Thursday, June 23, 2016

Quirks of a Reader

One of my enduring childhood memories has to do with my grandmother’s books. I can still see her hunched over the little brown card table she set up in her living room, a book splayed in front of her (or a game of Solitaire. Endless rounds of solitaire. Must be where I get it from). She loved to mark up her books with notes in the margins, highlights of favorite passages and astute analysis at the end of a chapter. There was never a bookmark in sight, as she was fond of dog-earing the pages to keep her place. To this day, she can still be found marking up her books.

Truthfully, I never understood her penchant for taking pen to page like that. I’ve always been one to keep my books pristine. Then again, I suppose we all have our reader “quirks” (check out my writing quirks, too.) Here are mine:

I Keep My Books Like New
As I mentioned above, I don’t write notes in the margins, dog-ear the pages—I don’t even break the spines. I won’t loan books out to people for fear they’ll come back a total mess—I’d rather just buy the book and give it as a gift. Then you can do whatever YOU want to them. I’m not sure where this purist attitude came from, but hey, that’s why they call it a quirk.

I Read EBooks and Print Books Equally
Some people have sworn off paperback/hardcover books for good, preferring the ease of eBooks. Others shake their fist at the notion of doing anything other than holding a book in their hand and hearing the flick of a turning page. 

I like both.

I never thought I’d cotton to eBooks, but as is my way, while never an early adopter, I usually come in sometime before intermission. I love eBooks for when I’m travelling (much easier to throw my Kindle in my carry-on than a hulking hardcover) or for the times when I can’t get a seat on the bus (try balancing a book in one hand, while holding onto a pole for dear life with the other. Not fun.).

Free Books Are Great
There are some in the indie community that feel readers don’t value a free book, meaning they are less likely to read it and if they do read it, they are less likely to like it.

This is not a premise I buy into. I don’t know if it’s because I was a library kid, where the books were “free,” or because I worked in a bookstore where booksellers are privy to all kinds of free books (see my post, Musings of a Reformed Bookseller), but I don’t put more value on a book I paid for over a book I got for free. I value the story. That’s the currency I care about. It doesn’t matter to me if the book was a gift, an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC. Got LOTS of those), a bargain book scooped up from a bookstore for $5, a garage sale find for $.50, or a free download. A good book is a good book. 

I Categorize My Books Like a Bookstore
Again, this is probably a holdover from my bookseller days, but I keep my mass markets (small paperbacks) in their own bookcases. Trade paper (larger paperbacks) and hardcovers go together. And everything’s alphabetized.

My Favorite Genre to Read is Psychological Suspense
Well, yeah. And I also like to write it J
Basically, I love reading anything that will twist my mind like a pretzel. Perhaps what I like the most is the feeling of something happening, of being swept away by something sinister as you try to suss out motives and murderers.

I also read a lot of literary fiction, classic literature, autobiographies and biographies.

I don’t read sci-fi or westerns. Ever.

Sometimes, I Peek at the End. Sometimes
I used to be much worse about this, but not as much as I’ve gotten older. I guess patience really is a virtue.

I Don’t Read Series
Like adult-onset food allergies, this one happened as I got older. I used to devour Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, The Girls of Canby Hall and Sweet Dreams (remember those?). However, for whatever reason, as an adult, I haven’t really read a whole lot of series, preferring to stick with standalone books.

I Read at the Library
Seriously. Sometimes, when I need a little peace and quiet, I’ll go to the public library for a few hours and read my book. There’s something about being engulfed by all those books that I just love.

What about you? What are some of your quirks as a reader?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

An Indie Author Meets a Book Club

The email came in about mid-April. A very sweet and short email from a woman named Joy letting me know her book club, Sistahs United, had read “Killing Me Softly.” She was curious if I ever visited book clubs to talk about my books and if so, her book club would love to have me.

I’m not kidding, I think my heart may have stopped.

Someone wanted to talk to me in person about one of my books?

Multiple someones?


