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The Book Bible

Welcome to talented author Ana Pergakis. I asked her to do a series of posts on The Book Bible. No one has ever successfully explained to me how to set one up, and how to use it when writing a stand alone book or series. Because I looked hard and wide for someone who actually used one, when I learned about Ana's plan, I was thrilled she agreed to share it with all of us. Please join us for
the next three days as she shows us how to do it.

THE FIRST POST Thank you so much Sharon for letting me be here! I’m truly honored. I want to start this post with a little disclaimer if you will. When it comes to Book Bibles, there is no right or wrong way to organize them. I will tell you how I set up mine and you can change it to what works for you. Now let’s get into the thick of things shall we? For the purpose of this post, I’ll use my Book Bible that I made for my fantasy adventure series, The Kinir Elite Chronicles.

What you need: A three ring binder (one for each book or series) Tab dividers (make sure you have plenty!) Printer (including paper and ink of course) A three hole punch (or a single one will work too) Your imagination Labels (big and small) (optional) Setting it up: Now for a series, I keep all the information for the entire series in one notebook. Since characters and settings often repeat themselves, I find it’s easier to keep up with all the details this way. However, the set it up is the same for a single book as well, just less tabs. For the rest of this explanation, I’ll talk about setting it up for a series, just change what you need to for a single book. First thing I do is take a big label (ya know the ones about the same size as those name tags you stick on your shirt) and write the title of the series on it then stick it on the front of the binder. Then I use the smaller labels – narrow ones, and write the name again with the letters on top of each other for the spine. (This way you can still see the title when it’s on the shelf.) Now you don’t have to use labels. You can use paper and simply tape or glue them on. Whatever works for you. With the tab dividers label them as so: Characters, Setting, and Notes. You can add more if you like of course. For example, I have a tab for Languages because my characters have their own language that I need to remember through out the entire series. If your book centers around politics or religion in some way, you can have a tab for that also. I’ll talk about each of these tabs in more detail later on. Now, the rest of the tabs are for the Plot. Since I don’t always know the titles of the books in my series, I just label the tabs “Book 1 Plot,” “Book 2 Plot,” etc. Now that your binder is ready to be filled with fabulous information, it’s time to get your imagination in gear! I’m going skip the Character and Setting tabs for today, as both are very detailed and make for long posts. Notes (and other tabs) For a brief explanation, of my Languages tab that I use for my books. Since my characters are usually elves, dragons, faeries, etc, I always give them their own languages. Now, there are those that make up an entire language like J.R.R. Tolkien did with his elves in “Lord of the Rings.” I would keep such a thing in this section too. But, I don’t go that far. Usually I just have a few words for the languages – Mother, Father, Yes, No, Greetings, Currency, etc. I set up a spreadsheet in Excel for this. I have it divided like this: Word/Phrase | Pronunciation | Direct Translation | Meaning. The first two columns are pretty self explanatory. The made up word and how you pronounce it. The last two I’ll explain with an example. In my series the Kinir Elite Chronicles, the team has a saying (my elves here speak Latin by the way) Vivo Liber. Morior Bonum. The direct translation of the phrase is “Live Slow. Die Fast.” (At least as I want it to mean, I’m sure my Latin isn’t perfect!). But under the Meaning column, I explain further that really the meaning behind the words is to wish someone a long, joyous life and to not suffer in death. Of course, not all words or phrases will need the extra explanation. My Notes tab I use to keep random bits of information. One of the characters in my Kinir Elite series is a very religious person and is often praying to one God or Goddess. So I have the few deities that I made up so I remember them later. I also include any symbols I made to represent them. Basically, the Notes tabs hold any information that you have to remember, but doesn’t need a full section in the notebook on its own. Like a few deities or government ranks, etc. My rule of thumb is if I have more than a page of notes, then it warrants having its own section in the notebook. The Plot Tabs This section I hold copies of my query letter, synopsis, blurb, etc. I also make my own cover art to use on my website and blog, so I also print a copy of that here. I would keep a printed copy of the official cover art in this section also. When the book is completely finished – as in about to be released and I literally have all the edits done, I print a copy of the manuscript and put it in this section also. This is so that when I go to write the next book, I can refer to the notebook, instead of juggling two open word docs on my computer. Now, to keep these posts from being too long, I’ll stop here. Please tune in tomorrow! I’ll explain the Character tab in detail tomorrow. If you have any questions about something I didn’t explain well enough, please leave a comment here. I’ll be sure to visit all day to answer your questions.


From Where I Sit

There's lots of future in my future. And I'm so grateful I get to write, that I live on a beautiful piece of property, and get to garden, tend my chickens, be close to family and the community of writers.

Today, I'm filled with gratitude for all I have. Nothing is certain. Things change. We live in challenging times filled with pitfalls and dark caverns. Some people are dangerous. What I have to remember is to forgive them. The quote I love is “Forgive them. Change me.”
On the Naked Hero blog yesterday http://thenakedhero.com/blogging-therapy-or-vice-versa, Misa was talking about being true to herself. I liked what she said. And it got me thinking. The only thing I can change is my thoughts. My thoughts change my attitude. Change my attitude, it will change my behavior. Change my behavior and it changes the results. But it starts with my thoughts.
So today, I see years and years of prosperity, and a future “so bright I need shades,” to quote Steely Dan. And opportunity. And time to do it all.
This is Day 36 without flour or sugar. Yes, I've missed not tasting some items. But I'd rather feel like I do today. Grateful. Grateful for everyone around me.
I want to thank my writer friend Julia Barrett, who I feel will be a friend for the rest of my life, and my sounding/grounding board, for Tina Folsom and Bella Andrade, for believing in me, for helping me stumble through all the ups and downs of self publishing. For Virna DePaul for first inviting me to a RWA Chapter meeting and making me feel welcomed, and offering to review one of my early WIPs (ugh!). For Lee Lopez and Jill James, for Karin Tabke (Black Diamonds all), Brenda Novak. Sophie Littlefield at all the crew at SF RWA who again made me feel like a sister. Veronica Wolff for critiquing, and being the first person to say, “This is hot. You can take that to the bank!” For Catherine Bramcamp who watched as I began my writing process, and, when I asked her, “Is it normal to write 92,000 words in 30 days?” she nicely answered, “If you can do that, you can do anything.” Darynda Jones who was gracious to share her great story with me. My Tuesday “Jack London” crit group, all the teachers and coaches I've had: Marlene, Ana, Margie Lawson, Deb Dixon, Donald Maas. I'm grateful for my new friends at WG2E (Misa, DD, Tonya) and Ravencraft Romance Realm, Hannah and Marina, Esther and Janet and all the crazy ladies at SV RWA, my old friends at Wicked Writers, and for my agent, Jill Marsal.
When I say I am a writer, it is only because these and many more others have helped me in the past. I write this because, without them, I might have given up on the dream of becoming a best-selling author. And because of them and their stories, I won't quit until I get there.
Angel is out now in all eformats. I'm proud of that book. And I'm revising Book 2 in the series, Josh's story, the dark angel who switches sides. It was hard not to fall in love with Josh while writing his character, so I knew his book would come next. All the major characters have their own stories. I'm intrigued with the angelic realm and the space between Heaven and Earth, where all the drama is. Heaven isn't 100% perfect by design, the Underworld isn't 100% evil by accident.
Tomorrow, and for the next three days, we're going to hear some great ideas on creating a Story Bible, from talented author Ana Pergakis. You won't want to miss it.

