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Monday, January 30, 2012

Keeping It Real - When Writing About Native Americans

  I write a column for my writing chapter's quarterly newsletter called "Keeping It Real".  It's my goal to keep those annoying little misconceptions and inaccuracies out of a story that cause the author to lose credibility and consequently readers.  This interview is my second installment and I decided to make it more intimate by using the traditional Q and A format.  The subject of this issue is the treatment of Native Americans in writing.  For this discussion I turned to a Native American friend and businessman, Gary La Pointe of the Rosebud Lakota Sioux.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do when listening to his stories, and they are amazing and wonderful.

Q.   What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions
     that Non-Native Americans have about Native
A:  There are two. The first is that Native Americans        
     don’t exist as a contemporary culture, but only as a
     “history book relic”, instead of being a vibrant
     culture.  The second is that all Native Americans
     are the same, meaning they speak the same
     language, share the same cultural beliefs, practices
     and so forth.
Q:  If you could change anything about how Native
     Americans are portrayed in novels & entertainment,
     i.e.,TV, movies, etc. what kinds of things would
     they be?

 A:  When a tribe is portrayed, writers tend to take a 
       lot of creative license and pull cultural aspects
       from many different tribes (such as a dance from
       one tribe, a song from another, etc.) thereby     
       losing the cultural integrity of the tribe being
       portrayed and therefore the accuracy of the story.
       In “Dances With Wolves” Kevin Costner speaks in
       a “feminine” Lakota accent, which would not be
       used in real life.  In another movie, Apaches
       speak in the Lakota language, to name a few

Me with Gary!
Q:  In the romance genre, heroes are often portrayed
     as strong people who tenaciously hold fast to their
     personal values/honor code/ beliefs to the point of
     self-sacrifice to others.  Some are burdened with
     the baggage of past failures and others are in
     desperate need of redemption-although they don't 
     deliberately attempt to claim it. Can you think of
     any Native Americans past or present who fit these
A:  A majority of (Lakota) leaders fit that bill, and
     those that don’t are the ones who have attempted
     to assimilate with the white culture. 
Q:  What are some of the most important traditions do
      you hold fast to in your Lakota culture?
A:  These keep me sane:

     - The Pipe & it’s teachings.
     - The Vision quest - also known as “crying for a
      vision”.  Pronounced “Hanblehcheya” in Lakota.
        -The Sweatlodge - which cleanses and  purifies. 
      It's a physical and emotional baggage purging
      with sharing & fellowship is at its core. 
      The entire process is about 6 hours in total, and is 
      a community effort from set-up to take down.  
      The rules for it are not the same everywhere, but
      they are typically more rigid within tribes. 

Q:  Let’s step away from fiction to discuss the real life 
      happenings of a tribe, what have been the recent
      changes in your tribe/community? 
A:  What hasn’t changed is more important. Resources
      have not been fully utilized to improve the
      community. Old mentalities continue to prevail so
      that nothing ever really changes. 
Q:  How can someone learn more about the Lakota
     Sioux/ Rosebud reservation in their quest for
     accurate research?
A:  Online reference material, but if you’re serious
     about the effort, learning the language of a culture
     really helps you to learn about the culture itself.

  Thank you to Gary for this insightful discussion.  If you wish to learn more about Gary’s tipi business, check him out at the links below.  Gary is also available for educational presentations at schools and other sites. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

No Matter Where You go, There You Are

January marks the beginning of a new year and as I sit here watching late night TV, I can’t help but notice how many things from my youth are starting to resurface. I had anticipated the onset of my childhood ‘tunes’ becoming ‘classics’ but the first time it happened still surprised me.

I remember my youngest son coming hope from school all excited about a song he’d heard. “You've got to hear this great song by this new group—Queen. It’s called Bohemian Rap!” He cranked the tune up for me to hear and recognize. Yeah, it was the same old Bohemian Rhapsody I’d grown up appreciating.

“Well,” I told myself, “at least the kid’s got good taste.”

On a trip, once his older brother complained to him about wanting to listen to music from, at least, within the current decade.

