Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Danger of Exercise

I've been working out on a treadmill for the last month or so.  I've always been a walker, so I thought this would be an easy transition.  Instead of striding outside for a morning trip to the Coffee Nook, I decided I'd put my time in on the treadmill instead.  You don't have to worry about the dark, or the weather or anything.  But the treadmill is an evil invention because there is no destination. It just goes on and on and on. . .and you never get anywhere.  Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that the book I'm currently writing is titled NOWHERE TO RUN?

There is also a treadmill risk factor.  This morning, I nearly had a Larry Todd moment.  A Larry Todd moment is when you get distracted, slip, fall down and get shot off the back of the thing.  For my friend, Larry, the distraction was a pretty girl at the gym, and he actually did fall and get thrown from the rear of the treadmill.  (He also lost some facial skin from the belt abrasion.)  For me, it was while I was taking a sip of coffee from my to-go cup, while striding along like I know what I'm doing, and pushing the button on the TV remote to fast forward through a commercial.  One little misstep and I was nearly gone.  BUT, I did manage to catch myself without spilling my coffee. . .much.  Sure, the remote took flight like it was a bird, but I stayed on my feet.  Catlike reflexes.  Yessirree.

Time to get back to NOWHERE TO RUN, the manuscript, not the treadmill.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nancy's How-To Guide Part II on eBook Publishing

All right, you've gone through the first twelve steps on how to self-publish your own book and now you have an edited manuscript all ready to go.
What's next?
1.  Consider how to get a cover made.  Why a cover, you may ask, since there's no physical book?  Kinda goes along with the mystery of the sphinx.  Guess people want to look at something even if it's really teeny and a lot of times in black and white, but whatever the case, you do need one.
2.  Thoughtfully rub your chin awhile, then check online for book cover artists.  Maybe buy an e-book from someone whose covers you like and see if the cover artist is listed inside.  Read blogs about self-publishing and see if cover artists are advertising.  Or, get creative yourself and expect to become really close friends with i-stock photos.
3.  Buy an ISBN number.  Repeat that.  Buy an ISBN number.  Didn't know they were for sale, but they are.  I bought mine at Bowker.  What?  Bowker.  It's online. (ISBN's seem kinda spendy for what they are, but okay.  Gotta have 'em.)
4.  So, now you've got your manuscript.  You've got your cover.  You've even got your ISBN number.  The last piece is putting the whole thing into HTML programming.
5.  HTM. . .what the?  L?
6.  Am I going to take the time to learn this?  LOL
7.  Or, okay, maybe you will.  You might want to learn something new, like HTML programming.  This may take awhile, so I'm going to go get a glass of wine and sit outside for a season or two while you perfect it.
8.  Go back to Step 2 and search for someone who does HTML programming.  (If his name is Guido, I'm gonna bet he's our guy.)
9.  Send your manuscript electronically to Guido or your other chosen HTML programmer.
10.  Question yourself:  What?  But that's my manuscript!  I can't just send it to a stranger!  What if they steal it from me?
11.  Send it to Guido anyway and then marvel at what comes back to you.  Wow.  It looks GREAT.
12.  Go onto the publishing sites for Amazon, B&N, i-Book etc. and follow the directions on what to do next.
Simple as 1, 2, 3....456789101112.

FYI: The HTML programming for JESSE'S RENEGADE just got finished tonight, so I'll be putting it up soon!
Thanks, Guido.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Nancy's How-To Guide To E-Book Conversion

I've spent a lot of this summer transferring some of my backlisted books -- older ones that have been out of print for sometime -- into e-book form.  Here's a 12-step program on how you do it:
1.  Read your contract and try to decipher what it says.  Force majeure?  What?
2.  Find the clause that deals with out of print books.
3.  Read the clause sixty-seven times to see if you understand what it means on how to contact the publisher and ask for your rights back.
4.  Write a certified letter asking the publisher for your rights back.
5.  Wait awhile, oh, six months or so, depending on what the contract says.
6.  Chafe at how long it's taking for those six months or so to pass.
7.  Receive a response from the publisher, telling you that some of your works are not yet vulnerable to reversion, but they would like to publish the others as long as you sign your e-rights away to all of them on this dotted line.
8.  Politely refuse said offer and tell them to send you your rights back....please....with an undertone of legal action pending....
9.  Receive a letter from the publisher granting you your rights back.  Unbelievable!!  Yay!!
10. Figure out how in the world to now convert that old book in your hand into Word -- scan it?  Write it in because scanning sucks?  Use Dragon-naturally speaking and talk it in? -- so that you can prepare it for HTML programming and then learn the next set of steps to self-publish.
11. Find wine and Skype or sit by yourself in a dark room and contemplate the meaning of life.
12. Open up Word and the book, and type in: Chapter One....

There is a second set of steps that follows this one on how to actually get your Word doc onto Amazon, B&N, Apple etc. sites in order to actually sell your book....more about that later....

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The People In The Basement

They appeared after the Fourth of July.  What did they want?  Merely a roof over their heads and maybe a bed or two, and a place for their dog, and two parking spots, and access to the refrigerator and washer/dryer and possibly a subscription to TV Guide.  We told them they could live in the basement and all would be granted except the subscription.  Why did we allow them into our house?  Momentary lack of judgement? Altruism at its finest?

Actually my friend and fellow writer, Roz Noonan, and her family are between houses. Their house sold, but they can't get into their new one until the end of the month. When I wrote for ALL MY CHILDREN in New York, I lived with Roz and her family in Queens and took the train into the city. So, the least I could do is return the favor for a few weeks. However, since they've arrived they have already broken the toilet. Okay, that's not completely accurate. I had this tile art piece on the wall that fell down and crashed into the toilet and cracked the tank so water started spewing everywhere about midnight last night.  Me?  I slept through the whole thing and learned about it this morning while they were all scrambling around trying to stop the water that was rushing out the door and down the hall. They succeeded in stemming the flow and turning off the water, so all is well now. My husband and I already purchased a new tank this morning and are having it replaced this the people in the basement can stay and have restroom facilities at their disposal, which, as we all know, is a good thing.

Writing-wise, Roz and my sister, Lisa, and I just signed a contract this week to write a story together that is set in Wyoming, so one of the people in the basement will soon be my writing partner as well!  Looking forward to it!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The minibar

I'm in NYC with my daughter and sister for the RWA conference.  That would be the Romance Writers of America, although I have yet to set foot in the conference hotel.  On Monday I did "take a meeting" with my publisher, Kensington Publishing, and discussed many, many issues facing the publishing industry today.  My head still reeling with the amount of information I'd received, I returned to my hotel room and decided I needed something from the room's minibar.
Now, in the past I've played fast and loose with the minibar.  I pull something out with the intention of replacing it before the hotel employee comes to check because I refuse to pay $1300.00 for bottled water.  However, THIS minibar has an electronic code which flips up the price as soon as you pick up the item.  Good God.  I could die of thirst because I can't pay that much.  I refuse.  What is it about hotels that makes them overcharge so MUCH.  I know they have me over a barrel but they're flogging me, too.
Today -- top of my list -- a trip to Duane Reade and a purchase of bottled water and Toblerone.  (I don't usually eat Toblerone, but it's always in the minibar and now I want some.)
More later as I work on this problem...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

HUSH is on the stands!

I've been waiting for my muse for way too long.  So, forget it.  I've got to just get going.  HUSH, my next thriller, hit the stands this week.  Check it out.  Yay!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And some said I wasn't a 10....

It happened.  I am a ten.
WICKED LIES is #10 on both the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestseller lists in the same week.  Booya!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

More about WICKED LIES

Okay, WICKED LIES is pretty much all I know anymore.  For the past ten days my sister and I have been stumping our latest co-written book hard on radio and satellite television.  Our efforts seem to have paid off as last week the book reached #18 on the New York Times bestseller list and #16 on USA Today's!  Yay!

What I have learned:
1.  I used to have a writing career but the amount of words I'm committing toward paper/word processing has diminished proportionately with the amount I've been TALKING about writing.
2.  I suspect it is a cosmic joke that now, when I could really use some horrible weather to keep me inside, the sun has finally decided to come out.
3.  My sister knows way more about what kind of makeup to use to look good on television.  I sort of stopped learning after 'beach makeup'.  She has promised me a shopping trip to purchase said new product.  I fear this may mean I'll encounter salespeople behind the makeup counter with enough blue eye shadow to give a Cirque du Soleil performer pause.
But....I really could use her help, so I'll keep those thoughts to myself....and to my blog.
Check out WICKED LIES! 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wine, Skype and WICKED LIES

It's Memorial Day weekend and I've been asked, are you doing anything special?  Let's see. . .no.  Between the hail, rain and unseasonable cold, and taking care of my father-in-law -- it's now Day 24 of Our Captivity (see previous blog for more information on our captivity) -- we've decided to stay at home. . .or maybe it was decided for us by the above-mentioned issues.

My sister and I are deep into the promotion for WICKED LIES, the sequel to WICKED GAME, our co-written, somewhat paranomal, suspense series.  WICKED LIES will be in the stores, and available in e-book form on Tuesday, May 31st.  And yes, it's the book our "film noir" video was based on.  We're getting a lot of feedback on that video. . .mostly in the "You guys are clearly out of your minds," range. (see previous blog for more information on, and to view, the film noir video)

Earlier this month we learned from our publisher that a new shipment of WICKED GAME, the first book in the series, was sent out to certain retail stores, in case people missed the book the first time around.  And now we've learned that WICKED GAME hit the USA TODAY bestseller list the last two weeks in a row.  This is like. . . .unheard of.  I mean, really?  Really?  We kinda thought WICKED GAME, originally published in 2009, had had its day in the sun, so to speak.  I may have to drink some wine and ruminate on this.  I would join my sister but she's at the beach wearing her beach makeup, I'm sure. (see previous blog for more information on beach makeup)  As an alternative I may have to Skype my daughter, Kelly, so that I can see her while I toast this unexpected success as she's in California and I'm in Oregon with its. . .weather.

So, I'll leave you with this existential question: Is it really drinking alone, if you're both having wine and Skype-ing and can see each other in real time even though you're thousands of miles apart? 

Happy Memorial Day.  Check out WICKED LIES on Tuesday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Okay, you've got to see this. . .

So, you're going to want to know: what's the story behind this?  The answer is, a complete lack of discretion on our part.  Were we high when we made this?  Sadly, no.  We were completely sober and we still did it.  The last time we were in New York our photographer friend, Kimberly Butler, took some new headshots for me.  (Please note the photo for About Me on my blog.)  And then, Kim got the great idea to interview us as if we were under interrogation. Everytime we see this video we roll on the floor with laughter.  And then there's my husband, Ken. . .well, you'll see. 
Go ahead.  Get your popcorn out, settle in and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day Eight Of Our Captivity. . .

My father-in-law had hip replacement surgery a little over a week ago.  He lives right next door so it's easy access for my husband and his sister to take care of him, basing out of our house.  We were all kinda jazzed about the fact that he was FINALLY having the operation as it's been over five years of suggestions on our part and emphatic "NO"s on his.  My husband, Ken, kept having people ask him when he was going to take his dad to the doctor and see about that hip, like he was just holding back, waiting for the mood to strike.  Anyway, it appears that this whole thing for my father-in-law has been a longterm race between fear and pain with fear winning out for a long, long time before pain leapt forward and tore away in a sprint.  So, the surgery was a success -- yay! -- and is now in the rearview mirror. . .sort of. . .

The intial belief that next-door accessibility was a good thing has taken a beating.  Our being so close has also created a kind of party atmosphere at my father-in-law's house whereby he asks where we've been, where we're going and when we'll be back whenever there's movement from his house to ours.  I am a step out of this as I've been through this with my parents and can lay down the "paid my dues" card.  This is not to say that I don't drop everything to suddenly make a sandwich, or move a chair from our house to his, or dig out the cable bill to call for rewiring so that cable is available in more rooms than the kitchen.  (I generally use my kitchen for cooking and eating, so it never occurred to me that it could be the family den as well.  Learn something new every day if you're not careful.)

That aside, my husband Ken's good-neighbor attitude extended to the people two doors down from us in the opposite direction from my father-in-law.  These people are doing a huge remodel.  Huge.  They've even moved out of their house while it goes on.  And so Ken offered up my father-in-law's driveway as a place the construction vehicles could park.  This was. . .oh. . .awhile ago, before the surgery was even on the docket, so just as soon as my father-in-law was out of the hospital and set up with 24 hour caretakers, and their respective vehicles, here comes a cavalcade of trucks and other vehicles I don't even recognize sporting coils of wires, ladders, tool boxes, you name it.  This is okay, except that the subcontractors don't always get the memo and I often find myself opening my garage door to encounter a variety of huge front grills glaring at me. 

The good news: it has forced me to sit down and write.  Or, take a walk to clear my head.  Or, look in the refrigerator and wonder if I'm going to expire if I can't get to the grocery store.  So, I've been writing and working my way down my Icky Task List, which is the ongoing list of duties I don't want to do but must everyday.  I feel good if I can get one item off the list each day.  At the top of the Icky Task List today was to find, yet again, an excerpt for WICKED LIES, the book my sister and I wrote together that's coming out next month.  Honestly, I love this book.  It was a blast to write and I can't wait for it to come out.  Normally coming up with an excerpt for it would not qualify for the Icky Task List, but I've already dug up a number of these excerpts and each publicity venue the publisher connects with wants a new version, not the same old thing.  Really?  There's no escaping the fact that it's the same story, people.  I have definitely been struggling to find some new scene that says what WICKED LIES is about in 500 words or less that I haven't already done. 

But onward....time to get to it....I need to cross Icky Task #1, WICKED LIES excerpt, off the list.  And I won't even look at what the next Icky Task item is until tomorrow. . .on Day Nine Of Our Captivity....

Mega Trucks

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Binks!

All of you who've read any of my Jane Kelly mysteries -- CANDY APPLE RED, ELECTRIC BLUE and ULTRA VIOLET -- know the story of The Binkster, the pug that is thrust upon Jane in Book I. In CAR -- the acronym for CANDY APPLE RED, for all you texters -- Jane spends a great deal of time trying to fob the dog off on anyone who'll take her. Her attempts fail miserably and she finds herself eventually, reluctantly, falling for the little beast who's joined her world.

I'd always liked pugs. They're just so humanoid-looking and funny. I first put The Binkster into CAR many moons ago, during the book's first incarnation, and I really liked having the dog in the story. So much so, in fact, that I decided to go out and get one of my own. I'd never had a dog before. So, after I wrote The Binkster into the plot, I told my husband my plan to get a pug. He was very succinct about what he thought of that plan. I ignored him and started my pug search. When I found the perfect Binks, I asked my husband to come and see for himself. He said no. So, I asked if divorce were imminent, should I bring the pug home. He said no, again, though it took a while for the word to actually pass his lips.

It's been NINE YEARS since that day. Binkster was born on May 10th, 2002 and when we brought her home it took about three seconds for her to win over my husband. They've been the best of pals ever since, and I've even occasionally succumbed to pangs of jealousy over their bonding. But I wouldn't change anything really. Happy Birthday to you, Binks. We love you!

Baby Binkster
Too Much Birthday Fun
What'd you put in the milk?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Another speaking engagement and mini-vans are cool!

My daughter, Kelly, is driving Lisa and me in her silver mini-van to Los Angeles to the LA TIMES Festival of Books where Lisa is speaking on a panel.  Kelly gets a lot of grief for that vehicle by those who do not understand the mini-van's cosmic power.  I decided to incorporate a scene into one of my books that depicted the mini-van in a positive light. 
It was one of those planned southern California residential areas that blew in during the late 70's as if by the Santa Ana winds, rife with cul-de-sacs, stucco-siding, community pools and 2.5 children.  He told himself he didn't want any of it.  He was looking for something more.  Even when he first saw her standing beside the silver mini-van with its vanity plate that read: LVNTHEDRM he still didn't get it.  She pulled out the remote and touched the button with a lacquered nail and with a soft whirrr the side door slid back seamlessly.  He could smell stale apple juice and the remnants of a Happy Meal and saw two carseats with cup holders and a safety rating that was off the charts.  He looked at her through dazed eyes as she stood with her arms crossed, leaned against the van and dashed his burgeoning vision in one fell swoop by stating coolly, "It's the Lexus we put on Craig's List.  The mini-van's not for sale."

Okay, it needs some work, but you get the drift.  Anyway, we're on our way as soon as Kelly undrapes herself from her car and gets behind the wheel.  Lisa's panel is at one p.m. tomorrow and its title is: Mystery, A Question of Character.  Come by and see her if you're in the area.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

To e or not to e, that is the question.

I am one of those people who resisted e-readers.  Kindles, Nooks, i-Pads, whatever. . .I was in the camp of those who love to hold a real book, to smell it, to be in a library and be part of that whole book experience.  I kind of thought e-readers were encroaching on my world.  I got a Nook for Christmas last year and it took me till April to take it out of its box.

Okay.  So, I can also eat my words faster than Ms. Pacman can gobble up a string of white dots.  I opened up the Nook and started downloading books almost immediately.  I went out and bought myself a Kindle to compare and downloaded some books on it, too.  I thought about getting an i-Pad but they were out of my price range.  (Besides, my daughter has an i-Pad and it's in color so her nearly four-year-old daughter, Sydney, loves the interactive books with color and sound and song, so I get what it's about.  I wanted to rip it from Sydney's hands and try it out, but she was resistant.  I do think old age and treachery can win out over youth and inexperience though, so I'm saving the "Hand it over or it's early bedtime" for another time.)

Anyway, I've compared the Kindle and the Nook.  They're really just personal preference, as far as I can tell.  I'm leaning toward the Kindle at the moment, but I struggle with the fact that it's not a touch screen.  It warned me it wasn't, but I'm apparently a slow learner; the Nook has an extra tiny screen at the bottom that is a touch screen and shows the covers in color, a feature the Kindle doesn't have.  But my Kindle's sleeker and lighter than the Nook which is what I'm going for at the moment.  I'm still struggling with the touch screen thing, though.  I suppose it's because my phone and my ATM both have touch screens and it just seems like it oughtta work that way.  Not that I can work my phone any better, or that the ATM gives me what I want for other reasons.

I just downloaded Lisa Jackson's WILD AND WICKED because it was $2.99 and a bargain!  It's a medieval romance and one of hers that I haven't read yet.  Can't wait.  I might really be getting into this e-book thing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

So, I am at the beach. . .

My sister and I decided to go to the beach for an intense writing session.  So far, we have spent a lot of time watching TV, eating meals that are chock full of far more calories than we need, cruising around on the Internet checking out other blogs, wondering if now's the time to start that exercise regimen, deciding against it, taking a walk on the beach instead, cracking each other up over typos we can't seem to stop making (ever noticed how the "k" and the "d" keys are for the same finger, different hands.  Played havoc with my kick-off party. . .) and generally using up valuable writing time hanging out together.  That said, I'm making headway on my latest thriller and so is Lisa.  How, you may ask.  Not sure. . .something about a time/space continuum thing, maybe.  BUT. . .we are working.  Please note we took a break to take this picture for publicity purposes only, not because we were enjoying surprisingly nice April weather on the Oregon coast.

Question: Beach Makeup?  Answer: Sunglasses.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is Jane Kelly Alive and Kicking?

Thank you Jane Kelly fans out there! I love Jane, too!
And Dwayne, and The Binkster!

I plan to continue their adventures as soon as humanly possible. But right now I am having a blast writing romantic suspense/thrillers with my sister and on my own.

WICKED GAME written with Lisa Jackson (my sister) started the story of The Colony. It's being re-released in May 2011 in anticipation of its sequel - WICKED LIES which will be out May 31, 2011.

My New Year's resolution was to be better at updating my fans and took me till April, but hey, I'm doin' it.

My next thriller HUSH debuts in July 2011 and I'll reveal some of its secrets next time.