March Madness, Marketing, and March Hares

March Madness usually refers to basketball. For many writers, the madness of March is the push to get older manuscripts finally finished, to begin new stories that have been kicking around in their heads for too many long winter months, and to figure out that elusive creature called “marketing.”

I know I’m definitely juggling all three as I finish up Book 4 of The Defiant Hearts series, which should have been finished and published about two years ago. At the same time, I couldn’t help but write back cover copy for two books that don’t exist yet. The characters have been nagging at me to get started so, at the very least, I wrote the bcc so they know I’m serious. Those pushy people in my head. Sheesh!!

Lastly, I’ve been delving into the land of newsletter marketing. Many writers, including a good friend of mine, were stranded by the closing of one business that handled relatively inexpensive emailings to large lists of thousands of subscribers. The next closest seemed to be prohibitively expensive since my friend has 25,000 signups to her newsletter. Then I discovered that for me to help her produce her newsletters, I don’t have to go with the expensive, canned variety, such as MailChimp, Mailer Lite, AWeber, or Constant Contact.

No, for very short money, under $50 per year, I can use a WP plugin to integrate her newsletter signups to her list and send her emails from an independent SMTP. This part is important since it might be a headache (meaning slow and unwieldy) to use her website’s host server to send out 25,000 emails at once.

Too technical for many, I love figuring this stuff out. All part of my March Madness routine, adding more things to my plate until I’m running around like a March hare!!! Honestly, maybe I look more like this guy on the right:

Cover of Presenting Lady Gus

I love the cover created by Philip Re. And the happy couple is standing in front of the real Thornbury Castle featured in the story.

Meanwhile, I am still enjoying a warm reception to my latest novella, Presenting Lady Gus. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet . . . click here. And if you already have, I would be grateful if you could leave a review.

Happy Spring!!


A Look-Ahead to 2017 from a Writer’s POV

Kristen Lamb’s post “After the Dumpster Fire of 2016—How to Make 2017 ROCK!” is an inspirational look-ahead for writers and how to accomplish more and better writing in the new year.

new year graphic

One thing you should be doing is reading. After all reading books is probably what brought you to the craft of writing in the first place.  A quote from Kristen, for writers about reading, especially if you swear you don’t have the time:

Reading is how we hone our skills and learn. I do a lot of editing and one of my biggest complaints with new writers is it is clear they do not read. They beat up a lot of the same words, the same tired descriptions and their dialogue sounds like a bad soap opera. Often I can tell in less than ten pages they have no plot.

But these are the same folks who will claim they have no time to read.

I read about three books a week. No I don’t sit with a nice hard back the way I would prefer. I listen to audio books and it isn’t my preference but it works with all I have to do. I can’t sit and leisurely page through while folding laundry. I can, however, listen to an audio book and with Kindle Unlimited and an Audible membership I can afford my habit.

No, not all writers are plotters, but I will be blunt. Pansters really are plotters but the reason they can get away with not sitting and outlining is they literally have read so many books that structure is hardwired into their brains and they can navigate a 60,000-110,000 word story intuitively.

Successful pantsers are extremely well read (plotters too but pantsers even more so).

If we don’t spend time reading, we will probably spend way more time with crappy drafts. Most people are not born writing savants. Stephen King didn’t become Stephen King without reading fiction and using others to refine his craft.

You can read the post in its entirety here.


Tip for Writing Dialogue: Don’t Overuse Names

dialogue imageToday, I want to give you a tip on the overuse of characters’ names in dialogue — as a writer, I avoid this, but as an editor, I see it all too often. It goes something like this:

“John, go to dinner with me,” said Maria. “And look, there’s Connor.” Maria approached Connor. “Connor, so good to see you.”

“Hi, Maria and John, good to see you, too.” They all took a seat at a round table near the water.

Looking at John, Maria asked, “What would you like to eat, John? Fish or chips?”

But John stayed silent.

Connor laughed and said, “Oh, Maria, I think I’ll have both fish and chips.” Then he looks at John. “What about you, John?”

“Why, Connor, I think I’ll only have the chips. And a large glass of scotch.”

Do you see what I’m getting at? A skilled writer will clue the reader in to who is talking and to whom they are talking without using names because in real life, if we’re looking at someone, we don’t say his or her name. If you can’t tell who is speaking or to whom they are speaking, then the characters are written too homogeneously or the lead-in descriptors are not written well.

I don’t have enough time to write some great dialogue here, but if I were to rework the crapola above, it would go something like this:

With their meeting over, and a great restaurant merely steps away, Maria made a quick decision. Glancing at John, she said, “Go to dinner with me?” She gestured toward the patio restaurant and then spied their friend Connor. “Look Connor’s already here.”

They walked toward his table and he stood up and greeted them warmly.

“So good to see you,” she continued.

“Hey, you two, are you eating?” he asked. “Have a seat at my table.”

As soon as they were seated , Maria perused the menu. She glanced at John who seemed a little too quiet. Was he annoyed? “What would you like to eat? Fish or chips?” It was a little joke, but John stayed silent.

Connor laughed. “I think I’ll have both fish and chips.” He turned to John. “What about you?”

Looking a little sour, John said, “I think I’ll just have the chips. And a large glass of scotch.”

Again, I admit, it’s not a great scene, but I hope you get the idea. If you’re a writer, consider not “namecalling” as much in your dialogue because if I’m you’re editor, I’m going to slash and burn those names.

How Bad Is My Dog’s Breath?

I just realized that my dog’s breath is so bad — and actually quite indescribable in its particular aroma — that I am distracted to the point of being unable to concentrate at my desk and get my daily quota of writing done. Here is the culprit, right at my feet, directly under my keyboard:


He is snoozing peacefully, unaware of the mayhem he is causing while dreaming of his next meal.

“Perry,” I call to him so I can take a picture of his gorgeous mutt-ly face.

He pointedly ignores me. (Apparently, he had been taking lessons from the cat!!)

“Perry, look up at mommy.” More ignoring and wafting of hot doggy breath.

Then I shake the bag of cat kibble that I keep as the most delicious of treats.

cat kibble treats

Instantly, he looks at me. There’s my beautiful boy from Tennessee:

Perry under my desk

And as I gaze into his chocolate brown eyes, I realize that despite the whole breath thing, he is my best canine friend, and as the days have become cooler, he has been thoughtfully warming my feet with lungfuls of his own used air. So sweet (Perry, I mean, not his breath!)

Anyway, next post will be about my latest release, The Black Knight’s Reward, and nothing about dog breath.