To this day he keeps his car radio set to a station which plays ‘classic’ music.

And I know all the words—to every song. How’d that happen?

Also, I’ve recently noticed Denny’s is doing it too. I have to stop myself from toe tapping and singing along in public. WHEN did that happen?

I thought it strange enough to be surrounded by so much of the music from the “good old days,” but recently I realized a general trend in television heading that way too.

Now, I gave up paid TV the day it started to cost more than $50.00 a month in the ‘90s, I think, so I still watch local stations. When everything turned digital, the THIS channel appeared and with it came all the old ‘classic’ movies. Alongside some of the old black and white television programs: Mr. Ed, The Patti Duke Show, Sea Hunt, Highway Patrol....

It sure was nice to see Yul Brenner, Burt Lancaster, Rita Hayward, etc again. Not to mention the original Outer Limits and I just finished watching Buckaroo Bonsai. What fun.

To ring in the New Year they celebrated by playing some ancient-even-for-me movies featuring Laurel & Hardy, Abbot & Costello, Mae West, even the Marx Brothers.

Barely a month ago, MeTV (Memorable Entertainment Television) also appeared carrying nothing but programs from “a wide variety of the iconic series, stars and genres that have defined pop culture and television for decades.”

Looks like black & white TV is back to stay too.

I remember when Lost In Space and the original Star Trek first came out on opposing stations at the same time on Wednesday nights. Now they play back to back on Saturdays, right after the original campy Batman complete with Robin, the boy blunder.

Golly Gee, talk about blasts from the past! I’m starting to suspect the presence of a time rift.


Maybe that’s why I have no problem writing futuristic science fiction; I’m having trouble outrunning my past!

Happy New Year & let's all have a great year of the Dragon.

Mary Andrews

Psionic Sci Fi:
The inevitable fusion of
Man, Machine & The Paranormal

Look for book III this year too!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Every morning, the sun peeks through my blinds and I crack open one eye, my hand invariably fumbling on the night table for my alarm clock. Of course, I already know the alarm didn't go off, because I can hear my children down the hall squabbling. I crane my head and listen for the sounds of bloodshed, while at the same time wondering why half my body is freezing, and the other half is weighted down and sweating like a turkish bath. It's then I realize the two dogs have somehow wormed their way onto the bed, and have nestled themselves snugly into the space between me and my husband. I'm pinned into place by three snoring bodies, all of whom growl at any attempt I make to move them.

You gotta ask yourself, "What's wrong with this picture?"

If you're anything like me, your ordinary day probably starts in a similar way. Oh, the characters and culprits in your story may vary, but the plot basically remains the same. The same question reverberates from households across the country the minute the gun goes off at the starting gate.

I get out of bed and stumble into the bathroom, children and dogs close on my heels. It's as if a radar blip has somehow gone off universally throughout the house, letting everyone know my proximity and that I'm doing something that requires privacy. I can envision mothers universally nodding their heads in solidarity.

There's an unwritten rule somewhere that we're not allowed to pee, or chat on the phone, or check our email by ourselves. It's almost as if they're afraid we'll never come out once we lock the door behind us. My guess is that's closer to the truth than they'd care to admit. I mean, have your kids ever ventured to even knock on the bathroom door while their father is sequestered inside? In my house, the roof would have to be on fire first.

The morning has now moved itself into the kitchen. Breakfast has been served, and there's a sudden flurry of homework papers and folders in a last minute frenzy before the squeal of the bus can be heard down the street. My husband is still upstairs, no doubt on the phone or doing something that requires adult thought, as I glance longingly at my computer and the emails waiting for me from my editor. Dish towel in hand, I wipe up stray Cheerios and milk...emails left waiting, my writing on hold and my muse forced to listen to muzak while I'm busy being Mom.

I used to joke with my girlfriends that if you asked any successful woman what the difference was between them and a successful man, they'd answer...a wife. That, and of course the pay differential...

So, while my husband conducts business from the minute he steps foot out of bed, I'm left to conduct the business of the house like Toscanini in front of the New York Symphony Orchestra, my own work left waiting in the wings.

