Skip to content

Fun Friday: ‘To Capture His Heart’ (A Ransome Spin-Off #StoryIdea) | #amwriting #romance

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fun Friday 2013
Because I’m trying to re-teach myself that writing can be fun, this year, I’m focusing on coming up with new ideas for stories. Does this mean they’ll all get written in novel or even novella form? No guarantees. However, this is a creative exercise that I both need and want to share.

You can read all of the previous story ideas here.

Working Title: To Capture His Heart

Frederick Ransome = Ben Aldridge
Valeria Amador = Gal Gadot


Valeria Amador (1821) and her brothers, Faron (1819) and Mateo (1823), grew up in one of the largest land-holding Californio families in Alta California, north of San Francisco. Their father, a high-ranking member of the Mexican leadership in Alta California, was arrested and his lands confiscated during the Mexican-American war. Valeria had been engaged to marry a Spanish aristocrat before the war broke out, but once her family lost everything, the engagement was canceled.

With the influx of US soldiers during the war and immigrants flooding in with the peace and the discovery of gold, diseases have run rampant among the Californio and native populations not exposed to them before—including decimating Val’s family. Now all she has left are her two brothers from their once-large family. By chance—because they saw a Wanted poster with a reward listed and they desperately needed the money—the three became some of the best Vigilantes in California. With a nomadic lifestyle—and the occasional hospitality of other Californio families who still have their homes—the Amadors have managed to save most of the money from the bounties they’ve claimed.

Faron Amador = Oscar Isaac

Older brother Faron has it figured that with just three or four more high-value captures, they can buy enough land for all three of them to be set for the future—for families and children and homes of their own.

Frederick Ransome arrived in Philadelphia at age eighteen to live with his uncle’s family and attend college and medical school. Upon completing his medical degree in 1845, Freddie joined an expedition led by famous explorer John Fremont. The goal was to map the source of the Arkansas River to its source in the eastern Rocky Mountains. However, Fremont actually took them through the mountains and into California—the Sacramento Valley—where he started trying to stir up disaffection against Mexico City and start an independence movement. Freddie didn’t want any part of the war-mongering, so he set out on his own, seeking other doctors—and native shamans and medicine men—who could teach him not just about healing and native plants/remedies, but also about the land itself and how to live with it rather than exploit it.

By the time the Mexican-American War started in 1846, Freddie had apprenticed himself to Dr. John Marsh, a Harvard-educated physician and wealthy land owner in northern California. Marsh was more heavily involved in politics/the war effort than Freddie first realized and he soon struck out on his own again. This time, he ended up in Nueva Helvetia, California, where he was immediately employed as the settlement’s physician by founder John Sutter. Once gold was discovered where the workers were digging the foundation of the new mill Sutter wanted built, immigrants and wagon trains started flooding in—bringing plenty of work for doctors . . . and bounty hunters alike.

Mateo Amador = Diego Luna


With winter approaching, Dr. Frederick Ransome is seeing more and more miners every day with illnesses that could be easily treated in an office or hospital in a city, with the proper medications and nutrition. But as these aren’t available in the gold fields, he applies what he’s learned from the native tribes—herbs and plants found in the area as he travels from camp to camp.

Upon arriving at the latest camp, Freddie ducks into the saloon tent for a bite to eat and to warm up. Within minutes, the mood changes perceptibly, and Freddie turns to see a beautiful woman enter. She looks anxious and asks if there’s a doctor in camp. Freddie identifies himself and rushes out with her when she tells him her brother needs a doctor urgently.

Outside the camp, Freddie is ambushed by two able-bodied men. After riding through the night, they stop to rest the horses and finally tell him what’s happening. They’re Vigilantes (bounty hunters), and they’re taking him to San Francisco to face legal charges for fraud and theft.

Someone has been going from town to town, camp to camp, selling fake medicines (that have been making people sick) and, when he leaves, money and valuables are discovered missing. His name: Dr. Frederick Ransome. And though the drawing on the Wanted poster doesn’t look much like Freddie, it doesn’t matter. He says he is Dr. Frederick Ransome, so they’re taking him in.

Val Amador has had too much experience with avoiding unwanted advances from the men they capture and arrest—so when Freddie Ransome doesn’t behave the way all the others have, she starts to observe him, paying much closer attention to him. Soon, she finds herself believing him and trying to convince her brothers of his innocence. She finally convinces them to detour to a town that leveled a complaint about him to see if they can identify him as the con artist.