The book club would be meeting in May in Salisbury, Maryland. I’d never heard of Salisbury and immediately Googled it – it’s the second largest city in the Eastern Shore of Maryland and accessible to New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C., Norfolk and Wilmington.

My wheels started turning. I had a monster month of travel in May. Should I make the trip? Should I Skype (which I’ve done before)?

As is often the case with things like this, cost would be the determining factor. I found a great hotel/flight bundle. I could make the dates work.

I decided to go.

While I got a great deal on my flight, the downside was that said flight was at 5:45 a.m. the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. I live in Chicago, so by now, we’ve all heard the TSA horror stories coming out of the Windy City. In spite of three back-to-back trips in April/May, I’d managed to sail through security each time unscathed. My luck ran out that Friday morning, as I arrived at O’Hare at 3:00 a.m. to find long lines and panicked travelers. After 45 minutes of standing in security (and becoming more apprehensive by the minute – if I missed this flight, I’d miss my connection in Philadelphia to Salisbury’s little commuter airport, meaning there was likely a car rental/monster day of driving in my future), a TSA executive came out and declared the K-9’s were taking over and we wouldn’t have to empty the contents of our carry-on’s into plastic bins or take off our shoes to get through security. Whew!

I made my flight, made my connection and made it into Salisbury with no troubles. Joy and I met at my hotel Friday night and she couldn’t have been more delightful. She found “Killing Me Softly” while searching for free books on Amazon and was intrigued by the blurb, title and cover. After reading it, she purchased my other three books and promptly read those (she said she was with me on “SweetLittle Lies” until the end. So it goes.) She gave me a rundown of the meeting and what her expectations were of me, stressing it was a pretty laid back group, so nothing too formal. I asked what the temperature of the group was about the book and she said everyone she had talked to had read it and liked it, though she was certain two of the members wouldn’t be so enamored by it, as they weren’t into mystery/suspense books. 

Hi Joy!

So it goes.  

Joy herself is a budding writer and we got a chance to talk about the craft of writing and the business of publishing. Before we knew it, it was 10 p.m. As we hugged goodbye until Saturday afternoon and I headed upstairs to my room, I knew I’d made a new friend.

Saturday arrived as did a case of nerves. This was the first time I’d done anything in a public group setting as “an author.” I had to re-read “Killing Me Softly” to reacquaint myself with it, as I hadn’t looked at it in years (I think Anne Tyler said it best when she declared that reading [your] own books “always feels like lying awake in a bedroom I’ve painted myself; the mistakes are so noticeable and so upsetting.”). I checked and double-checked that I remembered all of my supplies: paperbacks of “Every Breath You Take,” that I would sign as a gift to the book club members, fresh Sharpies and bookmarks.
Some of the members of the Sistahs United Book Club

Off I went to the Wicomico Public Library. I arrived about twenty minutes early, so I took the time to gather my thoughts and spend a little time jotting down promotional ideas for “Live To Tell,” before heading down to one of the library’s meeting rooms to meet with the ladies of Sistahs United.

We started off with lunch, a delicious potluck of chicken wings, savory meatballs, mac and cheese, chips and dip and a to-die-for lemon Bundt cake. Before long, we were diving into “Killing Me Softly,” and the conversation was in a word, amazing. I talked about how I came up with the idea for the story, how hard it was to figure it out, how I came up with the ending. One of the members commented that after reading the book, she “just had to meet the mind that came up with this.” My friends wonder too, since in general, I’m a nice normal girl ;)

What was most gratifying was that everyone picked up on the themes of diversity, relationships, the disparity in media coverage for missing white women and missing women of color, in addition to being engrossed in the overall story of Sondra searching for the truth behind her sister’s mysterious disappearance (even the two women who said they don’t typically like mysteries, said they really enjoyed “Killing Me Softly.” Yay!). 

The conversation took a deeper turn as we talked about African American authors in general and the types of stories we tell. It was noted that it is rare to find African American authors writing contemporary psychological suspense novels and that it was refreshing to read one. “They” say write the book you want to read and that’s what I did (and continue to do), so hearing that was definitely the cherry on the day.

