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Future of Publishing

Last weekend I attended a great conference in St. Petersburg. Held in a hotel on the beach, it’s amazing I was able to get any work done, but I did. The discussion panels were that good. In between sessions, I did sneak out and take a few photos. Who could blame me?

St Pete Beach

Some of the more interesting take away messages from the conference centered on the print industry, as in print books vs. ebooks. We all hear about the demise of bookstores, the print book going the way of the dinosaur with the onset of ereaders, but alas, it isn’t so. Print books are here, and I believe, here to stay. You see that beach up there? Who wants to get sand in their ereader? Not me. I take paperbacks to the beach!

But it’s more than reading venue that’s dictating the trends in publishing. It’s reader habit, reader access, and reader demand. Romance and Sci-Fi readers were the first to adapt to ereaders, consuming books at alarming rates. Memoirs, cooking books, history books, not so much. However, children’s books are definitely on the rise when it comes to ebooks. Blame it on the school systems handing out iPads, but I’m loving this news–I’m working on a children’s gardening book as we speak!

lower elementary on the lookout for bugs

However, the key to survival is marketing. (Isn’t it always?) Connecting with readers, offering services they want…

Take coffee houses. Connected them to a bookstore and you have the perfect combination. Wi-Fi centers, hangout spots, readers love to be surrounded by books and fellow readers. They also love great access, hence the onset of subscriptions services for books. One monthly fee gets you a ton of books, a very appealing concept for the voracious reader. Audio books is another avenue that is exploding right now. Today’s society is on the go and they want their “content” to go with them. Fast, easy, and accessible, kinda like a Big Mac or a Starbucks to go.

Authors and traditional publishing houses might be struggling to navigate through the changing tides, but readers aren’t. They’re surfing the waves and loving it. And I should know–I’m one of them! I embrace the increase in competition, the lower prices, the new and diverse type of content.

It’s been said that the only thing constant is change and it’s true, especially now. We are living and breathing “change” and five years from now, who knows what new devices will be on the market and what discussions we’ll be having. But I bet they’ll be exciting.

The Not So Glamorous Life of An Author

authors are celebritiesNow that I’ve got a book in the bookstore, people seem to think I’m living the life of a famous celebrity:  a new car, killer shoes, exotic trips, and Antonio, the pool boy.  Seriously, if I lived that life, would I be writing fiction??

The truth?  I’m a suburban wife and mother of two, who drives a ten-year-old minivan (without an on-board vacuum, thank you very much) and who spends most of my work-out time at the physical therapist, not a swanky gym. (Although I still pay membership dues to that swanky gym for the days when I do go, which, according to my husband, isn’t often enough to offset the costs.)  On a really good day, I might look vaguely like my author photo, but only if I actually fit in to my skinny jeans.

why I'm not getting any writing doneWhat people don’t understand is that writing a book is manual labor.  Wrangling the voices in my head and navigating writer’s block takes a lot of work.  Sure, I get to work in my sweatpants, forsaking a daily shower when I’m in the zone.  But I’ve got deadlines, people.  Do you see the word DEAD in there??  Cranking out ninety thousand words in three months can be killer on a mind and body.  There is nothing glamorous in how I look or behave when I’m on deadline.  If you don’t believe me, ask my family.  On second thought, don’t.  They’re likely to post pictures on facebook.

So why do it?

Because, weeks after I’ve completed a manuscript and I’m reading it through again, I get a real high from telling the story that ricocheted around in my head for so many months.  The notes I’ve cobbled together off my iPhone and my Alpha-smart actually make sense and there’s a story there.  One that I like.  The fact that other people want to read my books is just icing on the cake.  I am awed and humbled when I meet people at book festivals and signings who actually read my book and want to talk to me about it.  That’s nothing compared to the thank-you emails and hand written letters I’ve gotten from fans.

I do secretly think some of the fans come to the signing hoping my cover model will be there also.  Another misconception about this industry is that I’ve actually met Jed Hill, the gorgeous guy who graces all three of my Out of Bounds covers.  I wish!  His mom is friends with me on facebook, though. Happy birthday, Barbara!!  Seriously, I have a son not much younger, so while I can admire his physique on my book covers, that’s where it ends.  (Okay, I put that in for my husband. And my son.  *sigh* Yeah, the diva, too.)

And speaking of Jed, here he is on the cover of book three in the series, coming May, 2014:RiskyGame_coverRevise

Those of you who’ve visited this site, my website or my author page on Facebook were expecting the title to be Wicked Game.  Yeah, so was I.  But that sometimes happens in this business.  Great minds think alike and another author had dibs on it first.  Normally, it doesn’t matter if a title is hijacked from a song, a movie or even another book, except when an author in the same publishing house is releasing that title the month before.  It was strongly suggested that I change it and I didn’t waste a moment in agreeing.  While I like the original title, Risky Game works, too.  Besides, I don’t think too many of you are looking at the printed words on the cover anyway.  Right?

What do you think of the cover?

Discovering Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland

Once upon a time, my reading choices were limited to my favourite authors but since the purchase of my Kindle, I’ve discovered new-to-me authors. While romantic comedy and women’s fiction are still my number one choice, my reading tastes have broadened and become more eclectic. And IMO, one of my favourite parts of the reading experience is discovering a new-to-me author and then reading their backlist. To a diehard reader, this is better than chocolate.

So I’d like to share some of the books I’ve recently read and loved. First off is Hollowland by Amanda Hocking.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Amanda Hocking, she was unable to sell her books to traditional publishers so began to self-publish in April 2010. Since then, she has sold over a million copies of her books. In March 2011, she signed a four book deal with St. Martin’s Press and has gone on to have a book optioned for film and another one made into a graphic novel.

Hollowland is the first book I’ve read by this author and I’ll definitely be reading more. While I’d always intended to try one of Amanda’s books – she is, after all, a superstar in the self-publishing world – my Kindle is already filled with books that I haven’t yet had a chance to read. But the other day, when I received the Free Kindle Books & Kindle News email, I saw Hollowland on it. I immediately downloaded the book on to my Kindle.

My reading MO starts out with admiring the cover, reading through the reviews, acknowledgments, then finally delving into the opening lines of the book. Monday night, I started reading Hollowland and wow, does the story start out with a bang. To whet your appetite, here’s the first sentence:

“This is the way the world ends; not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”

I’m halfway through the book and hope to finish it tonight. It’s that good. It’s the story of a nineteen year old girl’s quest to find her eight year old brother in the wasteland of a post-apocalyptic world that is filled with an army of flesh-eating zombies. Fortunately, for those of us who don’t enjoy carnage, Amanda Hocking has kept the unpleasant descriptions of zombie gore to a minimum.

If you’ve always wanted to try a book by Amanda Hocking but just haven’t gotten around to it yet, I highly recommend starting with this one. Last time I checked – just a few minutes ago – it was still free on the Amazon site.

I’m anxious to read the rest of the Hollowland series but see that book two hasn’t been released yet. It’s due out any day now but in the meantime, there’s Amanda’s My Blood Approves series to try.

So what new-to-you authors have you tried lately? And what books are high on your list of favourites?

Wild Things, You Make My Heart Zing

We live on a tiny acreage on the outskirts of a small town on the Canadian prairies. Behind our property is miles of grain fields interspersed with huge patches of dense bush and a creek which meanders through it all. So when we have visitors of the four legged variety, it should come as no surprise and yet….

The other night, unable to sleep in our too warm house, I decided to slip outside, sit on the deck, and star gaze. Out the back door I went, the squeak of the hinges magnified by the silence of the night. As I closed the door and turned toward the yard, an enormous shape caught my attention.

My heart pounded in my chest. My legs vibrated with fear. I stood there frozen and eyed the creature staring back at me. It was only a moose but still, if it charged, would I be able to get back into the house before it cornered me on the deck and ate me?

(Yes, I know, moose are vegetarians but I’m a writer, hence I have a very vivid and exaggerated imagination.)

Unmoving, I stared at the moose. Unmoving, it stared back at me. Out the corner of my eye, something moved in the dark and I noticed a second moose just a few feet away from the deck where I stood. Silence swelled around us, thick with tension, fraught with the unspoken question … who would bolt first?

I did, of course, because I’m not only a few hundred pounds less than they are, but I’m also a bigger fraidy cat. I summoned the courage to unstick my feet from the deck floor and hightailed it back into the house where I flitted from window to window, checking out our visitors with the binoculars, trying to see them with only a sliver of moonlight shining on their huge bodies.

But then a third moose joined the first two and now that the humanly threat had vanished, they proceeded to consume the leaves from my roses and fruit trees, until finally they bedded down in the yard for the night. The next morning, they’d left behind proof of their presence, little piles of dark pellet turds all over the green grass.

Thanks for the thoughtful gifts, Wild Things.

 Will they be back? As I write this post, I’m watching for them, wondering not if, but when they’ll return.  It’s not the first time a moose has wandered into the yard and so close to the house.

What wild creatures have you seen up close? What did you do and how did you react?

My Love Affair With Book Covers

I fell in love with book covers in the 1980’s when Avon published the historical romances of Kathleen E Woodwiss, Shirley Busbee, Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Sutcliffe.  Today, cover art still fascinates me, whether it’s showcased in hardcover, paperback, or e-book form.  To see the beautiful cover art of the Women Unplugged authors, click here.

One of the most spellbinding covers I’ve recently seen is from the historical romance SECRETS OF A PROPER COUNTESS by Lecia Cornwall.  This intricate story involves a woman of breeding who stands to lose everything she holds dear, the incorrigible rogue who falls in love with her, and the masquerade ball where their secrets unfold. It’s a cover colored in hues of pinks and purples and blues and with one look, the reader knows this is going to be a romance reminiscent of the historical romances of old.

On the other side of the spectrum is FLEE by Ann Voss Peterson and J A Konrath. This is a high-octane spy thriller featuring an elite spy whose cover is blown. She has twenty-four hours to thwart a kidnapping, stop a psychopath, uncover the mystery of her past, and save the world from nuclear annihilation … all while dodging 10,000 bullets. This cover, with its heroine dancing across rooftops and a multitude of assassins within firing range, is as fast and furious as the story itself.

For inspiration, I have a tear-out advertisement featuring WHAT I DID FOR LOVE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips tacked on the wall in front of my desk. When a Hollywood actress is dumped by her movie star husband, what does she do but get caught up in a calamitous elopement with her detestable former co-star who is the dreamboat-from-hell. Before she knows it, she has a fake marriage, fake husband, and maybe (or not) a fake sex life. This cover, with its heroine (sans hero) in a beautiful white wedding dress, speaks of a woman’s journey to find happiness.

Since fun, humorous fiction is one of my favorite genres, I must include SPLITSVILLE.COM by Tonya Kappes. The heroine launches an online break up service where she works under an alias. When two of her clients end up dead, putting the future of her business venture on the line, she’s the first one on the trail of the killer. When I look at this cover, there’s no doubt in my mind I’m going to spend a lot of time smiling and laughing.

And from the young adult market is STATIC by Tawny Stokes. When a seventeen-year-old band groupie meets the lead singer of her favorite band, her dream turns into a nightmare. She’s changing, turning into something not quite human. With the help of the band’s roadie, she goes after the members of the band to destroy them. On this cover, the teenage girl in the funky clothes holding a guitar looks kickass and tough enough to take on any teenage boy who dares to threaten her.

So what book covers do you love the most? And what do the covers say to you about the story inside?

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