Saturday, December 31, 2011

Catching UP!

Books that went to press or back to press this week:

FIRST WALTZ by Terry L. White

THE WRITE HONOR: Harmony Village Series, Vol. 5, by Anna Dynowski


A HOUSE TO KILL FOR by Judy Reveal

Galleys that went out this week:

THE MISTAKE, by Bruce Castle

SNOW ESCAPE, by Roberta Goodman

Work began or continued on the following:

None. Work continues on the year-end bookkeeping.

Once that is done we will begin payroll, so new work will not likely begin until Mid-January.

Meanwhile, back a Fictionwise:

Best Sellers
Based on data gathered within the last 20 days. Icon explanations
1. Long [66544 words]Blue Diamonds by Spencer Dane [Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime]
2. Long [56102 words]Portals by Eleanor Cross [Suspense/Thriller/Mainstream]
3. Mid-Length [26133 words]A Maine Christmas Carol by Phillip F. Harris [Young Adult/Family/Relationships]
4. Long [143563 words]Serious Nuts: The Inevitable Rise of Miss Grainger by Geoff Geauterre [Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime]
5. Long [80027 words]Two Faces Two Faced by Kathryn Flatt [Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime]
6. Long [59473 words]Almost Mine by Diane Marquette [Mainstream]
7. Very Long [157477 words]Emma by Jane Austen [Classic Literature/Romance]
8. Long [97833 words]Lust for Danger by K.S. Brooks [Suspense/Thriller]
9. Short [21453 words]Lightfoot the Deer by Thornton W. Burgess [Children's Fiction/Classic Literature]
10. Short [4832 words]Take Your Daughter to Work Day by Marie Prato [Children's Nonfiction/Family/Relationships]

Highest Reader-Rated
Based on highest average ratings by at least 5 readers. Icon explanations
1. Long [66889 words]A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett [Classic Literature/Children's Fiction]
2. Long [121796 words]Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Classic Literature]
3. Long [61049 words]Minder's Oath [High Places Series: Book 2] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
4. Long [98906 words]Ghost Dancer by Arline Chase [Historical Fiction]
5. Long [113180 words]Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini [Suspense/Thriller/Classic Literature]
6. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
7. Long [75310 words]The Secret Adversary [Tommy and Tuppence Book 1] by Agatha Christie [Classic Literature]
8. Long [68911 words]Dark Elf: [Book 2 of the Red Knight Chronicles] by Ray Morand [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
9. Long [70408 words]Slow Dancing with the Angel of Death [Hollis Ball and Sam Westcott Series Book 1] by Helen Chappel [Mystery/Crime/Humor]
10. Long [76981 words]Tortured Souls [Arbiter Series Book 2] by Matthew L. Schoonover [Horror]

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Return -- writing tip

Question from the e-mail: I got my book back from your company -- thanks for the feedback. Would you consider other titles I might submit? Also, I'm not quite sure what the readers meant by remarks about the "synopsis taking too much time" and "needing work." I thought the synopsis didn't count. Any ideas...?

Answer: We will look at a query from anyone about any book, but only consider solicited samples for publication. We would certainly welcome inquiries from you.

The "needs work" comment usually means there were grammar or usage problems -- missing caps, mixed homonyms, missing quotation marks, words that spell check won't find, but that are not the correct spelling for the use -- "a mountain pique, a pear of scissors," etc. The time comment on the synopsis may have to do with the many years involved in the timeline of your story. Most novels cover a year or less. Some cover a week. A story that covers a long time-period needs truly compelling characters, and enough suspense and tension to carry the story arc over the length of time.

I think that's what reader number one was saying. I chose her because she (a former student) had a similar problem with a story that covered 11 years -- from the beginning of the civil war, through reconstruction, then the characters moved on to another location and rebuilt built a different life. Her book was too long as well, about 250,000 words. She made it a series of three.

I may have said the writing in the synopsis doesn't count, but the story always counts. First the committee reads the synopsis to see what the story is about and how interesting it is, whether the characters are ones the reader will care about and whether the ending is satisfactory. THEN they read the three chapters to see whether the writing is up to snuff and whether it follows the synopsis enough that the book is telling the story as it was given.... They look at the sample in a business-like way. Writing is art, but publishing is a business.

Synopsis writing is All Telling. It doesn't have to be good, only accurate as to story: Cinderella wants to go to the ball, but has nothing to wear. Etc.

Writing a novel is a work of art, but the good ones can surface from the above filtering process. Every publisher's goal is to find and publish as many good ones as we can. As a writing teacher with 25 years of experience, I know there is a LOT of good work out there that deserves recognition, but goes largely ignored. It seems cruel to say the manuscript must be ready to go and not need editing, but the more editing we do, the more time it takes, the fewer books we can publish. We are a small publisher. Yet our goal is to publish four books per month. We do not have best-sellers to provide the cushion of heavy profits. Our only hope of solvency is in our numbers...

It is grossly unfair to judge a work of art on these standards, we know. A novel takes years to write and a great deal of devotion to complete. That's why writing is my passion, but publishing is a pleasant way to pass the time. To look at any book as a mere "product" may seem insulting and unfeeling and for that we apologize.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Trends in the E-book Business

The following guest commentary was provided by Lori James at

We have participated in their site for several years and find them to be an excellent sales site. They also were the first site to set a standard royalty at 70-% of list price. Of particular interest is what they had to say about lack of sales for Digital Rights Management or DRM files.

