Thursday, June 30, 2011

Famous Writing Quote of the Day

"The problem with the school of hard knocks is that by the time you graduate, you’re punch drunk."    Vince Mooney

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Best Reason for Ebooks – Keeping Great books in Print!

2006 RITA Winner

“The Mariage Miracle” Is One of Harlequin Romance’s Best Reviewed Books Ever!
“One of the best Harlequin Romances this reviewer has ever read. This story is exciting, fresh, innovative and a breath of fresh air, yet it is told in the traditional sweet tone of the line, which will make this book appeal to all readers".      -- Romantic Times Bookclub

Why would I start my review with a review by someone else? To demonstrate a point about how extraordinary “The Marriage Miracle” by Liz Fielding really is.

RT reviewers are hard to impress. They review many very similar, average, books every month. And when an RT reviewer calls, The Marriage Miracle “One of the best Harlequin Romances this reviewer has ever read,” that is  very rare and notable!  Of course, the reviewer was right. “The Marriage Miracle” went on to win the RITA, (the Oscar of romance awards), for best short comtemporary romance.

The point is: why do we let the true romance gems, shine for a month or two, only to see them go out of print? “The Marriage Miracle” is also one of the best Harlequin Romances I’ve ever read and HR is my favorite line. I’ve read a lot of them. But I didn’t read, “The Marriage Miracle,” until just now. I missed it back then and I would likely have never read it at all except the title came up in a conversation. Fortunately, I was able to download the book in minutes.

I think eBooks will change what we read as well as how we read.

“The Marriage Miracle” is not old. I don’t think a reader today could tell it was not a new release. Why should anyone have to ‘dig’ for a book this good? Harlequin and Mills and Boon need to create a 'Hall of Fame' page on their websites dedicated to promoting their award winning romances. These should be available to purchase instantly as eBooks. I’d also like to see authors adopt  tag lines which state something like: “Be sure to enjoy my RITA winning, ‘The Marriage Miracle’! The book title should be linked to a site where you can buy it.

What Makes, The Marriage Miracle,” an Instant Standout?

“The Marriage Miracle” is a meaningful book. The story addresses difficult issues regarding the human condition. What does it mean to love? What does it mean to be a whole person? What do you do when truly loving someone means driving them away from you? 

When an author can deal with these universal questions and embed them in a compelling, emotional and heartwarming romance, then something very special is created. 

In the great opera, La Traviata, the heroine is able to drive the hero away for his own good. The question in, “The Marriage Miracle,” is will this same thing happen again? And, if not, why not? “The Marriage Miracle” is no ordinary romance. It will grab you and make you part of the story.

The Story:

The heroine, Matilda Lang, is terrified when she feels herself falling in love with the hero, Sebastian Wolseley. An accident she had a few years before has left her in a wheelchair. She suffers many doubts. She is not even sure if she can have physical feeling for a man. Matty, as she is called, is a quick wit, a creative artist and a talented conservationist who is able to flirtingly lure men in and then drive them away. She can even enjoy the reactions and embarrassment her victums experience when they learn of her handicap. She may even disguise her disability from initial view at social events. Matty is a very conflicted and interesting personality.

The hero is as jaded, in his own way, as the heroine. As such, Matty’s antics don’t drive Sebastian away. They make her seem more real, more fully human, more worthy of love. But, of course, it can’t work. Even trying to allow for a relationship will lead to unnecessary pain and suffering.

The location is London and the beautiful English countryside. In the story there are many other considerations to capture the reader’s interest. It’s not just about the hero and heroine. These bigger conditions drive Matty and Sebastian closer together.

Like Water Flowing Down a Hill

The plot just seems to flow organically from the very nature of the characters. I felt after reading, “The Marriage Miracle,” that events happened the only way they could have happened.  It was strange in a way. While I did not anticipate what was going to happen next, after it happened I thought: ‘yep, that’s just the way it should have happened. Why didn’t I think of it?’

Why, indeed?

In real life, I often don’t anticipate what is going to happen next either. That’s the crux: “The Marriage Miracle” is more like real life than it is like reading a romance. The story has meaning and meaning has a way of magnifying everything else: from joy to sadness.

When You Read, "The Marriage Miracle," You'll Just Know You Are Reading Something Special.

