Wednesday, February 29, 2012

John Steinbeck - Six Tips for the Aspiring Writer

I grew up in Salinas, California, the setting for my mystery series, and the home of John Steinbeck.

Salinas has Steinbeck's childhood home, and a museum dedicated to his memory.

To me, Steinbeck's books were like a taste of my family's history. When I read the Red Pony, I could see the land, as I still see it in the southern Salinas Valley.

So when a friend on Twitter pointed out this link about writing from Steinbeck's 1962 Nobel Prize speech, I had to share. Below are his 6 points of writing. The link to the Six Tips ( you can listen to Steinbeck's Nobel Prize Acceptance speech) is at the bottom of this post.

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person–a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it–bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

6. If you are using dialogue–say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Blog Tour Rant- Live and Learn

So, I took the plunge, I did a month long Blog Tour. This tour entails having blog posts, book promos, or book reviews on other book/reading blogs.

I took the time to write several blog posts and I provided my novel for reviews. Everyone told me this was going to be a time consuming ordeal, so I should hire someone to plan the blog tour for me. So I did. I paid a bit of money, not cheap, by the way, because I was told the return on my investment would be worth it. Was it? In a word, okay two words, absolutely NOT!

The way I see it, if I'm being booked on blogs that don't even promote themselves, what the hell am I doing there? If I wanted to write a blog post and then have to promote it myself, I can just post it to my own blog. And if I'm doing the promoting of the blog tour, not getting any traffic, other than the people who already know me or have purchased my book, then how is this promotion at all?

The first few days were lots of fun, I was on my first tour. I'd post to Facebook, Twitter, and my IRI network, and they'd like the post and come by to comment, but hell, they already have my book. And they have their own books to promote, they don't have time to shout from the rooftops for me.

So then I stopped hitting up the usual suspects, because let's be honest, they were sick of commenting every other day on the blogs where I was a guest.

I definitely commented on the blogs that hosted me and thanked them for having me as a guest, and most were kind and gracious, thanking me back. Others didn't even bother to acknowledge my existence. Either way, I still sent out Tweets and Facebook posts to let people know I was blogging at "such and such." I felt it was my duty to send people to the blogs that hosted me.

I'm going to point out one blog in particular, who does it right. Liz at was wonderful. We communicated, she was so nice and helpful, and I will forever consider her a book blog queen. She promotes the books she reviews, offering a giveaway, commenting, and bringing traffic to her website. Very cool. I should have her as a guest blogger on my site sometime. But here's the rub, she was the only person to do any promotion at all. The rest expected me to bring the people in. Hello? I was hoping for new faces, new readers, new whatever; what was the point of bringing in the people who already know me and have read my book?

I don't mind sending traffic to someone's site. As a matter of fact, I love it, but this was supposed to be about bringing in new readers, and promoting ME.  Believe me, I was stunned to see that several of the blogs had no comments at all, not even the author thanking the host. If I sound selfish, well, then so be it. I paid good money. And I was really looking forward to commenting on the posts and engaging people. I love meeting new folks.

And did I see the huge return on my investment that I was told I'd receive? What do you think?

Who do I blame? Me, of course. I took the lazy way out and paid someone to do the work for me. It's a live and learn process. But I was really hoping to bring some new readers my way. Yes, it's about getting the word out. Book promoting/marketing is hard work, and the only tried and true method is word of mouth.

Okay, my rant is over. Yes, I'm disappointed. Will I ever do another Blog Tour? You bet I will! But I'll do the legwork myself, making sure the bloggers are people who promote their own blog posts. I'm happy to promote their blogs too, but it's a win/win when we promote each other.

Have you done a blog tour? Did you set it up yourself, or pay for the service? Was it worth it? I'm curious to hear about the experience of others.

(side note: I'm very appreciative of the bloggers who took the time to read my novel and review, regardless of the traffic generated. They are exempt from this rant.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sneak Peek at Fortune's Hero by Jenna Bennett

Coming in August 2012 - Cover Sneak Peek

FORTUNE'S HERO by Jenna Bennett

Last year, space smuggler Quinn Conlan was on top of the world. He had everything a man could want: a fast ship, a great crew, a gorgeous girlfriend, lots of money, and adventure and excitement around every corner.

That all changed when he agreed to ferry a shipload of weapons to the beleaguered planet Marica, currently under siege by Rhenian forces. Now he’s stuck in a prison camp on the moon Marica-3, subjected to weekly sessions with the camp’s “medical team,” and praying for a quick death before he breaks under the torture and spills everything he knows about the Marican resistance.

When the opportunity presents itself, Quinn takes a Rhenian med tech hostage and heads into the inhospitable interior of the small moon. There, he has to keep himself and Doctor Elsa Brandeis safe from the deadly flora and fauna, as well as hidden from the prison guards searching for them, all while formulating a plan for getting his crew out of prison, his ship out of impound, and everyone out of orbit.

But when Elsa professes her love, can Quinn take the beautiful doctor at her word, or will trusting her—and his heart—condemn him and his crew to an eternity on Marica-3?