Sunday, August 28, 2011

Things I've Learned in August


Since August is almost over, bringing the summer to a close, I've made a list of "things I learned this month." Nothing earth-shattering, but each helped me in some manner.

1.An author can create as many tags as she/he wants on her/his own Amazon books. Sure, your friends will help you out by adding tags, but since I ask too much from mine already, I just do it myself.


I ran a little experiment using my 99cent VTP Western Historical "Angel and the Cowboy." Using Novel Rank, I had sold about 5 copies and it had been up a couple of months. The usual tags were added--Western Historical Romance, Romance, etc. I added: Bargain Books, Short Christmas Stories, 99 cent books, 99 cent Bargain Books, Bargain Western Historicals. In a few days, the numbers had jumped--not a lot--but to about 30. It keeps selling, slowly, but one or two each week.

2. Going the self-pubbed route does not insure instant success, but it might be worth a try. This conclusion is based on reading many comments in answer to this very question: Why does publishing your own book seem to result in selling more copies? In the first place, it doesn't always happen, and in my opinion--based on others' comments--most authors do not enjoy this success. Probably, the process of selling your books still depends on the tried and true--name recognition, amount and kind of promotion, the genre, and the author's own persistence in searching for a unique way to sell. Writing a great story that gets high marks doesn't hurt, either.

We generally believe the erotic genre sells the most. While I, too, believe that, I can also point to a highly successful author who self-publishes her "sweet western historicals." But...she was a business person, well-known, and most likely enjoyed a built-in audience. For most of us, that doesn't hold true. I have no other name recognition out there other than my books published traditionally by small presses.

Other than erotic novels, a self-published series also seems to be a good tool. If an author puts out one book, it will gain a certain amount of attention based on general principles. But if the author can say--after "Blah-Blah," watch for the next in the series coming next month--"Etc.-Etc." This conclusion comes from others saying so.


3. To avoid or lessen the chances of your e-mail contacts getting hacked, here are two things you might do. Remember, it's not "if you get hacked," "it's when you get hacked."


First, change your password frequently. That's how the hacker steals your addresses. He has found your password. The older your password becomes, the more likely a hacker will locate it somewhere. How frequent? One advised every 90 days. That sounds pretty drastic, but I'd say at least twice a year. We should have "password buddies," someone to remind us "it's time to change your password!" You know, like mammogram buddies.


Two--I read this on a discussion. Make up two email addresses:


Name: AAAAAAA AAAAA
Address: AAAAAAA@(your server here, such as Yahoo.com)
-and-
Name: ZZZZZZZ ZZZZZ
Address: ZZZZZZZ@(same as above)

Theoretically, the hacker must go to the first contact on your list. Some go in through the last contact on your list. Since this is an invalid address, the hacker will receive a message "Mail not Deliverable."


Does this make sense? I followed this advice--I'll let you know...the next time I get hacked.

Here's to September--may it be a better month than August!


Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com/
http://www.celiayeary.com/
http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com/

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Any Virgos Out There?

Good afternoon! I couldn't be happier. Something really good happened on my birthday! Can you guess what it was? If you do, I'll give you a Free Read...of something.


In the meantime, let me say I am a Virgo, the species of humans that must have everything in order and arranged, someone who does not move furniture around, and does not like a great deal of change.

"The Virgo is highly discriminating, but not necessarily as prudish at some might believe."
Comment:
 I may look like a Sunday School teacher, but I do have a vice or two--harmless little activities that make me happy. Don't worry, I'm pretty much what you see--a common ordinary
Woman of a Certain Age.

Virgos have the uncanny sense to see what's wrong with a person, a situation or your environment. It's why Virgo makes such natural critics. Virgo practical analytical abilities are second to none. Your mental process may not be the most creative, but Virgo's razor-like thinking is highly effective. You separate the useful wheat from the unneeded chafe, the good from the bad. Virgo might be a "clean freak," but most Virgos have a messy closet somewhere or a disaster under their bed.
Comment:
 I may have these traits, but that doesn't mean I voice my criticism. So, don't worry, I'm not going to pick you apart. And although I do like a clean house, that doesn't mean there's not dust on things--I hate to dust. I grew up with West Texas dust, and I'll take humidity any day.