TRENDS, by Lori James

At the end of every year, ARe completes a trend analysis based on our prior year’s sales experience. 2011 was a very successful year for eBooks in general and for,, and specifically. Although all websites realized an increase in traffic (we’re now receiving 5.8 million hits/month), we’re proud to announce that our flagship store, All Romance, has an Alexa rank in the U.S. of 6,330. On December 20, 2012, our 6,330 score outranked many of our competitors including (197,457), (39,397), (12,329), (27,973), (408,620), (15,032), (44,830), (24,415), and (15,964).

Some general highlights

# Total publishers in 2010 = Approx 4700

# Total publishers in 2011 = Approx 7600

# Romance titles in inventory 2010 = over 52,000

# Romance titles in inventory 2011 = over 65,000

# Total titles in inventory 2010 = over 315,000

# Total titles in inventory 2011 = over 395,000

# of staff in 2010 = 12

# of staff in 2011 = 15

Growth in customer base 2009 to 2010 = 215%

Growth in customer base 2010 to 2011 = 102%

Some buyer highlights

We’re continuing to experience triple digit growth in the U.S. and the bulk of our sales are to U.S. customers. We are currently selling in 202 countries.

Top ten markets: United States, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, India, New Zealand Philippines, Malaysia, and the Netherlands.

Top ten U.S. markets: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania

Female = 89%

Male = 11%

Some bookish highlights

Heat Rating = over 97% of sales are on books rated 3 or higher, of significance is that the 5 and 4 flame sales have see a combined drop of 4% over last year with most of the difference shifting to the 3 flame rating.

Sales Revenue DRM v Non DRM = 97% was for Non DRM titles for 2011

96% was for Non DRM tittles for Nov & Dec

File formats = PDF and ePub account for 85% of files downloaded. Next is PRC/Mobi at 14%, other file formats combined equal less than 1.

NOTE: We believe PDF, ePub, and PRC/Mobi are the “must have” formats.

NOTE: If you want titles to be readable on the Kindle via our Wireless Transfer program – we recommend you create PRC’s or Mobi’s. PDF’s do not lend themselves to reflow on that device.

NOTE: If you are not already in the ePub market, you NEED to get into it as soon as possible. The ePub has been accepted as the industry standard and we are seeing both publisher and device manufacturers embracing it as the standard. Some to the exclusion of PDF. The market share for PDF, which has long dominated the digital market, is shifting. Now is the time to start creating quality ePub files if you are not already doing so.

We have negotiated a special rate with, a file conversion service, for our publishing partners. You can contact them via their website for details. We receive no benefit, financial or otherwise, from your use of this service.

Romance remains, by far, our biggest seller. Although still popular, the overall market shares for gay fiction, multiple partners, BDSM, and interracial were all down 33 - 67% from 2010. The overall market share for erotica increased another 22% in 2011 and sales increased significantly for all of speculative fiction sub-genres. In rank order we saw growth in sales of Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Vampire/Werewolves/Shapeshifter books. In addition…the Contemporary seems to be making a comeback with a 17% increase following last years 55% decline.

In terms of which romance sub-genres owned the biggest piece of the pie in 2011, the top 10 are = Erotica, Vampires/Werewolves/Shapeshifters, Gay Fiction, Paranormal, Contemporary, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Multiple Partners, Interracial, Historical, Time-travel, Drama, and BDSM.

The most popular non-romance categories include General Fiction, Family and Relationships, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Thriller, Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Historical, and Non-Fiction.

NOTE: We realize that many books cross multiple sub-genres. We base our statistics on the category the reader selected prior to the purchase point. If it’s a M/M, Contemporary, Paranormal and they clicked on Contemporary prior to the purchase, then the sale goes to Contemporary.

A special note about DRM, the impact of agency, and piracy.

While ARe supports both the DRM and non-DRM business models, we advocate that publishers refrain from using DRM and provide open access – it’s what our customers overwhelmingly want. We appreciate and understand the concerns expressed about potential revenue loss due to piracy. We believe the best deterrent is to provide customers with easy access to appropriately priced content.

Tens of thousands of DRM titles were removed by what has commonly been referred to as “Agency” publishers in April of 2010. Data from Q1 of 2010 seemed to indicate DRM might have ended up being approximately 12% or more of sales in 2010, as opposed to the 4% that resulted. Although we certainly realized some lost sales due to the decrease in that inventory, data supports the fact that many readers simply found alternate content to interest them and accordingly shifted those purchasing dollars to non-Agency publishers.

The market share of DRM titles decreased further in 2011 to 3%. We attribute this to two factors: the decrease in overall market share of DRM inventory due to the loss of Agency publishers, AND buyer preferences shifting to Non-DRM publishers and Indie Publishers.

Agency Publishers returned to the site in early November. The DRM/Non-DRM market share split did improve during the subsequent two-month period of time (from 3% to 4%). We anticipate a 4-6% share in 2012, a far cry from what we believe we possibly would have seen without Agency interruption.

A special note about the timing of releases on ARe sites.

We know that several publishers purposefully delay releasing titles for distribution in an effort to increase the market share of titles being purchased directly from their own website where profits are higher. Readers who prefer to shop at All Romance find this very frustrating. If they discover a new release, come to All Romance to purchase it, and it’s not here…. What happens?

It’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves, and one included in our recent Romance Reader Survey. We currently have over 5,500 responses and have uncovered some interesting information.

Less than 17% of the respondents report they are purchasing the majority of books from a publisher's website. 83% report they are purchasing from a retailer of some sort (major or indie). If those customers are unable to find a book on retail site “A”, a few report they will check the publishers website, gaining the publisher potentially another 17%.

What happens to the other 83%?

They either ask retailer “A” for the title, which retailer “A” can't get, or they move on to retailer “B”, where they won't find it either, or they purchase something else, or they wait and make a note to check back.