Famous Writing Quote of the Day

“To all my pantser friends I’d like to point out that all the Seat of the Pants pilots are now dead.”       Vince Mooney

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Famous Writing Quote of the Day

"A novel only exists while it’s being ‘played’ in a reader’s mind".    
                            Vince Mooney

Monday, June 27, 2011

Famous Writing Quote of the Day

“Really ‘Deep POV’ occurs when the characters can see the readers.”   
                    Vince Mooney

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Famous Writing Quote of the Day

"I start on a high and I finish on a high. Of course, I have sagging middles. That’s to be expected. But they are fast-moving sagging middles. What you don’t want is a dragging middle".
                                    Vince Mooney

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Famous Writing Quote of the Day

“The only way your characters can come alive and cause mischief while writing your book is if they were dead to start with.”
                                Vince Mooney

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is it Time for an “Auto-Wait” List?

I’ve paid over $100 for books in the last six months which were subsequently given away free on Kindle!

How Many Times Can a Publisher Do This to Their 'First-to-Buy' Customers?

The “Greatest Management Principle” states that: “What gets rewarded gets done”. 

Some publishers have been busy training book buyers that if they wait to make a purchase, they may get the book for free! 

Wait! Good Boy.

Indeed! I have saved over $400 during these same six months by not buying books that I almost bought but waited to ‘think about it’. 

Each time one of those ‘almost bought’ books went on sale for free, I thanked my luck stars that I waited!  It pays to wait!

Authors Pay, too!

The best time to sell a book is when it is newly released and being actively promoted by the author. If buyers are trained to wait, this prime buying time will be lost. As they wait to 'see',  the next batch of new releases will be grabbing their attention. Books that are not on a 'auto-wait' list will have the advantage. 

Free Books Can Be Good for Sales!

There are times when giving a book away can benefit the publisher and the author. Free books may attract many new fans to an author’s ‘auto-buy’ list. An established author with a large backlist can be greatly benefited by attracting new readers. Giving away the first book in a long series can also increase sales of the entire series.

However, free books can diminish the ‘perceived’ value of the book. What’s a book worth if it is given away free? Do theaters give away free tickets to their blockbuster movies? Do great restaurants offer discount coupons? Giving away a free sample, like a chapter, is one thing. Giving away the entire product, the full book, is something else altergether!

What about the other authors who are not selected to have their books given away for free? They get no benefit from the free books but they can still suffer from their publisher’s growing ‘auto-wait’ list liability.

Another thing: what if a reader is deciding which of two books to buy and one book’s publisher gives books away free and the other publisher does not – which book will the reader likely buy?

Moreover, what if the publisher, who gives away free books, has books priced over $10 and the publisher who does not give away free books is priced in the $3 to $5 range? At this point there is not much of a decision. Wait and see if the higher priced book is going to be given away for free and buy the lower price book now. Giving away free books can damage a company’s competitive position in the market place.

How many ‘free’ books get read? And what does this mean for an author?

I have hundreds of free books on my Kindle right now. I am only going to read a small percentage of them. If I did not pay for a book, I’m less likely to read it than if I paid $10 for it. Now, if I have an author’s book on my Kindle, and I have not read it yet, why would I buy a second book – especially if I do not know the author. I won't buy another book until I've read the first book.

Having a first book on a Kindle that goes unread may kill future sales. The buyer may think, “I have not read the first book yet and since they gave the first book away for free, they may do the same thing with this one. I might as well wait and see.” This is not how to generate impulse sales!

Free Books Add to Supply – But Demand Increases Little – and Time to Read: Increases Not at all.

We are now in an explosion of books! Established authors are rushing to get their backlists into eBook format. Little eBook publishers are publishing almost anything. Very narrow interest books are being published to small targeted markets.

All this added supply is coming on line. Yet the typical reader still has only a very limited time in a day to read. Is this the best environment to be giving away books for free? In some cases, it will be. In other cases it will not be. In the meantime, I’ll be checking my ‘auto-wait’ list of publishers before buying additional books.

What gets rewarded gets done.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It smiles with iron teeth...

The Dark side
of the moon
gets as much sun
as the light side.

POV makes it dark.
POV makes it light.