When they arrive in the town, Freddie is vindicated, as each person who’d seen the doctor is willing to swear that it wasn’t the man—Freddie—standing before them now. Wanting to clear his name—and spend more time with Val, while also helping the Amadors bring in the reward money—he offers to work with them to track down and capture the man who has stolen his identity.

Will Freddie and Val be able to find the culprit before a rival group of vigilantes, known for delivering their prey dead more often than alive, finds Freddie and takes the law into their own hands?

#WritingBiz: The Dos and Don’ts of Networking | #amwriting

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A high percentage of writers are introverts, and our natural instinct is to just sit at home and write. But while some authors can parlay that into book sales without ever leaving their comfort zone, in this modern age of branding and name-marketing, selling our books is much harder to do without networking and marketing ourselves. You have to learn how to talk to people!

Whether introverted or extroverted, there are going to be some stumbling blocks you’ll need to get over and etiquette you’ll need to learn. From my experience, networking takes years to learn, so don’t expect to become an expert overnight. Practice, practice, practice!

As you practice networking, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

  • Don’t give up!
  • Do have confidence in yourself!
  • Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you! Do go out and make your own opportunities!
  • Don’t be afraid!
  • Do make eye contact!
  • Do plan what you’re going to say ahead of time!
  • Don’t go into every situation with an agenda!
  • Do collect business cards! Don’t just let them sit in a drawer! Do follow up with those contacts!
  • Do start conversations! Do ask people about themselves!
  • Don’t wait for networking opportunities to come to you. Do get out there—find new people to network with—a great source is to find groups meeting in your area!
  • Do ask for advice!
  • Don’t retreat to a corner!
  • Do watch others as they network. Pick up pointers of other dos and don’ts through observation!
  • Don’t assume when someone doesn’t respond to you or doesn’t let you have that seat that you’re being rejected. Don’t get discouraged.
  • Do refresh yourself with time alone or time with your supporting group of friends/family.
  • Don’t put off networking. Building your network of contacts now will lead to more success in the future.
  • Don’t talk someone’s ear off. Do know when to shut-up.
  • Don’t stalk the person you’re trying to network with. Do know when to walk away.
  • Do learn how to write good letters and e-mails.
  • Do practice speaking to business contacts on the phone.
  • Do treat everyone you come in contact with as you would like to be treated if you were in his or her shoes.

Book-Talk Monday: My Reader Bio | #amreading

Monday, March 27, 2017

Professional writers learn early on that we must be able to write an Author Bio that can be used just about anywhere to give readers a snapshot of what kind of author we are. For example:

But have you ever considered creating a READER BIO for yourself? How would you give someone else a snapshot-description of what kind of a “professional” reader you are?

What to Include in a Reader Bio
If we approach writing our Reader Bio the same way that writers do the Author Bio, here are some items to consider including:

  • Your literary background—what makes you a “professional” reader?
  • Your education—if that has any bearing on how you became a reader
  • Achievements or awards—what are your greatest reading achievements? have you ever received a reward for reading?
  • Your reading experience—how long have you been reading? how many genres do you read?
  • Contests—have you ever been a judge in a book-of-the-year type of contest (Rita, Carol, Nebula, etc.).
  • Your personal info—where are you from, what are your interests aside from reading?
  • A Reader Headshot (aka, selfie)—if you have one.

My Reader Bio
Kaye Dacus is an avid bibliophile who has been reading fiction for more than forty years. Throughout her school years, it was unusual to see her without a book in her hands (though, rarely one that was assigned reading for school—she hated those). By late elementary school, she had already finished reading the Black Stallion and Nancy Drew series, and the Little House on the Prairie series was a perennial favorite. At age twelve, she discovered romance novels—and has never looked back, consuming every Sunfire Romance novel (young adult) alongside all of the Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, and Catherine Coulter her mother had on her selves. While she makes forays into multiple other genres—including science fiction, fantasy, and mystery—historical romance will always be Kaye’s favorite genre to read. She has served as a judge for the Rita (RWA) and Carol (ACFW) book of the year contests several times, and curates an ever growing and evolving collection on Goodreads. Kaye lives in Nashville, TN, where she spends her days working as an editor, her evenings writing romance, and slips into bed every night with something on her Kindle bound to keep her up reading into the wee hours of the night. To learn more about Kaye and what she’s reading, visit her on Goodreads.

Your Turn! What’s Your Reader Bio?

