Friday, April 29, 2011

Catching UP and question about book sites

Catching up

VIKING CROWN went to press last week.

Galleys went out (or went out again) on:


Work continued, or started on print editions of:

Grandfather's Gift
Playing with Fire
Second Republic
FacePainter Murders

Question from the e-mail: My latest book is not listed at Barnes&Noble, though it is listed on their affiliate sites and at all your other sales venues. How can I get them to put it up for sale there?

Answer: You can't. Neither can I. One book, one author, one publisher means NOTHING in Barnes&Noble's grand scheme of things. That's the sorry truth. They are concentrating on getting a new business venture under way and will not stop to consider details.

There is nothing either YOU or I can do to make them pick a book up one bit faster, or more accurately, until or unless, the get a separate upload platform like the one amazon recently installed. Until then, the computers automatically update the information about once every three days and books can show up or disappear again whenever those updates take place.

As long as the computers are in charge of the data, information and communication, books will appear and disappear at whim, covers will display, or NOT, at whim. There is no way for them, or US to fix it until or unless the glitch in the operating software is revised. I do believe, in time, they will set up such a platform that will allow authors or publishers to make changes. It took amazon five years to do it after they bought out Mobipocket to get inventory and the reader program that later became Kindle.

B&N bought Fictionwise to get their books inventory and their e-reader, that later became NOOK. They wanted the inventory, and to get a store in operation as soon as possible. That was last July. Last July we sold $23 worth of books at B&N. Last January we reported $336.10 in sales through the Nook outlet (including reported sales from all their affiliates). So as you can see, B&N is building a growing customer base. Also they are doing a lot of Nook advertising on TV, another good sign, as far as I'm concerned

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sally Lunn Cake - recipe

Ada’s Recipe for Sally Lunn Cake (two loaves)

3 pounds white flour
1 quart whole milk
½ pound of butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
2 wine glasses of fresh yeast (2 pkg. dry yeast dissolved in 1 cup lukewarm water)

Sift flour into a large bowl. Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Warm the milk and add the eggs. Add butter and salt to the egg-milk mixture. Fold the eggs, milk, butter and salt mixture into the flour. Gradually add the yeast to the whole mixture, a little at a time. Beat the whole at least four minutes.

Divide the mixture into two equal parts and place each in a pan. Cover the pans with thick cloths and put them in a warm place (originally, on a hearth). When the contents of the pans are raised and light, put them in two buttered loaf-pans.

Bake in a moderate oven, no more than 300-F or 148-C degrees, until a test straw comes out clean. Cut into slices, with the loaf left standing. Serve warm.

Warning! Real Sally Lunn never uses sugar or spice.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Scenes and Structure -- writing tip

Question: I g0t a note from an editor (a printed rejection with a handwritten note on it) that said, "scenes and structure needs work." Any idea on what that might mean?

Answer: It could mean something as simple as that some of the scenes are out of sequence as far as the storytelling is concerned. It might also mean that the structure of the scenes is not properly configured. Only by looking hard at your manuscript, can you decide which.

In the beginning all writing teachers say three things. “Show don’t tell. Write what you know,” and “Write in Scenes.” That is good advice as far as it goes. What it doesn’t say clearly enough is that your story, or article should unfold in an organized fashion, letting the reader in on facts as they become important for the reader to know. Some people call this giving the work “structure.” This concept is usually easy to identify in non-fiction, but harder in fiction. In non-fiction you state a premise, give additional facts and then, in the final paragraph, sum up the concepts that support your premise. We all learned that doing essays in school.

Just like the “lead” in an article, a fiction transition is the most important sentence you can write. A transition is the first line when you move the reader from one place to another, or one scene to another, or from their chair into your story. A good transition, like the lead in a newspaper or magazine article, should answer the questions, Who? Where? and When? Otherwise it leaves the reader aware that something is missing and causes editors to write in their refusal letters, "This story needs to be better grounded in time and space!" I know. I have the letters to prove it.

Dramatic structure is a little more involved, though not as involved as one might think. Every scene has the same structure. Here it is:
1. Transition, preferably with hook. (Who, when, where, and end with an unanswered question)
2. Rising action and dialogue
3. Turning point of the scene (the place where something important changes)
(if there's no point, the scene goes, no matter how well written)
4. End/resolution of the scene, preferably with another hook. When we come to the end of a scene,

* * *

we indicate it with the double line break, at least two extra lines of "white space" and use the three stars, a line, or some other indication, in case the line break falls at the bottom of a page. Once the turning point is reached, then a final hook for that scene is set, and the scene ends. The Scene Ends Right There! Yes, as soon as the point is made, regardless of what else might have really happened later.

