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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Remembering A Legend

If you're a fan of westerns, then I'm sure you've read Louis L'Amour. During his lifetime, he published well over a hundred books, and his novels continue in popularity today. His stories have also been made into some marvelous made-for-tv movies and mini-series. Who can forget The Sacketts with Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, and Jeff Osterhage. Back when I first started writing westerns (I started out writing straight westerns, then later moved to romance), Louis L'Amour was one of my personal inspirations.

On Monday, July 20th, Mr. L'Amour's son, Beau, will be blogging about his father over on Petticoats and Pistols. If you're a fan, and even if you're not familiar with his work, I hope you'll drop by there and see what the son has to say about his legendary father.

Devon

Edit: it appears P&P has taken down the guest blog announcement. Don't know if that means it's off, but I'll find out and let you know.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Paper Junkie

I'm a paper addict. And it's not just paper I'm drawn to, but school and office supplies in general. I thought I had it under control. Then, yesterday during a quick run to Kroger, it hit me again. The urge to buy PAPER. They'd put up a shiny, new display of school and office supplies and there it all was, calling to me. But I was strong this time. Though I stood there for a while looking at all the pretty binders, loose leaf paper, index cards, pens and pencils, I resisted and didn't put anything into my cart. Yeah, sure, I picked up a couple of 5-subject, spiral bound, college ruled notebooks with pocket dividers and drooled over them, but I put them back on the shelf. So, I am getting better. It's just very hard to completely overcome a lifelong obsession.

My last binge happened several years ago. I'd gone to Wal-mart and they had an entire end cap stacked up with spiral notebooks, and they were dirt cheap. So, I loaded up with like 30 of them. When I got home and was carrying my bags into the house, my sister pulled into the driveway. She helped me carry the bags inside...and she noticed all the spiral notebooks. I explained to her that I'd gotten a real bargain. She just shook her head and said, "You're the only person I know who would ever actually use this much paper in an entire lifetime." And I did. I used it all. But it certainly didn't take a lifetime. Ditto with pencils, the mechanical kind that you don't have to sharpen, and post-its, ink jet paper, printer ink, staples, paper clips, binder clips, index cards, and all those cute little notebooks that I have lying around for jotting down passwords, web addresses, and general notes to myself. The list could go on.

My paper and accessories obsession has long been a joke within my family. They tease me about it. The funny thing is, who do you think they come to when they need something? That's right. Whenever they need a yard sale sign, they know good ole sis always has a stash of poster paper and assorted markers. What I find strange is that most people aren't very well stocked with office supplies. I honestly don't know how they get along in life.

I actually don't feel bad about my paper obsession. I have one writer pal who's a confessed office supply junkie, too, so I'm not alone. Another writer friend is a binder clip freak. I'll bet some of you are paper hoarders, too. Remember, admitting the problem is the first step toward recovery. ;o)

Devon

Monday, July 13, 2009

Writing ~ Career Choice or Calling?

I've always been fascinated by First Sale or How I Became an Author stories. Whenever I run across a first sale story, I usually stop and read and I'm always surprised by the ones that say the person simply decided at some point in life to change their profession and become a writer. What's even more amazing is that many of these people never even dabbled in writing until they made a conscious choice to become a writer. And they're successful, otherwise, why would their first sale stories be of interest to anyone? These people went into it as a career choice. Given the wacko, roll-of-the-dice nature of the industry, this blows my mind.

Then we have the other kind of writer, the person with the calling, who is compelled to write stories from a very early age, the person who must write to satisfy the many voices clamoring inside her head. I'm one of those who was compelled to write from the moment I learned to put the alphabet down on paper and form words. Now that I'm getting up in years, I'm not sure whether this is a gift or an affliction.

I think it would be interesting to know the ratio of career choice writers vs. the ones who are simply compelled, when it comes to authors who have successfully "broken in."

Here's the question for today: which are you? Do you write by choice, or have you always felt compelled to write?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

She's Back!

Have you ever run across an author whose writing you enjoyed so much, you went looking for her entire backlist? For me, Rebecca Sinclair was such an author. I have her entire list of Western Historicals, plus a couple of her Scottish Medievals. To me, her appeal wasn't in her great storytelling ability, it was in her in-depth sensual details (and I'm not talking about sexual encounters, although she had those, too). As a writer, it was those passages of detailed sensuality that fascinated me.

I devoured her books. Then, ten years ago she suddenly disappeared from the radar. After doing a little digging, I discovered she'd quit writing.