#2017WritingGoals: Writing with Exclamation Points Instead of Question Marks | #amwriting

Sunday, March 26, 2017

In 2009, the film Man on Wire took home the Academy Award for Best Documentary (and this was then fictionalized in The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt). It’s a film about the high-wire walker Philippe Petit who walked a wire suspended between the World Trade Center towers in the 1970s. After the documentary won the award, Petit was interviewed by NPR’s Weekend Edition host Scott Simon (02/28/2009), and there was one section of the interview that really resonated with me:

Simon: Can I get you to recall what that first step was like?

Petit: That moment, the slow-motion shifting of my weight, from the position where I have one weight anchored on the building and one weight—one foot touching the cable to turn the page from pedestrian and to open the page to life, to a short life as a bird, is of course for the wire-walker a point of no return. And for me, it was stepping into the live moment of living my dream after six-and-a-half years of dreaming my dream.

Simon: …What would have happened if you’d slipped?

Petit: That’s a very wrong question, because it doesn’t apply to me. I do not put myself in a state of question mark on the wire. Actually, the question mark, I transform it in[to] an exclamation point. And, again, when I say I’m writing in the sky, it’s not a beautiful image, it’s actually exactly what I’m doing. I have composed my text in my head, and I’m just now writing. I force my body to follow my will; and I will never put myself in a state of risk, only a state of ‘I hope the wire is strong enough; I hope I have enough training to do…to walk on that wire.’ And, at the same time, what I am sharing with you, this solidity, I am completely lying because here I am in the most fragile state and the most fragile universe there is. But this combination of extreme, the solidity in my heart and in my body, and the fragility of being a man on a wire, is actually the beauty of the miracle of wire-walking. So let’s not try to explain it further than that.

[The entire interview can be read and/or heard here.]

Petit’s statement about turning the question mark into an exclamation point struck me—especially since he reinforced it with the image of himself as a writer (and later in the interview as a poet). How many times when we sit down to write do we do it in a state of Question Mark instead of a mind set of Exclamation Point? For example:

      Can I do this?
      Am I really called to be a writer?
      What if my story isn’t good?
      What if no one likes my writing style?
      What if everything I write gets rejected?
      What if it’s never good enough?
      Am I following the rules?
      How am I ever going to get to 50,000 (100,000) words?

Sitting down to write in a state of Question Mark can paralyze us—we, like Petit, are at the point where we have one foot on the solid surface of “real world” (for him, the building) and “writing world” (the high wire). To be able to step out into that writing world, we have to turn those paralyzing questions into Exclamation Points:

      I can do this!
      I am called to be a writer!
      My story is good!
      I like my writing style!
      Rejection isn’t the end of the world!
      It’s good enough for me!
      I can worry about the rules later!
      All I have to write today is one page…one paragraph…one sentence…one word!

Self-doubt never led anyone into success. If you read/listen to interviews with successful people—whether they’re successful in business, the arts, raising their families, philanthropy, or whatever area of life in which they’ve applied themselves—you’re going to find out that though doubts may have surfaced, they didn’t listen to them, didn’t give them any ability to take a foothold in their lives.

If Petit stood at the wire thinking, What will happen if I slip?, he would never get that anchor foot off the solid ground. He doesn’t allow himself to think fatalistically—and yet at the same time, he recognizes the fragility of life. He’s not going out on the wire with a casual disregard for his own mortality. For him, it is the combination of the fragility of life and the solidity of the confidence he has generated in his own heart and mind as to his calling that allows him to pull that anchor foot off the building and onto the wire. To live life, as he said, for a short time as a bird in flight.

Even when we practice writing with Exclamation Points, the Question Marks can resurface quickly. Back when I was still writing for publication regularly, I experienced this many times when negative reviews came in or series proposals were rejected by publishers, leading to thoughts like: Is it me? Do they not like me? Is it because my books don’t sell enough copies? What’s wrong with me that they don’t want to work with me anymore? Is it because after so few books, I’m already showing that I’m a hack and can’t come up with new/unique/interesting story ideas?

Then, after four years of almost nonstop writing—when my writing turned into a “job,” something I was required to do to earn money instead of something I wanted to do because I was passionate about it—my last contact was canceled before the final book was written. And I quit writing. For almost four years, there were not only no exclamation points, there was no punctuation at all. 😉

When I did get back to the point at which I felt like I needed to start writing again, everything was a question mark. Can I do this? What if I don’t have any more stories left inside of me? What if the eleven books that are published are the only stories I’m ever going to have to tell? What if I’ve forgotten how to write a good story? What if I can’t write a good story again? What if I never actually wrote any good stories? Am I still any good at this? Am I too old to do this? Should I just give up?