So the question becomes… Is keeping that additional 17% worth losing the other?

If we look at the long-tail sales records for most books, they sell the most in the first 1-3 months when the authors and publisher are most heavily promoting it.

If we use a figure of 1000 books at $5 each - then the potential publisher gain at 100% of the revenue is an additional $850. But the potential loss of 60% of the 83% is $2490.

Do publishers who hold back on distribution come out ahead? We don’t think so. We would like to encourage publishers who have been delaying distribution to test pilot a simultaneous release strategy for Q1 of 2012 on ARe.

A special note about our Affiliate Program.

We have completed Beta Testing on our Affiliate Program, which we’d hoped to roll out right after the first of the year. We’ve identified some opportunities for improvement, particularly in the sign-up process, and therefore will be delaying the implementation. We want to thank everyone who has been participating in the program. As soon as the automated sign-up process changes are in place, tested, and approved, we will be able to offer Affiliate Contracts to any interested reader, publisher, authors…well, anyone. Affiliates will have an opportunity to earn a percentage of the total charge for any purchases made during a browsing session that was initiated using their Affiliate code. There will be a two-tiered payment system, one for General Affiliates and another for Exclusive Affiliates. Exclusive Affiliates are affiliates who have decided to make ARe their exclusive vendor of choice for digital books. Look for further details!

We will soon be presenting more results from the Romance Reader Survey along with some additional data based on sales experience at Digital Book World in New York. The presentation. Ladies First: Lessons from the Romance eBook Model. Hope to see some of you there!

Lori James


All Romance eBooks, LLC

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

hyphenation question - writing tip

Question: I have been taking a class this fall and just got my final paper back. I turned a story in to a teacher who insists I have left out many hyphens. What's wrong with describing a good looking man? Isn't she just being picky?

Answer: Yes, she's being picky, but she's also right. Hyphenate phrases that combine modifiers. Descriptive phrases like “good-looking” take a hyphen. The best rule of thumb is that if both words won’t act as modifiers alone, they should be hyphenated. For instance you could have a good man, but you couldn’t have a “looking man” because that wouldn’t make sense. You need a hyphen to hook the words together so they will both apply to “man.”

We are writers. Words are our tools. When we are not picky about them, we can end up like my uncle who once used a hatchet to drive a nail and ended in the ER with half an ear. Well maybe not quite THAT bad, but funny-looking all the same.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Turkey Croquettes - recipe

Figured most anyone could use this one today.

Twice-Baked Turkey Croquettes Recipe
2 cups chopped, cooked turkey
1 cup leftover stuffing
1 small onion chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2 TBSP finely chopped parsley
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
1/3 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 TBSP butter or margarine, melted

This works equally well with crushed Ritz crackers instead of Bread Crumbs.

Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. In medium bowl combine turkey, stuffing, onion, eggs, parsley, thyme and pepper. Shape mixture into 8 patties. Place bread crumbs on a plate. Coat patties on both sides with the crumbs. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake 20 minutes, turning over about halfway through cooking time.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Catching UP!

The best of Holidays to all of you. This will be our last post until after Christmas.

Books that went to press or went to press again this week:


Galleys that went out, or went out again this week:

FIRST WALTZ by Terry L. White

SNOW ESCAPE by Roberta Goodman

THE WRITE HONOR, by Anna Dynowski

For those waiting to hear from the Book committee, they are celebrating and will not be getting any files from the beginning of last week, until after the holiday. So please be patient if you haven't heard anything. None of you have been forgotten and you will all get answers as soon as I can.

Hope you are all ready. Roger is out delivering gifts. I am making ugly cookies this afternoon -- my sons' favorites. Everything else is done.

I will not be doing any work next week except to get the rest of the bookeeping finished. Just need some time off....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gifts -- Poem

Today is the Winter Solstice and also happens to be our Wedding Anniversary -- optimists to marry on the longest night of the year, right?

Many thanks to my "generous guy" for 55 years of happiness, and to all of you for enriching our lives with the gift of your friendship.


So many blessed gifts piled high,
shiny, bright, all aglitter,
They crown my life with blessings.
Let me count them...

A generous man with a kind heart,
Sweet kisses, and hot coffee every morning
Strong sons, and daughters bring
laughter, rich conversation, and warm pumpkin cake.

Nieces, nephews, cousins, family,
friends—near and far—all bless us
with applesauce cake, Christmas dresses,
bluegrass music, and visits in haunted dreams.

Precious words kindle enjoyment
Written in light, on screen or paper
Sweet as rich dark chocolate are words—
both my own and those of others.

Roast chicken, whole ham sausage, better health,
Smoked venison, key lime pie, sweet potatoes
served with laughter, courage,
and hopeful felines underfoot in the kitchen.

Each and every day is a gift, shiny, bright,
drifting down like snowflakes.
Some bring sorrow, loss of loved ones, pain,
yet each fulfills us, as it paints the world anew.

Thoughts upon the Winter Solstice, 2011
— Arline Chase

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pecan Sandies, Cookie Recipe

Pecan Sandies, Christmas Cookie recipe

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 tbsp vanilla
1.2 tsp maple flavoring
1 tsp. salt

1 cup pecan pieces

This is your basic one, two, three cookie recipe with variations.

Melt butter in Microwave until it is soft.

Add flavorings and nuts.

Cream in sugar.

Cut in flour, until dough becomes soft, then mix (like biscuit dough) with your hands until it leaves the sides of the bowl.

With your hands, roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place with plenty of space in between on a greased cookie sheet. (I use the quick release aluminum foil to cover the sheets and make things easier to clean up -- an important step if children or grand-children are "helping."