I was really sad about that, so I held onto all her books and I've reread "Forbidden Desires" so many times the pages are coming loose from the binding.

Well, surprise, surprise. Last night, I logged onto MySpace and, suddenly, there she was. And she's got a new book titled "Murphy's Law" out from Kensington, her old publisher. I immediately popped over to Amazon and discovered the book is only available in Kindle edition. Bummer. I don't have a Kindle. So I went looking again. The e-book is available other places, but I'm leery of buying from them. The only successful downloads I've bought have been from the Harlequin site. Twice I've bought something from Fictionwise and they've taken my credit card number then sent the download zinging off into cyberspace and complete oblivion. I have no idea where they went. I only know they didn't end up in my computer.

I must have this book! This snowbound cabin cover looks so cozy and inviting. Here's the blurb I picked up over on Amazon:

Murphy's Law reigns supreme...

What else can explain how Murphy McKenna managed to get herself stuck in an unexpected, early-in-the-season Maine blizzard? In a very remote cabin. With dead phones. And impassable roads. Could there be a worse time for a desperate, badly wounded man to show up on her doorstep?

Instinct demands Murphy not trust Garrett Thayer. After all, the man refuses to give her a straight answer about anything. Even her precious Himalayan cat, Moonshine, is suspicious. Who wouldn't be? Not only is Garrett hurt, he's also apparently been out wandering in the storm with nothing more than a duffel bag stuffed with money, antique jewelry (a bottle of antihistamines?) -- and a gun.

Will Murphy's conscience allow her to turn her back on the handsome stranger who may be a thief, a bank robber, or worse ...?

This storyline appeals to me. I used a very similar plot device in "Maura's Outlaw," my historical romance set in late 19th century Missouri.

Just as an aside, I think it's interesting--in light of the current digital vs. print debate in romanceland--that Kensington has released this book in e-format only. Despite my bad luck with downloading e-books, I'll probably give it another try. Probably before the day is over. Maybe. Darn it. I wish they'd released this one in print.

Devon

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Truth About Writers

Here's an article that appeared in the L.A. Times. This cracked me up because it's so true. Enjoy!

Devon

Kicking and Screaming

The title of this post refers to me, being dragged into the 21st century. I freely admit, I don't want to go. If I had my way, we'd all still be writing on manual typewriters. In fact, I was much more productive when I wrote on an old manual. The computer is a window into a boundless world of distraction and playtime, which equals a lot of wasted time, at least for me. The plain truth is, I'm a techno-phobe and I dislike change with a passion. Does that surprise you?

Yesterday marked yet another reluctant step into the new millennium. We got our first cell phones. Yes, first time ever. Hubby and I both swore we'd never have one. Aside from being just plain old stick-in-the-mud fuddy-duddies, our main issue was the rudeness factor. Too many conversations interrupted by someone's cell phone ringing and them stepping away to talk. Too many people driving down the road with phones glued to their ears. Too many people walking through stores, itemizing the things on the shelves to an unseen person on the other end. Hubby complains often about customers holding up the line at his business because they're too busy talking on the phone to tell him what they've come to buy.

So, we hated that people are walking around, not paying attention to what they're doing because of the gizmos pressed to their ears. We swore we'd never be those people. Then, something happened. Our son got his driver's license and hit the road, alone. He went out into the big world with no way at all to communicate or call for help if something happened. That scared the daylights out of us.

So there we were last night, sitting at the kitchen table, trying to figure out how to turn the things on. (son wasn't here to show us) They'd been activated and charged, but we were clueless about how they worked. Hubby finally resorted to reading the user's manual and we were in business. We called each other, just to see if they worked. One was switched over to voice mail mode (which hadn't been set up yet) so it was back to the manual. Now we're good to go. We hope. These things have features we'll never use, though our son just might. But at least now we'll feel a little easier when one of us gets in the car and drives away. Help is just a phone call away. As far as hubby and I are concerned, these are reserved for emergencies only. The last thing I want is a phone ringing in the car while I'm driving to town and back. I do some of my best thinking while I'm driving. Yeah, I sometimes miss a turn because I'm all up in my head, but I eventually get where I'm going. ;o)

Devon

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Readers and Authors

Yesterday, the mail brought a manila envelope with a lovely surprise inside. It was a print copy of "The Wishing Stone" by Allison Smith. Imagine my surprise when I opened the book and found that she had included me in the dedication! Needless to say, this wonderful gift brought tears to my eyes and put a big smile on my face.