So, who do you thank? Has there been a special mentor or friend in the business who helped you? Is there someone you are grateful for? What do you do to keep gratitude a part of your daily life? One lucky commenter will get a free download of Angel and my thanks for showing up.

Behind The Grog

A big thanks to Sharon for hosing us all here this week, for being a fan of The Naked Hero and WG2E, and for offering up our insight to you all. What a fun, fun idea! Making a grog work means that everyone knows the expectations, everyone is on board with those expectations, and everyone has jobs they understand and can commit to. I’m definitely the Behind-the-Scenes girl of our blogs, running the dashboard, organizing our content, structuring the blog pages, etc. Was I always a techy girl? Nope! I learned out of necessity. We launched our blog way back when and I wanted it to look a certain way. I wanted to have links in the sidebar widgets. I wanted content organized just so. But none of the original founders had the money to spend on any more than the custom WordPress design we’d agreed on (customizing a WordPress design is very easy and one of the most affordable ways to get a blog/grog rolling). Now, I should interject here and say that my parents call me a pioneer woman. That is, I am rarely idle, and I do what needs to be done, particularly when there’ s no one else to do it. So, a little HTML didn’t scare me. I dove in, began reading about SEO and code and WordPress, and I experimented. I learned. And while I’m no pro and would never quit my day jobs, I do enjoy having the ability to manipulate the look of our websites, add the content that the other gals want added, and I’ve grown with the industry and the world by learning to be techy. I love participating on both The Naked Hero and WG2E (I also write for the grog, Killer Characters). They all give me something different–outlets for creativity, thoughts, and a means to hone my craft and dig deeper into the industry. Working with others means the pressure to produce a daily blog isn’t there. I write on my day and trust that the others will meet their commitments and write on their days. This is super important for me because I: • Am the Marketing Director for Entangled Publishing ( http://entangledpublishing ) • Am a mother of 5 • Am a wife • Like to read • Want a life • Am a writer ( http://misaramirez.com ) Blogging is fun. It’s important for different facets of my career. It’s an outlet. But it’s also work, so doing it with other people who I enjoy spending [virtual] time with makes it all the better. We’re our own little family– lots of love, some squabbles (like DD said, we don’t always agree on everything!), and the knowledge that we always have each other’s backs. About Misa/Melissa Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams. She is the marketing director at Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL (Pleating for Mercy: http://www.amazon.com/Pleating-Mercy-Magical-Dressmaking-Dressmakers/dp/0451234367 ), and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox and two romantic suspense novels to be released in 2012.


BLOGGING: How We Work/How We Get Along

WAVING from Kentucky! Yes!~ we do have internet service here! Most people know me as Tonya Kappes, mother of four, but readers know me as The high-class hillbilly that writes romantic comedy and cozy mysteries. My short stories, Masked Souls, and Another Quirky Christmas are published through a small press. Recently I Indie published my debut novel, Carpe Bead ‘em and excited to say it hit Amazon’s bestsellers list in the United States and the United Kingdom! Needless to say, I’m over the moon.

Enough about me…. When Sharon asked our grog to take a week and blog, we were delighted. I decided to tackle how we work, cooperate and just plain get along. Now I’m not gonna lie, sometimes we want to spit in each other’s eye, but we don’t. We chew harder on that piece of straw and bit our tongue because none of us have the same opinions. You see, we all have different writing career paths and no matter which path we are on, it’s not the wrong path. That’s what makes The Writer’s Guide To E Publishing work. We bring all different sort of opinions and ideas.

When D.D. and I came up with the idea, we wanted a place where writers had all the new electronic publishing tips in one place. D.D. is Indie published, Lee is polishing her manuscript, Misa is big six published and indie published, I am small published and Indie published, so we bring a lot of industry knowledge to the site. First we got a yahoo loop. We each took a day, and since D.D. had so much information already, she took on a lot of the other three days. But Lee is doing a lot more of that now. Anything that needs to be discussed, goes through the yahoo loop. We all agreed, that we would be honest in our journey. Honest about what we like about publishing and what we don’t like about publishing. Lee gives the facts, I try to make it fun, and Misa and D.D. just tell it like it is. And sometimes we don’t agree. But that’s okay! It’s what makes the grog work. WG2E was designed to give the writer every option they have to make the most of their careers. We wanted to pay it forward and give back to writers. WE believe in KARMA, good ju-ju, and this was our way of doing it. For example, my experience may be different than Lee’s, but at least the writer gets to look at all our experience and not go into something with a blind eye like we did. We aren’t saying it’s a bad blind eye, but we are honest and let you know what to expect on all fronts. So come on by WG2E, no matter what stage of the publishing game you are in. I promise you will learn something new!!
Tonya Kappes is the author of Carpe Bead ‘Em , that hit Amazon’s Hobby Fiction Best Seller’s list only six days after the debut. The Ladybug Jinx, a romantic comedy novel will be available in August 2011. Tonya is the author of two short stories which can be found in the Something Spooky This Way Comes and Believe Anthologies. Her, co-authored, non-fiction book The Tricked-Out Toolbox, helps writers explore the best promotional and marketing strategies for their career, will debut January 2012. Besides being the co-founder of the beyond quirky writer’s grog The Naked Hero (www.thenakedhero.com), she also is co-founder of The Writer’s Guide to E Publishing (www.thewritersguidetoepublishing.com). When she’s not writing about quirky characters and even quirkier situations, she’s busy being the princess, queen and jester of her domain which includes her BFF husband, her four teenage boys and two dogs. Why write a book with beading elements? Once upon a time, Tonya was the proud co-owner of a very successful beading company, Beadnicks LLC.


Grogging Your Way to Readers and Sanity

Hello, Sharon Hamilton-Land!!! I’m Bestselling Romantic Comedy and Cozy Mystery Author D. D. Scott, plus the #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of MUSE THERAPY: UNLEASHING YOUR INNER SYBIL, and without a doubt, me and my muses too are huge fans of all-things-grogging! What’s Grogging? Grogging = Group Blogging Doesn’t the name itself just sound sooo cool rolling off your tongue?! Anyhoo… Why Grogging? Well…because of two reasons: 1. We’re Writers…and thus our ultimate goal is to “find” readers 2. We’re Writers…and thus hanging onto our sanity can be a bit of a rough ride, right? To that end, first, let’s get the writer’s sanity issues out in the open…

Yesterday, on one of my grogs The WG2E http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com to celebrate the release of my 5th Indie Epubbed book –THUG GUARD – I kicked-off my D. D. Scott “Put Your Big Girl Panties On & Deal With It” Blog Tour. Because yeah, to make it to your own Publishing Oz in our writing-for-publication, full of wicked witches publishing world, many days it simply boils down to putting on your big girl or boy panties and just dealing with all the crap piling up on your road to success. Today, I’m sharing one of my “sassy observations about life…”…the writer’s life that is…on this fantabulous blog: A Little Bit of Monika http://monikamichalak.blogspot.com So hop on over there now and catch my My Evil Editor Turd Anecdote straight outta my MUSE THERAPY book.
http://www.amazon.com/Muse-Therapy-Unleashing-Inner-ebook/dp/B004774LN4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306947576&sr=8-1 It doesn’t get much sassier than this…and, keep in mind… This is… no joke… what actually happened to me at RWA (Romance Writers of America) Nationals in 2009. Once you’ve read my anecdote, you’ll know why it’s sooo damn important to find any means you can to maintain your sanity along our writing-for-publication journeys. One way I’ve found to do both that as well as continue to find new readers and fans for my books is to Grog with other authors who sooo “get” our sanity issues and challenges as writers and who also sooo hope to build their reader and fan bases too. I became a Goddess at The Naked Hero in October 2010, then fellow Goddess Tonya Kappes and I brainstormed and created our next grog The WG2E – The Writer’s Guide to Epublishing – in December 2010, with the tech-savvy-super-smarts of Author Misa Ramirez and the indie epub newbie angle that soon-to-be-pubbed L.A. Lopez could also share! Tonya had taken one of my Muse Therapy Online Classes, and she and her muse Lucky Lucy (formerly known as Lazy Lucy) immediately bonded with me and my muses The Carrie Squad (named after my beloved Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and The City fame). Tonya asked me to become a Naked Hero Goddess, and I was thrilled to join her, Misa, Lee/L.A., and Heather Webber on Mount Olympus as the Hump Day Goddess. I luuuvvv that with The Naked Hero, we’re really focused on Readers and Fans. We luuuvvv getting to know reader peeps and sharing all-things-books-movies-TV-pop culture-and-life in general. Now, with our WG2E grog, we’ve created a destination site for all-things-Epublishing. We’re writers helping writers by Paying It Forward with real numbers and real experiences. On this grog, our goal is to share everything in our writing-for-publication worlds to hopefully make it a wee bit more pleasant for other writers traveling the Epublishing Road to Oz. So yeah…we’re grogging for both readers and writers! And many of our grog fans participate on both sites…which of course we luuuuvvv!!! With Tonya, Misa, Lee/L.A., Heather and I, we bring a wide range of experiences and career levels to our grog readerships…and I think that’s what makes us sooo successful. We’re all coming at our writing-for-publication careers from different points and preferences. And ohhh yeahhh, we sooo do NOT agree on all elements of our journey…but again, it’s that kind of innate differences, experiences, viewpoints, and opinions that really rock our readers and give ‘em that extra zest and spice to make our grogs must-visit-daily sites! In today’s publishing world, perhaps even more so than that messed-up world of yesteryear, it’s even more important to be visible on every possible social networking venue – every day – and grogging gives you that kind of visibility EVERY DAY!!!

Thanks bunches for hosting me today, Sharon! Please…feel free to comment and ask me any questions you’d like. I’ll be checking-in through-out the day! In addition, you can always catch me at all my cyber homes: http://www.DDScott.com http://ddscottauthor.blogspot.com http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com http://thenakedhero.com http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/profile.php?id=100001238957002 http://twitter.com/#!/ddscottromcom http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/949843.D_D_Scott I look forward to welcoming y’all to my Bootscootin’ and Cozy Cash Mystery Worlds!!!


BLOGGING: How To Get Started

Welcome Lee Lopez, fellow chapter mate of mine at RWA-Black Diamonds in the East Bay, California. Lee not only has been a great friend, but she was one of those people who had to look at one of my early (oh! this is sooooo painful) first drafts. You know that one that we all have? When the critique partner starts the crit with, “Um.” But she couldn't have been more helpful, and her kind and gentle approach to all things has inspired me in so many ways. A very public and well-deserved thank you, Lee.I've been impressed and watched the success of their blogs: Naked Hero and Writer's Guide to ePublishing. Links are below. This week, we're going to be touching base with all the writers who contribute. Welcome to you all.

First I’d like to thank Sharon for inviting, myself and my blogging partners from the Writers Guide to E-Publishing, to be a guest on her site. Sharon had asked me how do you create a successful blog, with four other individuals, with four different styles of writing, and four different backgrounds. There is only one answer, not very easily. This is where you start: 1. Know your partners. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and understands this is a commitment. No slackers! 2. All the parties involved, must come to an agreement on the format of the blog. Is it about writing, heroes, dogs, kids, etc. 3. Discuss responsibilities of maintaining the site. Who is the techie, who is PR. 4. Choose your days for blogging and stick with it. One of the biggest reasons blogs go under is one person isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. It can ruin friendships, when the group as a whole has to carry dead weight. 5. Talk to your partners. Keep open communication. If you can’t blog on an assigned day, let them know. Bring in a guest, or switch with someone. Remember it’s a commitment. 6. Be consistent. Readers return because of reliability. They become fans and expect a certain degree of quality. If you don’t post for a few weeks, you’ll lose readers. 7. Be careful what is written. Do research, and quote experts, don’t ever bad mouth anyone. 8. Remember what you write will remain in cyberspace F-O-R-E-V-E-R. 9. Know copyright law. Don’t enroll in law school, but research copyrights, especially on pictures copied to your site. No what you can copy directly and can’t. Getting a nasty gram from someone claiming you’ve copied them, is embarrassing. 10. You must answer every comment on the blog. It makes the commenter feel like they are saying is important, and it gives them a connection. They feel like they know you. 11. Have fun. Enjoy what you’re doing. Have contest, give away, make it fun. I know it sounds like a lot, but it is what makes a successful blog. Is it work? It can be, but once the rhythm of writing for the blog takes hold, its fun. My mind is always swirling around things to write about. And I find ideas in the oddest places. When blogging first started, I heard many writers say, they weren’t going to bother, it was only another fad. Well, that was five years ago, and here were are with, probably millions of blogs in the bloggessphere. There is even a bloggers convention, with awards. It is a personal choice to make this commitment. It is easier to go with partners, it keeps the blog up dated daily, and it brings fresh new ideas. Some prefer going it alone, and do a great job. Right now I’m apart of three blogs: The Naked Hero,www.thenakedhero.com The writers guide to e-publishing, www.thewritersguidetoepublishing.com Voices from the Heart, www.voicesftheart.blogspot.com (I blog once a month there.)



The witty crew from WG2E are going to be here next week to show us the ins and outs of successfully doing a blog and holding it together.

Come back all week and check out what we have in store for you. And thanks to the gals at Naked Hero and WG2E for the gift of their time, and experience. I think you'll be as impressed as I have been with what they've done, and how they do it.
We start the week out with author Lee Lopez, on Monday, HOW TO START A SUCCESSFUL BLOG.

Natural Ability and Achievement

I quote from a very wise man, Gary Keller. He is the master at making models for business, a man who has tried and failed several times. And when I say failed, I mean failed miserably. Like rock bottom, lose your house, everything.

He told me once about getting in his car and crossing town to hire the best HR person he could find, and promised them a salary he wasn't sure how he was going to pay. But he knew if he did it, the money would come. And it did. Big time.
Before I start, you all should know by now I love Cindy Pavlinac's work. She has a studio in Marin County, and she has taken photographs of sacred places all over the world. This is her photo, not mine. http://www.CAPavlinac.com
Back to Gary Keller's quote: “Reinventing the wheel every time is just plain exhausting work. And it leads to breakdowns and burnouts. On the other hand, I think you'll discover that modeling will be very empowering. In fact, it may make things appear so simple it feels like cheating. Powerful models usually feel that way.”
Then he goes on to say: “In my experience, people tend to predict success based largely on a person's natural abilities. This can truly be problematic no matter where you see yourself in this spectrum. Lots of natural ability can lead to overconfidence. Likewise, lack of natural ability contributes to low confidence, so much so that many never even attempt tasks that appear to be outside the realm of their natural abilities. The truth about ability is that it is neither set nor predetermined. However, it can be developed or it can be wasted.”

He finishes up this piece with this: “Now here is the simple truth we must all deal with: Natural ability can take us only so far. No matter how gifted we may be, each of us will eventually hit our own ceiling of achievement. There is no “if” to that assertion, just a “when.” So the most important achievement question you may ever have to ask yourself becomes: When I hit that ceiling of achievement–whether it is low or high–how will I break through?”
To relate this to writing, we model after other successful writers who have come before us. Some we model our careers after and some we learn from the mistakes they have made. How many people do you know who have told you they had a story idea and a book they wanted to write some day? Yet, very few of them ever do it, and of those few, only a handful are successful. Part of the problem is ego. People get tied up in their work and can't see the reality of what they've written. They judge, justify and make enemies.
But smart writers don't crave a following of writers, although that can be a good way to get started. Smart writers model themselves after someone who has gone successfully before them, and keep their egos in check to see the reality of their writing.
Writing then isn't a gimmick. No one wants to be a flash in the pan. Good writers are willing to break through the ceiling of their own achievement, and learn from the writing community as a whole. Yes, this community is made up of many varied fellow travelers. Some with limps, warts, fairy dust and fangs. But those people will help you, if you have the guts to open your eyes and ears.
My favorite line is, “I know what I think I know. But I can set it aside for what I have yet to learn.” Someone much wiser than I coined it. Though it's sometimes painful to find the flaws in ourselves and our work, it is the price we have to pay to get all the gold and the glory.
Who do you model yourself after? Can you measure yourself and seek the reality of your abilities as a writer, or do you write to “feel good?” What do you do when you hit that ceiling of achievement?

Welcome New Guest Bloggers

The ladies at Writers' Guide to ePublishing are going to be here next week to give us some tips on their success. I'm so thrilled they have agreed to share their extensive knowledge with all of us. As most of you know, this blog is fairly new (only started it this year) and we are off to a great start. I'm hoping that with dynamic guest posters you will stick around all year long for the great information I hope to share.

Like Tina's Folsom's blog last Thursday, I hope to inspire great things for all of us, as well as point out some of the pitfalls and lessons I've learned about life and writing.
I have to figure out how to do a post on the side for future topics. Right now, just want you to stay tuned, especially next week, as we explore the ins and outs of epublishing.

Welcome Author Tina Folsom

I am pleased to welcome an incredible writer, and one of my best writing friends, Tina Folsom. You may have read recently in Forbes and the Washington Post how such talented writers as Bella Andrade and Carolyn Jewel have had huge financial success by releasing their backlists to the self-publishing craze. These are agented, writers with years of publishing background.What makes Tina's story so compelling is that she has done it without an agent. And she has done this without a backlist of titles released previously. She is definitely one to watch, and a writer who not only shows talent, but commitment to her craft and her readers. No wonder she has exploded on the scene. A Writer’s Life By Tina Folsom, San Francisco, California When I started out writing, I had a definite preconceived idea of what life as a writer was like: long stretches of sitting behind my computer, writing eagerly, would be interspersed with tea breaks and contemplating looks out through the window, then long lunches with my girlfriends, a little shopping in between. And by four p.m. my work for the day would be done, and I’d prepare a leisurely dinner for me and my husband or make a reservation at a nearby restaurant. But becoming a writer was nothing like I’d imagined, yet everything I wanted. My day starts early: I rise before 7 a.m. After a quick cup of coffee, I’m already at the computer, checking emails, sales statistics and sales rankings and make sure that all my books are still showing up at the various retailers. I’m a little paranoid that way, but after the things that have happened at various online retailers over the last few months (and I’m not naming names), I find it prudent to make sure my books are still for sale. Once some of the admin work is out of the way, and I’ve replied to reader emails and guest blog requests, I start writing. I try to get about 4 – 5 hours of pure writing time in every day. On most days this translates to about 2000 – 3000 words or 8 – 12 pages double-spaced. But if I thought that my day would then wind down, I was sadly mistaken. The rest of the afternoon and early evening is often spent with marketing tasks. Whenever I find a new retailer to upload my books to, a whole process of formatting and marketing starts. Only recently, I started uploading my books to the Apple iBookstore and had to discover that even though my ePub looked perfectly formatted on my computer, when I bought a test copy for my iPad, most of the formatting was gone: no indents, no justified text, no italics, no centered headings. It was a disaster. That’s when my real work started: I had to find out why my perfect ePub was suddenly not so perfect anymore. Needless to say, I spend hours correcting things and re-uploading. I’m a perfectionist that way. Now, every time I upload a new book somewhere, I purchase a copy for the appropriate device and make sure it looks all right. Would a publisher do that for you? Not sure. But frankly, that’s why I’m self-published, so I can control every aspect of my books. So, while other authors out there tell me that they don’t want to be both publisher and author, but would rather just concentrate on writing, I can’t let go of either. And even though it often is double the work, and many days I work 12 hours, I also reap all the rewards: I don’t have to share my royalties with an agent or a publisher. But what’s even more rewarding is the knowledge that I was able to do it all myself. With the help of my faithful readers, of course, because without them, my books would be languishing on the digital shelf.Thank you, Tina. I am sure you have inspired other writers to follow in your footsteps. What amazing opportunities we have now as writers in this dynamic, changing arena. As usual, the generous sharing of your success helps us all to reach for the stars. Brava!Stop by, and if you leave a comment on Sharon's blog post, you'll be entered to win an autographed paperback of Venice Vampyr – The Beginning (Novellas 1 – 3).www.tinawritesromance.comhttp://authortinafolsom.blogspot.comhttp://www.facebook.com/AuthorTinaFolsomhttp://www.twitter.com/Tina_Folsom
All Tina's books are available from BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com and other onlineretailers.


X Marks The Spot Where Jack London Wrote

There are some places that are filled with the ghosts of the past, and I was at one today. Our eclectic multi-genre critique group meets every Tuesday morning. Today, we met at the old Grist Mill, where Jack London used to write in an apartment over the mill. We sat out on the patio and had a wonderful catered lunch by Yeti's Restaurant – Nepalese food. With the sunshine pouring over our red umbrellas and a soft breeze whispering through the trees, we read our stories, sipped tea, ate wonderful curry dishes, and felt the presence of Jack London amongst us.

These are the same windows he looked out of when he penned his best-selling books. Once an apartment, it now is the upstairs to a new restaurant re-opening soon. It would be a wonderful place to read or do an author signing.

Can't you just see London working at his table, listening to the gigantic waterwheel turning in slow rhythm, the opulent trickling of water? What a place to let one's imagination grow.
In my former life, as a Realtor, I sold a home for a relative of his, and held in my hands some of his books, probably written right here. Today was like the past and the present all coming together. All six of us hope to be best-selling authors some day. We have helped each other tremendously in this group that has been going on for almost three years. And now we have Jack.
Our critique session was over too soon, and we were off in separate directions, like leaves scattered in the parking lot. Words read, suggestions given, ideas shared, laughter and warm friendship. Everything has faded, except the sharp pangs in my stomach from the deliciously rich food I loved eating, but that haunts me tonight, just like Jack.
How about you? Do you have any special places “haunted” with dead writers or inspired by creatures otherwise? Do tell!

W is for Write Every Day

This is a do-over. Just a short post to remind you to write every day. I interviewed JR Ward at RWA Nationals in D.C. two years ago, and she told me she had written every day except for three in the last three plus years.

I asked her about dinners and family events, vacations. No. Everyday, she told me. And I saw that that's what it takes to be successful.
It's been said that you have to write 1,000,000 words before you start getting good, or before you can start to write. I think I believe that now. But when I was just getting started, I thought I was so brilliant, the world was my oyster!
And I still think the opportunities are there, but I'm more realistic. Talent is overrated. You must write and write and write, get rejected, and write some more. Keep writing. Write every day, and the rest will come. It's about putting it out there.
And don't wrestle with any pigs. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it!
How about you? Do you write every day? What do you do when you don't feel like it?


Don't go away just yet! I promise I won't bore you with vampire lore, if you're not a fan, or have gotten tired of them. I think they will be here to stay. Fact is, we've been writing about them since 300 AD. I understand early Hindu writings incorporated vampire lore. They lived in trees, caused mysterious deaths, especially to unsuspecting children and non-believers. Don't know about you, but that's more chilling to me than the ones that are dark and sexy, that heal quickly, are the strongest things on the planet (just about), and have a libido that most humans would envy.

I laugh whenever I hear the comments, “Vampires are out.” Just like I laugh whenever I hear, “Angels are too controversial.”
I wrote Honeymoon Bite because I had a crit partner who was writing vampires, and I decided to try it. I'd read all of Anne Rice's books, and loved them. Found them very sexy. Except their plumbing didn't work, and I just knew Anne would write some raging love scenes if she hadn't written herself and her characters into a box. Talk about unfulfilled! I learned later on that she wrote erotica under a pen name.
But what she did was bring the dark, brooding vampiric characters to life in memorable ways, and without her, I doubt the Sookies and Bellas would have been created. And now as I read Kressley Cole, Nailini Singh and Larissa Ione, their characters have become a hybrid of several species, even brothers, as in Larissa Ione's Underworld General stories, with different species, depending on their parentage. I like that about paranormal. There are so many things you can do. I have a fallen angel who was a vampire, turned into an angel by accident in the 4th book I'm working on. Why not? It gives us a good basis for why he's got a chip on his shoulder.
I'm itching to get back to the edits on this book so I can send it to my agent. But I have to finish my contemporary first, from a request.
Indulge me. Read my first few paragraphs, and ask yourself if you like this story, would you keep turning the pages, and then go ahead and post your reactions. You're not going to get a nasty comment back, even if it isn't your cup of tea…
Anne looked down on the sleeping form of her new husband and, God help her, he looked like the first man she would murder. Nestled into his arms was the naked body of her Maid of Honor. It was the second time today the bride had caught them. First was at the reception. In the bathroom. Monika’s dress and his tux were splayed over the chair and floor, trampled, along with a spilled bottle of champagne, cream satin shoes, a long taffeta slip, a hot pink pushup bra and Robert’s new black socks. “Not exactly what a bride wants to see on her wedding day.” Anne spoke the chilling words in soft lilting tones, like she had recited her wedding vows that afternoon. It caused the reaction she hoped for. Monika bolted up, her eyes crossed but wide, clutching a sheet to her chest. Robert was scrambling to the floor. “Don’t bother to put your pants on.” “Honey—Anne—,” he said in his I’m-so-sorry-I-got-caught voice. His tanned face used to melt her insides, like when he smiled and the sun came out from behind the clouds. But today it wasn’t going to work. Everyone knew it. The bride had murder on her mind. “I’m so glad you’re all right. We were…” Robert began. “I’m fine. I can see how worried you were. Touching.” Amidst rustling taffeda and satin, Anne reached down to the handle of her wardrobe roller, stuffed to bursting with brand new clothes for her honeymoon, most with tags still on them. She made sure her money, passport and airline tickets were still zipped into the top pocket. “Your dress, Anne,” Her former best friend pointed to the red stains down the front. “Is that blood?” “Catsup.” Anne saw them both flinch. “Not blood. Not yet.” “Now wait just a minute.” Robert climbed back into the bed and put his arms around Monika, but his body was tucked safely behind hers. “I’m sorry about all this, Anne. I’ve been a fool.” Monika turned around and looked at him in a drunken gaze. Maybe she was wising up already. “No. It wasn’t going to work, you asshole. Don’t you think your timing sucked? Couldn’t you have done it before we did all this?” Anne lifted her skirts as if to curtsy. Robert relaxed and hung his head on Monika’s bare shoulder. Anne grabbed a black rain slicker and rolled her trousseau out to the hallway. Whispers came from her bedroom. Unzipping her bag, she extracted the red and black outfit she had planned to wear on the plane—the one with the plunging neckline. Locking herself in the bathroom, she shimmied out of her bridal gown and slipped into her new things. Her feet found a comfortable home in her favorite pair of black crocs, the ones decorated by her bachelorette buddies with little bride and groom charms surrounded by red hearts. No way. She grabbed Robert’s toenail nippers from the vanity and snipped off both the bride and groom, but left the red hearts there. Romance wasn’t dead. But her marriage sure was. Robert stood in the hallway in his shorts. “Where are you going?” “On my honeymoon. I planned it. I paid for it. I’m going.” She descended to the ground floor of her apartment building and realized her wedding gown was still draped over her left arm. A convenient row of black plastic garbage cans, out at the curb for an early morning pickup, became the gown’s final resting place. The nuclear tufts of stained and shredded white organza looked like tissue paper stuffing for a tall wedding present.
My heroine's luck goes from bad to worse, because she does get bitten on her honeymoon. And her life changes forever.Do you like vampires? Do you like humor in those stories? Characters that find themselves in impossible situations? What do you like about vampires? Or dislike?

Understanding The Writing Business

When I first started writing, I began going to writers' group meetings, and discovered I liked happy endings. I was told I was a romance writer.

At one of my first RWA meetings, I met a new friend, Karin Tabke/Harlow, who gave me the definition of romance: “The woman always wins. There's always a Happily Ever After.” No wonder I liked writing love stories. I could create a world where everything turns out the way it's supposed to.

It's a simple concept, but not so simple to execute. People have told me, “Some day I'm just going to sit down and write a romance,” like it's learning a second language or something. I tell them I hope they do.
I've been learning the rules by making mistakes. A lot of them. Then I pick up a book that violates those rules. The fact is, when you're successful, you can do almost what you want. When you are trying to get published, you have to write something fresh, without breaking the rules.
Now with the self-pubbed revolution going on, there are several new ways an author can become successful. But it's trial and error as well. I've downloaded my WIP several times, had to delete it, reload it, and still not be able to get rid of certain formatting issues. I could hire those things away, I could hire artwork for the cover, hire an editor, and pretty soon I am doing a sort of quasi vanity published book I'm paying out of pocket for.
But I like one basic thing about it: the results are more in my control. True, I don't have a big marketing arm and thousands of printed copies shipped to bookstores, but that is becoming less of a factor as the ebooks become more and more popular. I can adjust my price up or down, change my cover multiple times, if I want. I can write under a pen name to try out a genre, find readers on my own, and be responsible for promoting the books, like most publishers expect authors to do anyway.
In an age when people are watching their pennies, it makes sense to come out with fiction that is cheaper, where sequels are delivered faster, and that have unique twists and turns perhaps not found in traditional-published works. I buy hard copies of books I really like in eformat. Good books are what readers buy. The readers get to decide.
No one knows where it all will shake out. But what I really like is the choice.
What about you? Do you read ebooks? What genre do you read and why?


Whoa Nellie. Stop clattering your sabers. Holster your sidearms. Turn off your engines. Click off the TV. Put down your beer. Freeze frame.

I'm floored with how many good writers (I put myself in both camps) can't send an email message without pissing off the whole world.
Yes, WRITERS. We are communicators. We should be the ones who write the pearls that make sense, not cause enemies. When someone said the pen is mightier than the sword, boy was that the understatement of our civilization!
Being a writer comes with it a set of rules. Be respectful, only make people cry if it is good for your story, get people mad at the characters, but not you, the writer, or anyone else. Push the envelope, okay, but don't push those other writers and readers off the cliff.
My first manager, when I was in sales, used to ask me not to send memos to the office staff, because I made them cry. I was blamed for one or two quitting. You can imagine how I felt, all 50 other people in the office looking at me like I had leprosy of the fingers. It isn't important whether or not–well, it is, darn it. I did make them quit. There, I've said it. Trying to be honest, here. (There's another rule).
So, as I said before, there are rules, but no hall monitor. No one to say, “Oh, this is this and that is that.” Everything is opinion. We judge our results with some numbers, like sales and numbers of readers, but the largest portion is through opinion, a much harder thing to judge.
I once complimented a new coach of my daughter's volleyball team after a “successful” tournament. We lost 50% of the games we played, but these were 12-year-olds, most of them looking like baby giraffes who had just been weaned, unsure of their bodies, and the enormous height they had at such a young age, towering over some of their teachers but certainly all the boys. He asked me:
“How so?”
I told him: “Because we won some games we shouldn't have, lost some we shouldn't have. Everyone got to play. You managed not to piss off any parents or send any girls to the bathroom crying.”
Now, can we talk? You've seen the emails, the crash and burns and long accusatory rantings by people who should have seriously thought about another job other than writing. The names are not important, but you've felt your flesh crawl like a good horror story, burst into tears when someone left an unkind, I mean out-of-the-way unkind, review of something you thought was half good. Not saying everyone has to like everything I write, but unkind is not just in the eyes of the beholder. You've seen the group dynamics of one dissenter being piled on. I thought we got over that in Jr. High. I never want to go back to those times. But some people haven't grown up.
Before you send that steaming email, think. There's another T word. Don't finish your sentence and end it with the send button. It should end with a sigh, about ten proofs and a little contemplation. And then send it if it still holds up.
Let's take a little time out and agree to be decent, people. There's a new thought: Try A Little Tenderness. Now those are a couple of great T words for today.

Stimulus Package

I loved the idea of the double meaning of this, so used it on an erotic short I wrote, called The Stimulus Package. An idea whose time has come, as Werner Erhard used to say. I liked that it was positioned in e-pub format right next to the Congressional Stimulus Program, and for a time, my short sold more copies.

But this isn't going to be about erotic writing. This isn't even going to be about my short, or my erotic pen name. Not about politics, either. It's about what stimulates me, as a writer.
So many great words begin with “S”. Or, maybe I notice it because of my first name: sensual, sexy, something special, sultry, satisfying–the list is endless. But then there's also stupid, stormy, selfish and self-serving. Seasick does it all with the double “S” sound. I get seasick every time I take a cruise, for the first day or so.
There's salesmanship, and I was one of the best. There's savings, and that one I should have had help with. Spending, shopping spree–all things I used to do and now don't. There was my beautiful S-class Mercedes I gave up. I now drive a pickup truck. I was just thinking as I came home from the feed store today, buying hen scratch, egg-maker pellets, sawdust and black oil sunflower seeds, how much I enjoy my old pickup. I can get it dirty and it seems to like me even better. All things pass. My cars are now passed down to people who want to pay to have a–you guessed it–another “S” word: STATUS SYMBOL.
There's Smith Magazine: http://www.smithmag.net.

They are the crew that do the 6-word Memoir books, with great quotes like: For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn. (Ernest Hemingway) or Long Walks. Fast Cars. Slow Kisses. (mine). I once had fun with some ladies thinking up a story where all the dialog was 6-word emails.
I won their 100-word Pregnancy contest with my true story, posted on pickle jars. And Rick's Picks are darned good pickles, too. He even told me he likes to read romance, and I'm impressed because he's Ivy League. I understand our President likes the People's Pickle best. But I'm just trying to make up for the Stimulus thing (notice he doesn't say it anymore on TV?). I'm dying to hear him say, “Stimulus Package” on air like he used to. I think he'll smile. Ohhh! That's another “S” word.
Okay, I like showers, too. A buddy like this to rub soap all over my skin.
My husband actually does a very nice job, and he is my real life buddy of choice, although we do a lot more laughing and spraying water in the shower than kissing these days. But I'm not complaining. I love him dearly.
I love Syrah. I love strawberries, squash, snapdragons, sushi, salmon and See's candies. I even like skydiving.
In short, I just think life is worth savoring. That's where I get my inspiration. Watching people, participating, showing up.
So, what do you have to share?

Rodrigo Santoro

I have to admit to having a crush on Rodrigo Santoro. Yes, I'm happily married, but if this man came to my front door, it would break my heart to say no. And because there's no danger this will ever happen, I don't have to think about it very much.

When I began writing Angel, there was a character I'd seen somewhere who matched the vision I kept having. I dreamed this blonde Guardian angel fell in love with a handsome, Latin man, who was soft spoken, with a smooth exotic accent. My character was striking, but almost embarrassed at how women fell into his arms so easily. I like writing Alpha males. This one was/is a painter, and I decided he should be from Brazil, and be fearless the way he loves.
I began writing the story December 15th. On Christmas Eve, I was watching one of my favorite movies, Love Actually, which has become somewhat of a tradition in our family, and, sitting next to my grown children and husband, there he was. My hero. Karl, Laura Linney's love interest. The actor was Rodrigo Santoro. When I searched his background, I found he was from Brazil.
I collected a series of Brazilian love songs (I don't speak Spanish or Portuguese) and jazz, watched exerpts of his almost-love scene, where they undress, after I'd stretched the three minute segment using super slow mo on my computer, to a whopping fifteen minutes. I could see every ripple of his gorgeous washboard chest, the way he smiled, the twinkle in his eye when her dress got caught, how he carefully but commandingly kissed her. Laura Linney either did a really great job of acting, or she was into it. Big time. Slow motion doesn't lie…
And then I found this ad he made with Nicole Kidman for Chanel No. 5. My story has a happy ending, a true romance ending, but other than that, this was my story, with different characters. My female is Claire, a Guardian angel, fair and angelic, but a rebel, bored in her station of life, looking for a little adventure, not knowing she was missing true love.
Did you notice the Director begins his narrative with an angel in the lower left corner of the screen? In my version of Heaven, not all angels have wings. On weekends they have a golden playhouse that only plays the same piece each week, with different actors: a musical version of Peter Pan. And Tinkerbelle is the lead in Heaven's version, a much coveted role.
How amazing when I heard a translation of an interview with this actor, telling the audience he'd love to bring a children's Peter Pan production to Brazil.
There are several other circumstances that make this magical story one I am preparing to launch. But the purpose of this post isn't really to self-promote. It is to share just a kernel of where all the passion and desire to tell this story came from.
Because as a writer, we sometimes do fall in love with our characters. I certainly did. How about you?

Oh The Places You Will Go

One of my friends retired and was leaving for a very long vacation, sailing around the world. He'd been planning this trip for his whole life. Part of it included some volunteer work in Thailand, I think.

We gave him the Dr. Seuss book, Oh, The Places You Will Go, and each of us took a page and signed a personal message to him. It was the perfect gift. I wish I had that book now to be able to quote from it, but all my children's books are still packed, having set them aside in storage during our house re-build. Since my children are all grown, I gave 13 boxes away to our local library. Now that I have grandkids, time to dust of the favorite ones I saved, start reading them all over again. Ah! That amazing cycle of life…
I love traveling, going places and being surprised. If I could afford it, I would travel every month to some exotic place. One of my writer friends, James Garcia, blogged yesterday about going to a Caribbean island or mountaintop resort for inspiration, like some famous musicians do. That would work for me.

In between my writing spurts, I could get a massage, be brought some fresh grilled seafood sprinkled with fresh lime and salsa, sip on fresh squeezed juices, and work on my tan.

The reality of this actually happening to me is practically nill, but I'm not dwelling on this. I'd have to become another Stephanie Meyer (I'm working on it, though). But the idea inspires me: traveling to fabulous places to write.
I copy pictures from online travel magazines and frequently look at them. I think about what story I could write there, let my mind wander. Nice thing about this is I go there without spending any money! I meet imaginary people, act out imaginary love scenes on horse-drawn sleighs, rustic cabins, or in the warm sand at midnight under the moonlight. Each picture tells an adventure I have in my own head, something perhaps I could bring to the page and let readers experience in their own way as well.
Reading a good book takes us not only to a place, but a time. It takes us away from our everyday lives, and for little money, takes us on a journey of the author's mind.
As wonderful as these photographs are, the journey of the written word is much more epic. Imagination has no limitation in time and space. All it takes is just a little time, and a good couch or chair to sit in. And enjoy.

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

I loved Galaxy Quest. The law of unintended consequences made this a funny twist on real vs. simulation. The “simulators” became real, actually accomplished in reality what they were acting in the show.

On day “F” I blogged about Failing Forward. Giving up and surrendering is not failing. Failing is trying to do something, and not succeeding. It is as much a part of our every day life as breathing or walking. But giving up and surrendering, well that's a horse of another color.
My first manager in Real Estate used to tell me he could tell when someone had given up. He said they would walk into his office with that imaginary spear through their middle, have the gait and the look in the eye that told him they were quitting. Just couldn't take it anymore. Someone had gotten to them. He used to tell me it made him angry that someone who shouldn't matter, caused a good person to give up.
My SEAL friends know that by the end of their training, just before they graduate, the instructors could ask them to do anything and they'd do it without considering the consequences to their own person, not consider the pain. At a certain point that line is crossed and that person would never quit. Never.
Unlike failure, quitting just ends the game. I think it was Robert Louis Stevenson who said the difference between a published author and an unpublished author is a published author writes until he's published. The unpublished author quits.

Some days it seems like it's hard to put one foot in front of the other, or there are two steps forward and one back. But if we keep moving, keep writing, keep working on our passion, we eventually get there.
Maybe it's just as easy as deciding there isn't anything out there that will make us quit.
So we won't.
What about you?


Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This

Spent all day today driving from San Diego to Santa Rosa. My husband and I finished a book on tape called Vanished, and it was wonderful. A real thriller. Highly recommend the unabridged version. I suddenly feel in awe of this author, doubting myself again. This happens sometimes when I read too much while I'm trying to create. But I wanted to hear the pacing of the tension, the way he chose his chapter hooks (and he did it very well), the complicated plot that was just difficult enough to make it unpredictable, but not too confusing. It was riveting. Testament to that was the number of wrong turns we took. We ignored the very polite woman on the GPS and found ourselves listening to her say, “recalculating” several times. Now, that's a good book, right?

Sometimes you want the reader to know where it's going to go. Like the woman walking down a dark alleyway. We are saying, just like we do when we watch a horror film on TV: “Get out of there right now. Are you nuts?” But no, the writer takes you there, and you just know what could happen, and we are thrilled when it does, but is even better than we had imagined. That is what I call the genius factor.
So, I was thinking about that today, as a big black cloud traveled over our car and seemed to follow us until dark. I knew when I checked on my chickens, cats and dogs, my garden, I'd discover everyone was still alive and in great shape. But I worried about them. Like I sometimes worry about my talent.
Then I remembered something I was told: Talent is Overrated. It's all about the hard work, the focus, singleness of purpose. Plants and animals live. They don't sabotage themselves or talk themselves out of being miraculous. Everything they do is consistent with their lifelong goals. We humans have way more choice, and there's good and bad with that.
The boats. I remembered watching the boats, the crunches, the wet and sandy. The sheer
determination and singleness of purpose.
A young SEAL told me he felt lucky to have found something he truly loved doing at such a young age. He felt fortunate to have the opportunity to push himself, to find out what his limits were.
Suddenly, when the sky turned dark and the stars came out, I followed the highway, and realized, the dark cloud was gone.
And now I'm excited to spend all day tomorrow doing a writing marathon, getting my little boat (my story) over the rocky boulders of doubt and back onto the beach for some editing crunches. And then I'll do it all over again.

Afterall, I don't want to miss this boat. There might not be a second chance at this great opportunity.
What about you? What do you do when you doubt yourself? Did your mama prepare you for days like this?