Flatten each dough ball to 1/2 inch thickness, with the bottom of a glass. I use a neat glass with a cut-glass flower on the bottom that once belonged to my granny. We made these together when I was a child and called them "Flower Cookies." It makes a little flower pattern on each cookie.

But any glass will do.

Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies brown at edges. Allow to cool thoroughly before removing from the sheet.

Some people use a finger dipped in egg white to wet the top of the balls and then dip the glass in confectioner's sugar between cookies. Some wet them after they are flattened and then sprinkle little red and green sparklies from the supermarket on top. But they are perfectly good without any of that fuss.

Whatever ideas you come up with, will become a tradition in your family.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I found my paper book for sale in Israel -- writing tip

Question from the e-mail: I found my paper book for sale in Israel at far more than the USA list price and with huge shipping and handling fees. First: Did YOU authorize this? Is it legal? Second: How can they be selling a book that we published? Third: How can they charge such huge prices?

Answer: It's a result of Amazon's worldwide marketing efforts, because we click on "worldwide rights." That means we can sell your books world wide in both e-book and paper editions.

You did authorize this when you signed our contract. We authorized the sale on your behalf when we listed your book for sale "worldwide" at They DO pay us and WE pay you. Price differences may have to do with rates of exchange and UPS shipping fees from North Carolina (where our paper books are printed) to wherever they will be delivered.

This all began when we first started listing our e-books for sale on the French web site, -- sometime around 1994 or 95. We listed books as available in English only, but sold throughout Europe and it freaked our local branch bank out when we got a transfer in Euros.

Later, Amazon bought and listed all the content already there as content for Kindle, the day if first went on sale. Recently they reversed that policy and now list everything from the Kindle store at as available for sale at It's a manifestation of the truth, the more stores you're in, the MORE chance you have of selling your titles. Listing at NOW also lists you at the amazon stores in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy, etc. Yes, they ARE working on Canada and Austrailia. It also limits royalties from those sites to 35% rather than the 70% paid for US sales, but more sales is good, right?

And then there is the "affiliate" program, which has been going on for a long time.

Anyone, anywhere, can sign up to be an "Amazon affiliate." An "affiliate" web site can list books of interest to their members. Most affiliate sites have a narrow field of interest special to them, but list the books that would interest their followers. For instance, many naturist web sites affiliated to have listed the Nudist mystery series we publish by Byron and Kay McAllister: UNDERCOVER NUDIST, RUNAWAY NUDIST, TO KILL A NUDIST...etc.

So a nudist, er, excuse me "naturist," who frequents a web site featuring news and information aimed at their field of interest, may see a "books" tab, click on it, and find those books listed among other books of interest to naturists. If they click on the book, they will automatically be surfed over to to buy the book. Amazon collects the money and pays us. It also pays the affiliate website a small amount based on the number of "clickovers" from there.

Affiliate web sites can also list print books, though it happens far less often than with e-books.

Authors who Google their names are quite often surprised to find books for sale on unheard of web sites in foreign countries. Novelist K.S. Brooks recently found her Agent Night series on a site in India. But rest assured, if someone clicks on the book, they will find themselves giving their credit card number and WWI will make sure she gets paid for the sale.

Don'cha just LOVE the Internet?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Catching UP!

Books that went to press, or back to press this week:

ON WINGS OF TRUST by Anna Dynowski

Galleys that went out or back out this week:

FIRST WALTZ by Terry L. White

THE WRITE HONOR, by Anna Dynowski

New efforts:

Still working on posting illustrated material to and Nook. The good news is that if you submit them in the right formats, I can list them easily. Amazon needs files in .PRC format. Nook requires epub format. There are converters on line for both formats that claim to work with word.doc files and images.

The files K. S. Brooks sent us for Mr. Pish and her other books seem to be working well and we have almost completed listing them for sale.

Old Efforts:

Regular work is getting bogged down a bit right now as I need to get the year-end accounting done and have been in Christmas mode too. Thanks everyone for all the lovely cards. You are so great to think of Shelley and me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Question from the e-mail -- writing tip

Question from the e-mail: What is the difference between as "plot-driven" story and a "character-driven" story. As you may or may not recall, I write mysteries. Yet my writers' group keeps telling me my stories are too "plot-driven." How can a mystery story not be plot-driven?

Answer: There are two kinds of stories and both have to have plot or they don't go anywhere. Character-driven plot, and story-plot, as you said. They are never so apparent as in mystery fiction. Agatha Christie wrote her “little puzzles” and her characters were rather interchangeable. But her plots are always very tricky. Okay, Poirot was a Belgian and fond of his moustache and “little grey cells.” But what do we know about him, really?

In every book, somebody dies, Poirot “attempts the puzzle,” follows the clues, and eventually the murderer is caught. But Poirot, himself, never changes. He is always urbane, effective, and -- right! He, himself, is never affected by what happens in the story.

In Dick Francis, the detective character is always a part of the story. The problem, the puzzle, comes partly out of the character’s own vulnerability. I’ll grant you most of his characters are a side of Dick, who was once a world champion jockey, and so he tended to write books that involved horse racing in some way. In Odds Against, Francis’ first Sid Halleybook, the hero was an ex-jockey, one whose wife made him choose between racing and her (he chose racing), then after the divorce he had a bad fall and ended his career with a crippled hand. At the beginning of the story, Sid Halley had lost everything, his marriage, his career, and in part his self-respect. There is, of course a murder, and a puzzle to solve, and Sid does it admirably, just as Poirot does, though Francis's characters tend to be in considerably more personal danger than Poirot ever saw. In solving the crime, Halley (about whom the reader cares a lot), gains a bit of his self-respect back. He is changed by what happens in the story.