Criticism is a chameleon
that likes to hide its ways,
like sugar- coated poison:
it prefers to appear
as praise.

“You are so talented
you make us look bad
…even when we
were right.”

Friday, June 17, 2011

Can You Judge a Country by its Covers?

Looking For Love -- UK

A Tale of Three Book Covers…

What Do These Book Covers Say About Your Country?

What Do They Say About How the Marketing People View You as a Customer?

All three covers are for the same Liz Fielding book which is reviewed below.
Since the covers are quite different they may have something to tell us. Which cover do you like best? Do you prefer the cover that was selected for you in your part of the world? Do you like another cover better?

I see the covers as saying something quite different. Thus my captions: “Looking for Love”, “Comfortably in Love” and “Newly in Love”.

It seems the marketing people are after different demographics. The UK cover looks to appeal to urban sophisticates. The Aussie cover favors the young, outdoorsy and energetic. The North American cover seems designed to attract the older and more confident.

 Do you think the covers represent the spirit of the nation?  I think I could guess which cover went to which part of the world.  Same book: three different covers. I just wonder if the cover art changes how readers feel about the book as they are reading it. Think about it. It is fun to wonder.

Newly in Love -- Australia

Comfortably in Love -- North America

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tempted by Trouble: A Study in Motivation!


Classic Ice Cream Van Inspires

Tempted by Trouble
Liz Fielding

Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Harlequin (June 7, 2011)


One day the author saw a Classic English 1960’s ice cream van (not the one shown above) and ‘presto’ a full-blown romance sprang to life! (Well maybe it was not that easy.)

There must be a certain luxury in being an experienced romance writer. Experienced writers do the essentials by habit which gives them more time to enrich their stories.

“Tempted by Trouble” is very rich indeed! The reader is treated to many sparkles and fun moments. There are challenges and many little victories along the way.

Reading the narrative is like savoring an exquisite soup with dozens of spices and herbs: at first you notice that you really enjoy the taste but then, when you stop and really savor the broth, you can experience the many different flavors. 

I should stipulate that “Tempted by Trouble” is a great story. Read it. You’ll love it.

The ‘Roots of Motivation’ Run Deep

“Tempted by Trouble” is like a MasterClass in motivation. As a writer, I already knew that central characters need well established motivation. A main character needs a goal, a reason for seeking that goal, and conflict standing in the way of achieving that goal. Sometimes this is referred to as GMC. “Tempted by Trouble” does this to perfection.

Good writers will often provide multiple motivations. This involves having several good reasons why a character is motivated to act in a given way. Having multi-motivations makes the story seem more like reality and thus more believable. It can also make the reasons for acting seem much stronger than it would otherwise appear. Having multiple motivations takes more work on the part of the author in both detail plotting and keeping the word count within limits.

“Deep Motivation”

“Tempted by Trouble” provides multiple motivations for all the important characters – not just the hero and heroine. In addition, and what I did not expect to find (or even look for) was what I call ‘pervasive motivation’. All the characters, even minor ones, were motivated to act in accordance to the needs of the plot. Once I noticed this and started looking for it, the motivational network began to resemble the roots of a large tree.

As a new writer, I always believed that one should provide adequate motivation for the main characters and then the author was free to have the minor characters act in any way that the plot required. No, no. I don’t believe that anymore after reading “Tempted by Trouble”.  All characters can be motivated.

In ‘deep motivation’ a foundation will be established, as far as practical, for each character’s actions. This seems to me to be a ‘crazy’ amount of work. Yet, the result of deep-motivation is a more lifelike narrative. The reader gets to enjoy a richer, more credible, story. This happens even if the reader does not realize why this is so.

I became aware of this ‘deep motivation’ for the first time when in "Tempted by Trouble" the two spoiled sisters, who never offered to help around the house, suddenly offer to help the heroine start, Scoop!, her ice cream business.

This was so unlike them that even the hero wondered why they would suddenly offer to be of help. As it turns out, there were at least two given motivations, established early in the book, to support the sisters' behavior. I thought, “That’s why. at the very start of the book, the one sister had to walk to the pub to use the internet.” Motivations were being established every step of the way. “Tempted by Trouble” has changed the way I look at motivation in a novel.