Allison and I have never met, but our acquaintance goes back two years. Hers was the very first reader note I received after "Angel in the Rain" was released. I don't think any author can forget her very first "fan" mail and Allison is a very special lady. During the past two years, we've kept up with each other via email. She writes to ask how the writing is going and I write to ask about her progress as well. And now, as of this week, she's officially a published author, and I couldn't be happier!

Here's the blurb from the back cover (and isn't that cover positively yummy!):

After the deaths of everyone dear to her, Lara Miller has lost all hope of finding a love that lasts...until she meets the man who can literally love her forever.


Lifetimes ago, Lord Lucien Saint was brought to the existence of eternal night by a vengeful, jealous female with fangs. For centuries, he has searched for the cure to his cursed reality and finds it in the one woman who can love only him.


Together, Lucien and Lara must fight the demons of his past that threaten to tear them apart for all eternity
.

"The Wishing Stone" is available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Congratulations, Allison! I'm so happy for you and I can't wait to read the book!

Devon

Monday, July 6, 2009

Weekend Update

Sorry I haven't been around. I've had a lot on my mind over the weekend. Friday, my brother's girlfriend/roommate--who has been with us so many years, we consider her family--went to the emergency room at our local hospital. For more than a week, she'd had a severe migraine-like headache that kept getting worse, plus fever, aches, back and chest pain. From our local ER they immediately transported her to the UK Medical Center in Lexington. The diagnosis wasn't good. She has spinal meningitis. She's still in serious condition so prayers would be much appreciated.

Saturday, I got out of bed and went into the kitchen, only to discover that my refrigerator had stopped working. On the 4th of July, no less. Buying another one was no problem. All the stores were open, but getting it delivered immediately was another matter. So I called my uncle. Even though he had out of town company in for the holiday, he was kind enough to come straight over with his truck.

Anyway, just thought I'd report in since I haven't been around for a couple of days.

Devon

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kentucky's Got Talent!


There's a fella named Kevin Skinner from Mayfield, Kentucky--which is way over in the extreme southwestern area, near the Tennessee and Missouri borders--on America's Got Talent who's doing all us Kentuckians proud. The embed feature on YouTube is disabled so click HERE to see his performance. Turn up the volume on your computer. You won't be sorry. :o)

While I'm here, Happy 4th, everyone!

Devon

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Some book buyer stats that I found interesting came in today's market update from Cindi Myers.

According to PubTrack™ Consumer, a service of R.R. Bowker, LLC.:

23% of books are purchased through online purchase/e-commerce

22% are sold through large chains (Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million)

10% are sold through book clubs

7% through independents

6% through mass merchandisers (Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart)

4% through warehouse clubs (Sam’s, Costco, BJs)

2% through supermarket/grocery stores

1% each through discount stores, drug stores, religious bookstores and book fairs

22% through a variety of "Other outlets" which includes author hand-to-hand sales, churches and other organizations, craft fairs, speakers selling from the back of the auditorium, etc.

I have no idea how this would translate to romance sales, but I'd be interested to know. I remember a few short years ago, the claim was that Amazon and other online retailers accounted for only 2% of romance sales. I think it's safe to say that number has probably drastically changed.

I have a gripe. (So what else is new?) Lately I've been trying desperately to find a romance I can lose myself in. I prefer historicals because I read for pure escapism, so the farther away from today's reality I can get, the better I like it. Within the past month I've bought three historical romances. The first book--a very popular and highly reviewed Regency Historical from Avon--was a wallbanger for me because the hero did something early on that made him so unsympathetic I couldn't bring myself to read any farther to find out if he redeemed himself or not. He was so repugnant, I did not care. The second and third books are an Avon and Harlequin, respectively. Another Regency-set and a Western. Both are so full of anachronisms, I'm constantly yanked out of the story. I have to wonder what's going on with editors these days. Most of all, why aren't these authors doing a better job of policing their own writing? I'm familiar with both these authors and they're both better than this. So I have to wonder what's going on with all the modern terminology and even slang being sprinkled through these historicals.

For anyone reading this who writes historicals, here's a link for the online Etymology Dictionary. Just click on the words and it will take you there. When in doubt, click over to the dictionary and it will tell you the definition(s) and year the word in question came into use. This is such a handy tool, I keep a shortcut right on my desktop. End of rant.

Okay. Getting back to the manuscript now. Hubby's working evenings this week, so the next several hours are mine, mine, ALL MINE!

Bounce

Devon