So my goal for the rest of the week is to recognize the Question Marks and whenever one surfaces turn it into an Exclamation Point.

In closing, I’d like to share this quote from Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking and founder of Guideposts:

Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture… Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.
~Norman Vincent Peale

What Question Marks are you dealing with in your life (writing, work, family, etc.)? How can you change them into Exclamation Points?

Writer Talk Wednesday: Showing vs. Telling | #amwriting

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Originally published January/February 2007

As writers, we are instructed to “show” not “tell” in our fiction (I’ve heard this is now true with non-fiction, but that’s not my area of expertise). For some reason, this is a hard concept for most of us to grasp.

    1. to cause or allow to be seen . . .
    5. to explain or make clear; make known . . .
    12. to express or make evident by appearance, behavior, speech, etc.

    tell –verb
    1. to give an account or narrative of; narrate; relate (a story, tale, etc.) . . .
    6. to reveal or divulge . . .
    10. to inform (a person) of something . . .
    14. to give an account or report.

Showing vs. Telling—An Introduction

    Showing versus telling is like the difference between watching a movie and having the plot of a movie recounted to you by someone who’s seen it. Or, between reading a book and reading the synopsis or outline. The first is active, experienced first-hand, immediate. The second is passive, second- or third-hand, distant.
    more . . .

Showing vs. Telling—The First Date

    Telling what happened before the story began is, most often, important to the events going on in our stories, whether it’s what someone does for a living, or events from a character’s childhood (“backstory”). I find that dialogue between characters tends to be a good way to get this information across. Most of the time, there will be other characters who do not know all of our protagonists’ pertinent information. Dialogue is immediate, and the beats in between should be active. But it can still be a stumbling block.
    more . . .

Showing vs. Telling—Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

    [M]ost of us grew up reading YA fiction. In YA—at least from more than ten or fifteen years ago—it was not at all unusual to find out what the POV character looks like when she stands in front of a mirror and sees all the details of her appearance. But, I doubt even YA writers are allowed to do this any more. You also do not want your character to come across as egotistical by thinking about her gorgeous, thick, long blonde hair. Or his stunningly light blue eyes. So, how do we incorporate character description in a way that shows that feels natural?
    more . . .

Showing vs. Telling—In the Eye of the Beholder

    All of the genres vary in the amount of physical description the writer should use. In romance, describing what the characters look like is a vital part of the genre expectations. In other genres, the descriptions can be more vague and given out in tiny increments throughout the first few chapters instead of close to the beginning, as it does in romance when the hero and heroine meet. Because I am not as familiar with the expectations of character descriptions in other genres, I recommend doing what I’ve done here . . . analyze recently published books by authors in your genre you think best represent the genre and see how much they describe the characters.
    more . . .

Showing vs. Telling—Feeeeeeeeeelings . . .

    This is the type of writing that comes natural to most of us. Starting today, however, train your brain to associate the word FELT with that heavy, scratchy, stiff fabric used for arts and crafts and not character emotions. Felt does not make comfortable clothing, so why “dress” your characters with it?
    more . . .

Showing vs. Telling—Do You See What I See?

    When we “tell” that a character saw something (She watched him running down the street), we are holding the reader back from truly being inside the head of the character. When I see something, I am not (usually) cognizant of the fact that I am in the process of “seeing.” I just experience the action going on outside of me. So how does this work in prose?
    more . . .

Showing vs. Telling—Do You Smell What I Taste?

    SMELL is such a funny word in that it can be used for the action of taking in and recognizing an aroma as well as describing something as giving off an aroma. If you write It smelled, are you saying that “it” did the action of breathing in through the nose and recognizing a scent or are you saying that “it” is giving off a pungency that is unpleasant? TASTE is the same way. TOUCH can mean to actually come into physical contact with something or to be affected emotionally by something. Therefore, we should be as specific as possible.
    more . . .

Showing vs. Telling—The Sixth Sense

    When we first start out writing, because we’ve read other authors who used it and because we want to make sure our readers know what’s going on, we would write something like this:

    • She wondered how she could have let her cousin talk her into another blind date.

    Which, if you’re just telling a story is okay—you’re the narrator and you are telling the reader what is going on in the character’s head. When we move over into showing, though, we’re getting deeper into the character’s head—narratively:

    • How had she let her cousin talk her into another blind date?