The Story:

The heroine, Lovey Armey, is single, almost thirty and supporting her two younger sisters who are going to school. She is also caring for her somewhat senile grandmother. Lovey is acting as mother to the whole family. This does not leave her much time for a life.

The hero, Sean McElroy, runs the large estate of his late father. He did not inherit any part of the estate because he was born to his father’s mistress. He is a kind of outcast but much of his problems are of his own making.

When Lovey, who likes to be called Elle, inherits a classic 1960’s ice cream van, it falls upon Sean to deliver it to her. The hero knows how to operate the van and the ice cream machine. Elle needs Sean’s help in setting up an ice cream business.

“Tempted by Trouble” is a simple love story and a very good one! It’s just amazing to think that this very complex and interesting romance came about  from seeing an ice cream van.

Read it! You’ll enjoy yourself, you’ll learn a lot about motivation, and you’ll get the Scoop from inside the creative experience!

“I Can Resist Anything but Temptation.” Oscar Wilde

Adding 'Streams of Enjoyment' to Your Novel

Do You Add ‘Streams of Enjoyment’ to Your Novels to Enhance the Reading Experience?

Sometimes I think that many writers are so worried about ‘the needs of the novel’ that they forget that the whole endeavor is ultimately about the reader’s enjoyment; that is, about creating the best reading experience.

I’m writing a book now demonstrating over a hundred ways to reward a reader for reading a novel; however, there is a very simple way to greatly increase reader enjoyment: increase your streams of enjoyment!

Streams of Reader Enjoyment

1. the romance itself: the lively, emotional, interaction between the hero and heroine.

2. having an interesting location which fascinates the reader. Think of locations that are interesting in their own right. Perhaps an exotic “Swept Away” location, the wilds of Africa, deep in the Amazon, a ‘forbidden’ town in China, a 17th Century Amish village, a Danish Town in California (Salvang).

3. interesting occupations that also have the potential to fascinate the reader. A skydiving instructor, a guide to the ‘underground’ city, an archeologist on a dig, professional motorcycle racer, travel planner for people who take their dogs with them, and so on.

4. interesting goals that show the inner workings of various competitions or organizations. The goal of winning the highest dog show award, horsemanship, triathlon, chess championship, first woman to do X.

5. interesting hobbies that work into the story. Being a glider pilot, balloonist, white water rafter, cave explorer, and so on.

6. have interesting events happening in the story (even if just in the background) like being part of the Rose Parade, the Marti Gras, Experimental Aircraft Show, Bicycle Tours, National Craft Shows, National Bluegrass Festivals, and so on.

But That’s Not The Story I want to tell.

Writers often tell me this. In their world it is all about the story they want to tell. It’s not about the story readers want to read.

This reminds me of what happened to me in Wal-Mart yesterday. I asked the saleslady where the big plastic garbage bags were. (I have trouble walking and need to save steps where I can). She said the bags were all the way at the end of the store in gardening. I said, “That’s too far”. She said, “Well, then you’ll have to do without.”

I just wondered if she were an unpublished writer.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Let the Luddites Eat Books

The book is dead!

Let the Luddites eat books along with their genuine pimento stuffed olives while listening to their superior analog vinyl LPs!

And, yes, let them also capture the moment on their Kodak Instamatic film cameras.

It seems not a week goes by without another publishing company executive providing even more reasons why the print book is here to stay. The list of advantages that paper books have over the eBook keeps growing.

They just don’t get it.

There is not going to be a choice! It’s not about advantages. It’s about reality.

When eBook readers get down to $2 to $5, for a universal stripped down model, the eBook reader becomes the paper. You will get the eBook Reader when you buy the book. Of course, for a little less money, you can download the book onto your own personal eReader at any of the many Book Kiosks .

For the publisher there will be no shipping, no storage, no returns, no overruns, no shortages, no physical theft, in short, none of these major headaches and profit sappers to deal with. The retailer will supply the disposable eBook Reader for buyers who need one. Probably people at airports looking for a read.

There will be a POD, Print on Demand, business -- but not for long. The same busybody government control freaks, who are taking away our 100 watt light bulbs, surely won’t allow paper books to exist for very much longer after the disposable eBook Reader is introduced.

So go ahead, industry experts: add to your list of why the printed book is better. No one is going to care or pay any attention. You are not going to have a choice!