I signed copies of “Every Breath You Take,” which everyone enjoyed receiving, passed out bookmarks and took some pictures. I was touched when the group presented me with a card and gift. As I headed back to my hotel and home the next morning, I was floating on a cloud from the experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat, so if there are any book clubs out there interested in having me, I’m open for business! :D

Don't forget your author swag
Here are some of my tips for authors meeting with a book club:

DO read the book the group is discussing. Even if it’s just a quick skim. You may think since you wrote it, you know it inside out. While that’s true, if it’s been a minute since you’ve looked at it (in my case, years) re-familiarizing yourself with the book will jog your memory about the characters and key events and most importantly, keep you engaged in the conversation.

DO ask the group questions. Find out what types of books they like to read, how they find books in general. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions about your book. For example, one of the members said she thought the ending would be totally different. I was curious how she thought it would end, so I asked her.

DO bring swag. Bookmarks, key chains, pens, whatever you have.

DO bring books to sign as gifts. And bring Sharpies!

DO bring a gift specifically for the hostess/whoever extended the original invitation.

DON’T get discouraged if not everyone likes your book and above all, don’t get defensive or argumentative. Everyone’s entitled not to like a book. It happens. If nothing else, it can encourage healthy discussion. You might even find yourself with a group of potential beta readers for future works.

Time to crack the whip on myself and get back to writing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Characters You Love To Hate, Law and Order, Badass Women and Love-ish Triangles: Printer’s Row Lit Fest 2015

This past weekend, for the fourth year in a row, I attended Printer’s Row Lit Fest, the largest outdoor literary festival in the Midwest and my official start to summer.

It’s interesting to think about not only my first Lit Fest back in 2012 (read about it here) but also how it parallels with the journey of my indie writing career. Back then, I was unpublished and reading everything I could get my hands on about indie publishing. I was also about to head to Toronto for a weeklong writing class with my “author crush,” Joy Fielding (read about that here). Four Lit Fests later, I’ve released three books, am about to release two more and still doing what I can every day to learn as much as I can about this business.

So, in the interest of hanging out with my tribe, finding new books to read and furthering my education on the business and the craft, I once again headed to Printer’s Row and Lit Fest. And here’s what I did:

Panel Discussion: The Characters You Love to Hate Featuring Mystery Writers, J. Michael Major, Kristi Belcamino, Lynne Ramondo and Shane Gericke. Moderated by Lori Rader-Day
It was a packed house Saturday morning as attendees crowded into what might have been a science classroom at Jones College Prep. I attend at least one Mystery Writers of America panel each year (that whole tribe thing) and always enjoy the nuggets I pick up. The discussion centered around why unlikable characters really are likable, i.e. Hannibal Lecter and Walter White. Bad guys provide more opportunity for conflict, because goody two-shoes characters are “boring” (true) and as J. Michael Major put it, “our real world is filled with so much mundaneness,” why would you want to write about it, much less read about it (also true)?

I just had to stop here and say Shane Gericke had my line of the day: “We all have evil inside is . . . we all have mean streaks.”

Each author shared some of their favorite anti-heroes including House, Lincoln Rhyme from Jefferey Deaver’s series, Tom Ripley, Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader, “The Blacklist”), Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes, “Homeland”) and Ken Brunen’s creation, Jack Taylor.

In today’s climate, unlikable characters can’t be “cartoon characters,” and unlike in the “Mickey Spillane era, you have to explain it.”  In other words, you can’t just have evil for evil sakes. There has to be a motivation for why – which is what makes character development even more essential. Lynne Ramondo commented “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” while shocking in its day, it wouldn’t make much of a ripple today (true again.)

Big takeaway: “To understand any character (bad guys included) you have to understand their background.”

It was fun to hear the perspective of each author on this intriguing topic and Lori Rader-Day was a charming moderator.