Say for instance a medical examiner is called to the scene of a murder. He looks at the corpse and at the uniformed cop on standby, then says, "He's done it again. This is the same as the last one."

That's the final point of the scene, because we have let the reader know a serial killer is on the loose. Now after this in real time, the criminalists may descend, take photographs and fingerprints, pick up blood samples, and eventually the body will be removed leaving the inevitable tape outline on the floor, but to show the reader all that would be anticlimactic, because the point had already been established. Once your serial killer is on the loose, end the scene, and get on to the next scene where your detective is hot on the trail instead of wasting your and the readers' time on pointless action, however well written. Most short stories have three major turning points and coincidentally three major scenes.

If you MUST include thescene with the criminalists (say there are clues embedded), then move the ME to the END of that scene, don't let him come at the beginning. That's making sure things don't come out of sequence.

Often there are things that happened in the past that affect the present. Sometimes this requires a flashback scene, but not usually. Flashbacks tend to distance the reader from the action. Therefore, I believe it's good policy not to put anything in flashback, unless you have information that can't be told any other way, or action that can't be shown sequentially. Instead, use mini-flashbacks to relate action that happens before the beginning of the story, and is too previous to be moved to a later time frame. Just in case I need to explain the difference: A real flashback, is a whole scene shown out of time sequence, and a mini-flashback is having a character remember something that happened before for a line or two, then going on with the present scene’s action.

This can be the time for good use of narrative. They always tell us "show don't tell" and narration is "telling." But you can't show everything in the space allowed. So my advice is to narrate the mundane, or the action in pointless scenes if the reader has to know about it. Basically your story scenes should be like shining jewels and the narration like the silver wire that strings them together. Most writing texts don't get into how to do narration and it was years before I figured it out.

Look at the following story synopsis:

After meeting her fiancé, Don, for lunch, Melanie buys an antique statue that strikes her eye in a small shop. After taking it home, she becomes conscious of an aura about it. It begins to affect her dreams. Over the next two weeks, as she goes to her job at a local library, at home, and even on dates with her fiancé, Melanie cannot get the little statue out of her mind. Don is disturbed by her lack of attention and his assumption that Melanie’s life should revolve around him is established when he presents her with airline tickets for a honeymoon on a date she has already told him she can’t get leave from work. He suggests she quit her job and devote herself to keeping him happy in the future. Melanie does some research and finds the statue was once the symbol of an African River god. She writes to the embassy asking more about the history of the river god and is referred to the Museum of Humanities. She calls the museum and makes an appointment to speak with the curator, an expert in African culture. He tells her the statue was stolen and that the three tribal factions of that area each blame the other two for the theft. War among them is imminent. Melanie decides to give the statue back. Melanie thinks about quitting her job, but the little statue looks angry and her dreams are filled with visions of airplane crashes for weeks. Her nerves are on edge when Don comes by unannounced and berates her for spending so much time on the darned statue. They break up. Don goes on their planned honeymoon alone and his plane crashes. Though he survives, Melanie has no desire to resume their relationship. Melanie learns from the museum curator that the statue is authentic and makes arrangements to ship it back to Africa.

Looking at the above, almost anyone would assume they’d start the story at lunch with the fiancé. Or at least with the purchase of the statue. But look at the three structured scenes outlined below, that have the needed background information embedded with mini-flashbacks.

Scene one: Melanie’s apartment. Quarrelsome phone call from Don. Problem Statement: Melanie’s relationship with fiancé Don is not going well. Melanie eyes the statue that looks like a humpbacked waterdrop with a head. The face keeps changing, sometimes male, sometimes female, sometimes faceless, depending on the angle of view. Mini-flashback: She remembers where she bought it and the feelings she’s been having ever since. Don shows up and they quarrel about his making honeymoon plans without consulting her schedule. Don leaves, angry. End hook, Melanie wonders if the marriage to him is going to be a mistake.

Scene two: Museum. Melanie meets the museum curator. Definite interest on his part. Mini-flashback to the dreams and how she got there. He’s nice and attentive. Gives her background on the statue and agrees to come and look to see if it’s the original. Curator makes a mild pass. Melanie mentions her fiancé. Curator suggests she return statue. Melanie is not sure whether she wants to let it go. She is becoming fond of it, despite its ominous aura of anger.