    This opens up another whole debate in the world of writing craft because there are a lot of critiquers and contest judges who have a deep-seated loathing of questions in narrative. But, this forces the issue: which of the above examples is telling and which one is showing?
    more . . .

Showing vs. Telling—Puppets, Cartoon Characters, or Live Action?

    Simply by replacing “walked” or “crossed” or any generic “go/went” verb with a descriptive verb, the sentence now reveals something about the character—about the emotion connected with the movement—it shows the pace, the body language, the meaning behind the movement, not just the movement itself.

    However, you do not need to do this with every single movement your characters make, otherwise you will end up with cartoon characters who bounce, swagger, float, flit, or perambulate throughout your book. Sometimes, a well-placed “went” or “walked” works fine—especially if it’s in the midst of a lot of other descriptive narrative.
    more . . .

Showing vs. Telling—When to TELL

    For this last Showing vs. Telling post, I’m going to show you why telling is sometimes better than showing. . .
    more . . .

#WritingBiz: Networking & Marketing: Hard Sell vs. Soft Sell | #amwriting

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I worked in the advertising industry for thirteen years before moving over into the publishing world and then academia. When I first started in advertising, if I’d been asked to define or describe networking, it would have been what I saw the sales reps I worked with doing—being pushy, forcing people who didn’t really want to talk to them to do so, and above all, closing the sale. Networking and sales to my uninformed mind were the same thing: “Seven nos means a yes.” In other words, keep going back, keep pushing, keep putting on the pressure for the person to say yes.

But I learned something over the years:

This is not networking. This is sales.

Networking, on the other hand, is a much gentler, more refined skill. Networking is building relationships. Networking is more listening and less talking. Networking is not pushing someone else to do something for you or give you something; networking is creating a positive image of yourself by learning when not to push.

Case in point:

Snowflake Method writing guru Randy Ingermanson identifies writers’ skill levels by using the terms Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior. He suggests that when Freshmen and Sophomore writers (and even some early Juniors) set editor/agent appointments, it may be a better idea for them to not pitch anything. Instead, they should go in and ask questions about the industry, about the particular publishing house/agency. By doing this, the amateur/beginner writer is creating a more positive image by showing the editor or agent that you’re interested in growing, in learning more about the industry. (To see more about this, visit Gina’s blog, Writer…Interrupted.)

Hard Sell vs. Soft Sell

In the sales and marketing industry, there are two types of selling: the hard sell and the soft sell. The hard sell can be summed up by the statement, “He could sell ice to an Eskimo.” This is the P. T. Barnum method—the in your face, my product is the best in the world, let me show you the demographics and statistics, pressure-pressure-pressure sell. These are the sales reps who make the big bucks, but who also lose a lot of clients because of their abrasive methods. You always know they’re trying to sell you something. This is not the impression we want to give off.

The soft sell is word of mouth, brand-image sales. It’s a new restaurant that opens its doors to bloggers first and gives them a free sample meal in hopes of receiving tons of positive reviews. It’s me telling a friend at work that I just recently bought a certain type of hair product, and I absolutely adore it. It’s every time I mention Stein on Writing on this blog. It’s creating an image that generates brand-loyalty. Why do millions of people buy James Peterson’s new novel without even knowing what it’s really about? Because they’re loyal to his image, to the brand he’s created as a writer. This is much closer to what networking is all about.

To put it in writing terms: the hard sell is the writer who dominates the conversation with the editor/agent who’s hosting the table at lunch. They’re the ones who lie in wait outside a classroom where that targeted agent/editor is teaching a session and talk to them nonstop as they walk two inches from the editor/agent wherever they need to get to next. They’re the horror story that all editors/agents warn all writers at the beginning of writers’ conferences about—the writer that follows them into the bathroom and tries to pass them the manuscript under the bathroom stall door.

The soft-sell networker is the one who listens more than talks. They ask questions about the industry or the agency or the publishing house instead of constantly pitching their work. They attend the workshops taught by their preferred agents or editors and ask insightful questions that further the topic under discussion (and do the same thing on those editors/agents’ blogs). They volunteer with their writing organization to organize programs and projects or serve on committees in which they can start building name recognition. They build professional relationships with those they want to work with in the publishing industry.

Sounds Like Soft-Sell Networking Costs Money

How can you start soft-sell networking if you can’t afford to attend conferences or don’t yet have the gumption to break out of your shell and talk to strangers?