Now we never care about Poirot’s self respect. HE is never changed by what happens in the story. He is never in real danger of losing his life through the story's action. We know he was a World War I veteran, had been in the resistance, and had met Capt. Hastings, his British friend (a Dr. Watson substitute), during the war. But Poirot is not vulnerable in the current story, nor is he really part of the story, other than to play his detective game. If he fails to solve the crime, nothing will happen to him. His character will not be affected in any way. Sid Halley has a great deal more at stake. He is a character with a great deal at stake.

I picked exaggerated examples to make it easy. But in Christie’s stories, the plot’s the thing. They are plot-driven, every one. Her characters are only peripherally involved. Francis’ characters always have a lot at stake, one way or another. I firmly believe the best plot comes out of character. But you still have to have a plot. Odds Against had one with a hole you could drive a truck through. I wouldn’t have finished that one, if I hadn’t cared about what might happen to Sid.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Barfer Robinson's Oyster Stew -- recipe

Since oysters are in season, I thought I'd offer a recipe given me by one of my characters, Barfer Robinson, the cook aboard the dredge boat, Hope V. Rogers. Barfer appears in several of the short stories in The Drowned Land (Maryland Governor's Award Winner) and in my first novel, Killraven.

Barfer Robinson’s* Stewed Oysters

4 (or five) strips of bacon
1 medium sized onion, (diced)
1 quart fresh cream (half and half, or milk for the faint-hearted)
1 quart fresh-shucked oysters with their own liquor
Salt and pepper to taste

In a deep iron skillet, or a Dutch oven, fry up three or four strips of bacon. Let them get crispy and then take ‘em out. Put ‘em in a bowl and after they cool a bit, crumple them up for later.

Brown up your (diced) onion in the bacon grease. Fish out the oysters with a spoon and put them in a bowl, then strain the liquor, because you know them worthless boys is bound to get some shell in there. Then add the oysters with their own strained liquor and cover the pot. Push it on the back of the cook stove (low heat). Let it simmer until the oysters start to crimp up (edges pucker).

Add your cream and stir it in a little at a time, and then let it come to a simmer again, but don’t let it get too hot or the cream will scorch. Then she’s ready to dish up. I like to sprinkle a little bit of that crumpled bacon on top of each bowl. It’s mighty good with oyster crackers, or saltines – you got to allow for the extra salt if you’re going to use saltines, though. You might have to do two pots on a cold, windy day, cause a six man crew can go through a lot of grub

Monday, December 12, 2011

Guest Blog -- Ann Nolder Heinz

We love it when authors share news with us and are always open to Guest Blogs from authors at Write Words, Inc.

Today is our first such guess blog, from Ann Nolder Heinz!

Congratulations Ann, on becoming an "Award Winning Novelist!"

When Write Words, Inc. accepted my book Last Stop Freedom for e-publication, my delight soon turned to terror as I contemplated the fact that I would need to market the book myself.

A complete novice, I began by searching for reputable reviewers who would agree to read the book. One such person, Sandra Heptinstall, was so enthusiastic that she urged me to enter two contests, one of which was the 2011 Royal Dragonfly e-Book Award contest.

Sandra's suggestion was particularly timely as it came mere days before the contest was due to close on November 1, allowing me to squeeze in under the wire.

I was notified on December 2 that my book had won first place for historical fiction. Needless to say, I was ecstatic!

I would urge all other authors to go this route as well. There was a $50 entry fee, but it was well worth the cost, especially now that I am able to use my first-place award to further promote my book.

Full information about the awards can be found at

Friday, December 9, 2011

Catching UP!

Catching UP

Books that went to press, or went back to press this week:

TOO DANGEROUS, by Geoff Geauterre, ebook edition
ON WINGS OF TRUST, by Anna Dynowski, ebook edition

Galleys that went out, or went out again this week:


Galleys still out with the authors:

A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT by Hugh Carter Vinson

Not too much accomplished this week, but I am getting closer on how to publish illustrated material.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Porn or Erotica? -- writing tip

Question: Thanks for answering my questions, from before. Maybe you can help again. As you may recall, I write steamy romances and have published some of them with Elora's Cave. A new member has joined our writers' group. And when I read a scene that I wanted help with, she didn't even wait for my questions, she just jumped right in and said, "That's just nothing but porn!"

I had opened my time by reminding everyone that I write erotica and was insulted by her reaction to say the least. The whole meeting degenerated into a long discussion of what porn is and isn't, while nobody seemed interested in that fact that erotica is a genuine form of literature.

Answer: An age-old question. I'm sorry they gave you a bad time. Given time to think, one of two things will happen. Either she will broaden her horizons, or will decide that your group isn't the place for her to develop her literary skills. All the others have heard you read before, have read your books, and have not objected in the past, have they? Just give them time to think, okay?

Evidence that erotica has long been a literary art form, comes from the dictionary meaning of the word: derived from classic Greek and meaning, "an artistic work having an erotic or literary theme." (Eros being the ancient Greek god of Love).

Pornography is defined by the dictionary as also coming from ancient Greek, and meaning, "writing about prostitutes" with the more modern definition given as "the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.

Erotica has also been know to cause sexual excitement, but that is only one element of its creation. Pornography has no value of artistry or eloquence.

My own definition -- which may not be the same as yours, or even the Webster's definitions shown above, is a little different than either.

To me, it's easy to tell the difference: Pornography denigrates women. Erotic writing glorifies them.