Mystery Writers of America Impromptu Sessions
The Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America hosted a number of mini-sessions in their tent. I stopped by for one and wound up staying for three. There was an impromptu session by Susanna Calkins and another author whose name I didn’t catch, on social media and marketing. The session that followed featured Patricia Skalka (who writes mysteries set in Door County, Wisconsin) and another author whose name I also missed (I’m really batting a thousand here – he was from Detroit and during the discussion, invoked some of that city’s greats including Elmore Leonard and Loren D. Estleman) on their writing process, where they get their ideas and the role setting plays in their work.

The third session (the one I came for) was “Law and Order,” meant to feature a police detective (aspiring mystery writer, Adam Henkels, a Chicago-area police officer) and a lawyer. The lawyer couldn’t join the fun, but Matthew Clemens, who has penned TV tie-in novels for CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, Dark Angel, Bones, and Criminal Minds, stepped in to pinch hit. It was a great riff about “story showing,” not “storytelling,” the importance of editing, why writing about police work is so boring(!) and why it’s so different from what we see on TV (budgets, for starters). That was probably my favorite mini-session. Unfortunately, the session started late, which meant I had to bolt to get to my next event. Still, I had a blast.  

Panel Discussion: Breaking the Deadly Glass Ceiling: Libby Fischer Hellmann, Jessie Chandler, Susanna Calkins, Raymond Benson moderated by Jeffrey Marks
My last session of the day was about kick-ass female characters. Libby Fischer Hellmann, who pens two popular thriller series with female protagonists, wondered why women have to have this characterization (fair point). The discussion centered around the depiction of strong women characters in fiction and even in non-fiction and how women can “go the wall” when it comes to facing challenges and conflict. Raymond Benson, who wrote several James Bond books, admitted he, “burned out all of his testosterone,” on that series, which lead him to create a female superhero, “The Black Stiletto.” Jessie Chandler, whose mysteries feature a lesbian protagonist, is a former Borders manager and she populated her books with her former cohorts (being a former Barnes & Noble bookseller, I can appreciate that – also, Jessie mentioned she got her start with NaNoWriMo.)

One of my personal favorite bad-ass women (picture courtesy of TNT)

A few interesting tidbits that came out of the session:

-        Women make 80 percent of the book buying choices

-        Non-fiction is easier to sell and get reviewed

-        Women read more male authors than female authors

-        Susanna Calkins had a male author tell her point-blank, “I don’t read books about women.” (Alrighty then.)

Favorite authors of the panelists include Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell and Val McDermid.

Fiction: Love Triangles: Mary Kubica (“The Good Girl”) and Rebecca Dinerstein (“The Sunlit Night.”)
Admittedly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this event, as based on what I’d read about each book, love triangles didn’t seem to figure all that prominently into either story. However, I was really excited to see/hear Mary Kubica, as “The Good Girl,” has been on my radar as a “to be read,” for quite a while. I was pleasantly surprised to learn she was a Chicago girl, so even more reason to brave the rain on Sunday.

Turns out, love triangles really don’t play a part in either novel and the moderator cheerfully informed us they’d be “going rogue” for the presentation (love it.). Each author did a short reading: Mary Kubica from her forthcoming book, “Pretty Baby,” (her descriptions of Chicago give me something to aspire to), while Rebecca Dinerstein read from her book, which traverses Brooklyn and Norway. Rebecca Dinerstein indentifies herself as a poet and it definitely shows in her work – gorgeous writing.

Since we were “going rogue,” the conversation centered around the importance of place and setting (see a theme here?) in their work and with genre being so critical in today’s digital age, how they would classify their work (Kubica – psychological suspense, Dinerstein – women’s fiction, though she admitted she’d take, “any genre anyone wants to give me.”). Each confessed that genre can be tricky for women authors, but stressed that each of their works touch on the emotional things women go through – work, family, relationships, love, so women’s fiction would be apt for both.

I ventured a question, asking each who some of their favorite authors are: Kubica – S.J. Watson (ironically, I’m currently reading “Before I Go To Sleep.” She gave it a huge thumbs up.) Heather Gudenkauf, Gillian Flynn, another Chicago girl. Interestingly enough, “The Good Girl” has drawn numerous comparisons to “Gone Girl.” In doing a little research for this post, I found an interview where she also chose Liane Moriarty Ann Hood and Anita Shreve as favorites (could MK be my spirit animal??). Dinerstein praised Michael Chabon and considers herself a Bronte girl, “Jane Eyre” in particular being a favorite.

I purchased, “The Good Girl,” and had it signed. I have also moved it to the top of my “to be read” pile.

I usually leave Lit Fest feeling awed and inspired and this year was no exception. I came home and worked up three blurbs for my WIP, tinkered with said WIP (now in the in hands of my First Reader) and wrote a page and a half of an idea for a new book that’s been tickling my brain for a few weeks. So many great events and authors and information and books. So many books. It’s better than a candy store.

Already dreaming of Lit Fest 2016.

Monday, June 1, 2015

How I Created my Book Trailer for $12.99

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of doing a book trailer, but had decided it was something for “the future.”  They either required thousands of dollars to hire a professional to produce it or a graphics/technological dexterity I didn’t posses in order to do it myself.

However, a last year, as part of a family book club, we read “The One and Only,” by Emily Giffin and as is my way, after finishing, went in search of more information about the book and author, which is when I stumbled across the very simple trailer for the book:

This was a revelation: No actors! No location shoots! No storyline!  It was short!
After watching the above, I was emboldened enough to believe that maybe I COULD come up with something cost-effective and not too terribly complicated.  After poking around on the Internet (seriously . . . what DID we do before the Web??) I saw a few tutorials on how to use PowerPoint to create book trailers and gave it a whirl (there are lots of other video programs out there that are far superior to PowerPoint, but frankly, I’m not that ambitious or artistic, so PowerPoint it would be). 

My PowerPoint skills have always been rudimentary at best, but I was able to cobble together something halfway decent before going in search of royalty-free music, which proved to the biggest challenge.  Some sites charged upwards of $50 for two minutes of music (about only 30 seconds of which I’d even be using.  Definitely couldn’t justify that expense.)
And then I stumbled upon Animoto (cue the singing choir), a program that lets you turn photos, text and video clips into rich videos.

This was yet another revelation: It was easy! It was fun!
I’m almost embarrassed to say just how much of a blast I had exploring the different styles and concepts Animoto offered as I developed my book trailer – not to mention how fast and painless it was.  

However, I still had the music conundrum, as what Animoto offered at my price point (Read: FREE) wasn’t quite right.
And yet another stumble, this time into JewelBeat, which offers a vast library of royalty-free music to choose from for $2.99.  Two dollars.  Ninety-nine cents.

I fell in love.
In no time, I found the perfect music for my trailer.  I was so enthralled by the process, I quickly created another one for my next book (stay tuned!). And another one!

For now, here are the fruits of my labor:

A few tips:

-        Animoto offers a few different pricing plans.  I used the free option, which allows you to create a 30-second video.  Anything over 30 seconds and the meter starts running.  While the free option limits you to certain styles and music choices, there was still quite a lot to choose from.
-        Google “Royalty-free images” and you’ll find a treasure trove of sites with pictures you can use for your video.  Animoto also offers a small selection of images and video that you can incorporate into your trailer. 

-        While I used JewelBeat for music, iTunes also offers a wide variety of royalty free songs and sound effects.  You can buy individual songs or whole albums (some compilations have up 100 songs and effects.  It’s like a candy store!).  By the way, JewelBeat’s $2.99 price point includes the purchase of a standard use license, which allows for up to 1 million views.  There is also an extended use license for $9.99, which offers unlimited views.  I chose the standard license, but you can upgrade to an extended license at any time.

-         Animoto offers the option of upgrading your final video to HD for a one-time $10 cost (hence the $12.99 price tag for the whole trailer).  Do it.  It will make your video crisp, clear and professional looking. 

-        Have fun!  Playing around with Animoto was more than a little addictive and believe me, if I can do it, ANYONE can.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Writer’s Voice

“The most durable thing in writing is style, and style is the most valuable investment a writer can make with his time. It pays off slowly, your agent will sneer at it, your publisher will misunderstand it, and it will take people you have never heard of to convince them by slow degrees that the writer who puts his individual mark on the way he writes will always pay off.”
-Raymond Chandler

For me, one of the joys of reading fiction is the variety of voice and style you come across. I just finished “Everything I Never Told You,” by Celeste Ng, about the death of a teenage girl and about a month ago, I read, “Mud Vein,” by Tarryn Fisher, about a woman held captive in a remote cabin. Each of these stories were beautifully written, absorbing page-turners, yet the style or “voice,” of their authors couldn’t have been more different.

Voice. So personal. So highly subjective. Writers struggle for years to find their “voice,” that unique combination of syntax, dialogue, character development—even punctuation—that is their own personal stamp, a warbling like no other. Elmore Leonard’s masterful dialogue, ee cummings’ lack of punctuation and capitalization, the silky elegance of Anita Shreve and the dark, prickly precision of Gillian Flynn are just a few examples of just how personal and singular a writer’s “voice” can be.

Finding and honing your writer’s voice is a long, arduous and ever-changing process. It can start with trying to emulate a writer whose stories you enjoy reading. It can evolve from a movie or TV show that knocks you so flat, you become determined to try to recapture the quick, breezy dialogue or long, poetic soliloquies.

I’ve found my own somewhat conversational, to-the-point writing style is the direct result of (“rebellion against” might be a better term) high school reading experiences. I struggled mightily to get through “The Old Man and The Sea.” It droned on and on and I can’t remember if he ever even caught that dang marlin (despite the bad taste the sea left in my mouth, I would like to read “The Sun Also Rises,” one of these days.). I had the same negative reaction to “Jane Eyre.” The simple act of walking into a room took pages and pages and by the end, I was ready to bury the whole book in the backyard (I had a much better experience with the “prequel,” Wide Sargasso Sea,” which tells the story of the madwoman in the attic before she got all tangled up with Rochester). I much preferred the loose style of “Catcher in the Rye,” or “The Bell Jar,” or the deceptively simple, “Ethan Frome.”

As a reader, I like to “get on with it,” as it were, and this is my inclination as a writer as well. Some readers (and writers) like a lot of flowery language and an excess of detail, while others prefer a shorter, punchier style (and some of us like a little bit of both). Charles Dickens’ may be one of Jackie Collins’ favorite authors, (no, really), but it doesn’t mean she wants her voice to sound anything like his. My No. 1 goal with all my books is to entertain with a (very) small side of provocative thought thrown in for good measure. I’ll leave the penning of the Great American Novel to someone else.

I have a family member taking their first foray into fiction writing and they mentioned wanting to emulate the style of two writers with a highly literary, highly poetic quality to their work. After reading a sample of their work, it was clear to me their style was a little more downtown than uptown. After probing them some more (and suggesting they read works by authors whose style was probably closer to their own), I asked why they chose two writers with a style so different from their own and their response was, “Well, I thought that’s how I was supposed to write.”

Can you imagine Madonna singing “Vision of Love” or Mimi belting out “Vogue?”

Part of “finding your voice,” is not only reading and writing A LOT, it’s learning the rules before you break them in the name of artistic expression. It’s observing the world around you and applying it to your writing accordingly. It’s tapping into your own individual experiences and truths and using it in your writing. It’s finding the best version of your own unique voice and honing it until it feels like YOU, not a cheap, grasping imitation of someone you THINK you’re supposed to sound like. The more you work at it, the more comfortable you become in your own voice and the more confidence you gain to be able to say, “no, thank you,” to the well-meaning, but often bad advice of others who may try to strip your writing of everything that makes it unique.

I went through this recently with a family friend who offered me a lot of unsolicited advice on a manuscript.  If this person had their way, my story would have sounded like some Elizabethan wrote it instead of a Sloaneian (ha ha!). Kind of like Mariah Carey and Madonna trading set lists for the night. Honestly, can you imagine Madge belting out “Vision of Love,” or Mimi crooning, “Vogue?”