Become an avid blog reader and commenter. Regularly visit/subscribe to blogs and like the public Facebook Pages of your favorite authors, agents, and editors and start participating in the comments sections—not just random comments, but thoughtful insights and responses to what the person has written. Don’t do it in such a way that you’re trying to pull the attention away from the blogger’s post and onto yourself. Be respectful and humble—remember, it’s their conversation, you’re just a participant.

Become a blogger. Make sure your blog has a focus. Do you write about characters who are gardeners? Make your blog gardening related. Blogs that have a focused topic (like writing or gardening) tend to be better read than those that read more like a personal diary.

Participate in online author/editor/agent chats. These are usually hosted through a writing organization like ACFW or RWA, though many now host their own through Twitter or Facebook Live or YouTube. Again, don’t just comment randomly or try to pull the attention away from the host and onto yourself.

Become actively involved in organizations—even if it’s just an online group that never meets face to face. It’s almost a must for writers who really want to succeed to join a professional writing organization—whether it’s ACFW, RWA, MWA, or even a local or regional general writing group that isn’t associated with a national organization. Get involved and start communicating with other writers.

I’m an Introvert; Is There a Way to Ease into Networking?

Think about the last time you went to a social event, whether it was an after-work casual gathering, a black-tie awards dinner, the all-church picnic, or even a small dinner party at someone’s home. How do you interact with the people there? Are there certain people you make a point of speaking to? Do you go in with an agenda listing to whom you will speak and about what topics? Most of us would say yes, there are certain people we want to make a point of speaking to. For having an agenda, if it is truly just a social gathering, most of us would say no.

For those you make a point to speak to, is it because you’re wanting to catch up with them or find out about something that’s going on in their lives? Or is it because you want them to know you better? If we’re really honest with ourselves, many times the people we seek out to speak to are those we would like to know better and, through making a point of speaking with them about their concerns and activities, we are hoping to get them interested enough in us to ask our concerns and activities. Right?

This is soft-sell networking. You never know whom you might run into who might have an opportunity or a connection to share with you. That’s not saying we want to exploit every relationship or contact we make for our own gain—by no means. I’m just saying that by cultivating relationships with others, we never know what might come our way—whether it’s an opportunity to serve or help that other person, or an opportunity that might be in some way beneficial to us.

As I mentioned before, one of the best ways I found of doing it was to be actively involved in the leadership of a national writing organization. Granted, not everyone can do this, as not everyone is comfortable in or skilled for leadership positions. At a writing conference, there is the built-in method of the editor/agent appointments where those who sign up for them get 15 minutes one-on-one with the editor/agent (hopefully) of their choice. Then there are (sometimes) the hosted tables at meal times. While these can be nerve-wracking for those of us introverts who have a really hard time meeting others, it is important to learn how to put yourself forward, hold out your hand, and introduce yourself. It is important to be polite and let others have their equal share of the attention, but if you do not put yourself forward, you will be overshadowed by the more outgoing people at the table.

Do not be afraid to approach someone—be it a published author you admire or an editor/agent with whom you would like to work—and ask a question about something they may have said in the panel discussion or in a class or over a meal. (Just don’t follow them into the bathroom to do so!)

Outside of a structured business environment like a conference, always be on the lookout for opportunities to make contacts with others in the publishing field. Writers: go to book signings to mingle in the crowd and potentially meet the author and/or representatives from publishing houses. Many years ago, when a Zondervan-author book signing tour came to Nashville featuring Brandilyn Collins, Terri Blackstock, James Scott Bell, and Bill Myers, I had the opportunity to speak with an editor who was there from Thomas Nelson (this was before they were owned by the same parent company). I had sat at her table at a conference several months before and she’d asked me if I would review a manuscript for her. I had given her my card at the conference, but then never heard back from her. When I saw her at the book signing, I approached her and re-introduced myself (she recognized me but I didn’t want to put her on the spot if she didn’t remember my name) and gave her another card. Within a week, I had a copy of the manuscript. While that did not directly result in a publishing (or even freelance editing) opportunity for me, it was still an important contact, because it got my name in front of two or three editors whom I subsequently had contact with over the manuscript.

What are some ways can think of to start soft-sell networking?

See also Networking–What is it, really?

Book-Talk Monday: My Libraray Wishlist | #amreading #librarylife

Monday, March 20, 2017

I think most people know that you can set up a wishlist at online retailers (like Amazon) where you can add all of the books you’d someday like to read. You may also have a To Be Read “shelf” on Goodreads where you’ve saved all of the books that look interesting to you. But how many of us are ever actually going to make our way through those lists? But a wishlist on my local library’s website? I use it all the time in order to pull my next book(s) to read or listen to.