The kids rush off and I watch from the porch, a series of their I love you(s) still lingering in the air as they run for the bus. Closing the door behind me, I walk back into the kitchen for another cup of coffee, my eyes passing my office and my still quiet laptop. My husband smiles and winks at me over his own cup of joe, quietly handing me the drawing of our family our eight year old did in school the day before.

What's wrong with this picture?

Not a damn thing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Year’s Resolutions and an Ancient Roman God

January is the month of Janus, the two-headed god of ancient Romans in charge of new beginnings. His two faces gazed in opposite directions so that he could watch the start and the end of each day. With such a momentous job, Janus was the natural choice to usher in the New Year. But the actual first day of the New Year was up for grabs until the Roman Senate settled on January 1. Janus became the god people prayed to for mercy from their enemies and for a prosperous time ahead.

Janus is one of the few Roman gods that has no counterpart in Greek mythology as the Zeus/Jupiter or Hera/Juno duality. Janus was one of the "good gods" who humankind could appeal to for help in everyday life. How Janus became associated with the negative connotation of being hypocritical or deceitful: "two-faced" or "Janus-faced," remains a mystery. God of doors, gateways, beginnings, childbirth, the future and the past, he was often called upon at the start of wars. To show his support, the doors to his temple in the Roman Forum would remain open during wars, while they stayed closed during times of peace.

Beginning the New Year with resolutions is a tradition we are very familiar with. Many people pledge to work on bettering themselves, and vow to stop smoking, lose weight, or give up drinking. The ancient Romans also had resolutions, eager to throw out whatever bad luck they had in the old year and replace it with good luck in the new. They believed in giving New Year's gifts: olive branches from special, sacred trees; gold-covered nuts; or from the wealthy, gold coins of Janus himself.

We in modern times also look forward to a fresh start on January 1 and derive comfort from traditions with our family and friends. Our custom of having parties on New Year's Eve comes from the belief that what people did or ate on January 1 would affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year. What better way to ring in the New Year than celebrating with those you love?

Many people still believe in the tradition that if a tall, dark-haired man is the first person to enter their house, they will have good fortune for the entire year. And as for food, black-eyed peas are a requirement to eat on New Year's Day, along with ham or hog jowls, a symbol of prosperity. Some regions consider cabbage as lucky food, doughnuts as the circle of life, and even rice is considered fortuitous.

Whatever your New Year's resolutions are, may the god Janus be smiling down upon you!

January is the perfect month for reading my JANUS IS A TWO-HEADED GOD, an award-winning science fiction romance and the sequel, JANUS IS A TWO-FACED MOON, available at Awe-Struck's website:, and,, ebook and print.

Happy New Year!


Susanne Marie Knight
Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist!
Coming February: EPPIE Finalist: The Magic Token (Uncial Press)
An old woman gives skeptical Amanda a magic coin. It couldn’t possibly work, but how else can she explain her sudden good fortune?
Coming May: The Minx Tobin Mystery Series: The Embezzled Envelope--Case Six (Desert Breeze Publishing)
An old embezzlement case takes on a new twist: murder. When Minx tries to clear her good friend’s name, she gets burned... literally.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Those Delicious Angels and Demons of Fiction

What is it about those beautiful, pure angels that attract us so blatantly? For me, it’s the breadth and strength of chest and shoulders able to bear the weight of those magnificent wings. It’s in the perfection of body and the intelligence of mind. It’s the thought that if they love, it would be true and innocent and forever. And come on, who can resist the sensual allure in the thought of seducing one of those magnificent creatures! Would it start with a chaste kiss, quickly heating to more? Or would it be come in a blaze of light and fire as we’re swept up into hungry arms and devoured by a newly awaked, fully aroused lover.

But what of their counterparts, those irreverent and sexy-as-hell demons? We know they’re evil beneath that wickedly handsome exterior. What does it matter how they fill out those jeans and make our bones melt with that ravishing smile? They’re BAD GUYS! Seducing virgins and stealing souls with an earth shattering kiss. Maybe we can’t help ourselves when we fall for their dark seductions, the heated glance across the room over the head of a current partner. Spellbound, we walk to his side and never think to resist when he pulls us into his arms. I guess we can claim ‘the devil made me do it’!

