Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Price is Right

A couple of months ago, practically went to war with Macmillan over the sale price of e-books. I think a lot of publishers were unhappy with the $9.99 price point that Amazon established fore-books, thinking it was too low. They didn't want book buyers getting used to such a low price for literature. And this was when Amazon paid those publishers half the hardcover price for each sale. Why wouldAmazon set themselves up to take such a loss? One can only guess that they had their eye on Kindle sales.

On the other hand, publishers set the price for books on the iPad, and publishers get a 70/30 split. When Amazon took down the buy buttons for nearly all Macmillan titles. That's harsh.

Presumably Amazon wants e-book prices to be as low as possible to lure more people to buy Kindles. The more people who buy Kindles, the more people who won't buy e-books in other formats. And if you look at sales figures, it appears that the less expensive an e-book is the more copies sell. So, since, Amazon AND readers want e-books to be cheaper, smart publishers are pushing farther and farther in that direction.

Echelon Press is one of those smart publishers. To test the waters, Echelon has reduced the price of my flagship novel, Blood and Bone, to a mere $3 for the month of April. If you own a Kindle, this is your chance to read my best selling Hannibal Jones mystery and get hooked ona great detective series. Download it now while this reduced pricelasts, at

And if you want to support this crazy experiment, please pass this link on to everyone you know who owns a Kindle. I'll let you know the result at the end of the month

Friday, March 19, 2010

Coming Soon - A Thinking Person's Guest Blog

Hey guys and gals,

Want a free book signed by the author?

I’m excited about hosting an international blog book tour for Resolution 786. American author, Mohamed Mughal, will be joining our blog from 23-25 March 2010 to answer questions about his novel and about his approach to writing. Mohamed will answer up to three questions from blog visitors during the dates noted above. The first visitor to ask a question receives a free signed copy of Resolution 786!

You can read more about the novel and the author in the interview posted at .

Remember, this is an international book tour so if you miss Mohamed on my blog, you can still catch him in Germany or the U.K. at:

21-23 March 2010, “Onions and Tea” by Inna Selipanov, Germany,

22-24 March 2010, “Not-quite-a-blog” by Imran Ahmad, United Kingdom,

This should be both fun and an interesting insight into another writer's process. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Let’s Get it Started

While I was teaching my most recent class on writing basics I mentioned the importance of the first line of a novel. Today’s readers expect a writer to hook them fast and keep their attention. I spend a lot of time agonizing over the first sentence of a book and I know a lot of other writers who do the same. But when questioned, I was hard put to clearly define what a good lead sentence is or how to create one. What will let the reader know what kind of book to expect, create suspense that draws them in, yet doesn’t leave them feeling lost and confused?

In my on line search for enlightenment I came upon an entire web site dedicated to first lines. The Opening Lines section of Wikiquote is almost a class in itself, an extensive lesson on how to grab the reader at the start of your book. The lines are laid out alphabetically by book title and just in the A section I found great examples of opening with humor:

"Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out. " - The Android's Dream by John Scalzi

Profound, thought provoking starts:

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

And beginnings that tell you what the whole book will hinge on:

"Who is John Galt?" - Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

I’ll admit that I’m also partial to openings that make you want to know why:

"Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." - The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood

I was surprised to see just how many of these familiar books opened with a description of the weather, something I’ve been told is a bad idea. Of course the most famous bad writing example starts there: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Anyway, I found the pages to be a fun read, and I think others who enjoy short works might enjoy trolling thru these opening lines and if they work, you might be looking up the books too.

BTW, I am particularly proud of the opening line for my short story, “A Little Wildness.”

"Sometimes Hannibal thought he could actually hear trouble coming."

I hope it convinces others to check that little story out at Echelon Shorts.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Schizophrenia and the Writer;or What's that pervert doing behind the tree?

I'd have to be crazy not to share this cute but oh-so-true guest blog from top notch historical fiction author Lisa M. Campbell. Take it away, Lisa!

E.L. Doctorow once said, "Writing is a socially acceptable form ofschizophrenia." As a reader, I never understood. Now, as a writer, I agree with part of that quote, as I tend to live inside my head more often than not. I'm just not certain the way I go about the writing process is socially acceptable.

Merriam-Webster dictionary describes schizophrenia as "a psychoticdisorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life."

In the beginning, I had a problem with Doctorow's assertion until I dissected this statement and realized his quote wasn't too far off themark. After all, those of us who write fiction, and romance inparticular, spend a lot of time shaping characters, situations, and places in our imagination, agonizing over their fictional lives fordays, months and sometimes years.

Now, before you shake your head in complete denial, check your concentration level the next time you study a couple sharing a passionate kiss. Ask yourself this question. Were you a bit more interested in cataloguing hand and lip placement for the upcoming first kiss scene in your manuscript, rather than giving the couple a passing glance? Uh-huh, thought so. Now that I have your attention, ask yourself another question. Do you find yourself falling off chairs, or skulking around corners to eavesdrop on private conversations for the sake ofc haracter development? What interests you more, the topic of the discussion, or the emotions behind it? If you have answered at least one of these questions, you, my fellow writer, are completely uninvolved within your external environment. Mmm-hmm... shocking, is it not?

A solitary person, I shy away from such behaviors in my un-writing life,and yet, I have no problem indulging in these dubious traits for the sake of my story. Therefore, I can safely assume this is writer's schizophrenia taking over. Now what, you may ask? Well, the next step should be admitting there is a problem, and finding a solution to correct the behavior before you wind up in an arraignment hearing.

Unfortunately, it's difficult to pin down such inappropriate actions ifyou're unaware of them. Enlisting the aid of family and friends is a proactive first step, though I have to admit my own husband isn't always useful in certain circumstances. He's a great help positioning himself between my subjects and me when he sees I'm sidling closer to a group, notepad at the ready, to record outbursts and the like. However, he's more than eager to parse a few love scenes when I want to confirm positions or pacing. In this instance, he supports my schizophrenia one hundred percent---and in the end that is all any of us wants; one special someone who understands, accepts, and supports the schizophrenic side of a writer's life.