The Virgo motto could be "Perfect is almost good enough." On one hand, this trait makes you very employable, for you're not likely to do shabby work. On the other hand, you can be so finicky that you put limitations on your interactions and experiences before they happen. You'll be happier if you can learn to be selectively less critical, both of others and yourself.
Comment:
But I learned to enjoy experiences with the help of my best friends who long ago taught me how to "trash out." My lands, I didn't even know what that meant!

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to School!

Probably I loved school more than just about anyone. Everything connected with going back to school after summer vacation excited me. I never remember feeling nervous or afraid, just eager to collect my new school supplies, put on my new school dress, grab my lunch sack, and off I'd go.


During the last few weeks, I've been a part of a school supply drive for a particular elementary school, one that has a majority of indigent children, some living in foster homes, and too many with one....or both....parents in prison. This has been an eye-opening experience for me.
The amount of supplies each child needs is rather astounding. Crayolas, dry-erase markers, washable markers, colored pencils, Fiskars, manila and colored construction paper, glue, folders with brads and pockets, ring binders, spiral notebooks, loose-leaf notebook paper, kleenex, box of ziplock baggies, hand sanitizer, 12 pencils, erasers, a ruler, and a backpack.
And this is for first graders.

One thing has cheered me, though, in collecting these items by the truck load--children still use paper and a pencil. Now, just think about that. There are teachers and educators in the nation that believe possibilities using these two items still exist. Just when I thought every child would only need a computer, a calculator, and an e-reader, my faith in the teaching and upbringing of a child is still a simple thing.

Think about this. When I remember going to school, the smell and feel of items was as important to me as actually using them. Electronic gadgets are not touchy-feely, nor do they have the memorable odor of crayons, school glue, or a Big Chief tablet. (Are these even made anymore?)

I'm not saying children don't need electronic items to learn--they will in today's world. But not in early elementary school. Give each one a backpack filled with new supplies and you'll see smiles and giggles and eagerness.

I hear the school bell ringing! No, wait. That's a buzzer. I hate those things.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com
http://www.celiayeary.com
http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Welcome to: Author and Editor Penny Ehrenkranz

Greetings, friends! I have a wonderful guest today—Penny Ehrenkranz—and she's not only talented and successful, she is a very interesting person. She writes several genres, including historical romance, time travel romance, young adult novels, and children's stories. You'll learn this for yourself from her answers.
~*~*~*~
If your real name is Susan, why do you use Penny?
   I have an older brother. When he found out my mom was pregnant, he asked if my folks would name me Penny. He had a fascination with Penny of long-ago Sky King fame. My dad wanted to name me after my mom, so my official name is Susan. My brother insisted on calling me Penny and soon everyone else was, too. I was called Susan by my teachers in school, but it never felt like “me.” Susan is my mom.

What inspired you to write your first book? What is the title?
   When I first became a published author, I focused on short stories and articles. I wrote primarily fantasy, soft science fiction and romance. My daughter, who was in upper elementary at the time, insisted I wasn’t a writer because I didn’t have a “real” book. I decided to give it a try, and Ghost for Rent was conceived.
   A neighbor had moved to a rented farmhouse in the area and related a story of hearing ghostly piano music in the living room. I thought this would be a great middle grade novel and started working on Ghost for Rent. It was first published in 2002 through Hard Shell Word Factory. I recently regained my rights, and it is now under contract with 4RV Publishing who purchased the sequel Ghost for Lunch. Both are tentatively scheduled to be released in 2012.

I know you're an editor as well as an author. With this unique view from both sides, what advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
   The best advice is to read everything you can in the genre you wish to write. Read what’s well-written so you have an idea of how to write, but also take the time to read some of the work which isn’t written as well, so you can see what not to do.
   I strongly recommend having a good grasp of English grammar and spelling rules. When the manuscript is finished, put it aside for a few days. Then, go back over what’s been written, line by line, looking for errors. Spellchecker, while useful, can’t tell the difference between “there” and “their.”
   The other big thing to watch for is point of view slips. Some genres will accept multiple points of view within a scene, but as an acquisition editor, these slips jump out at me and scream confusing. Unless you are skilled at maintaining one point of view (and most new writers aren’t), try to avoid switching point of view mid-chapter. If you want more than one point of view (romance is commonly in both male and female POVs), switch at a chapter or scene break.
   Finally, I strongly recommend attending writer’s conferences, online forums, and taking community classes to keep skills sharp and network with others.

What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask?
   I always like it when interviewers ask what other news there is to share. In response to that I’ve got a lot of contracts in the works. In addition to Love Delivery¸ http://tinyurl.com/4ajo9wz  MuseItUp Publishing will release in November, Lady-in-Waiting, an historical romance, and in December, Mirror, Mirror, a time travel romance. https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2  
   4RV Publishing has contracted three picture books: Funny Dog, Boo’s Bad Day, and Many Colored Coats in addition to my two middle grade novels Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch.    http://4RVpublishingllc.com/Childrens_Books.html 
   I released a collection of my short stories with Sam’s Dot Publishing, A Past and A Future in January 2011. http://sdpbookstore.com/anthologies.htm  and
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/62608

What is your strangest habit?
   Hum…Strange habit? I’m not sure if any of my habits would be considered strange. I’m a pretty boring gal these days, since I retired. Maybe staying up late (1:00 p.m.) and sleeping in until 9:00 a.m. might be the strangest thing I do.

Do you have a favorite quote? Please share. I love quotes.
   I have two. The first I’m not sure where I heard it, but it’s “These things too shall pass.” The second I have hanging on my wall, and it’s by Han Suyin, “There is nothing in the world stronger than gentleness.”


What is your heritage?
   On my mom’s side, my grandparents spoke Slovak, and I always thought they were from Czechoslovakia, but their death certificates indicated Austria. My mom is a first generation American. My dad’s family came from England, but I don’t know when they arrived in the States. I was able to trace back a few generations born here.

What is your favorite food or dish?
   I love ethnic foods, and it’s hard to pick a favorite as I enjoy Thai, Indian, Chinese (real Chinese not American Chinese), and Mexican. If I had to choose an absolute favorite, I guess it would be curry, but again there are lots of kinds of curries, and I enjoy them all.



In three sentences, tell us about "Love Delivery."
A waitress in a donut shop, Ann is happy with her single life and her cat, Mittens, until she finds herself interested in Tom, the handsome man who makes deliveries to the shop. Unfortunately, Tom comes with some baggage, including five cats; Maria, his vicious ex-wife; and Maria’s adorable daughter he calls Kitten. When Maria is hired at the donut shop and learns Ann and Tom are beginning a relationship, she does everything she can to tear them apart.


Where can a reader find your book?
The best place is at the MuseItUp Bookstore. While there, be sure to check out the other great titles available. http://tinyurl.com/4ajo9wz
I don’t have the buy links yet, but Love Delivery will also be available at Amazon, Smashwords, Omnilit, Bookstrand, Digibooks CafĂ©, and Coffeetime Romance.

Where can a reader find YOU?
My website is:  http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com
My blog is: http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com
My Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/penny.ehrenkranz
My Twitter is: http://twitter.com/pennyehrenkranz
My author page at MuseItUp Publishing is: https://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=130&Itemid=82


Penny, would you like to share a short excerpt? Readers like to learn about an author's style.
Definitely:
EXCERPT FROM LOVE DELIVERY:
“Here it is,” he said, steering her to a quiet corner. Candles lit the table. A bottle of red wine stood open. Tom held the chair for her, and then sat close so their knees touched. “Would you like a glass of wine?” he asked, reaching for the bottle.

“No thanks,” Ann said. “I don’t drink.”

Tom poured a glass for himself. “Here’s the menu.” He handed it to her.

“I know what I want.”

“What’s that?”

“Fettuccini Alfredo.” Ann shook out her napkin and placed it on her lap.

“This chicken dish is good,” Tom said, pointing to an item on the menu.

Ann grimaced. Is he a control freak? I already told him what I want. “I don’t eat meat.” Her voice sounded harsh in her own ears.

“Ah, well, okay, then. Fettuccini Alfredo it is.” Tom called the waiter and ordered the Alfredo for Ann and a spicy chicken dish for himself.

I guess we don’t agree on everything after all. He drinks and eats meat, too. I hope he doesn’t drink a lot. Maybe we weren’t made for each other. Not knowing what else to do, Ann took a sip of water and smiled.

Tom smiled back. “You’ll have to come meet my cats one of these days. Tyra, a gorgeous, long-haired black female, is my bathroom kitty. Whenever I’m sitting in there, she has to be in my lap. There’ve been times when my pants have been around my feet, and she’s curled up in my underwear.

“Then there’s BeeBee. She’s a Siamese. When I first got her, I thought she liked to cuddle, but it turned out she was just scared. It took me a long time, with lots of persuasion, to get her to come close to me. Finally, I was able to pick her up. I had her in my arms, and I put my face down to smell her fur. Suddenly, she turned and bit me on the nose.

“I think my favorite, though, is Loki. He’s the smallest of the bunch. He has allergies, and if I don’t get him to the vet for a shot in time, he loses his fur on his rear quarters, right by his tail. He loves to ride on my shoulders. Looks just like I’m wearing a fur collar.

“Then there’s the two new ones, they’re the kittens. They haven’t developed personalities yet. You should always get two kittens instead of one,” Tom said when the food arrived.

“Why?” Ann asked. Her face hurt from laughing at Tom’s cat stories. Mittens never did any of the things Tom’s cats did.

While she ate, Tom continued to share funny stories about the cats and kittens. “Kittens play with each other so you don’t need to play with them. You can just sit back and watch them. When I have kittens in the house, I don’t even turn on my T.V. set.” Tom twirled pasta on his fork. He lifted the fork halfway to his mouth and stopped. “Looks like we have company,” he groaned.

Ann turned. Maria and a curly-haired blond child entered. Ann watched Maria’s smile turn to a frown. Maria pulled the child toward their table. Ann gulped. Now what? Can’t she leave us alone? How can Tom and I ever get to know each other if she’s always showing up? She pasted a false smile on her face and clutched her napkin tightly.

“So you decided not to listen to me,” Maria spat at Ann.

“Daddy!” the little girl cried, holding up her arms.

“Hi, Kitten,” Tom said, scooping the child into his arms. He gave her a bear hug, and she giggled. “I want you to meet my friend, Ann. Ann, this is Kitten.”

“Hi, Ann. Daddy calls me Kitten, but you can call me Catherine.” The child put her arms around Tom’s neck and hugged him.

“Hello, Catherine,” Ann said, finding her voice.

“At least you could have gone somewhere else, Tom. We always ate here,” Maria accused and pushed Tom’s shoulder.

Tom moved Catherine to his other knee and glared at Maria. “Do we have to fight in front of Kitten?”

“Hey, Mr. Nice Guy, you’re the one who left us, remember?”

Removing Catherine from his lap, Tom stood up and faced Maria. “You’re creating a scene. Why don’t you leave before things get ugly?”

“Maybe you should have thought about that a long time ago.” Maria poked Tom’s chest with her finger.

Ann watched in fear. Only moments ago, she and Tom were enjoying dinner. Maria’s face now looked hard and dark. She swore at Tom and poked him again. Then she shoved him on the shoulder.

Tom grabbed her hand. Maria spat at him and reached up, clawing his face with her other hand.

“I hate you,” she screamed, grabbed her child, and ran out crying.

Tom turned to Ann. There were bloody scratches on his face. Ann dipped her napkin in her water glass and dabbed his cheek. “I’m sorry, Ann, I guess this spoiled dinner.”

This is never going to work for us, not as long as Maria is in the picture. Ann nodded her head. “Sure did. I’m not very hungry now. I think I’d better just go home.”

~*~*~*~Celia, thank you so much for having me. I want to remind your readers I am offering a copy of a short romance, “A Midsummer’s Knight” to one person who leaves a comment on your blog. I will also give a grand prize at the end of the tour to one name picked from all who leave comments at all the blog stops. This will be a copy of Love Delivery in an appropriate eBook format.
Penny, you are so welcome. I enjoyed your answers and also learning more about you. Best wishes for your continued success.
Readers: Leave a comment to be eligible to win a Free Copy of Penny's short romance,
"A Midsummer's Knight."
Celia

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I Need Cheering Up! It's August!

The doldrums are not a usual thing with me. I almost always can find ways to cheer myself up, and maybe those around me, too. Life is too short being depressed or out of sorts. I'd love for everyone in the world to be happy.

But the days are dragging, the heat is relentless, and not all my loved ones are healthy and well. So, I thought I'd look on my MSN news page for something happy. Well, maybe this wasn't exactly the right thing to do. Here were some of the headlines:

1. Cheating in Sports? It's a way of life. Tell me it ain't so.

2. Tiger did not make the cut in the last major championship of the year--for the first time in his life! Okay, maybe this is not real important, but...trust me, it's bad.

3. Teen sentenced to 35 years for school shooting. This is just heartbreaking. What was he thinking?

4. Al-Qaida--I don't even want to go there.

5. Four hidden risks to your nest egg. Groannnn! Not more hidden risks! How many are there?

But then, as I roamed around the page, this caught my eye--"Want to Hear Some Good News?" Honestly, that was the headline! Now, we're getting somewhere. Here's what I read.

1. Ghana schoolboy launches $13 million drive for Somali kids during his 8-week school holiday by walking from office to office, collecting donations. Isn't he a handsome young man?

2. Army wife, Darla Harlow, gets a surprise when, thinking she had been randomly chosen to throw out the first pitch, the catcher removed his mask and it was her
soldier/husband Major Harlow on leave! Sniff.

3. Bruce Ivin, former HS dropout, drug dealer, and thief, turned his life around with the help and advice from a friend who cared about him. Now--star defensive end for West Virginia. I hope he continues to live the good life. It's not easy in the NFL.

There! Now, don't you feel better? I do. 
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com/
http://www.celiayeary.com/
http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com/

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sweet Sunshine Charity Cookbook

SWEET SUNSHINE CHARITY COOKBOOK
"Sweet Sunshine Charity Cookbook" is now available on AMAZON.

Fifteen authors have not only contributed recipes for the Cookbook, each one has written a "cooking memory" with someone she loved.
I wrote about making biscuits as a little girl with my Grandmother. She cooked on a big kerosene stove and of course, made everything from scratch. She tolerated my "helping."
Some of us also wrote a children's story—mine is titled "Making Mudpies for Mommy."
Each author also has added two childhood photos. I love those photos!

The Cookbook is illustrated and the cover is fantastic.

If you would like to add another charity to your list, I invite you to order one of these cookbooks—or more if you like!

ALL PROCEEDS GO TO THE CHARITY. NO AUTHOR GAINS MONETARILY FROM THESE SALES.
Below are:
BUY LINK:
The Cookbook is now live on Amazon. The cost is $20.00.
http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Sunshine-Baking-Memories/dp/0987725637

EDITOR'S LINK :
The editor and producer of the Cookbook, Adelle Laudan, created an intro page on her website for an overview and examples of stories and photos.
http://adellelaudan.com/Sunshine.html 

CHARITY LINK:
The charity is The Sunshine Foundation of Canada
http://sunshine.ca/

Thank you--
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com/
http://www.celiayeary.com/
http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com/