Monthly Archives: February 2014

Reading: the Ultimate Comfort Food

I read an interesting blog on USA Today’s HEA page last week that asked readers to go to their keeper shelf and name the book that was third from the left.  It was fun to see what books readers—and writers—decide are keepers.  I read many more books digitally now, so the book third from the left on my keeper shelf is dated—Jo Beverley’s St. Raven—but it’s still holds it own with today’s releases.

reading a book 5 timesMy son asked me why I keep so many books if I’ve already read them.  Well, duh!  Because I read them a second time.  And sometimes maybe a third!

Why?  You already know how it’s going to end, he asked. 

That doesn’t matter, I answered. These books are my comfort books.  I read them again because they make me happy.  

His response was the typical teenage double negative—an eye roll and a shake of the head—before leaving my office.  But, hey, I know I’m not crazy.  Just based upon the posts in the HEA blog, there are plenty of people who keep books and read them again; romance novels in particular.

Why?  Because of that comfort.   A reader always knows they’re going to get that happily ever after at the end, no matter what the main characters have to go through to achieve it.  That HEA is the premise behind the romance genre. 

But wait.  I read another blog this week.  (I know I’m on deadline, I shouldn’t be reading anything!)  This one on Dear Author.  It was a thought provoking look at HEA versus happy for now (HFN).  You can read the full commentary here.  In the article, the author opines:

Knowing that you can find constancy in a fictional love match can be a point of comfort for readers.

There’s that word comfort again.  I’m okay with an HFN ending in my books—as long as we’re not talking Gone Girl here.  (But even that ending is being changed for the movie version!)  That’s because I always infer that the couple will be together for the long haul.  I don’t always need an epilogue to wrap things up.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I love when a book has one, but it’s not a game changer.  For my Blaze series, I did write epilogues for each book.  The first was before the wedding, the second during the wedding and the third on the wedding night.  I hadn’t planned them that way, that’s just what the characters demanded.  

In my current WIP my characters are getting a HFN ending.  Not because they’ve been maddening during the writing process and I don’t want them to have an HEA, but because they’ve been through a lot and I think it would be too contrite to rush them into a wedding.  (Who says a wedding defines HEA anyway?)  Because this is the first book in a series, readers will see these two again and can follow them through the process a little more naturally than if I just gave them the requisite epilogue ending.

So what do you think?  Is a traditional HEA necessary for you to enjoy a romance?  What about epilogues? 

More importantly, what’s the third book to the left on your keeper shelf?

I can’t wait to type “the end” so I can cuddle up with St. Raven!

The Power of Free

coins in handsI subscribed to BookBub about a month ago to get emails about free and bargain books. At first, I was willing to pay $0.99 or $1.99 for books that sounded appealing to me. But now? With these emails coming to my inbox every day, I don’t even look at the books that aren’t free unless they’re by an author I know.

That probably sounds harsh. No one understands better than I do that artists need to be paid for their work.

But BookBub is advertising. You make your book available for free or at a discount so you can broaden your reach, not because you’re hoping to make a lot of money from the promotion. The goal is to attract new readers—readers who will love your work and buy the other novels you’ve got for sale. Readers who will tell their friends how much they loved your book.

When you look at the statistics on BookBub’s site, it’s pretty clear that authors aren’t raking in the cash by charging for their books rather than offering them for free. The more you charge for the book, the more it costs to advertise. For women’s fiction, the listing cost is $160 for a free book and $320 for a $0.99 book. Free women’s fiction books average 13,900 downloads, while the paid novels sell about 960 copies on average. At the 35% royalty rate for a $0.99 book, you’d be making about $336. Subtract the advertising cost, and the profit is $16.

But if you take the $160 loss to advertise the free book, and forgo the $16 profit, you reach 12,940 more readers on average vs. charging for the book. Are all the people who download the free book going to read it? No. Most of them probably won’t read it. But they’re far more likely to read the book if it’s on their e-reader than if it isn’t.

Although I write fiction, I’m also a reader. I subscribe to BookBub to discover new authors. When so many are competing for my attention, I choose the ones that offer me the best deal. Authors have to do what makes sense according to their own marketing plan. But I can’t help thinking many are missing out because they don’t understand the power of free.

What do you think? As a reader, are you more likely to download a discounted  book if it’s free than if it’s priced at $0.99 to $2.99? If you’re an author, do you have experience with promotions at different price points? What worked best for you?

Aging with Nature

As I age, I find myself looking for ways to eat healthy and increase my longevity. We all know the secret is diet and exercise. Vitamins and minerals, cardio workouts… I get it. But eating multi-vitamins have their own set of challenges. Too much of one, not enough of another, this one inhibits the absorption of that one…why can’t I just get what I need from food? It’s complicated. We’re busy, we’re watching our weight, who can eat 8 servings of fruits and vegetables in one day?

Me? I’ve decided to take small steps toward the bigger picture of good health. Take lemon water. It’s a natural digestive aid. Lemon water purges toxins from the blood which helps keep skin clear as well. The vitamin C component helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes. Just ask Martha Stewart! She drinks the juice of one lemon in a glass of water every day. Me, too. 🙂

branch of lemons

Another fabulous find is flax seed. Lots of people take this one for their heart, but I started taking it for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Not sure whether it reduces inflammation in my body or not, but I am sold on its hair and nail re-growth aspects. My hair has noticeably improved. Noticeably. And flax seed is easy to incorporate into my daily routine. I simply plop 2 tablespoons into my oatmeal every morning—or banana-strawberry smoothie—and I’m off to the races!

Another wonder food is the avocado. Avocadoes provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. Unlike the protein in steak, which is difficult for most people to digest, avocado protein is readily absorbed by the body because avocadoes also contain fiber. Protein helps sustain muscle. Muscle strength training protects against osteoporosis—a problem for aging, post-menopausal women. Ugh. Can’t wait for those days.

2 oz wheatgrass juice

I’m also beginning a wheatgrass regime. 2 oz. a day they say is good for anemia and a host of other things that ail you but anemia is something I can acutally test to prove. Two months of re-oxygenating my blood with wheatgrass and I will recheck my levels of hemoglobin, etc. I’ll keep you posted.

So how about you? Any beauty and health secrets you’d like to share?

For more on healthy eating and organic gardening, head on over to my garden blog: BloominThyme.

Uncooperative characters

This story I’m working on now is driving me mad. Or more specifically, my hero is.

Oh, he’s nice enough. In fact, he’s kind of funny, one of those men’s men whose blend of humor leans heavily toward sarcasm. And like most heroes, he’s hot–tall, handsome, muscular, and sexy, and he knows his way around a toolbelt.

What’s not to like, right?

Well, for starters, he’s a recovering (sort of) womanizer. He spent most of his youth breaking hearts and blowing around town like a fun-seeking missile, and settling down are two words that never made it into his vocabulary. His walls are high and thick and solid as steel, and he’s a master at holding everyone at arm’s length, including my heroine.

Every time I try to shape him up on the page, he pushes back. I tell him readers need a redeeming quality or two, but he wants me to keep his big ones locked down tight. I point out all the nice things he’s done — helping out an elderly neighbor, acting all tough and protective of my heroine when she finds herself in a jam — and then he goes and does something to prove me wrong, and himself an ass. He refuses to cooperate.

If my heroine doesn’t kill him, I just might.

As writers, we talk a lot about writing the story that wants to be told. Clearly, this hero is trying to tell me something, I’ve just yet to figure out what.

And the only way to do that is to keep writing.

What about you? What is your favorite kind of hero?

Moments

moment

from freedigitalphotos.net

Change can happen in a moment. A mere moment.

A song on the radio, full of nostalgia and a great beat, can pull you from the grumpies.

You can meet someone for the first time, and know in an instant that they’re going to be significant.

A bonus, or pay increase, discovered on a paycheck can suddenly lift a hovering financial stress.

Death, a last breath. That is changing.

Words expressed—and misinterpreted—in a matter of seconds can wound, confuse, strain a relationship.

A smile at (or from) a stranger can spin a mood.

I don’t have deep or extensive thoughts this morning, this is it. Just thinking on change, small change. Which can turn out to be so big, if you’re paying attention.

Are you?

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