Scene Three: Melanie’s apartment. Curator calls. Statue is genuine. As he leaves, Melanie says she will consider a date and asks him to make arrangements to ship it to Africa. Don comes by and they quarrel again. He gives her an ultimatum, tells her to quit job. They quarrel. Don is very nasty. Melanie dumps him. Don announces he plans to go on the honeymoon trip he wanted anyway, on Flight 801, or some other famous crash number. Melanie tells him to go ahead. They are through. Don leaves. The statue then definitely looks female and smiling. As Melanie packs it to be sent home, she feels at peace for the first time in weeks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Party Crab Dip - recipe

It's almost crab season

Party Crab Dip

2 cans lump crabmeat
1 cup cheddar cheese grated
1 cup Vidalia or sweet onion chopped, not diced
1 cup mayo, or enough to make moist
white pepper to taste
lemon juice
pinch of tabasco

Mix together and served broiled on thinly sliced baguette. Note: it takes very little time under the broiler. Watch carefully. Or you can put them on Triskets and microwave. Delicious either way.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Info on IWWG Summer Conference - writing

E-mail today from Elizabeth Julia Stoumen asking that we pass along information on the IWWG Summer conference at Yale this year. I attended, and taught at this conference, for more than 25 years and can highly recommend it.

2011 Summer Conference

Remember the Magic

The 34th Annual Summer Conference
June 24 - July 1, 2011:
(starts with dinner on Friday, ends with breakfast the following Friday)

The overall value of this conference...

is the creation of an atmosphere which stretches you:

  • As a writer
  • As a woman
  • As a person celebrate the feeling of being alive in the company of kindred spirits.

Open to all women regardless of professional portfolio

  • 40 separate workshops held each day, unless otherwise noted
  • Workshop directors culled from every part of the U.S., Canada and abroad
  • Maximum capacity: 350
  • Since 1976, the IWWG Women’s Writing Conferences have been responsible for the publication of hundreds of books in major houses
  • Equal importance given to the use of writing as a tool for daily practice and personal growth
  • All ages and backgrounds represented
  • Get-togethers for mutual critiquing of work

Workshop Program

All workshops are held once each day for the week-long period and are 90 minutes in length, unless otherwise noted.

The Art and Craft of Writing





Friday, April 22, 2011

Catching UP!

Books that went to press this week:

VIKING CROWN by Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson

Galleys that went out:


Everyone got paid.

Best Sellers (Just for OUR company) at Fictionwise:

Best Sellers for
Based on data gathered within the last 20 days. Icon explanations
1. Long [112291 words]Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
2. Mid-Length [39320 words]Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse [Classic Literature/Spiritual/Religion]
3. Long [65571 words]Your Place or Mine by Lynette Hall Hampton [Suspense/Thriller/Mainstream]
4. Long [68588 words]Vienna Pride: A Chesapeake Heritage Novel by Terry White [Mainstream/Mystery/Crime]
5. Very Long [459405 words]Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas ( Pere ) [Classic Literature/Historical Fiction]
6. Short [6631 words]Fire Next Time by Arline Chase [Mystery/Crime/Romance]
7. Long [110485 words]Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain [Classic Literature/Children's Fiction]
8. Long [70201 words]Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain [Classic Literature/Children's Fiction]
9. Long [99948 words]High Country Hearts by Dolly Lamar [Romance/Mainstream]
10. Short [20251 words]Woman in the Glass by G.D Gaetz [Suspense/Thriller/Mainstream]

and by Reader Ratings

Highest Rated for
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 [98906 words]Ghost Dancer by Arline Chase [Historical Fiction]
3. Long [121796 words]Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Classic Literature]
4. Long [61049 words]Minder's Oath [High Places Series: Book 2] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
5. Long [113180 words]Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini [Suspense/Thriller/Classic Literature]
6. Long [75310 words]The Secret Adversary [Tommy and Tuppence Book 1] by Agatha Christie [Classic Literature]
7. Long [68911 words]Dark Elf: [Book 2 of the Red Knight Chronicles] by Ray Morand [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
8. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
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]

Please do remember, that while this listing allows you to add "best selling author" to your resume, it does not mean that vast numbers of books have been sold -- only that at Fictionwise, in the past 20 days, you sold ONE or TWO more copies than any other author at

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Character Planning - writing tip

Question from the e-mail: Years ago, when I was your student, you sent me a character planning sheet. I found it most helpful, but then gave up writing for other pursuits. Now, I wish I had kept at least the information from that class as I want to get started again. Do you still have a copy available? Isabelle.