Sex scenes in pornography often involves degrading acts, violence, and the women are depicted as depraved and enjoying everything that is done to them, however repulsive or painful.

In erotic writing sex acts are between two people who really care about one another and who have made a substantial commitment, and the acts depicted are an expression, perhaps even a glorification, of the emotions they share.

I have read your work, both in your class, and in your books, and I'd have say your books qualify as "erotic" but certainly not the alternative.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hot Prawn Canapes -- recipe

Nancy Madison’s Hot Prawn Canapes

12 slices of thin bread
1 lb. shrimp, boiled, chopped fine
12 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp onion, chopped fine
1/4 Tsp pepper
2 Tsp paprika
1 cup butter, clarified*
4 Tsp lemon juice, fresh
2 Tsp horseradish
½ tsp salt
1 cup Parmesan cheese

Cut crusts off of bread. Cut each bread slice into 1/4, either round, oval or toast point. Mix the shrimp and other ingredients except Parmesan. Cover bread slices with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over bread. Place on cookie sheet and bake in 500-F or 260-C degree oven 3-5 minutes until cheese melts. Serve right from oven. 12 servings.

* To clarify butter, melt in a saucepan and measure out only the clear yellow oil from the top, leaving behind the whey residue at the bottom.

Contributed by Nancy Madison, author of Whispers...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Backstory - writing tip

Question from a former student: I got a manuscript back this week, with a handwritten note by the editor that said, "Too much backstory. I can't find a problem statement. Start at the beginning." Any idea what that means?

Answer: Well she was nice enough to send a note, so she obviously liked your writing Technique. My guess is, Tara, that the problem statement arrives late. Until there is a problem for the protagonist to solve, there is no real action in any story. I used to do this myself all the time.

'Tis the season, so let's take the story of Christ's birth as an example:

It didn't start when the angel appeared to Mary in the shape of a dove. That was another story than the "birth." It really didn't start when Cesar Agustus said that all the world must be taxed. It didn't start with the journey of the very pregnant Mary to Bethlehem. It starts when there is "No room at the inn."

That's your problem statement and the place where the "Birth of Christ" story's action really starts. If there had been room at the inn, the whole story would have been different, so a problem has cropped up that will change everything, forever.

The rest is backstory. What happened before there was "no room," an obvious problem to be solved, is back story.

Now it is, of course, important for anyone hearing the story to know all those things, but start with the hook: Joseph and his very pregnant wife have no place to stay. Where will they go? What will they do? What will happen next?

Get your problem statement in right away. Work the backstory in by using mini-flashbacks as they search for a place, find the stable and move in among the animals, and so on. What's a mini-flashback. See example, below:

Behind the inn, Joseph spotted the half-open door of a stable. Concerned, he helped the pregnant Mary from the back of the ass, wishing Caesar Agustus had never requried everyone to travel to his home city to be taxed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Scottish Shortbread Squares -- recipe

Easy as One, Two, Three Festive holiday Squares.

1-2-3 Scottish Shortbread

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring ( or maple if you prefer)

2 pkg. Philadelphia Cream Cheese
3/4 cut chocolate chips
Whipped topping

Melt butter in microwaveable bowl. Stir in sugar and add flavoring. Mix flour in until pastry ball forms and sides of bowl are clear.

Roll out for a rectangular pan, or just press the dough even and flat onto a cookie sheet--not more than 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into 4x4 inch squares before baking.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350. Until it begins to brown.

Cool thoroughly.

Spread top of squares with cream cheese.

In Microwave, Melt chocolate chips in a spouted measuring cup and drizzle over top of cheese. Refrigerate half an hour.

To serve, Place single square on a dessert plate and top with whipped topping.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Catching UP

Books that went to press, or went back to press this week:

GHOST AT STALLION'S GATE, by Elizabeth Eagan-Cox
TOO DANGEROUS, by Geoff Geauterre
ON WINGS OF TRUST, by Anna Dynowski

Galleys that went out, or went out again this week:

GHOST AT STALLION'S GATE, by Elizabeth Eagan-Cox (ebook)
ON WINGS OF TRUST, by Anna Dynowski (ebook)
FIRST WALTZ, by Terry L. White

Galleys still out with the authors:

A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT by Hugh Carter Vinson


Based on data gathered within the last 20 days. Icon explanations
1. Mid-Length [45109 words]A Medic in Iraq: A Novel of the Iraq War by Cole Bolchoz [Mainstream]
2. Long [66544 words]Blue Diamonds by Spencer Dane [Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime]
3. Long [84333 words]Class Reunion by Michael E. Field [Suspense/Thriller/Mainstream]
4. Mid-Length [29163 words]Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott [Classic Literature]
5. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
6. Mid-Length [26133 words]A Maine Christmas Carol by Phillip F. Harris [Young Adult/Family/Relationships]
7. Long [76916 words]Memoirs of an Insignificant Dragon by Marjorie Doughty [People]
8. Long [55838 words]Cheating Death by Judy Reveal [Mystery/Crime]
9. Long [63568 words]White Gold [A Zach Taylor Adventure] by Spencer Dane [Mystery/Crime]
10. Long [53166 words]Red Emeralds [A Zach Taylor Adventure, Vol. 3] by Spencer Dane [Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime]


Based on highest average ratings by at least 5 readers. Icon explanations
1. Long [66889 words]A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett [Classic Literature/Children's Fiction]
2. Long [121796 words]Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Classic Literature]
3. Long [61049 words]Minder's Oath [High Places Series: Book 2] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
4. Long [98906 words]Ghost Dancer by Arline Chase [Historical Fiction]
5. Long [113180 words]Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini [Suspense/Thriller/Classic Literature]
6. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
7. Long [75310 words]The Secret Adversary [Tommy and Tuppence Book 1] by Agatha Christie [Classic Literature]
8. Long [68911 words]Dark Elf: [Book 2 of the Red Knight Chronicles] by Ray Morand [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
9. Long [70408 words]Slow Dancing with the Angel of Death [Hollis Ball and Sam Westcott Series Book 1] by Helen Chappel [Mystery/Crime/Humor]
10. Long [76981 words]Tortured Souls [Arbiter Series Book 2] by Matthew L. Schoonover [Horror]

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Children's Books Question -- from the e-mail

Question: You use to have lots of children's books on your site, including some that were animated. Now I have grandchildren and wanted to order some and can't find any. What happened to them? When will you have them for sale again?

