Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Oh my!

I've been offered a contract on one of my books, but by an e-publisher. Now I have to decide what's most important to me. My heart's desire was to see this book picked up by a big New York house, but most of them want you to have an agent first. Agents want you to have a book published first--not all, but many. My husband says sign the contract and then finish the book I'm working on now and get it out there. But this book is one I love and I kind of feel like my first born didn't make it into Harvard so we're sending her to Texas Tech.

This e-pub has a decent reputation, though I'm hearing some negatives from disgruntled authors, which I guess is what's giving me the most pause. But if I sign, I'll be an RWA recognized author so I can put published in my query letters.

So...decisions, decisions.

Who knew it would be this tough?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Today we celebrate Memorial Day. But what is it? A day off to spend time at the beach with family? A day for picnics, barbeques, drinking? Many have forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day. The actual date of Memorial Day is supposed to be May 30th. Congress moved it to the last Monday in May so that it would make it a three day weekend, but in doing so they helped destroy the meaning in the day we are supposed to observe.

Memorial Day is supposed to be a day to remember, in specific ways, those who gave their lives for their country:

by visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
by visiting memorials.
by flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
by flying the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act).
by participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.
by renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our falled dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.

Did you know any of that? I certainly didn't. I knew people put flags on the graves of veterans and flew flags in their yards. I knew the local VFW had a ceremony at our Veterans Memorial here in town and put flags out at businesses. But the dh and I noticed several flags at half-staff around town Friday and wondered who it was for. Now we know.

Take a moment today to remember the brave men and women who fought to keep us free, and also take a moment to wonder what they would think about the freedoms we give away daily in exchange for "safety."

"They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

Today's Blog is dedicated toArchie Howard Payne and Charles Arden Maeker, who both served bravely during World War II. We miss you both so very much.

Archie Payne

Charles Maeker

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why do I care?

Someone sent me an email asking me why I cared about what Barbara Bauer did to Absolute Write. I've never queried her, never lost money to her, never knew anything about her except that she was on the 20 worst agents list. Well, for one thing, I liked the Absolute Write site. I've used it in my own agent search, I've posted on the boards, etc. What she did was not fair, and it was immature.

But I think what bugs me the most is that stuff like that hurts legitimate agents by association. I've met a lot of the romance agents, and I like almost all of them. Most of them work hard for their clients, they give of their time to help educate unpublished authors, and most of them are fair, honest, and above board. Yet every time one of these non-working agents does something to hurt authors, talk gets started about agents in general. Everyone dredges up the horror stories--the wait times, the form letters, the less-than-polite conversations. Hey, everyone's human. We all have our bad days. I could tell you horror stories about romance authors too. There are some nasty ones out there. Some are rude, crude, or just full of themselves. When I run across them, I write them off my list of authors to buy. I talk about them among friends, and we all agree we wouldn't buy their book if it was the only thing available in the world to read. But we don't call their ISP and demand their website be yanked.

Hmmm, maybe we should. :)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Watch out for the scammers

You'll find them in all walks of life. Who doesn't know an elderly person who lost everything, thanks to a less-than-honest "financial planner"? Or someone who paid money for "fees" associated to winning a non-existent big prize.

In the writing world, the biggest scammers are fly-by-night publishers and agents. Everyone who manages the herculean task of finishing that first book is high on the dream of fame and fortune. They will get that work published (or so they think until the rejections start rolling in.) But all of a sudden, that dream has turned into a nightmare. They've found an agent who loves their writing--after they sent that agent $300, $500, $1000 for "expenses" associated with sending the work out. Shoot, I'd love anyone's writing if they were willing to pay me to love it.

Wake up, folks. Reputable agents do NOT take money up front. They do NOT charge you to read your work. They do NOT send your work to a book doctor (who just happens to be their husband). And any agent worth their salt should be willing to give you a list of their clients and what they sold for them. If they act like it's a big hairy secret, it's probably because they haven't sold jack squat.

Don't be stupid. Do your homework. There are lots of places to get information on agents and publishers (beware the vanity and subsidy presses out there). offers a list of agents who must adhere to a canon of ethics. lists agents to steer clear of. is loaded with information.

And just in case you're really too naive (or lazy) to check for yourself, at least read this list and make sure you don't include them in your query list, and make special note of letter d:

From Writer Beware :

None of these agents has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (many sales claimed by these agents turn out to be vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made, whether directly, by charging fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for "editing services." Writer Beware suggests that writers searching for agents avoid questionable agents, and instead query agents who have actual track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

a.. The Abacus Group Literary Agency
b.. Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
c.. Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
d.. Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
e.. Benedict & Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
f.. Sherwood Broome, Inc.
g.. Desert Rose Literary Agency
h.. Arthur Fleming Associates
i.. Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
j.. Brock Gannon Literary Agency
k.. Harris Literary Agency
l.. The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following: Children's Literary Agency Christian Literary Agency New York Literary Agency Poets Literary Agency The Screenplay Agency Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency) Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)

m.. Martin-McLean Literary Associates
n.. Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
o.. B.K. Nelson, Inc.
p.. The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
q.. Michelle Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency and Simply Nonfiction)
r.. Southeast Literary Agency
s.. Mark Sullivan Associates
t. West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)

Okay, you've been warned, so don't come crying when you hook up with one of the above and find you've wasted a year of your precious career, not to mention hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and no editor has ever seen your work. As for letter d, check out the writers' blogs. They're up in arms over that one. For a really funny take on it, go to . To get the real scoop, no holds barred, visit Miss Snark's blog. What do you mean you don't know the url? It should be #1 in your blog bookmarks. Sheesh! Also see what Kristin Nelson has to say. From those two you'll find plenty of links to keep you busy, including a link to the new Absolute Write site-- Barbara Bauer had the old one shut down because someone posted something about her.

Folks, scamming is nothing new. But in today's world of the Internet and Google, there's really no excuse for getting taken. It only shows how desperate you are--or that you're lazy beyond belief. Take the time to check things out before you jump in. There's really no need to wear lead boots and a concrete vest in this day and age.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Back Talk

What does it take to make a book "good?" Does it have to be an Oprah pick? A New York Times Best-Seller? A hardback? Does it need to be a social commentary, a mystery thriller, or an epic Science Fiction? Or does it just need to entertain? To take you away from your everyday problems and stress?

As a lover of romance novels for more than thirty years, I've been on the receiving end of more than my share of sneers and jibes. You'd think I was reading pornography from some of the comments I've received. Of course, these comments usually come from someone who wouldn't stoop to the level of actually reading one.

The old view of romance novels as "bodice rippers" no longer applies. Today's romance novels are about feisty women who know what they want and go after it. They are all about love, commitment, and happily ever after. They are about women who stand up for what they believe in, who have interesting careers, and who can stand toe to toe with a man and hold her own.

If you like mystery and suspense, you can find that in a romance novel. If you like sci-fi and paranormal activity, you can find that too, as well as medical dramas, comedies, and family sagas. So why is there such prejudice against romance novels?

I think the feminist movement was part of the reason. At a time when women were struggling to be seen as equals, the romance genre was still a step behind. The novels of the seventies featured a quieter, meeker heroine than you'll find in current novels. She was still submissive and often taken advantage of. Not so today. Any hero who tries to hold a romance heroine under his thumb is very likely to end up with a black eye!

Like it or not, romance novels are big business. In spite of its undeserved reputation, Romance is still the biggest selling genre, comprising 54.9% of paperback fiction sales. In comparison, mystery novels hold about 29.6% of the market, Science-Fiction a mere 6.9%, and general fiction about 12.9%.

Romance authors like Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, JoAnn Ross, and Jennifer Cruisie consistently dominate the Best-Seller lists. Many people don’t realize that Janet Evonovich is a romance author, as are Suzanne Brockman, Linda Lael Miller, Lisa Jackson, Sandra Brown, Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerritson...the list goes on and on. And not all romance authors are women. James Patterson and Bob Mayer have recently joined the ranks of the Romance Writers of America.