Answer: Dear Isabelle,

Most courses offer such a sheet and advise the writer to prepare one for each character in the story, just to make their relative positions clear. The one I'm sending is one I developed on my own, not the one I used to send to WD students that was included in the course. I could no longer send that as it is copyrighted to Writer's Digest.

I'm not sure if this is the same one you had, but I hope you find it helpful....


Plot should come out of character, evolving naturally from each character's beliefs, experiences, and desires. To understand your characters' feelings, take a look at the events that shaped their lives. Look first at the character's emotional life, then at world events.

Characters are shaped by personal experiences. If your character was verbally abused, or bullied, as a youngster that may affect how they behave as an adult. For instance, if such a character becomes a teacher, he or she will be more in tune with children who are the subject of bullying.

Characters are changed by the historic events of their lives. If your character was near ground zero on 9-11, he or she will be affected by that memory.

Use the following interview sheet to get closer to your characters. Remember, good characters do things for good reasons and bad characters do things for bad reasons, but all characters MUST have a reason to do what they do. Fill our a sheet for each major character.

Questions with a (*) must be answered:

Name, date of birth and place of residence? (*)

What does he or she want? (*)

What stands in his or her way? (*)

How will the character change by the end of the story? (*)

What is the character’s reason for taking action?

What are his or her strengths and weaknesses? (*)

What secrets does the character have?

What childhood or personal events shaped the character’s life?

What world events shaped the character?

Physical description: (*) (Hint from a workshop with LaVyrle Spencer: "Sometimes it helps to pick an actor to play the role. That way you can always see them.)

© 2003 Arline Chase

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Peanut Butter Chicken - Recipe

Peanut Butter Chicken
4 medium chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
Pecan Halves
Soft Flour Tortillas
1 Lemon
Cut chicken into 1/4 to 1/2 inch strips. Put into a bowl with the flour and toss gently to coat the chicken. Melt butter in a non-stick frying pan. Keep on medium heat and add coated chicken. Cook until golden brown and a little crispy on the edges. Add the peanut butter and the honey and stir until smooth, then add pecans and cook this until it gets crumbly-looking when the peanut butter and honey seem to stick together.
Put on a soft flour tortilla and drizzle with juice from a lemon slice. Wrap and enjoy!

Author David Berardelli, contributed his wife's recipe for this excellent Peanut Butter Chicken. David is the author of Demon Chaser, and Demon Chaser II.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Are "stringers" real reporters?- writing tip

Question: I took your blog's advice about becoming a "stringer" for my local newspaper. They seemed glad to have me and pay me $25 a piece, regardless of length or time involved -- just as you warned. It's been interesting and fun. But instead of congratulating me, as I had anticipated, someone in my writer's group made a remark that I wasn't a "real" newspaper reporter. Aren't stringers "real?"

Answer: Yes, and no. Every stringer MUST produce the goods just like a full-time newspaper reporter. If the goods aren't good enough the stringer will soon be unemployed -- just like any other news reporter. You are "real" enough for your current editor and you might want to ask him for some "Press ID" to carry and show it to your "friend."

You are also, to some degree, "freelance" and that is an advantage, not a detriment. It means you can reword and resell your stringer articles to another newspaper or magazine without compunction. Back in my stringer days, I interviewed a local boat builder for a B1 feature when he built a reproduction of a historic vessel. Later I took photos of the launch, and, using the information from the earlier interview and the photos of the launch, sold what was essentially the same feature, though rewritten, to a national boating magazine

The moral of that story is never throw your notebooks away. As for whether stringers are real...

Once at the newspaper we had a “stringer” who covered city council in a small town quite a distance from the county seat. Her lead was always the same, “The secretary read the minutes at the city council meeting in Hurlock on Tuesday.” Once when I was laying out the front for my (hung-over and nameless) editor, I pointed out to her that the meeting had ended with the mayor throwing a chair at the police chief and suggested she change the lead to “Violence erupted Tuesday night at the Hurlock city council meeting.” She told me not to be “interfering” and said her lead was right because the first thing that happened every week was that the secretary read the minutes.

The lead is the most important thing — not the first thing. Just like the regular editor, I changed the lead and went to press. Soon as they found another stringer who lived near Hurlock, that sweet lady came by crying because she’d been “let go” due to budget cuts. And she really thought it was due to budget cuts, too. But I didn’t think so. Do you?

The editor also bit the dust within the year. So it goes...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes - recipe

Ray Morand’s Scalloped Potatoes and Carrots

4 cups thinly sliced peeled potatoes
3 cups thinly sliced peeled carrots (or parboil baby carrots and use instead)
½ cup chopped onions
1/3 cup chopped parsley
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
¼ teaspoon dill
2 teaspoon seasoned salt
3 cups milk

Combine potatoes and carrots in casserole. Preheat oven to 350-F or 177-C degrees.

Saute onion and parsley in butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour, dill, and seasoned salt and stir in milk gradually. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Pour over vegetables in casserole, mix well.

Bake covered for thirty minutes. Remove cover and continue uncovered for one hour or until vegetables are tender.

Contributed by Ray Morand*, author of Modified... The year is 2106 and the human race finally united under one world government, but a slave race of Artificial Intelligence Clones want their freedom and genetically engineered soldiers were created to combat them. The Space Marines are fighting a losing battle and one genetically engineered female Navy Seal may be the secret to winning the war.
* Ray Morand is the pen name of Raye Carchia

Friday, April 15, 2011

Catching UP!

The checks are in the mail!

Paypal payments will go out today.

Congrats to all of you. You are the Best!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cactus Jelly - recipe

Contributor’s Note: An old recipe for roasted bear haunch begins, "First, kill a bear." In the case of cactus jelly: First, steer clear of the wild pigs. Don't have any truck with javelinas. It's better not to share the prickly pear patch with those nasty smelling, mean little tuskers.

Second, know your cactuses or buy your tunas (prickley pears) at the supermarket. There are a few poisonous species. The sap of the Pencil cactus, for instance, is toxic. It can burn and blister skin and, if eaten, can cause diarrha, even shock. Chain Stores wouldn't be taking any chances, so it's better to trust the grocery stores than to pick your own.

Cactus Jelly

6-8 large Prickly pears (a couple on the less ripe side). Pears can be anywhere from 2 to 6 inches long, so other ingredients have to be apportioned with that in mind.

3 cups sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice (Lemon juice provides the acid necessary to help set the pectin and sugar when the mixture cools)

6 ounces liquid fruit pectin, such as Certo, because cactus fruit doesn't have much natural pectin

Boiling water


Put prickly pears in a large kettle and cover them with boiling water. Let the pears stand 2 to 3 minutes. Pour off the water. The spines on the pears will be softened.

Peel the pears, cut each into 4 to six pieces, but don't try to take out the seeds. Put the pieces into a medium-sized kettle, cover with water and boil for 5 minutes at high heat. Pour the mixture through cheesecloth. Drain as much juice as possible and discard seeds.

Combine the drained cactus juice, (which should measure about 3 cups) with the sugar and lemon juice into a large kettle. Bring it to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium and add liquid pectin. Cook mixture 9-12 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. Skim off foam, if there is any.

Pour the mixture into hot, sterilized, half-pint canning jars. Follow manufacturer's directions on sealing. Always put sealed jars into boiling water for five minutes to kill any roving bacteria.

Cactus jelly may jell soon after it's made or take as long as 3 weeks. Don't give up on it.
If you forgot to put in a few greener tunas and don't get the jelly to set, even with the commercial pectin, you get some mighty nice syrup. Not that anybody has it in for peccaries, but it tastes great on pork chops.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Best-Selling Author Offers Promotional Advice - writing tip

Best-Selling Author Offers Promotional Advice

As most of you know, we are still working on author payment. One author sold more books this quarter than any of our authors ever had. Her series is very popular and customers seem happy to search for it and glad to find it. Getting the word out is the key to e-book sales. If there is no publicity or promotion (usually done by the author) then sales are few.

Since Elizabeth Eagan-Cox has been so successful in getting the word out, we asked her to pass along tips on how she manages to do that.

Promo tip? I have always believed that is it never a good idea to market/advertise/promote to other writers, as the old saying goes, don't preach to the choir. Hence, I do not participate in writer's groups, I rarely ever follow another writer on Facebook or Twitter (we have to have more in common than writing) and I zero in on readership circles in my genre.

As you know, I am not real keen on getting book reviews (I tend to ignore them), I think a book will speak for itself in time and time is what it takes to build a good rapport with readers. I have a stand-alone website that is my name (no fancy catch words, just my name, so I can be found in a "Google" search) and readers know they can write to me through it. I always answer personally. I let friends on Facebook and Twitter know that I have a website and advise them to please contact me through it.

I prefer radio talk shows to personal in-person appearances (I really do not care for book signings). However, for a radio agenda to succeed, a writer must feel exceptionally comfortable with the medium that radio is. And by radio, I mean Internet radio as well as traditional AM/FM broadcasts. I was once a columnist for the now defunct Radio Digest, so you see, radio is a natural medium for my platform and my personality.

I offer radio talk show hosts a talking-point agenda that is on a subject that will benefit them and their show's platform, in fact, so very often the show is not about my books.

To do this, I study that radio show, I listen to a selection of past shows to get a feel for the host and their agenda, then I draft a talking-point agenda that can be tweaked for each different host.

I plan radio appearances for 3 of the 4 quarters of each year: spring, summer and autumn.

Addendum from Arline:

Many authors do not realize that Internet Radio shows can often be done on the telephone from the convenience of your own home office. Elizabeth indicates that she does travel for some radio, but most are done on the Internet. Also, once an Internet interview is completed and stored, it can be revisited again and again, and will come up whenever someone searches her name or the subject's key words.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kathy Walker's Roasted Asparagus - recipe

Kathy Walker's Roasted Asparagus

2 bunches of fresh asparagus
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to taste

Wash and trim asparagus, so it is sand-free and the tough ends are removed.

Place asparagus in a roasting pan that has room to spread it out so that it is not layered thickly.

Drizzle with Olive Oil. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake in a medium oven for 35 minutes, or until tender.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Catching Up -- about ebook sales

We are working on payroll. It is taking more time this quarter as a higher percentage of authors have sold books than ever before. That's the good news.

Again, e-books are outselling print in vast numbers. The bad news is that most authors only sold one or two copies each, meaning that we must write many more checks, because we DO pay every penny due, every quarter. It's a time-consuming process, but a welcome one. Actually, paying authors is the thing we like best to do. The good news is that one enterprising author sold more than 2200 copies of her several titles. We can only hope she is as pleased as we are proud of her efforts.

Sales are up overall at every sales site, yes, even at Write Words, though we sell very few books directly from our own site anymore. Each sales site has it's own advantages and disadvantages.

Amazon (Kindle) sales are up the most by far, which is a good thing, as they pay the best royalties. Their "loan a book to a friend" policy--much bemoaned on some authors' lists as costing sales and so on -- qualifies for a MUCH higher royalty per sale. If the publisher does not check the block to allow a "loan" the book is only eligible for a lower royalty (about half). Also it means only that Kindle owners can share a purchased book with a friend (who also has a Kindle account) not distribute multiple copies of them to anyone, anytime, anywhere, and NOT sell them over and over again as "used books" on eBay. This whole policy is meant to get customers to urge their friends to buy Kindles, a strategy that will provide a wider customer-base to all of us. Average Kindle author payment (with loan checked) comes to $1.62 per title.

Barnes & Noble (Nook) sales are up, though they continue to be the poorer-paying market, and most of those are "library" sales, which are considered a 2-week "loan" of the book. The "library" file is downloaded by the customer, then disappears from the Nook reader automatically after two weeks, and if the buyer has not finished it, he must pay the full price to get it back as a keeper. Loan copies pay only a quarter of the book's List (whatever B&N decides to list it for) which the publisher and author then have to share. Average author payment for a Nook loaner is $0.69 while a permanent purchase goes for, again on average, $1.10.

Fictionwise sales for the quarter, are down. Some publishers have speculated (on the publisher's lists) that this may be due to Smashwords (a new distributor site that concentrates its efforts on self-published authors or publishers with very few titles). We do not participate in Smashwords, as they but duplicate the services already available through Fictionwise (making books available to customers and affiliates in many different formats) and do not have nearly as wide a list of affiliates as FW, though they do prepare files for listing in the iBookstore. We believe the sales drop at FW is caused by the number of people choosing to buy the new Kindle, or Nook, machines and thus moving to B&N or Amazon for direct sales. These two new machines, along with the iPad, each with it's own exclusive format, are presently dominating the e-book sales markets. And thus most new customers are buying books either in Kindle or Nook formats. Amazon lists all Kindle titles at iBookstore, as well.

Kindle has a free downloadable e-reader application for iPads (which are portable computers and are sold with no in-place e-reader software). In fact kindle (like its predecessor, Mobipocket) has free downloadable applications that will allow MOST Brands of e-book readers and almost all computers, to read e-books in kindle format.

Mobipocket continues to be our weakest large-distribution seller, as most customers are European (payment is in Euros) and we only sell books in English. Still, it's a worldwide market and one we will continue to pursue.

All Romance E-books/Omnilit continues to pay the highest royalty -- 70% of the list price (this was recently matched by for those publishers who approve their customer loan policy. Also AR does very little discounting of publisher's list prices It is primarily a romance-readers site, still concentrates highly on erotica, and our sales there are not overwhelming, but still well worth the effort of listing your titles there. Average author payment for an AR sale is $1.90.

Coffee-Time continues at the bottom of the distribution lists, having sold 1 book for us in the last three months and none at all in the preceding quarter.

As always, our policy is to make our author's titles available to as wide a readership as possible, giving them opportunity for sales over a wide range of markets.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Finding Time to Write? -- writing tip

Question from the e-mail: I have a life, I'm the mother of teenagers, How can I ever find time to write?

Answer: I can't promise success, but will be happy to share my method.

When I first started to write, I was juggling a full-time job with teens, and college classes. Back then, I asked the same question of Alice Orr, who said, "Do it Anyway!" Believe it or not, that was a big help and made me sit down and think....

Part of my problem was feeling guilty. I believed I should not take time to write "away" from my family, when work and study demands were so stringent to begin with. So I tried to find time that wouldn't do that and ended up writing from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. (when everyone else got up) two times a week. This worked out well with my schedule as a newspaper reporter. I could write news copy tired, but I surely had to be fresh for fiction. And most of my novel Killraven, was written during the years I was a reporter on a daily newspaper with a 2-story a day quota.

The time worked well for me, because no one rapped on my door to ask me where the peanut butter was. Interruptions are the death of inspiration. Yes, I know, all the advice-givers and instruction books say to "write every day, even if it's only half an hour." But sometimes that's just not possible. Tuesday and Thursday mornings were possible then, in my busy life.

The "How to" books all say to “write every day” but that may not always be possible. Some writers, me for instance, can’t work in short bits of time. If I wrote 30 minutes a day, I’d never get anything done, as it takes me 30 minutes to figure out where I left off and what I want to do next and then to “think” myself into the kind of deep-concentration where the piece will flow.

Some writers can work 10 minutes at a time. I had a student who wrote on her laptop while she waited to pick up her kids at soccer practice. That’s great if you can do it. Works fine for those writers who work from a detailed outline. Others of us need a couple of hours at least. But if you did write 30 minutes a day, that’s still only 3.5 hours a week. For some of us every Saturday morning, or a couple of nights from 8 to 10 p.m. instead of TV, would give us more writing time than that proverbial half hour every day that the writing gurus advise. The trick is to set up a schedule that fits your life and then stick to it. If Saturday morning is your best writing time, and someone calls about a picnic, a golf game, or a shopping spree — you just have to say, “Sorry, I have a previous appointment.” Sometimes it helps to write it on your calendar, so it’s already there when you check for dates.

If you choose the wee, silent hours, as I did, then be careful not to do it too often. Even when things are going really well and you can hardly bear to stop, don't throw two many extra days in there, because if you do it every day you will soon find yourself falling asleep at your desk.

Each of us has talent, ability, time, and duty. Figure out your best time, find a practical compromise, and make a regular commitment to your work. First thing you know you will be feeling guilty about not writing. And that's the mark of a true professional.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Swedish Coffee Bread - Recipe

Carlene Dater’s Swedish Coffee Bread

Cream together, ½ cup butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar -
Add 2 beaten eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla. Mix well.
Add 2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder and ½ tsp. Baking soda. Mix in flour to form batter.

In a separate bowl, mix ½ cup chopped walnuts, 2 tsp. Sugar and ½ tsp. Cinnamon.

Put half the batter in a greased Angel food cake pan or, anyway a pan with a hole in the middle.

Sprinkle half the nut mixture on batter in pan. Add remaining dough then add the rest of the sugar/nut/cinnamon mixture on top. Bake one hour in 350-F or 177-C degree oven. Yummy.

Contributed by Carlene Dater, author of The Colors of Death...Proving yet again that no good deed goes unpunished, Callie Sue agrees to help her uncle while he is ill. But murder happens and Callie’s uncle is suspect #1. His employees act suspicious and Callie has a reputation to maintain as a snoop. The only other plus is that one of the police detectives is a charmer …

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Opening Hooks: Writing tip

Question from the email: I received a letter from an editor who said, "Your opening hooks are weak or non-existent, especially the first," then she went on to say the rest of the writing was good. I know you talked a lot about hooks, but I thought they came at the ends of scenes. What's an "opening hook?"

Answer: The editor likes your work, or she surely wouldn't have taken up valuable time to write to you. It's so easy to reach for those pre-printed slips. Returning manuscripts is an unpleasant aspect of any editor's existence and most take the easy way out.

An opening hook is one that promises action-to-come to the reader, and it's usually attached to, or very near, the transition. The opening hook near the first line of a novel, should reflect the central problem that will challenge the protagonist of the story. There should be an opening hook in each scene, but none are so important as the first one in your book or short story.

One of my teachers sneered at hooks, saying they are the stuff of "hacks" and "pulp fiction" and had nothing to do with literature. I disagreed and was told to shut up, so maybe I'll sound off a bit here.

It's true, that hooks can be clumsily used by writers who still have to hone their skills. But just for the sport of it, lets take a look at some first lines of novels from authors with undeniable skill:

Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities. "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." This sentence certainly is a hook and a promise of action. The story is about the French Revolution.

Jane Austin: Sense and Sensibility. "The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex."
The story is about the Dashwood family having fallen on hard times and the key word (hook) in the transition is "had"....

Alexander DuMas (pere): The Count of Monte Cristo. "On the 24th of February, 1815, the look-out at Notre-Dame de la Garde signaled the three-master, the Pharaon from Smyrna, Trieste, and Naples. As usual, a pilot put off immediately, and rounding the Chateau d'If, got on board the vessel between Cape Morgion and Rion island."

One may be justified in saying that there is no "hook" here, beyond the arrival of a ship and the inevitable fact that an assumed "someone" will arrive on it. Yet the story of Edmund Dante (who does arrive on the Pharon) is one of a man imprisoned in the Chateau D'If, and who later escapes, then has his fortunes change, making him extremely rich (through his many adventures upon the sea), until he reappears one day in Marseilles as the wealthy "Count."

Time has not labeled any of the above writers "hacks," though Dickens was pretty much considered one while he yet lived.

What do readers think? Are opening hooks important? Should they make a promise to the reader?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dandelion Wine -- recipe

Mary Cox-Bilz’s Dandelion Wine

1 gallon Boiling water
2 qt. Dandelion blossoms
3 lb Sugar
1 Lemon; thinly sliced
1 tbsp Good yeast (If using powdered yeast, mix 1 pkg. in half a cup of lukewarm water before adding to the pot and do NOT add it until after pot cools to lukewarm.
Put blossoms in a large kettle and pour boiling water over them. Let stand 1 hour. Strain, add sugar to liquid, boil a little and skim. Allow to Cool.

When lukewarm, add lemon and yeast. Let stand 24 hours, then strain and put into sterilized clean Mason Jars or wine jugs, filling full as it’s working (with some room at the top) until only the impurities (lemon, etc.) are left in the bottom of the pot. The wine will be a beautiful pale gold color.

(In making this wine, be careful to keep all stems out, as they make the wine taste rank and give it a dark color). Seal tightly.

Contributor’s Note: Since I’m quadriplegic, I’ll get my sister Donna or my niece Jennifer to pick the dandelions. Then my Mom or Dad will do the thing with the boiling water, sugar, and Mason Jars. Then if it turns out well, I’ll just smile and say, “It’s my recipe!”

Contributed by Mary Cox-Bilz, author of How to Promote Advertise and Market Your Published Book (with Arline Chase)...A step-by-step guide that offers tools you can integrate in your own marketing plan....Marketing strategies that have been used by authors to pull their books out of boxes, onto book store shelves, and into a customer's hands.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Catching UP

Not much going on this week.

No print books went to press.

As most of you know, Shelley has been at a standstill this past two weeks, but I did my best to help out in the e-books line. The following Ebooks were completed:


Shelley's new computer came and she is still loading software, but should be up and running soon.

We have done our best to get the new amazon portal up to date and running well. SOME books did not translate from Mobi reliably. Some seemed to "drop" their book files, so I have been busy for a couple of days making new files and re-deleting books that DID migrate, but to which we no longer have the rights. MOST of that is straight now.

Time to pay authors :)

My favorite thing to do.