Answer: Technology changes happened. Technology is changing all the time and have changed many times in the past ten years.

File submission requirements at the other sales sites are all different than they were ten years ago when we aquired the business from Connie Foster. Connie, a child psychologist, concentrated heavily on children's fare. And it worked well as long as all the reading devices would read .html language. HTML handled color and animation well and was readable by any computer, but not by most of the e-book reading devices. Some of those had two inch screens and were black on gray only. Many could not even be seen outside. The focus was muddy, at best.

Those reading devices had no color (not good for children's material) and many didn't have a graphics capability. As e-book devices became more popular, they had the lion's share of the e-book buyers. At that time, because of the reading device limitations, we dropped most of our children's titles because authors complained of lack of sales.

Today's newer devices, such as Kindle Fire, iPad, and Nook, have color, and will do animation. But preparing files for them is much more complicated than just putting together a file in HTML.

Because our authors have requested it, I am doing all I can to teach myself how to do illustrated books for young readers in all the newer electronic formats, but each device requires a different format, a different size and quality of image to be embedded in the file, and many require they be embedded in a different way, and so on.

LARGE companies, like Create-Space, owned by, could do such a book in both digital and paper for a reasonable fee, and put them on the market for authors in digital stores, because they have the software to convert any author's illustrated Word files automatically. For them, it's a matter of pushing a button. For us, it requires many hours of file prep.

So automated software is available, but it costs thousands of dollars. Needless to say we are a small company and don't plan to spend that kind of money on a program necessary for only a small percentage of books we might sell. Doing illustrated books manually is almost impossible for the small houses in the digital book business, despite the new devices that are set up to read them. This is changing, as technical requirements are changing, with the distributor stores becoming more aware that accepting small publisher's book files expands their inventory, but it is not yet a simple process.

I knew how to do color and animated files when we first started and.html was the only format. Now there are NINE different formats. Children's books take many more hours of work to lay out and sell less frequently than books for adults. At the time we opted out, except for contracts already made, most of the reading devices wouldn't do illustrations anyway. SOME still wont.

Yet, I have requests from authors to carry illustrated children's books every week. And I'm particularly grieved to say no to those with whom we have already established a good working relationship.

I'd like to teach myself to prepare these files adequately, so that the product would look good everywhere and we could expand your markets . Illustrated books are difficult to lay-out, but they sell much better with the advent of the color devices like iPad, Kindle Fire, and Nook, I'm convinced that illustrated e-books for children will make a big comeback and continue to sell well in the future.

What I need to do is find a format that I can program myself that will translate reliably and adequately to the color screens with clear sharp images. PDF will, of course. BUT by the time an 8.5 by 11 (Or even an 8x8) inch page gets reduced to a 4x6 screen, the pictures may become pixelated and the text becomes so tiny as to be almost illegible and PDF graphics do not presently fit the needs of all the sites and so may "disappear." So there are problems with that solution.

As an experiment, I have tried working with material supplied by another publisher who lives in my county and who asked for help. I did manage to lay out her paper book, ALL ABOUT ME, ROOTIE. Consequently, I am closer to being able to do e-formatting for this kind of book than I was six months ago. But chances are I will not get to experiment further until next year, as corporate taxes are due, year-end bookkeeping must be done, etc.

Based on experience, e-sales is where the market is and where the future market will be. Paper is easier to do, though much more complicated than laying out a novel. But sales of paper books for our company average about 1 in 18. Sometimes 1 in 25.

So this is something we'd like to do in the future. But right now, we can't. Nor can we say when, or even if, it will become possible.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Angel Hair Pasta -- recipe

Katrina’s Angel Hair Pasta with a fresh sauce ... (for two angels)

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Vidalia Onion
1 vine ripened tomato diced
a shake or two of sea salt
a dash of pepper

In a frying pan, add about two tablespoons of olive oil (I add a fresh sprig of rosemary and two cloves of garlic to my bottle of oil to flavor it) one half of a Vidalia onion, cut up fine.
Cook onion in the oil till almost transparent. Add one vine-ripened chopped up tomato
Cook only for a few more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Boil enough angel hair pasta for two angels. It only takes a few minutes, so do not over cook.

Use this fresh sauce over the cooked angel hair.
Top with freshly ground Parmesan cheese (Reggiano).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Catching UP!

Catching UP is late, because we had a hardware failure on Wednesday afternoon and the gurus couldn't get it fixed until late yesterday.

Sorry for the lag...believe me!

Books that went to press or back to press last week:

HOUSE TO KILL FOR, by Judy Reveal
ON WINGS OF TRUST, by Anna Dynowski
A FRIGHT OF GHOSTS, by Helen Chappell

Galleys that went out, or went out again:

LAST STOP FREEDOM, by Ann Heinz (new corrected e-book files)
TOO DANGEROUS, by Geoff Geauterre
STALLION'S GATE, by Elizabeth Eagan-Cox

Work began or Continued on the following:

WRITE HONOR, by Anna Dynowski
FIRST WALTZ, by Terry L. White

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Roast Mallard Duck

Dad was a great hunter, when I was small, and usually brought home a wild Goose or 3 or 4 Mallard Ducks for Thanksgiving Dinner.

He liked duck best and especially loved duck gravy over baked sweet potatoes. He often boasted he could eat his weight in it.

First shoot and dress your ducks. Then soak them overnight in the roasting pan, covered in salt water, to remove the "wild" taste.

Drain and wash ducks and pan. Place ducks on a wire rack, and salt and pepper to taste. Always use a rack so drippings go in the bottom of the pan. Place half a large peeled white potato inside each duck. While it's roasting, this will absorb any "fishy" taste, due to the duck's diet. Discard potato after duck is done.

Roast in an open pan, at 350 degrees, until duck is tender and breast meat shrinks down from the bone a bit. Using a pastry brush, baste every half hour with chicken stock and red wine, but DO NOT poke the birds with a fork, if you want the meat to be juicy.

Use the dripping to make gravey. Pour about half the dripping into an a deep iron skillet or Dutch oven, Fry 1 onion and 1/2 pound of sliced mushrooms in the dripping. Use judgement on amounts of onion and mushrooms, more if more ducks, less if one or two. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup of red wine. Add 2 cups of warm water ( or 1 cup for each duck if there are more than two) cover, and bring to a boil.

Thicken with 1 tbsp corn starch for each duck. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 to 2/3 cup cold water (depending on number of ducks) then pour into boiling gravy stock. Stir until gravy thickens, then reduce heat to keep warm until serving.

To bake sweet potatoes: Wash whole sweet potatoes. (Do not wrap in aluminum foil.) Butter skins liberally and place on a cookie tin. Bake at 350 for an hour or until potatoes are soft to the touch. If you have a large enough oven, it's okay to put them in the oven while the ducks are baking.

Dad used to make his own red wine, too. But that's another recipe.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie -- recipe

This week, I'm featuring recipes of all my Mom's Thanksgiving favorites. Today, it's her sweet-potato pie, that was my Dad's favorite thing.


  • 1 (1 pound) left over baked sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup Pet evaporated Milk (I use Half and Half when I make this now)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust


Leftover baked sweet potatoes are great, but you can used canned, or if you have fresh ones, grease and bake a couple 40 to 50 minutes, in a medium oven until done. Remove the skin.

Mash the sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, zest, baking soda, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Prick a pie shell with a fork to prevent bubbles, then pour filling into the unbaked pie crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Oyster Casserole - recipe

1 c. canned Evaporated Pet milk
2 c. crushed Ritz crackers
1 pt. fresh Chesapeake Bay oysters
1 onion, diced small
4 strips bacon fried and drained, reserve for later.
1 sm. or half a large onion, diced fine (about half a cup).
2 tbsp. butter
Pepper & salt to taste

Fry bacon strips and reserve them for later garnish.

Fry onion in bacon grease.

Grease casserole dish with butter, (or spray with PAM).

Mix milk, onion (straight from the cooled frying pan, bacon drippings and all), oysters, with 1 1/2 cup of cracker crumbs and pour in casserole dish.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Use remaining cracker crumbs to top casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Garnish top with bacon strips and place in oven for 5 more minutes.

This is my mother's recipe that she made every Thanksgiving. It is based on her grandmother's recipe for "oyster stuffing" with some modern changes Mom made to it, like replacing the corn meal with Ritz. She also said NEVER to put it inside the bird, but always cook in it's own dish. If my cousins were home, she had to make two. One for them and one for the rest of us. She always said it HAD to be Ritz crackers, too, as using any other cracker would ruin the flavor.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Catching UP!

Books that went or went to press again this week:


Galleys that went out, or went out again this week:

GHOST AT STALLION'S GATE, by Elizabeth Eagan-Cox

ON WINGS OF TRUST, by Anna Dynowski

Work began or continued on the following:

The Mistake by Bruce Castle

Mr. Pish III, by K. S. Brooks

HOUSE TO KILL FOR, by Juditth Reveal.

Galleys still out with the authors:


A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT, by Hugh Carter Vinson

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Pie--Recipe

Birdye DeCoursey's Pumpkin Pie


2 cups pumpkin (canned or puree)
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (modern cooks may want to choose Half & Half)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
9 inch pie crust round


1. Fire up the woodstove so the oven will be medium hot, but not too hot.
About 350 degrees F.

2. Place pie crust dough round into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edges to extend about a 1/2-inch over the rim of the pan. Fold edges under, and press to seal. You can make this beforehand and keep it in the pie safe in the springhouse overnight, so it will be good and cold to start.

3. Prick the pie shell with a fork, so no bubbles form while baking.

4. Bake pie shell 15 minutes in your medium oven. Then Cool completely on a wire rack.

5. Place 1 Quart jar of canned pumpkin in a large bowl. I can a lot of pumpkin when it's in season, so we can have this year round. (Modern cooks will need two regular size cans from the store.)

6. In a separate bowl, beat eggs well. Beat in half and half, vanilla extract, brown sugar, salt, and spices until thoroughly blended. Add in the pumpkin mixture, mix well.

7. Pour pumpkin mixture into pie shell and place in center oven rack . Bake for 30-40 minutes until the filling is firm.

8. Cool completely on wire racks and serve with whipped cream.

Homemade Whipped Cream Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. With a fork, whip cream until almost stiff. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until cream holds peaks. Spread over top of cooled pie or serve in a chilled bowl for individual serving.