Like I said, voice.

For now, it’s time to go and do some work on my voice.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Paperback, a Novella and a Cover Reveal

Greetings from beneath my monumental to-do list.

The past few months have been hectic and a frenzied schedule typically means something has to give. In my case, it has been my blog posts. I have promised myself I will get back on the horse and resume regular posts. That is until the next frenzied schedule intrudes.

 So, what have I been up to in no particular order?:

“Every Breath You Take”

-        The paperback version is about to hit the presses, hopefully later this month. Stay tuned.

-        A funny thing happened after I wrote “The End” on this book – I couldn’t let go of the characters (I’ve blogged about this before – read more here). For one, there were some things that happened “off the page,” with some of the characters that I was curious about. So much so, I was compelled to write a companion novella tentatively titled, “Missing You.”).

I’ve never written a novella before, so “writing shorter,” was interesting. I’ve also never written a series or sequel of any kind, so it was a challenge (in a good way) to make sure certain details matched. I’m sure I probably missed a few – hopefully I can catch them on the flip side. Overall, it was a fun experience and I feel inspired to try it again in the future.

“Live To Tell”

-        After some internal revisions based on beta reader feedback and my own obsessively compulsive tweaking, “Live To Tell,” which will be my 4th release, has been officially sent out for content editing. Check out the book cover below. It’s unlike my other books in that it’s a first person POV, and the protagonist is male. Next stop will be more obsessive revision on my part, followed by copyediting, obsessive revision, proofreading, obsessive revision and finally unleashed on the world. Right now, I’m shooting for a September release, so more to come.

-        I’ve also begun veeerrrry preliminary work on a draft for a companion/sequel titled, “Tell Me A Lie.” Similar to “Missing You,” I found myself wondering, “Well, what happened next?” It will be another first person POV.


-        Because I get bored easily, I’m revamping my website for the 2nd time in six months. I’m updating it to include video among other fun features. I hope to have it ready for debut by early to mid-June.

-        As always, I’m coming up with story ideas way faster than I can write them. Maybe someday my brain will catch up with my fingers and I’ll get around to churning out the manuscripts.

But for now, back to writing.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Every Breath You Take Giveaway - March 23 - March 30

To celebrate the release of my latest novel, “Every Breath You Take,” I’m hosting a giveaway (Woo Hoo!)

From March 23 – March 30  enter below for the chance to win the following prizes:

FIVE Kindle Copies of “Every Breath You Take” (Limit 1 per winner)

ONE $25 Amazon Gift Card

ONE DVD Copy of one of the Five Movies featured in “Every Breath You Take.” Watch this blog for an upcoming post on why I included these specific movies in the book.

Winner’s Choice of:



(1955 version)



About “Every Breath You Take:

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Natalie Scott goes jogging along Chicago’s lakefront. She likes foreign films, cinnamon gum and strawberry yogurt. She smells like sunflowers in the summer and roses in the winter.
These are just a few of the things Natalie’s stalker knows about her.

In fact, he knows everything about her.

In one brutal act of violence, Natalie’s stalker will reveal himself to her, imprisoning her in the process, determined to own her body and soul. Now trapped in a madman’s web, Natalie will find herself in a terrifying battle of wills where the only way to survive is to beat the monster at his own game.
. .

Praise for “Every Breath You Take”

“This is one of those books that occupied my mind twenty-four hours a day . . .”

“This book is a must read for anyone who likes a good psychological thriller.

“The story kept me on the edge of my seat . . .”

Fun Extras
For a look “Behind the Book,” click here.
For a recap of the eleven tracks on the “Every Breath You Take” playlist, click here
For my thoughts on who I’d cast in the “Every Breath You Take” movie, click here.

Entering the contest is easy – just use the Rafflecopter below and choose how you want to submit your entry!

Winners will be chosen at random and announced on April 1, 2015 (I promise – no April Fools! Only winners. J)

a Rafflecopter giveaway