayloft, much less an airplane. But thanks to her friends’ dare, now she must.

What she discovers during her flight to the skydiving school in San Antonio is guaranteed to make her short vacation miserable: She is terrified of flying! How is she going to leap from a plane if she can’t stand being in one?

Mitch O’Hara, her seat mate, keeps her distracted during the flight to San Antonio, but from there, she’s on her own.

Or is she?

If Mitch felt protective of the wide-eyed, white knuckled beauty during the flight, imagine how he’ll feel the next day, when he finds her at the skydiving school, fumbling with the zipper of her jumpsuit.

By now, JoJo is certain of two things: she doesn’t want to fall from a plane, and she doesn’t want to fall for Mitch.

She’ll be in San Antonio for only five days. Can Mitch convince her to take a leap?

New for March 2018:

March 2018 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

Finally a Bride by Renee Andrews — Her dreams of love haven’t worked out, but veterinarian Haley Calhoun intends to grant an orphaned boy’s wish. She’ll heal Eli’s injured puppy—while resisting his charming counselor, Gavin Thomason, at the children’s home. Still mourning the loss of his wife and baby, Gavin believes he can’t commit again. But in losing their hearts to Eli, will Haley and Gavin discover they’ve found the family they need? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Love and Roses by Sally Bayless — Looking for a fresh start, former Manhattan lawyer Nate Redmond agrees to arrange the sale of the outdated Rose Park in small-town Missouri, not realizing it has deep sentimental value to his new neighbor, Abby Kincaid—a beautiful widow he’d like to impress. When their plans for the park clash, he learns he’s competing against the memory of her husband, a decorated war hero. With plenty of past mistakes hiding in the in the hedges, can Abby and Nate learn forgiveness and courage in time for love to grow? (Contemporary Romance from Kimberlin Belle Publishing)

Courting Her Amish Heart by Mary Davis — In this first book of the Prodigal Daughters series, Kathleen Yoder comes home after fourteen years in the Englisher world. Practicing medicine means sacrifice—no Amish man will want a doctor for a wife. Widowed Noah Lambright offers a cottage as her new clinic, seeing how much Kathleen’s skills can help their community. But as their friendship deepens, could love and family become more than a forbidden dream? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Amish Nanny’s Sweetheart by Jan Drexler — As nanny for her nephew, Judith Lapp is finally part of a vibrant, joyful Amish community instead of living on the outskirts looking in. But teaching her neighbors’ Englischer farm worker to read Pennsylvania Dutch wasn’t part of her plan. And the more time she spends with Guy Hoover, the more he sparks longings for a home and family of Judith’s own. Guy figured he would never be truly accepted by his Amish employers’ community – even though the Mast family treats him like a son. But Judith’s steadfast caring shows him that true belonging could be within his reach…if he and Judith can reconcile their very different hopes – and hearts. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Reluctant Groom by Kimberly Rose Johnson — When Ray O’Brien’s world is turned upside down, Katie Fairchild wants to help, but the personal cost is high. Neither desires a marriage of convenience, but when Katie blurts the first thing that comes to her mind Ray can’t dismiss her offer of marriage. It would solve all his problems except for one thing—they aren’t in love. Can these two friends team up for the greater good and perhaps find love along the way, or are their expectations impossible? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Anna’s Forgotten Fiance by Carrie Lighte — An accident leaves Anna Weaver with no memory of her Amish hometown’s newest arrival—her fiancé! After a whirlwind courtship, their wedding’s in six weeks…but how can she marry a man she can’t remember? Carpenter Fletcher Chupp takes her on a walk down memory lane, but there’s one thing he wants to keep hidden: a secret that might just lose him the woman he loves. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Grace Restored by Toni Shiloh — Michelle Thomas has it all. Beautiful and successful, she’s just opened her own law firm in Freedom Lake. What more could she want? When her old flame rolls back into Freedom Lake, she’s intent on ignoring him. But how can she give the widower and his precious twin girls the cold shoulder?
Still reeling from the death of his wife, Guy Pierre returns to Freedom Lake to take over as town sheriff and raise his twin daughters. Alone. Yet, life keeps throwing Michelle in his path and sparks of interest began to rise. Will old secrets tear them apart again or can they find the faith to let God’s grace restore what has been broken? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

General & Women’s Fiction:

Justice by Emily Conrad — Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she’s pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake’s coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both. (General from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel — When her heart donor’s parents give Megan Jacobs their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. (General from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Sweet Meets by Deborah Raney — From short stories to novellas, from contemporary to historical, all of award-winning author Deborah Raney’s short works have been gathered into one great collection for one low price.
Includes the following novellas and short stories: Going Once, Special Delivery, Haiti’s Song, Prairie Lessons, Finally Home, Circle of Blessings. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Historical Romance:

Seven Brides for Seven Texas Ranchers Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, Lorna Seilstad, Erica Vetsch, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Join seven Texas Rangers on the hunt for a menacing gang, who run straight into romances with women who foil their plans for both the job and their futures. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears — In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain serves on the schoolboard, determined to protect Teaville’s children from the bullying she experienced as a child. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she’s dead set against him getting the job. Aaron has returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He sets out to prove to Mercy he now has the best interests of the children at heart. Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they’re working for? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Jennifer Lamont Leo — In Jazz Age Chicago, Dot Rodgers sells hats at Marshall Field while struggling to get her singing career off the ground. Independent and feisty, she’s the life of the party. But underneath the glitter, she doesn’t believe she’s worth the love of a good man. Small-town businessman Charlie Corrigan carries scars from the Great War. After all he’s been through, he wants nothing more than to marry and start a family. But the woman he loves is a flamboyant flapper, used to a more glamorous life than he can offer. As his fortunes climb with the stock market, it seems he’s finally going to win her love. But what happens when it all comes crashing down? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason — A young man suddenly thrust into nobility is torn between the servant girl he hopes to marry and the father he’s always longed for. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Safe Refuge by Pamela S. Meyers — Wealthy Chicagoan, Anna Hartwell, is about to wed a man she loathes. The Great Chicago Fire erupts, postponing the wedding. After escaping to Wisconsin with her family she realizes she loves Irish immigrant, Rory Quinn, and prepares to break the wedding plans, which are still on. Then she learns a dark family secret that changes her life forever. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Husband by Arrangement by Angel Moore — Abandoned by her secret fiancé, the mayor’s pregnant daughter marries the sheriff. Can she overcome her past and help him save the town from corruption? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Beneath A Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer — Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence, but when she is cast from the social registers due to her father’s illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs of the “little city gal” in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the grooms-to-be. How can he teach her that perfection won’t bring happiness? (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Romantic Suspense:

Beneath the Surface by Lynn H. Blackburn — After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston moves home to Carrington, North Carolina to leave behind her troubled past. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. Leigh reaches out for help from her high school friend and volunteer underwater investigator, Ryan Parker. But when Ryan finds the body of a wealthy businessman in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer—one with a terrifying connection to Leigh and deadly implications for them all. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

Secret Service Setup by Jessica R. Patch — Secret Service agent Evan Novak becomes the target of multiple hit men when someone puts a two-million-dollar bounty on his head. Is it the gunrunner he’s tracking…or a traitorous agent? Framed and wanted, Evan reluctantly accepts protection from bodyguard Jody Gallagher, his former love who lost her Agency career because of him. But then the bounty is raised to include Jody… (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Fugitive Spy by Jordyn Redwood — A spy with amnesia—and a mission he can’t remember. When Casper English lands in her ER with amnesia, Dr. Ashley Drager learns he has a picture of her…and the same tattoo as her long-missing father. With a dangerous man after Casper, and his memories possibly holding the key to finding Ashley’s father, she secretly whisks him away from the hospital. But can she keep him alive long enough to help him regain his memories? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

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Especially for Writers

Posted in Authors, write tips, Writing, Writing Tips | 4 Comments

Skydiving to Love: Novella Release

Like my new cover? It’s another one of Lynnette Bonner’s masterpieces. She has done the covers for all my books released under the Canopy Books of Texas imprint. She even did the cover of The Bucket List Dare collection in which Skydiving to Love was originally published.

If you didn’t get to read the collection, you will still be able to read the individual stories, though mine is the first to be released. But, of course, I’m most excited about mine. I got a kick out of writing this novella, it was one of my easy-to-write stories, so when the girls decided to unpublish the collection, I jumped at the chance to release it as a stand-alone. It’ll be available next month.

If you didn’t get to read the opening scene when I first published it, here it is again~~~~~

Breathe. Just breathe.

JoJo Merritt squeezed her eyelids tighter and clamped her hands onto the armrests. I can’t.

Inhale. There ya go. Good. Now exhale. Repeat.

What on earth had made her tell the girls that skydiving held top spot on her bucket list? As a veterinarian who owned a large animal practice, she was living her bucket list. Every calf she helped birth, every colicky horse she healed, fulfilled her dreams. But no—that wasn’t good enough for her old college quartet. She had to do something totally off the charts. What on God’s green earth had made her say skydiving?

The passenger jet’s engines revved. Her breath jerked from her lungs. All around her, bored businesspeople and cool-as-a-Popsicle travelers settled in with magazines and headphones. But for her, even this simple, normal flight had been a disaster so far.

“You going to be okay?”

The deep voice next to her pierced her panic. She lifted one lid for a peek at its source in the aisle seat. Any other time—like when her stomach wasn’t threatening to toss up everything she’d eaten in the past year—she would’ve found the man with the compassionate blue eyes attractive.

She slammed her lid shut. “I’m f-fine. Or I will be. Maybe. When we get where we’re going and land and I’m still in one piece, I’ll be fine. I-I think.”

Great. She wasn’t just stammering, she was throwing out more words than she’d spoken all week.

She peeked at him again. Great looking guy, square jaw, wavy dark hair. Too bad. If she didn’t turn him off by tossing her breakfast, she’d do it by jabbering like an idiot.

His gentle laugh caressed her like a velvet glove. “You’ll be fine. I know the pilot. Never lost a passenger.”

Yet. He forgot the yet. Always a first time.

The plane began moving, taxiing this way, then that. She had no clue where because all she could see were the backs of her eyelids. Soon the engines pitched to a high whine and the plane moved faster and faster and she couldn’t breathe and her heart lodged in her throat and threatened to choke her to death which didn’t matter because she couldn’t breathe.

The engines whined, her brain screamed—

Then the plane lifted, leaving her stomach back on the runway. No big loss. She was going to throw it up anyway.

They climbed and banked to the right. The engines fell quiet, and the muffled sounds of the other passengers reached through her fear. Her shoulders relaxed, her heartbeat returned to normal. Finally, she dared to open her eyes and look out the window. Puffy clouds drifted by, giving her only the occasional glimpse of the small towns and fields below. Before long, the ranchland scenery would shift to a cityscape as they flew over Austin and, soon after, over San Antonio. And then the pilot would land. God bless him.

“Feeling better?”

Mr. Dark-and-Handsome had traded the compassion in his eyes for humor. Kind humor, but humor just the same . . . okay, no. He was laughing at her. Who wouldn’t?

She flexed her cramping fingers and offered him a lame smile. “Yeah, I’m better. This is my first flight.”

“It’s not so bad once you get used to it.” He poked his hand out. “Mitch O’Hara.”

She shook with him. “JoJo Merritt.”

“Where you from, JoJo?”

Small talk. They would now drift into small talk, something she’d blissfully avoided in her day-to-day life. She said she was from Hereford; he said he was originally from nearby Amarillo. She told him she was a large animal vet; he worked as a seismic engineer in San Antonio, where they were headed. She stifled a yawn.

Had she remembered her iPad, she could’ve tuned him out with a great audio book while watching the clouds below. But in her rush to get this week over with, she’d forgotten it.

At least he was nice to look at, animated as he described whatever project he spoke of. Intelligent eyes. Amarillo was near enough to Hereford, they could visit when he came home, yet far enough away not to stumble over each other. But it didn’t matter. She wasn’t looking for male companionship, just to finish her mission so she could head back to more earthbound things like cattle, horses, and goats.

“I’ve bored you enough with my business talk,” Mitch said. “What about you? What are your plans while you’re in San Antonio?”

His friendly chatter had kept her nerves calm during the bulk of the flight, but now, as they jetted over more densely populated areas, he decided to include her in the conversation.

She sighed inwardly. Being rude was not an option.

“I’ve always wanted to see the River Walk,” which was why she chose the jumping school there instead of the one in Dallas. “Maybe take in El Mercado.”

“Sounds relaxing.”

Right. That part did sound relaxing. Jumping from somewhere in the sky, putting her trust in a parachute someone else packed—that didn’t sound relaxing.

“Maybe I’ll run into you,” he said. “I know a great restaurant—Mi Tierra. Ever hear of it?”

She shook her head.

“You’d love it. They have the best pork dish I’ve ever had. Like pork?”

The fasten-seat-belt sign dinged and her stomach clutched.

“They have traditional stuff too. Enchiladas, tacos, nachos . . .”

She felt queasy, was probably turning guacamole green.

“Great chicken dishes too.”

The wings tilted to the left. The plane slowed noticeably. Taking off had been horrid. Being up hadn’t been so bad—none of the plane-shuddering turbulence she’d heard of. But what would landing be like?

“You do like Mexican food, don’t you? I’m sure they have an American menu—”

“Please!” She shot her hand up and scrunched her eyes shut. “Just stop talking, okay? Please?”

“Oops. Sorry.” Humor laced his voice again. Fine. Let him laugh.

The plane had tilted deeper to the left and slowed further.

She slipped her hands under her thighs to keep them from shaking and dared a glance out the window at the city below.

The city.

Highways. Neighborhoods. Schools. Businesses.

No runways. No place to land.

And the plane kept getting slower.

Was the pilot out of his mind? There was no place to land!

She hunched her shoulders forward. If she could close in on herself, turn herself into a tiny ball, maybe the impact wouldn’t hurt so bad.

Well, that was stupid, wasn’t it? The impact would kill her! They were all going to die!

Mitch chuckled and said something along the lines of everything being all right. At least that was what it sounded like. Hard to tell over the blood rushing in her ears and the relentless we’re-gonna-die soundtrack.

The plane slowed more.

Her hands fisted.

The plane leveled and dropped lower.

Her stomach leapt to her throat.

Where were they going to land? There’d been no airport, no runway in sight. Maybe if she opened her eyes, she’d see one.

No. No, this was fine. If they were going to crash, she’d just as soon not see the ground rushing up to greet her.

Dear Father in Heaven, open the gates, I’m coming home!

The plane bounced slightly, the wheels screeched. The engine’s whine dropped from a high-pitched squeal to a lower, though not soothing, tone. The passenger jet slowed more and more, until it felt like the speed of a Sunday drive. People rustled around her, anxious to get their gear from the overhead compartments and move on with their day’s activities.

She just wanted the plane to stop so she could unclench her fists and catch her first glimpse of San Antonio. From the ground.

Mitch nudged her. “We’re at the terminal.”

With her stomach lodged in her throat, she could do nothing more to acknowledge him than nod crazily like a bobble-head.

“You can open your eyes now.”

“Oh, okay.” She’d had them squinched so tightly, the right lid began to twitch.

He stood over her in the aisle with his carry-on bag strapped over his shoulder. “Want me to get your bag?”

“If you wouldn’t mind.” Maybe that would give her a moment to flex her cramping fingers.

The door opened, the flight attendant spoke unintelligible words through a scratchy intercom, and restless travelers began to file out.

Mitch held up the line to let her in. “What did I tell you? We landed just fine. Flying’s not so bad.”

Matter of opinion.

She managed a feeble smile as she squeezed in front of him and followed everyone out and into the airport. Her nerves felt tight enough to tune, and her stomach threatened again.

How would she survive skydiving if she could barely survive a simple one-hour flight?


I’ll announce the release here, so stay tuned!

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Especially for Writers

Posted in Authors, write tips, Writing, Writing Tips | 2 Comments

After Revisions: What’s Next

 I finally—finally!—finished the revisions for Ride to the Altar.  This is the first time I’ve ever had to revise so extensively after writing “the end.” But I’m glad I did. I really love the results.

But even now, I’m not finished. From here, it goes to my critique partner. And if history proves itself as repetitive as everyone claims, I’ll have a few more revisions/corrections to make once she is done. And, after that, it’ll go to my copy editor, and I’ll have even more corrections to make.

Meanwhile, though, I can’t touch it, but I also can’t sit on my hands. While Katie works her magic with the content edit, I need to be working on other things.

Jane Friedman, one of the gurus for the indie-publishing industry, has a terrific checklist of things that need to be done before a book can be released. I found my copy of it the other day, which is a true blessing. Since I printed the list, I’ve helped release a couple of collections without it because I kept forgetting about it. So finding it now was perfect timing, because it’ll make things so much easier.

At this point, following Jane’s list (or my version of it—of course I amended some things), I need to write the book description for distribution sites and the back cover copy. I also want a few quick one-liners that I can whip out of my memory and spout out to potential customers at sales events.

You’d think these would be easy, but they’re not always. They have to be concise and enticing, while conveying enough of the story to pique the interest of a potential reader. I approach this the same way I do all my writing: get it down, let it rest, read and revise it—repeat until it sparkles.

This is also when I need to review and update my bio, and write my dedication and acknowledgments and any other extraneous matter I want to include. One of the things I’m learning to include in my publications is my “also-by” list. All these books, also by—Me! I include cover images and brief story descriptions, along with the links for each book. For the print version, I simply list where the books are available (someday, I hope to say, “Available everywhere books are sold,” but I’m not at that point yet. Sigh).

I’ve learned my lesson about previewing or advertising upcoming books, though it took me two tries before it finally sunk in. In 2016, I announced the release of Ride to the Altar in 2017, not realizing what a booger-bear it was going to be to write. In 2017, I released the prequel to my Southern Challenge series in our Coming Home collection and got blasted because the first in that series doesn’t release until 2019. Announcing the year may have been a mistake also because I sincerely doubt I’ll have it done by then. So, from now on, unless the novel is already in production, or at least content edit, I’ll never advertise a future book that way again.

Back to Jane’s list.

This is the time to think about the cover design. My cover designer has a form she sends to me to guide me through what she needs, and she likes for me to have images for her to work from. While I search for these images, I also look for other pics that I can use for:

  • memes and ads for cyberspace (another place to use those quick one-liners)
  • a Pinterest board
  • banners for Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites, my website, blog, and newsletter
  • full- and table-sized posters for events
  • mail-out ads

Jane recommends that we finalize the cover after the edit, but she also lists only a copy edit (her list may be geared toward nonfiction writers, but I’m not sure). Since I have content and copy edits, I can’t finalize anything yet. The cover designer needs a page count so she’ll know how wide to make the spine for the print version, and I won’t know that. So, after Katie finishes her edit and I revise according to her recommendations, I’ll send the manuscript off to my copy editor and continue with my image hunt.

While my copy editor has the manuscript, there’s something else I need to consider that isn’t on Jane’s list: pre-release promotion. By the time Janet takes over, I hope to have a solid date when my novel will release, so I need to solicit opportunities to promote it. Friends’ blogs, for instance. Magazine articles. And I need to organize my street team and marketing pals. I even need a few pre-release teases to start cranking up interest.

And, since the bulk of the hard edits are done, I can send out some not-quite-error-free ARCs for readers, so when the novel goes live, I can have a few reviews. Advance reader copies come in handy, because some of my advanced readers are beta readers, and they catch things the others don’t. But aside from the betas, another reason to use ARCs is to gain endorsements and a few praise-laden comments from other authors in my genre that, with their permission, I could also turn into ads.

This doesn’t cover everything that will happen between now and the time the novel releases, but it’s enough to make me feel overwhelmed right now, so I think I’ll quit listing them. Later, I may fill you in on other things on the to-do list: purchasing the ISBN, applying for the copyright and listing with the Library of Congress, formatting the print and digital versions, deciding between Kindle exclusivity vs. broad distribution, determining pre- and post-release pricing, etc. etc. etc.

Let the fun begin.


Posted in Promotion/Publicity/Marketing, The Business | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments