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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What is "layering?" -- writing tip.

Question from the e-mail: Someone in my writers' group mentioned "layering" as a technique. I never heard the term before, can you tell me what they meant?

Answer: Sometimes, I use a method I call "layering." I'm sure this isn't a technique original to me and believe that many writers may work in this fashion. Didn't know anyone else used the term, but then when I taught at the correspondence school I carried an average student load of 500 over the 15 years I worked there. So, I have a lot of ex-students who might have gone on to call it that, too, for want of a better name.

I write in layers, concentrating on one thing at a time and going through the material several times with a single objective in mind. This method works for me and it worked for some of my students. My usual practice is to write the first draft hot -- slash and burn straight through to the end of the story -- not stopping for anything. No rewriting until the first draft is DONE.

Some writers see the action "like a movie" in their head. Some are auditory. I tend to "hear" my characters, so I know my images in first draft are weak. First thing, I go back and layer in every image I can think of. I'm only working on images at this point. Show, show, show, show, show!

By the time I've finished that, I discover that I've added a lot of the "over-explanation" that seems to plague my work. Then I go back again and cut prepositional phrases. I search for: and, to, of, because, but; for, and any other prepositions and make certain that I need BOTH bits of information. If, as often happens with me, I've said the same thing two ways, then I cut one prepositional phrase.

Then I go back again and rewrite the transitions, and end of scene hooks, to make sure I've not left out anything important. The transition (opening sentence of a scene) must ALWAYS contain the who, where, and when, and I remind myself, when checking these, that the viewpoint character Must be mentioned First. The end-of-scene hook should leave the reader with a question that will be answered later in the story.

For my final layer, I look for anything that can be left out of dialogue. In real life if someone says, "Where did you get that hat?" Someone else will say, "Why? What's wrong with it?" But in dialogue, the answer should be, "Macy's." Sometimes I have a real tendency to let characters talk on and on when they should be saying, "Macy's." So for this layer, I tighten things up.

I have a one-track mind and sometimes it jumps the track. I can't think of everything all at once. Thank goodness, in writing, we don't have to.

Sure it would be nice if everything came out perfect in the first draft. That may happen with some writers, who knows? But it sure doesn't happen with me. So I use "layering" to fix it.

The good news is, as Anne LaMotte is fond of reminding us, no matter how execreble a first draft is, once we have that one down, we can fix it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jalapeno Cheese Balls - Recipe

Ed Petty’s Jalapeno Cheese Balls

2 lbs. mild and grated cheddar cheese
1 lb. prepared pimiento cheese
1 lb. softened cream cheese
1 7-oz. jar of chopped jalapeno peppers
2 medium chopped onions
6 cloves of minced garlic
4 tbs. lemon juice
4 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 4-oz. bottle of chili powder

Mix all ingredients except chili powder together and shape into 1-lb. balls. Put chili powder into a flat dish and roll each ball until all of them are covered. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap or tin foil and refrigerate until all of them are set. Makes four to five balls depending on size.

Contributed by Edward Petty, author of Four Flesh Feasts and an After Dinner Mint, Naked, and Jared’s Little Playground...People can only be pushed just so far before they snap and claim justifiable revenge. This is not your everyday, garden-variety retelling of 'Good' versus 'Evil'.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Royalty Payments Question -- writing tip

Author K. S. Brooks posted this on Facebook, thinking it was a joke.
A testimony to the economy for authors: "I got my royalty statement for last quarter and instead of a check there was a bill with it."
This whole thing started at my hairdresser yesterday. She asked how the "book market" was and I was trying to explain to her that last quarter had slowed down a lot for everyone I've spoken to. She actually came up with the "bill" with the royatly statement instead of a check! I thought that was pretty funny. :)

This is not really a joke.

Actually, some sales sites charge authors an annual fee to list their books for sale. Some charge $12 a year, some more. We have seen listing fees as high as $35 annually.

Amazon would never do this, but some other sites do. In some cases, the fee gets billed whether or not there are sales to deduct it from! So this actually DOES happen to some authors who list books for themselves. Publishers with more than 25 titles are usually exempted from such fees...

Self-publishing makes perfect sense if your name is already known. Recently self-published authors like Steven King and J.K. Rowling will have no problem finding an audience. Authors who are prolific, technically adept, and good at self-promotion, can make a good living just selling e-books.

But there can be disadvantages, there, as well. Those "listing fees" for instance that only crop up in the finest print, where it stresses they will be deducted from your royalties. It may not mention that you will still have to pay the fee if there are NO royalties. When a slump comes along, as it did last quarter...well, authors get bills instead of checks. That's not a joke.

We have more than 300 authors. Only 78 got checks last quarter. But NOBODY got a bill for their titles being listed for sale on our website! Or for our listing their work for sale in anybody else's on line store, either. And it takes quite a bit of technical expertise to get the books listed on the other store sites. Each site requires submission in a different format, for instance. Converting all the book files takes us a lot of time, but it also gives our authors more of a chance to offer their work to a growing audience of e-book readers. That's not being good-natured. When our authors make money, we make money. It's work we SHOULD do.

There are, though, sales venues we don't pursue. Some venues are in business to sell books, even some who charge fees are in business primarily to sell books. But the plain fact is that some venues are in business to make money by charging authors for services. We deal only with those sites that we genuinely feel have the authors' best interests at heart. We choose not to deal with sites that may be designed to make money from selling services to the authors, rather than from actually selling books.

One venue we queried, after authors mentioned it to us, offered to sell us a book on how to prepare our files to be uploaded on their sales site, and the book was available to anyone who wanted to post books with them, at only $25! Most sites provide a free PDF with file prep directions to anyone who clicks on "download."

We read their contract VERY carefully, and decided to opt out of that venue, even though other publishers were (at the time) shouting that they were the best thing ever, the "only place you need to be!" and the answer to the prayers of all self-published authors who wanted to "maintain control."

Now, on some private lists, those same enthusiastic people complain of non-payment.... And for the record, I'm not saying they aren't being paid for sales at the venue. We are quite certain the company adheres to the letter of their contracts. We have no personal knowledge of how that venue operates financially, as we are not participants there. We only know that after reading their contract, we chose not to sign it.

Many fee-charging venues are Big Business with well-recognized names. Others are smaller. It's the Internet. ANYone can set up a web site. If you are self-published, check out all venues carefully. Note how many hits they get per month, see how many books they have of their own, or how many are the result of being an "affiliate" of a larger site. Check how many larger sites they list their original titles with. Then read the contract again.

Not all sales venues charge fees, of course, and I won't name the ones that do here. I'm just saying to READ all contracts carefully. Be aware that such fees exist and then choose whether the price is worth it to you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Catching UP!

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

A FRIGHT OF GHOSTS, by Helen Chappell

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

TOO DANGEROUS, by Geoff Geauterre

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 10, 2011

Ginger Cookies - Recipe

Brenda Boldin’s Ginger Cookies

2 cups self rising flour
(OR 2c. flour, 1tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. salt)
1 tsp. ginger
11/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
½ cup molasses
1 egg yolk

Mix sugar and shortening; add molasses and egg yolk. Sir in dry ingredients. Roll on lightly floured surface, 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets at 350-F or 177-C degrees for 10 minutes.

Cool before removing from cookie sheet.
Makes approx. 30 cookies.

Contributed by Brenda Boldin, author of the Alex Masters Series, Dead Birds Don’t Sing, Jailbird, A Bird by Any Other Name, and Swan Song...Alex Masters is back, calling herself “Lexi” now, and working a real job in her brother’s software company. Money disappears, disks go missing, then a dead body turns up, and once again Alex/Lexi is suspect Number One.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Question from the e-mail -- writing tip

Question: What's a Triple-O Outline? I never heard the term before....

Answer: It's a technique I used to teach in my classes, though not in the workshop you attended at the International Womens' Writing Guild conference at Saratoga where we met. Essentially, it's a shortcut to doing a plot outline....

I have a handout on it and will post it below.

Triple O Plot Outline

Every story is about someone who wants something and whether they get it or not. Any story plot can easily be broken down into three parts: Objective; Obstacles; Outcome, sometimes referred to as the Triple-O Outline. There are hardly any new plots, so don’t be discouraged if “it’s been done.” The challenge for any writer is to make the characters and events so fresh and interesting that the reader forgets they have seen the plot before.

Plots for short stories should be short. If too much action is incorporated, the story will grow longer and longer and may become unwieldy. If too many obstacles occur, the reader could grow impatient and give up.

Be careful not to confuse “back story” (information needed to explain the characters personality and mindset to the readers), with current plot action. Whatever has happened before the real action begins is “back story”. Be careful not to confuse explanatory action, with a plot turning point. A plot turning point is always when something CHANGES forever.

To use a classic example, in the story Cinderella her mother’s death and her father’s remarriage to the evil step-mother, are all “back story”. The mean way the rest of the family treats Cindy is explanatory action used to set up the objective--more back story. Because the Objective for Cinderella, is that she wants to go to the ball. Until Cinderella decides she wants to go to the ball nothing has really happened, everything is going on as usual. Remember, plot always happens when something changes. When the character knows what he or she wants, that is the objective and the objective is always the beginning of the story, the beginning of the Plot. Now the character has a problem to solve – how to get what s/he wants. Once there is a problem statement, it’s time to get on with the story.

If there is no problem, nothing is happening, and there is no story. Stories are about overcoming something. If there is no “overcoming” then there is no satisfaction to the reader at the end.

Here are The Triple-Os

Objective: The objective (some call it object, but I like objective better) is what the character wants. Once your character knows what s/he wants, s/he has an objective. Cinderella wants to go to the ball. Her sisters are going and she darned well wants to go, too.

Obstacles: Whatever stands in the character’s way of getting what s/he wants are Plot Obstacles. There's an old writer's axiom called the "rule of three" that tells us not to include more than three things in any one sentence.

For hundreds of years three has been a magic number in our culture. Genies grant three wishes, Cinderella had two ugly sisters, there are usually three turning points or complications in a story plot, with the last one resulting in the crisis/bleak moment (some people call it the “black moment” and my friend Carla Neggers calls it the “big gloom”), just before the resolution. So it is unwise to plan more than three obstacles in any plot.

Cinderella’s obstacles are not the ugly step-sisters, the way she is treated by her mean and jealous step-mother, or her father’s inability to see through his new wife. These are her obstacles:
1. She has nothing to wear.
2. She has no way to get there.
3. She has a fairy-godmother (who solves the first two), BUT she must be home by midnight or the magic wears off!

As with most story plots, obstacles one and two are overcome, but obstacle three leads to what I like to call the bleak moment. In every story there is (or should be) that moment when it looks as if all is lost. For Cinderella, that moment happens when she’s in the Prince’s arms and the clock strikes 12. She runs, for she knows that when the clock finishes striking, she will be standing there in rags. For Cindy, the party is over and she’ll never see the prince again. (Bleak moment)

Outcome: The outcome is simply how your story ends. Every story has an outcome. Some are happy, some sad, but whatever the outcome the main character or his or her circumstances should change because of it. In our sample story, the Prince finds the slipper. Truly smitten, he searches for Cindy until he finds her. And the Outcome, of course, is they marry and live happily ever after.

Not every story has a happy ending, of course, but there must be a resolution and the story will be better received if that resolution is satisfactory to the reader. Take the movie version of Titanic. (Another Cinderella, story plot.) Unlike Cindy, Rose is rich, but she is also a victim of her family and of her abusive fiance. Here, quoted from the movie, is Rose’s problem statement:

"I saw my whole life as if I'd already lived endless parade of parties and cotillions, yachts and polo matches...always the same narrow people, the same mindless chatter. I felt like I was standing at a great precipice, with no one to pull me back, no one who cared...or even noticed."-- Rose DeWitt Bukater

Rose’s Objective: Is to escape the life she lives and a loveless marriage so that she can find freedom.

Rose’s obstacles:

1. Her family and fiancé who punish her when she doesn’t conform

2. Depression that leads her to consider suicide.

3. The ship’s sinking and Jack’s death (bleak moment)

Rose’s Outcome:

Though Jack dies, Rose is rescued and goes on.

Rose is Cindy in reverse. She’s a girl who has everything, money, position, and a millionaire fiancé. Yet Rose is severely depressed and feels confined by her life. Then she meets Jack, a free spirit. Instead of going to the palace ball, they dance with the peasants in steerage. Even though Jack dies when the ship sinks, Rose goes on to dump her fiancé, and to live out all the dreams she and Jack had planned together.

This is evidenced by her photo collection, Rose as a pilot, on a roller-coaster, riding a horse, and treading the boards as an actress.

So ther's not a happy ending to the romance, but a satisfactory ending to the story, because Rose has escaped from the narrow-minded people and her confined life, she has changed forever, and goes on to find a fulfillment for herself.

Even though the hero dies, Titanic is still a romance.

The ending, while sad, resolves the issues, and is satisfying to the reader.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cranberry Jelly - recipe

Joan Bramsch’s Home Made Cranberry Jelly

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 package (12 oz) Ocean Spray fresh or frozen cranberries

In a saucepan, mix sugar and water. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil. Add cranberries. Return to boil, reduce heat, and boil gently for 10 minutes or until jelly starts to gel: stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and cool completely at room temperature - then refrigerate. Makes approx. 2 1/4 cups. Serve with hot biscuits or it’s equally good over vanilla ice cream.

Contributed by Joan Bramsch, author of With No Reservations...This sizzling romance features Ann Waverly, hotel executive, and Jeffrey Madison, an unkempt late-night arrival seeking a room. Though he keeps secrets he awakens in Ann a longing so powerful, she is stunned.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Question on Lending - Bottom line: writing tip

Question from Elizabeth Eagan-Cox: I noticed this week that on Amazon's home page, they have a notice regarding their new feature: "Kindle Owners' Lending Library". How will this impact our book sales and profits?

Elizabeth also included the text of Amazon's message to customers below:

Today we're announcing a new benefit for Kindle owners with an Amazon Prime membership: the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Kindle owners can now choose from thousands of books to borrow for free, including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers — as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates. No other e-reader or e-book store offers such a service.

Answer: There is currently a big brou-ha-ha about this decision on Amazon's part as if none of us ever heard of the concept before. But years ago, in a letter that went out with our authors' payment checks, I mentioned that Amazon was doubling (yes, that's right, doubling!) their current royalty fees to authors who would allow future lending of their books. If they didn't want to "lend" later, authors and publishers had to notify them immediately.

The difference between 35% and 70% being obvious, I said I planned to take advantage of the increased royalty and to let me know if they disagreed so I could opt their titles out. No one objected.

In fact I had several e-mails from authors wanting to know if I was aware of it and "on top of" getting them the increased fees. Why the increase? Several other stores were already paying 70%. Amazon decided to meet their price, because they wanted publishers to list books with them and to make certain their inventory was as wide as possible, and they weren't left out as a market in favor of stores that paid a higher royalty rate, especially as the release of the first Kindle reader was imminent.

Amazon pays 70% royalties on all Kindle books sold in the US, 35% for foreign sales, and they have been paying that for years, all the while promising Kindle owners that e-book lending was coming. Now they've posted a notice that it's here, and it's a Big Surprise?

So what's the bottom line?** Say, Amazon pays 70% royalty, on a book that costs 6.50, a total of $4.55 gets paid to you and your publisher. Publisher and author split that 50/50 and each of us gets paid $2.27.

How does this compare to an e-book sold by a mass-market publisher with hard backs on bookstore shelves?

Most mass-market Standard Publisher's Contracts pay the authors 15% of the retail price for hard cover and e-book prices. A new e-book from a mass market publisher usually sells for around $14.99. Fifteen percent authors' royalties on that is $2.25.

So at 70% payment, if they sell one copy, and lend one copy out for free -- you are still even with the original 35% payment.

**Amazon and other bookstores pay a percentage of what they COLLECT, and often discount books to special interest groups, book clubs, readers' groups and so on. So the figures given above for the list price, may not reflect your exact payment on every sale, but authors ALWAYS collect 50% of royalties paid to us from outside sales venues.

What does your publisher do for their share? I can't speak for other publishers, but this one edits the copy, prepares the files for publication and distribution, assigns an ISBN, Typesets the manuscript, does the page lay-out, and designs the cover. We also invest the salary of employees and pay any fees involved, all without cost to the authors.

We then convert the files to the needed formats sales venues' formats and upload to online bookstores for you, making your book available in digital stores in formats ready to run on the many different e-book reading devices.

We then check on each of nine sales venues to keep track of sales, extract sales data, and compute amounts due. They pay you every cent due, every quarter. They prepare W2s for you, and any other authors whose earnings mount high enough to require them, for the IRS.

Now most of the discussion I've read on the publishers', authors' and industry lists has not adequately taken into consideration that to "borrow" a book, the customer must be a member of Amazon Prime. NO ONE can borrow unless they Sign Up for Amazon Prime! Bottom line: This is a SALES GIMMICK! And that's all it is.

What is Amazon Prime? Let Amazon answer that...

"Amazon Prime is a membership program (like other buyers clubs, you pay to belong to) that gives you and your family unlimited fast shipping, such as FREE Two-Day shipping and One-day shipping for $3.99 per item on all eligible purchases for an annual membership fee of $79!"

Members who own Kindle devices can also choose from thousands of books -- including more than 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers -- to borrow and read for free, as frequently as a book a month with no due dates, from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

That sounds like you're getting to borrow thousands of books, until you read the part about "one per month! "

So, bottom line, to ever "borrow" a free book, the customer must be a Member of Amazon Prime, and must be a Kindle Owner, and if they meet both criteria, they can "borrow free" ONE BOOK per month! Or Twelve in a year!

My advice, Elizabeth, is to look at all this as a free promotional opportunity. Get on Facebook and Twitter and advise any Amazon Prime customers to "borrow" a free copy of GHOST OF A CHANCE, the first in your series. If they like it, they might actually BUY the rest before the month is out.

I'm serious. As a happy Kindle owner, though Not an Amazon Prime Customer, I can tell you that the best part of my Kindle is Instant Gratification.

In the old days, BK (before Kindle), I would see a book mentioned on TV and think that's interesting. Then six months later, when I happened into a bookstore (a 68-mile drive from my home), I might see it and pick it up. Or a year or so later, when it came out in more-affordable paperback, I might buy it at Wal-Mart or the supermarket, if they had it, and if I remembered.

With my Kindle, I can see an author on a morning show, push the button, and the book downloads automatically into my Kindle, before the next commercial is over. I did this last Friday and finished the book on Saturday morning. Enjoyed every minute of it, too! Also the Kindle price is comparable with a paperback and MUCH less than the hardcover price...

So use this opportunity and don't listen to all those sour-grapes people who are shouting, "AMAZON IS OUT TO STEAL YOUR WORK AND CHEAT YOU!"

That's just not true. Amazon is in business to make money for Amazon! They don't care about you and me, they care about their customers and making money. Period. And, usually, when they make money: we make money, too.

To Amazon, we are simply product suppliers. To US, they are a door marked, "Opportunity."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Catching UP!

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

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

DREW GETS IT RIGHT, by Ludima Burton

YOUR PLACE OR MINE, by Lynette Hall Hampton


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

A FRIGHT OF GHOSTS, by Helen Chappell

A HOUSE TO KILL FOR, by Judith Reveal

ON WINGS OF TRUST, by Anna Dynowski

Galleys Still Out with the authors:


A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT, by Hugh Carter Vinson

Fictionwise best sellers:

1. Very Long [185919 words]Last Stop Freedom by Ann Nolder Heinz [Historical Fiction/Mainstream]
2. Long [74463 words]Snow Escape by Roberta Goodman [Mystery/Crime/Suspense/Thriller]
3. Very Short [2061 words]Calamity Jane by Martha Jane Cannary [History]
4. Long [101064 words]Grimm's Fairy Tales by Brothers Grimm [Classic Literature/Young Adult]
5. Long [66544 words]Blue Diamonds by Spencer Dane [Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime]
6. Long [54667 words]The Telepaths of Theon [Sarah's Landing Book 2] by Elena Dorothy Bowman [Science Fiction]
7. Long [53449 words]The Barbarians [Sarah's Landing Book 3] by Elena Dorothy Bowman [Science Fiction]
8. Long [60785 words]Genesis [Sarah's Landing Book 4] by Elena Dorothy Bowman [Science Fiction]
9. Long [66889 words]A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett [Classic Literature/Children's Fiction]
10. Long [55838 words]Cheating Death by Judy Reveal [Mystery/Crime]

Fictionwise highest reader rated:

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.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting Started -- writing tip.

Question from the e-mail: Arline, how did you get started as a writer? How did you find time to write?

Answer: I am a late-bloomer, but from the time I learned to read, I had wanted to be a writer. Life happened. Then two other things happened. I hit 40 and read a book called Wish-Craft.

That book changed my life. In essence it said that it's never too late to pursue your dreams. All you have to do then, is follow them in ways that fit in with with your practical day-t0-day life. I wanted to be a writer. I lived in the boonies, had a husband, home, full time job, and juggled two teenagers with college classes. I had thought that "following my dream" would mean leaving everything else I cared about behind so I had never pursued that dream. But the book said, if I wanted to be a writer, the important thing was to write: on some level, somewhere. I took a writing class as part of my college work and started writing and thanks to the good advice I found in Writer's Digest magazine, I started selling right away.

Articles and short stories were written between 4 a.m. and 6:30 when the kids got up. Mostly they sold to small magazines or regional magazines and newspapers. I sure didn't get rich on them. But I was enriched BY them.

When arthritis interfered with my job as a librarian (books are heavy, yunnno), I was offered the only job I ever had in my life that didn't require my lifting anything heavier than a pencil. Due to that job, as a reporter on a Daily newspaper, I only wrote one book, Killraven, before disability sent me home for good.

Then I had more time to write books.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pavlova -- recipe

Barbara Adams’s Famous New Zealand Pavlova *
*The Australians claim it, but we are sure it started in New Zealand.

3 egg whites
3/4 tsp. Vinegar
3/4 cup fine sugar (Confectioner’s Sugar)
½ tsp. Vanilla
pinch of salt

Beat 3 egg whites till stiff with three quarters of a teaspoon of vinegar.
Add a pinch of salt. Gradually add three quarters of a cup of fine sugar
and half a teaspoon of vanilla. Beat till thick. Pile onto dampened grease
proof paper and bake for three quarters of an hour in a cool oven (200-F or 93-C.
When cooked, cool, then cover with whipped cream and decorate with pieces
or peaches, strawberries or kiwi fruit to give in a real south sea flavor.

Contributed by Barbara Adams, author of COBWEBS...Sue cannot shake her misgivings when her timid aunt marries an overbearing bully....An intricate web of lies and deceit is slowly unraveled. But where does Sue's boyfriend Jason fit into the puzzle? The reader is drawn towards an enticing but sticky ending.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Character Planning Interview-- writing tip

Question from the e-mail: I lost the materials I had from the course I took with you. Do you still have the character planning sheet from the course.

Answer: Actually the one from the course is copyrighted to Writer's Digest and as I no longer work for them, I can't distribute it now. Here, instead, is one that I originated and you will find it quite different from the other, but still, I think, useful.

Who IS Your Character?

Plot should come out of character, evolving naturally from each character's beliefs 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.
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 should have a reason (motivation)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 be changed by what happens in 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: Sometimes it helps to pick an actor to play the role, so you will have a visual image of what he or she looks like)