I’ve always been an avid patron of the public library system, no matter where I live. For someone who can devour a couple of books in a week (or, at least, I used to be able to and am trying to get back to that), I can’t just go out and purchase every single book that I want to read. Even now that most of what I read is on the Kindle and those prices stay pretty low, it’s still not the best financial decision to spend that much money per month on books. (As much as I’d like to be able to purchase every single title I read!) So in order to still support the authors (libraries purchase licenses for each ebook and audiobook they lend) as well as keep my bank account solvent, I use the library—the Nashville Public Library, to be specific.

I have dozens of books on a private list on Amazon—mostly writing craft, research, or other books that will be better to read in print rather than ebook format. I have hundreds of books on my “Sounds Interesting” shelf on Goodreads—I add books to this list whenever I read a review that piques my interest or see that one of my Goodreads friends has added/reviewed a book that sounds like something I’d enjoy. And then, when I’m “working on reading”—as in, setting my reading goals for the year or it’s been a while since I’ve done so and need to do it again—I will open up my Goodreads and Amazon lists and the library ebook/digital audiobook site (Overdrive) and start looking up titles and adding them to my library wishlist.

So I thought it might be fun to go through and share ten titles from my library wishlist each month—and ask you to do the same! Since this is the first month, I thought I’d pick something from each page of my list (I have 422 items saved, but it narrows down to 305 when I filter it to “available now”).

What’s on YOUR Library Wishlist?

10 Random Titles from My Library Wishlist:

  1. The Vow, a novella by Jody Hedlund [inspy historical romance/Medieval England | ebook]
    Young Rosemarie finds herself drawn to Thomas, the son of the nearby baron. But just as her feelings begin to grow, a man carrying the Plague interrupts their hunting party. While in forced isolation, Rosemarie begins to contemplate her future—could it include Thomas? Could he be the perfect man to one day rule beside her and oversee her parents’ lands?

    Then Rosemarie is summoned back to her castle in haste. The disease has spread, and her family is threatened. And the secret she discovers when she returns could change her future forever.

  2. Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell [classic British Lit, Paranormal/Horror | ebook]
    Elizabeth Gaskell’s chilling Gothic tales blend the real and the supernatural to eerie, compelling effect. ‘Disappearances’, inspired by local legends of mysterious vanishings, mixes gossip and fact; ‘Lois the Witch’, a novella based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to hysteria; while in ‘The Old Nurse’s Story’ a mysterious child roams the freezing Northumberland moors. Whether darkly surreal, such as ‘The Poor Clare’, where an evil doppelgänger is formed by a woman’s bitter curse, or mischievous like ‘Curious, if True’, a playful reworking of fairy tales, all the stories in this volume form a stark contrast to the social realism of Gaskell’s novels, revealing a darker and more unsettling style of writing.
  3. The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley [nonfiction | audiobook read by Anne Flosnik]
    From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to the cozy crimes of the Golden Age, renowned historian Lucy Worsley explores the evolution of the traditional English murder and reveals why we are so fascinated by this sinister subject.
  4. Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins Series, Book 1) by P. L. Travers [classic children’s lit | audiobook read by Sophie Thompson]
    The timeless story of Mary Poppins, the world’s favorite nanny, and her magical adventures with the Banks family

    Mary Poppins is like no other nanny the Banks children have ever seen. It all starts when their new nanny is blown by the east wind onto the doorstep of the Banks house, carrying a parrot-headed umbrella and a magic carpetbag. She becomes a most unusual nanny to Jane, Michael, and the twins. Who else but Mary Poppins can slide up banisters, pull an entire armchair out of an empty carpetbag, and make a dose of medicine taste like delicious lime-juice cordial? A day with Mary Poppins is a day of magic and make-believe come to life!

  5. The Bet (The Bet Series, Book 1) by Rachel Van Dyken [contemporary romance | ebook]
    “I have a proposition for you.” Kacey should have run the minute those words left Seattle millionaire Jake Titus’s mouth. It’s been years since Kacey’s seen her childhood friend Jake, but the minute Jake mentions his ill grandmother, Kacey is ready to do anything for the sweet old woman. And if that means pretending they’re engaged for her sake-so be it.

    But Kacey wasn’t counting on Jake’s older brother Travis still being there. She calls him “Satan” for a reason: she’s never forgotten the way he teased and taunted her. Yet when they meet again, Travis’s gorgeous smile is a direct hit to her heart . . . and Kacey’s more confused than ever. As the days pass, only one thing starts to become alarmingly clear-she never should have accepted Jake’s deal …

  6. Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt [historical fiction/US West | ebook]
    Wrongfully accused of murder, Dr. Catherine Bennett is destined to hang… unless she can disappear.