Romance authors are often perceived as bored housewives who lounge at their computers in their satin dressing gowns, munching Godiva chocolates as they pen their stories. Not true. (Well, the Godiva chocolate part might be true.) Today’s romance authors are doctors, dentists, lawyers, college professors, scientists, CPA’s, FBI agents, CEO’s and CFO’s of major corporations, just to name a few. With backgrounds like those, they can’t help but have great stories to tell.

So, I’m issuing a challenge. If you haven’t read a romance novel in the last three years, pick one up. I challenge you to read Lisa Gardner’s latest and not stay up half the night to finish it. I challenge you to try any one of JoAnn Ross or Allison Brennan’s books and not look under the bed before you turn out the lights. I challenge you to be truly well-read by including romance in your daily fiction diet.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Writing through the hard times

I think I finally figured out why writing has been so darned hard lately. I'm trying to work two jobs, deal with kids who are out of college for the summer and either at home (requiring that I cook more regular meals) or are living out of state (adding to my list of things to worry about), and my mother just left after a six week visit. Diagnosis?

I'm stressed and exhausted.

I sit down to write at night after working all day doing hard physical labor out in the hot Texas sun, and all I really want to do is go to bed. But I feel guilty if I don't write, so I end up revising already written pages instead of writing new ones. I long for the days when my husband went off to work and I stayed home and wrote. Now when he goes to work, I'm right there with him. When I'm home, he's home. I never get a break. I love him dearly, but I'd give just about anything for a full day at home alone. A day when I didn't have a to-do list a mile long, didn't have any expectations except how many pages I want to write.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I've Had It!

With clutter, that is. After 33 years of marriage, 4 kids, and inheriting the stuff my mom didn't want to move to Colorado with her, my house, garage, and storage shed are overflowing. It's hard to keep the house clean when every room is packed full of sentimental garbage.

Dh and I are starting today on our decluttering campaign. We're going to be ruthless. If it doesn't serve a purpose, it's outta here. Sentimental crap will be offered to the kids or other relatives. If they don't want it, it's gone. Only papers essential to our survival, careers, or the IRS will be allowed to remain. That cute little ceramic bear I bought on one of our flea markets prowls is history. The clothes in the closet that I keep thinking I might get back into "someday" are going to Goodwill. (Hey, if I lose a bunch of weight, I'm going to want new stuff anyway, right?)

The dogs can sense something's up, and they're nervous. But dang, I'd never get rid of my dogs!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Popped by Pop-ups and some small news

This is a warning to all companies who advertise by putting pop-ups on my computer. Do it, and I won't ever in this lifetime use your services again. Okay, so I'm only one person, but I'm pretty sure these sentiments are reflected by millions of others who hate pop-ups with a passion. I consider any company advertising this way as unethical and borderline criminal. And I'm not talking about the pop ups you get when you visit a website. I'm talking about those ones that come out of the blue when you're surfing. The Windows cleaner, the anti-virus one that first sends you this dire warning that your computer has been infected by some worm. (Yeah, and it's theirs). Like I'm going to just pop over and let you fix it. I'm not that stupid.

Today Expedia decided to join the war on my computer. I've used Expedia in the past to find airline fares, but no more. They just put themselves on my shit list. And yes, I could install a pop up blocker. But then I wouldn't know who to add to my do-not-visit-or-buy-from list.

Same goes for spammers. Spam me, you lose me as a customer. And I know these guys are just shaking in their boots, but hey, I know a lot of people. I'm a writer. I know how to persuade people to think my way when I'm passionate about something. And this is one thing I'm quickly becoming passionate about.

Now for the small news. Got a request for the full of Winner Takes All--something else I'm passionate about. I still love that book. Yes, it could probably use some revision (much as the idea has me shaking in my boots, since it's been revised so much already), but I still love those characters, and I have a sequel idea for it using many of the same characters, but with Suzanne and Stan as heroine/hero. I'm holding off writing it, though, until WTA finds a home. Right now I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but continuing on with the current WIP.

It's a dreary, cloudy day with big thunderstorms threatening this afternoon. We lost some tree branches Friday morning in the big storm that blew through, my daughter's room leaked yet again, but otherwise no real damage. I'd like to keep it that way, Mother Nature, if it's all right with you.