So how do these creatures of myth and legend translate into our flesh and blood world? I think the angels would be the innocents, the ones caught in the war between good and evil, young and sweet and in need of a hero’s protection. They’d be the lovely, sweet-tempered partner who holds us close at night, whose kisses warm our soul. They’d be the kind neighbor or good friend or fair boss.

And the Demons? Those who prey upon the weak and helpless without regret or remorse. The less said about them, the better. Rarely are they as hot and sexy as the books depict.

In my paranormal/thriller ALEX, we find just this scenario. In a small town in Colorado, the citizens are being stalked by a serial killer, my ‘demon’, if you will. My angel boy, ALEX, innocent and broken, is able to see into the killer’s mind. Tortured by visions of death and murder, Alex is trying to hold on to his sanity in a world that doesn’t understand him.

Thanks for stopping by!

Dianne Hartsock

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Focus on Today not Yesterday

This morning I decided to check my cupboards (evasion tactic, number 128) to check the statues of all my basic writing material. What I noticed shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.

On one side, stacked high, were dozens of brand new notebooks and binders. A colorful array of pens and pencils, many still in their packages, reams of unopened printer paper and a new box of printer ink.

On the other side?

A thin folder sat perfectly centered. Inside a copy of my latest writing endeavor, waiting for edits of course. Like I said, I shouldn't have been surprised. A little over two weeks ago, I'd drawn up an action plan, one that went into great detail, mind you, as well as my writing goals for the new year. Yet, there I stood staring at proof that I'd forgotten not only the detailed plan, but where I'd even written it down.

What next?

Do I shake my head at my lack of commitment and head off to my favorite chair to pick up one of the books waiting in my "to be read" pile? Or do I lift my chin, pull back my shoulders and head to the computer.

What do you think?

Well, you're right. I planted myself in that chair and started reading. Didn't last long though. In the back of my mind, a little voice started yelling at the top of its lungs. "GET UP!"

Yep, I have one of those pesky little voices that I like to call my writing fairy, more like evil fairy in this instance.

Well, here I am following through with my New Year's action plan. A little bit of a late start, but a start. AND that's what counts. Right? Right!

So, if you're finding yourself in the same boat. Don't fret. Ignore any and all signs that your behind on your goals and tell yourself, "I can't change what I did or didn't do yesterday. I can only focus on the moment."

Then, DO JUST THAT! Focus on the here and now. You want to change the way your writing is going? Start today, because today is what you have to work with. Think about it. If you are always letting yesterday rule the way you do things today-you'll always be one-step behind where you want to be.

As for that lopsided cupboard.

I pulled out a new notebook and pencil and made notes for my next project. Today, I leveled the cupboard a little bit.

Tomorrow? Well, that’s not here yet, I'll focus on it when it gets here and not a minute sooner.

What about you? Have you been evading your writing goals? DeAnn Sicard A Writer's Quick Reference Guide to Words

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Novellas: A Welcome Addition or An Annoying Sales Gimmick?

Do you remember the Lays' Potato Chip ad campaign about not being able to eat just one? I think about it every time I see a listing for a novella pop up on my delightful, divine new reading buddy - the Kindle Fire. I just haven't been able to embrace the format. Not a single novella occupies space on my fireplace shelves.

Why? Because I'm the customer Lays was talking about. If I like it, then I can't eat just one. I'll eat several and keep the bag tucked close by. Periodically, I'll eat a few more and sooner, rather than later, I'll finish the bag. I have a similar appetite for books. Writers who've put out novellas are banking on that, which annoys the immortal duckness out of me. So I've just been passing 'em by.

Novellas aren't in any way, shape or form "new." They're just the newest old things. You know, every so often, something old will be trendy. It might be bellbottoms, minis or jumpsuits. It might even be getting tattoos or wanting to protest something by occupying it. Whatever. None of those things are new, just like novellas aren't new. But someone somewhere put out a long short story, labeled it a novella and it caught on. Suddenly, novellas were new - again.

Just having a novella pass by my range of vision on the virtual shelves grates on my nerves like a parade of sales "tweets." I've yet to meet a novella that wasn't a sales ad for something. Big name authors have started writing 'em to pad the time between books in a series and usually, they'll even include a little bit of the next book in the series at the end of the novella. Nice of 'em to toss in that little freeby, isn't it? Not so much. Other authors who have created a particular "world" or "events" have released novellas with a new story taking place in the world or offering an event like the ones in their stories.

The lustrous ones will release the novellas for special low, how can you resist this price from this author deal - $1.99 or less for a Krentz or a Quinn. I love both ladies' work but the prices their publishers charge for their new ones annoy me. (At my Quackingalone site I just blogged about Krentz's publisher charging almost as much for her new ebook as they charge for the hardcover.) But I'm not going to chase that cat in this post. Feel free to click the link that my darling hubby will have inserted for me. Right now, I'm busy ranting about novellas. By now, you can guess how I feel about 'em.

That's right. I see novellas as nothing but a giant sales gimmick.

Now, if an author who only writes historical romances were to release an honest-to-God actual independent novella that wasn't an advertisement for an already half-finished contemporary -- that one I'd pick up and read. If I liked it, I might even go back and leave a nice review encouraging the author to explore more contemporary material. (I'm a big fan of contemporaries.) Just don't wiz on my head and tell me it's raining, okay? Don't release an out of your regular genre as a hook because you're already starting to write one in the new genre. I'll find out. And I might even break my own personal rule and go out and leave a not so nice review. (If I don't have something nice to say in a review, I usually just don't leave one.)

I can see where the novella might be a nice, not-so-time-consuming way to explore new turf, new ideas. It might be an interesting way to try writing a new type of character, a new type of story, or to create some amazing blend of romance, poetry and non-fiction. Then a writer could toss it out there and wait for reader reaction. It would be a good place for some real groundbreaking experimental writing. Any of that, I might go for. I might try. I just haven't run into an author brave enough, bold enough to sashay out on those particular limbs and I haven't done any sashaying in that direction either. (Heck, a bunch of readers think my blend of time periods, my over-the-top style and my "history as mood" philosophy are more than strange enough.)

All I've seen is novellas that want to show me extra material at the end of a series I read long ago or that want to throw me into the middle of a series because they're about to put out a new one. In the first case, that's an author who is trying to introduce new readers to an older story. I know that writer wants to perk up sales for a romance "classic." In the latter case that's an author trying to hook me into a series. Either way, I'm not interested.

Putting out a novella to try to hook me has exactly the opposite effect. It makes me less likely to ever try your work. Sorry. Am I? No, not really. Not so much. I'm willing to give a novella a try, if anyone can identify one that's not trying to sell me something else!

How about y'all? How do you feel about the new "trend" with novellas? Have you found any that you actually like? Has anyone seen an actual independent, standing on its own novella? If anyone wants to pitch me the genre, I'll listen. If anyone has an anti-novella rant you'd like to dish, I'll listen to that too.

Fire away - this blog is a fine place to "let it all hang out" - whether you're crazy enough to agree with me or not.

Mary Anne Graham
Quacking Alone Romances
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Picture credits:

Duck chips

Oil protest sign

Con artist

Duck laboratory

Baby duck yelling

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Lure of Cowboys

What makes a cowboy a sought-after hero? Rugged good looks, handsome features, toned body...I could go on and on. But, other things add to his allure.

Hats: I don't know about you, but there's something about how a cowboy angles his hat to shade his face. That cute little tug he does to pull it firmly in place can cause a heart to flutter. And, the gallant "tip" of his hat to impress a woman can melt the heroine's heart in a flash.

Tone/twang: It's all in the accent. Put a cowboy hat on a hero and he speaks fluent "rugged outdoors/ranch, along with lots of courteous "ma'ams". That slight drawl, lazy and well-accented, will surely catch the heroine's interest.

Spurs: Not sure about this one. Could it be the sound of spurs jangling that captures a heroine's attention?

Jeans: No doubt a major lure. Take one well-toned, cowboy, pour him into form-fitting jeans, and be sure to have your heroine check him out from all angles. He'll be as good-looking in the front as well as causing heart palpitations as he swaggers away and gives the heroine a rear view.

Horse: No doubt the cowboy bonds with his horse. Mounting that horse and riding into the sunset creates images of being whisked away into a fantasy escape. Of course, the heroine needs to be sitting in front of the cowboy, enjoying the close proximity to her hero cowboy as they bounce along at the horse's pace.

And then, there are cowboy boots, ranches, rodeos, guitars, etc. All connected to cowboys and all adding to their mystique. How could any heroine avoid falling in love?

So, why don't I write about cowboys? Hmm. Need to add that to my "to do" list. A man in jeans is a man in jeans. A cowboy in jeans is a whole other image. Yee-Ha!


Photos: Flickr: Sean, Alan Light, and dbking's photostreams.
Video: youtube:

Friday, January 13, 2012

What makes a real HEA so elusive?

As a romance writer, I love the fantasy of happily ever after, or at least happily for now. Sometimes, though, it bothers me to see the stark reality of broken romances that began with all the hope in the world for a lifetime of love and commitment.

What's the culprit that puts so many relationships on the rocks? Is it modern society or human frailty, or vision at the beginning through starry eyes and rose-colored glasses that don't let the parties recognize potential problems?

Take this fictional, fractured relationship that's too much like ones that happen every day. Why did it go wrong? Was it that they were too young, too irresponsible? Were they in too much of a hurry to leap into a relationship before knowing each other well enough to form an accurate picture of what the future might bring?

There's a young man, hot for good sex but also for romance. He works hard, parties hard as well. He's stalled in a dead-end job by the sick economy--but he makes enough to enjoy the good life with his friends...and scope out chicks in upscale watering holes.

Add the chick--a hot looking babe with a body that won't stop and a taste for good times that meshes with the guy's. She works--not a career but a stopgap, as somebody else has always picked up the majority of her tabs. Recently dumped by another guy, she's living temporarily with family members--until her new guy asks her to share his place.

Fun, games and big plans for a future ensue. All is well--until she ends up pregnant. Big responsibility. Even bigger for the prospective dad who loves the chick enough to stick around but who handles the added stress by partying more than she's able to in her condition.

Add a much loved baby to mix. Chick wants to be a full time mom. Guy agrees, even though he realizes the financial strain is going to intensify. He begins noticing the chick isn't much of a housekeeper, which bugs him since he has practically doubled his hours at work to pay bills, many of which are ones she had before they met. She hates the time he spends unwinding with coworkers. He resents the money she spends, shopping and making long trips in a car that's not exactly roadworthy.

Boom! That car--hers before they met, with a huge, high-interest note--breaks down again and again, making the financial situation worse. They break up and she runs back to former boyfriend/meal ticket halfway across the country, taking baby. He follows, having no choice but to move or lose contact with his child. Nobody is particularly happy.

What could have made this romance resolve itself happily? The failure may have had something to do with both parties equating hot sex and fun partying with friendship and compatibility, don't you think? I do. This is partly a sign of the times, I guess, but I think it's more a guy thinking he'd found his fantasy lover and a chick jumping on what she thought was a better meal ticket than the one who'd just dumped her.

As I see it, both fictional parties jumped into a relationship without knowing each other beyond the superficial--a relationship between strangers that's more often than not doomed to failure.

Check next month for the antithesis to this story, the way a good fictional friend who has known the fictional guy since childhood gives them a much better chance for a real HEA ending--and check out my current Ellora's Cave Quickie, MUTUAL FANTASY, for a contemporary erotic romance that will warm your heart as well as heating your blood!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Out With The Old, In With The New

Out with the old and in with the new. That's my motto for 2012, personally and professionally. The old Mary is up for change. I'm hitting a mile stone this year so I'm thinking of changing my hair color. God knows I need to hide the grey hairs that seem to appear out of nowhere. (smile) I'm thinking of adding some kind of red to my brown hair. I've always liked red. That's change #1, and I hope to complete it for my birthday in March. Change #2: self publishing. Yes, I'm going to try it. I have two friends who are self published and regular published. The news is good from what they tell me. Why not try it? Change #3: I'm going to RT instead of RWA this year. And I'm going with a dear friend, an aspiring author. Oh, this could be real fun. (big smile) Change #4: getting more erotic novellas pub'd or self pub'd under my pen name. This could be a challenge since I tend to write more novels instead of novellas. But, I'm going to try hard to accomplish this. For now, I'll start low and say I'll write two novellas in addition to the one coming out in April.

I have a few other goals in mind to work on. I'm usually not someone to "set" goals for a new year, but this one will be different for me. If you're curious to see how I progress, check back with me down the road on Facebook, or send me an email.

Do you have a motto or any major goals set for 2012?

Mary Abshire
Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Author

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Now Is The Time To Plan Your Writing For 2012

As we move into the new year and in the US we start thinking about tax returns, we find ourselves in the perfect time to plan for 2012 writing. This is the time of year you look at how many books you sold, advertising expenses, profit and loss. This information is vital to planning your taxes for the year, but it's invaluable when it comes to planning your writing.

Now before I continue, let me say that writing to the numbers, be they sales or income, I think is a bad way to go about this business. Yes, you do need to keep an eye on them, know what is working, and what might be more risky in the marketplace. But writing is a creative endeavor, and all creative works benefit from heart. If you don't love what you're writing. If you don't feel the story in your heart and soul, then the story isn't going to be as captivating as if you're just writing to the numbers. (This is something I feel strongly about, as I have thought it best to write to the numbers at some point in my career. Now that I write pagan inspirational romance, yeah, I don't think you can acccuse me of this now. LOL!)

So how do you use this information to plan your writing, without simply writing "what sells"?

1) If you have multiple years of information then look at months. Are there some months which do better for you? Perhaps you will want to talk to your publisher about scheduling releases during those months.

2) Are there publishers that are selling for you and publishers that aren't? You may wish to focus your efforts.

3) Are there genres that you're writing, which might not be doing as well, and which you aren't really enjoying?

4) The writing you're enjoying--how is it doing? Those quirky stories, are they selling as well as you thought? Do you think they'd do better with a different publisher or a different length?

5) Were you comfortable with your writing pace? Do you think you were doing too much or is there room to do more?

I hope these questions will help you plan your 2012 writing schedule. Wishing you all the best in the coming year!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

the new year is here

I can't have a blog on New Year's day and not wish everyone a Happy New Year, but I certainly hope nearly forgetting my blog today isn't a sign of how my year is going to be. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm still catching up from Christmas. Love it. It's my favorite holiday, hands down. Mary spoke of family in a previous blog. Oh, yes. Though we're scattered, Christmas Eve is the time we all come together or try to. Some who live too far away don't make it, but they try. Nineteen of us gathered together this year from the great, great grandma of the family to one carrying a little girl that will be added to the family in Feb. The girls all pitched in during the day to get the meal ready for the evening while the boys watched football and napped. Typical, huh? We ate the Mexican feast I started preparing a week ahead of time, exchanged our gifts, and then hit the desert line. With the meal we fixed the next day for Christmas, hubby and I are still eating leftovers. We're pretty bad in this family about staying in touch. Many of us don't talk to the others for months at a time, but come Christmas, we all know it's meet and catch up time. We reaffirm our love for one another and that fact that if one of us is in need, they only have to call.
Alas, now once the holiday was over it was back to work. The household chores are already sliding while I catch up. No resolutions for me. They don't hold any better on a special day than they do during the year. Who started that idea anyway? And what about the one if you take down all the Christmas decorations on New Years day, you'll have good luck all year? I'm thinking about it. I've even brought in some of the outside decorations all ready. That doesn't mean I'm going to get it done. Will I have bad luck all year if I don't? Maybe unplugging the tree on the way to the washroom will count.
Silliness aside, Have a Happy New Year.  Come and visit us here often, sharing serious and silly in the year to come.

Larriane Wills also known as Larion Wills
two names, one author, thousands of stories
my website