    With the untamed territory of Colorado as her most likely refuge, she packs her physician’s kit and heads West. But even with a new life and name, a female doctor with a bounty on her head can hide for only so long.

  7. Petals in the Storm (Fallen Angels Series, Book 2) by Mary Jo Putney [historical romance | ebook]
    LOVE AND BETRAYAL…A cool master of sensuality, Rafael Whitbourne, the Duke of Candover, earned his rakish reputation in the silken boudoirs of London’s highborn ladies, never giving away his hand or his heart. Then a vital mission for his government takes Rafe to Paris to work with the Countess Madga Janos, “the most beautiful spy in Europe.” He is appalled to discover that the smoky eyed temptress is no Hungarian countess, but the deceitful doxie who betrayed him a dozen years earlier—the only woman he ever loved, and the only one he’s ever despised. Margot Ashton wants nothing more than to walk away from her turbulent past and the mesmerizing man who ruined her life. But patriotism binds them together in a shadowland of intrigue where a diabolical plot may plunge a continent back into war—and a whirlwind of passion sweeps Margot and Rafe into a shattering passion that cannot be denied.
  8. Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life by Terry Brooks [nonfiction | ebook]
    Writing is writing, whether one’s setting is a magical universe or a suburban backyard. Spanning topics from the importance of daydreaming to the necessity of writing an outline, from the fine art of showing instead of merely telling to creating believable characters who make readers care what happens to them, Brooks draws upon his own experiences, hard lessons learned, and delightful discoveries made in creating the beloved Shannara and Magic Kingdom of Landover series, The Word and The Void trilogy, and the bestselling Star Wars novel The Phantom Menace.

    In addition to being a writing guide, Sometimes the Magic Works is Terry Brooks’s self-portrait of the artist. Here are sketches of his midwestern boyhood, when comic books, radio serials, and a vivid imagination launched a life long passion for weaving tales of wonder; recollections of the fateful collaboration with legendary editor Lester del Rey that changed not only the author’s life but the course of publishing history; and an eye-opening look at the ups and downs of dealing with Hollywood, as a writer of official novels based on major movies by both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

  9. The Anatomy of Death (Doctor Dody McCleland Series, Book 1) by Felicity Young [historical mystery | ebook]
    At the turn of the twentieth century, London’s political climate is in turmoil, as women fight for the right to vote. Dody McCleland has her own battles to fight. As England’s first female autopsy surgeon, not only must she prove herself, she must prove that murder treats everyone equally…

    After a heated women’s rights rally turns violent, an innocent suffragette is found murdered. When she examines the body, Dody McCleland is shocked to realize that the victim was a friend of her sister—fueling her determination to uncover the cause of the protestor’s suspicious death.

    For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living—especially Chief Detective Inspector Pike. Pike is looking to get to the bottom of this case but has a hard time trusting anyone—including Dody. Determined to earn Pike’s trust and to find the killer, Dody will have to sort through real and imagined secrets. But if she’s not careful, she may end up on her…

  10. Founding Grammars: How Early America’s War Over Words Shaped Today’s Language by Rosemarie Ostler [nonfiction | ebook]
    Who decided not to split infinitives? With whom should we take issue if in fact, we wish to boldly write what no grammarian hath writ before? In Founding Grammars, Rosemarie Ostler delves into the roots of our grammar obsession to answer these questions and many more. Standard grammar and accurate spelling are widely considered hallmarks of a good education, but their exact definitions are much more contentious — capable of inciting a full-blown grammar war at the splice of a comma, battles readily visible in the media and online in the comments of blogs and chat rooms. With an accessible and enthusiastic journalistic approach, Ostler considers these grammatical shibboleths, tracing current debates back to America’s earliest days, an era when most families owned only two books — the Bible and a grammar primer. Along the way, she investigates colorful historical characters on both sides of the grammar debate in her efforts to unmask the origins of contemporary speech. Linguistic founding fathers like Noah Webster, Tory expatriate Lindley Murray, and post-Civil War literary critic Richard Grant White, all play a featured role in creating the rules we’ve come to use, and occasionally discard, throughout the years. Founding Grammars is for curious readers who want to know where grammar rules have come from, where they’ve been, and where they might go next.
%d bloggers like this: