Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How Do You Measure Success?

For the sake of argument, let's agree that our personal lives and family fall into a different category from our writing life. Okay? So, with that out of the way, how do you measure success in your writing life? Many of us are published, most of us are at least writing something, and some certain number probably considers themselves successful.

So, exactly what is your definition of success?
You might consider these categories of success:
A NUMBER of books published.
A CATEGORY that has sold a nice amount.
A SERIES in which readers ask, "What will happen to...so-and-so?"
A SERIES that has taken off and hit best seller lists on Amazon.
A CONTRACT for the manuscript of your dreams.

I'm sure we can name other situations in which we say to ourselves, "Wow. I am now successful! I feel so good about myself and my writing!"

For me, I find I can't even answer my own question. In truth, I don't feel successful, but I feel very good about myself...at certain times...and always, always look ahead and think...What if? Suppose? Imagine?

As of this week, my biggest selling story is a 99 cent Dime Novel from Victory Tales Press, titled Addie and the Gunslinger.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,887 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store) #27 in Books > Romance > Western
#58 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Action & Adventure
#72 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Action & Adventure

For me, this is a thrill, a lovely moment, a wonderful event. But does it represent true SUCCESS? Not really. I'm certain there's something more to this thing called "success."

I watched the Academy Awards Sunday Night, and just loved the presentations and seeing the stars
all dressed up, and waiting in anticipation to learn the winners. Each person up for an award, in my  opinion, was already successful. But did you watch George Clooney's face?
This was really his big moment, his big chance for an academy award, and from what I read,
this movie was his shining glory. It was his turn!

 But a foreigner took the Oscar. I was sick for George Clooney. And from the look on his face, he felt like...a loser. Didn't he? His disappointment was written all over his face. Still, don't we see him as successful? Yes, of course! But...he did not see himself that way at all at that moment.

 Success. Such an elusive, emotional, gut-wrenching feeling.

How do you measure success?
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Born Mediocre--is that so bad?

Like Malcom in the Middle, I am Celia in the middle of three sisters. While that might not be such a bad thing if all else were equal, but unfortunately, all else was NOT equal. Both older and younger sisters had nice curly hair. Our daddy had blond curly hair, but I was the one born with straight-as-a-stick mousy brown hair. I had a Buster Brown haircut, and while my sister had the same haircut, hers curled up so cute. See? Both my sisters are a little tall, but me? No, the shorter one with the big hips. Oh, and eyes? While mine are a nice dark brown, they are blind as a bat. I had glasses at a young age. My sisters? Nope, their eyesight was just fine.

Mediocre all the way.

During high school--the most important years of a person's life--I was fortunate enough to be part of a six girl group. Oh, they loved me as I loved them, and we had such fun during high school. However, the others were voted Most Popular, Most Beautiful, Valentine Sweetheart, Football Sweetheart, Band Sweetheart. Me? Nada. Zip. Nothing. I was mediocre at best, but still they loved me, and I was proud of them and that I was part of that group. What did they see in me, anyway?

Mediocrity on parade.

I felt a little driven to be better, not particularly the best, for I knew that wouldn't happen.  But to make the Dean's List in college, to be chosen University Women's Girl of the Year as a student, and to make lots of A's made me feel somewhat better about myself.

In some heaven-sent missive, I was allowed to marry the man I loved with my straight hair and glasses. Then, I was blessed with beautiful smart children, both smarter than I was, but at that point I wanted my kids to succeed more than I wanted to.

Later, in my life as I know it now, I somehow have managed to write a lot of books and short stories and get them all published. But we're never satisfied, are we--those of us who are mediocre? Now, during the promoting phase of this writing business, I have learned that I must work to get those stories on some kind of best-selling list.

Are any of you like that? Never satisfied? Always wanting our books--like our children--to do better and better, not only to make them look good, but to make yourself happy?

At this moment, I'm watching one story I have that has somehow risen higher than any other book I have.
Addie and the Gunslinger--a short 99 cent Dime Novel with the Western Trail Blazers imprint of Victory Tales Press, a unique publisher owned and operated by a brilliant woman named Rebecca Vickery. I thank her so much for her work.

On Amazon tonight, NovelRank shows these statistics for Addie and the Gunslinger:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,863 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
o    #28 in Books > Romance > Western
o    #52 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Action & Adventure
o    #69 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Action & Adventure

 Isn't that wonderful? But what do you suppose I'm hoping for next? Yes, you're right. For Addie and the Gunslinger to hit #1 on one of these lists. It most likely won't happen, leaving me once again sort of in the mediocre range of the best sellers. But...do you think I really, really mind so much? No, I don't.
This is a ride, a thrill, a experience, and all I want or need is for some success to make me happy.

If I don't have this, or experience even more? It doesn't matter, really, because I have learned during my life that this is not all there is. It's just one chapter, but oh, man, do I love it!

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

Saturday, February 18, 2012

People-Watching in Las Vegas

Valentine's Day in Las Vegas provided numerous very interesting people to watch. Any other time, I might not have paid much attention to couples, but of course Love was on Parade!
Or was it?

My dear sweet husband took me to a restaurant in the Paris Casino. There's a lovely promenade lined with shops and places to dine, and the high ceiling is painted with blue sky and clouds and it does feel like you're walking outside in the moonlight.
We stopped at the Cafe Provencal and waited to be seated. Inside, most tables were occupied by couples.
From my left, I could observe a beautiful young pair at the linen draped table. Both were dressed up, looking like they'd taken great care in selecting clothing for their special evening out. But something was wrong with the picture. For one thing, the young man's right leg jiggled up and down continuously under the table. Clearly, he was nervous. She, however, looked cool as a cucumber, well, downright cold if you ask me. As soon as the waiter took their order, she whipped out her smart phone, ignored her young man, and began swishing that finger across the screen. Well, since he was shut out, he did the same thing. As my husband and I talked and laughed, I kept an eye on this couple. Honestly, throughout their meal, not one word was exchanged. Both kept a close eye on their phones, though. Very sad.

Across the way against a wall, three couples dined together. All were dressed up, too, with the young ladies in long dresses. These people seemed to be having a fairly good time, and all were at least trying to act grown-up and proper. The one young woman I could see very well wore a strapless black gown, but she was a little too overweight, and everything just sort of...bulged. In addition, she straddled the chair so that her knees were as wide apart as she could get them, with the black skirt stretched across and her shoe heels were hooked on the side rungs of her chair. Get the picture? Did no one teach her how to sit with decorum or to be lady-like? Maybe not. So, I guess I'll forgive her. However, after a few minutes, half the table residents were swishing their fingers across their smart phones.

We ate breakfast at a MacDonald's both mornings. Okay! But at least it was a Las Vegas MacDonald's. Both mornings, the place was packed. We got our food and found a nice place to sit so we could watch everyone else. Yes, just as I predicted, half or more of the people had out those smart phones. The couple next to us slid into their booth, never looked at each other, and got out the phones. Both talked as they nibbled on their food, completely ignoring each other.
I think I have this figured out. Either we have no friends to talk with or text with, or we're of another generation in which we look at and talk with each other--even though we might be talking about other  people.
Don't you love to sit in an airport or large restaurant, or walk along a crowded sidewalk and watch people? To me, it's a great way to observe human nature.
Oh, gotta run. My husband is trying to tell me something and I'm on the computer.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Very Annoying Things About Books

At the very real risk of becoming known as a curmudgeon ( I need to look that up), I do think it's in all our best interest if I address certain issues pertaining to books. Yes, books, those thing we adore or hate, and everything in-between.
Shifting POV from One Paragraph to the Next: I've been under the distinct impression that this practice went out of style years ago. Editors have told me repeatedly--"don't do it!" I've learned my lesson so well that when I notice this in a romance, I cringe and want to take my red pen and edit the book. I'm reading one now by a prolific author with a reputable publisher (no, it's not NR). But my goodness, I've not seen one quite this bad. There are no breaks from one POV to the other, and  there may be as many as a dozen shifts within one chapter. Honestly, I simply cannot understand how this happens. Are we shifting away from pure POV with a return to more lax rules?
Merging of Erotic and Non-Erotic Novels: Not too long ago, eBook publishers mixed erotic with non-erotic. I believe there was an outcry, because most created new imprints for their erotic imprints. Good, at least we know what we're buying. Not so fast, because the trend seems to be reversing once again, except this time with a twist. I read that an author may label her book "hot" (erotic lite?), when in truth it is only sensual/sweet: Quote: "When my books were rated a 3 on the hotness scale, they barely sold. But when I upped them to 4s and 5s, they sold like hotcakes." (Get it? Hotcakes?) Does the reader, then, know the difference? Does she comprehend that she is reading sensual/sweet but thinks it's erotic? Are the lines becoming blurred?   
Women's Fiction With No Place To Go: Before I complain, here's an actual event this week. Kristin Hannah released her newest novel titled Home Front. We know her books tend more to the Women's Fiction category than pure romance. I may have read every one of her books, and they're all along the same lines: the story revolves around a woman and other women, and/or family members. Yes, there's a man in there, but her novels aren't true romances. So, this last week, I pulled it up to buy for my Kindle. Want to know the price for the ebook? $12.95. Yes, that's exactly right--a  price times the amount most readers prefer. And now a week later, she sits atop four best seller lists, including the NYT. Now, you tell me--is there a market out there for WF? Oh, I was so hoping there was, because two of my books are WF. I realize I'm not even close to Ms. Hannah's caliber, but I'd safely say my stories are good. They're just not selling.
Decades-Old Novel Re-Released With a 2012 Cover But With No Updated Text: Enough said.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And the Liebster Award goes to these Lovable Blogs!

Presented to me by Jane Richardson--Thank you!
Legend has it that The Liebster Blog Award originated in Germany. Liebster means dearest or beloved, and Liebe is love. The award is to encourage readership of small, lovable blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
THANK YOU, Jane Richardson, for this "lovely" Liebster Award. I'm thrilled you think my blog is worthy of being "lovable." In keeping with the award's meaning, here are five lovable snippets about me you might not know:

1. I absolutely adore chocolate pudding cake with whipped cream. I now have a recipe to make it in a crock pot!

2. I love those stupid photos people post on FB of kittens in goofy poses which very cute captions. Those get me every time.

3. If I don't look in the mirror, I imagine myself as a young Jane Wyman. You remember her, don't you?

4. My favorite movie of all times was Doctor Zhivago and I have watched it at least eight times. But never again.

5. Even at my age, I wonder why some people intentionally hurt someone's feelings with words. How do they sleep at night?
And now--drum roll, please--I present the Liebster Award to these very lovely ladies who blog their little hearts out! Check out their blogs.  

Stephanie Burkhart      http://sgcardin.blogspot.com      Romance Under the Moonlight  One of the most consistently romantic and interesting blogs around, I salute Steph with the Liebster Blog Award for producing a "lovable blog."

Shirley Kiger Connolly  http://apenforyourthoughts.blogspot.com   A Pen For Your Thoughts  An intriguing blog by looks and content. I present the Liebster Blog Award for giving us a "lovable blog."

Jude Urbanski      http://www.judeurbanski.blogspot.com    Wordsworth Woman-writing, growing, living for God  A blog full of God's love to share with the world, I present the Liebster Award to Jude for writing a "lovable blog."

Paula Martin  http://paulamartinpotpourri.blogspot.com    Romance of the best kind--exciting and passionate. A blog that highly deserves the Liebster Award, which means dearest or beloved, for being a "lovable blog."

Jacquie Rogers    http://romancingthewest.blogspot.com    Romancing the West has to be a favorite for its western flavor! I do love all things Western, and Jacquie has a winner of a blog. I present the Liebster Award to her, which means "a lovable blog."

June Foster   http://www.junefoster.blogspot.com  Life in an RV-The Roving Writer. You must see this pretty blog that just exudes love! To this blog, I present the Liebster Award for making such a wonderful "lovable blog."

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

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Romance Novels

The Super Bowl commercials are once again drawing attention even before the game. Last year they brought back Betty White, in her 80s, and she made a big splash again. This year, they're bringing in Matthew Broderick to reprise his role in the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. We can never seem to let go of the past.

While this is all well and good for the Super Bowl commercials and to those who love both the game and the ads, it reminded me of some of my favorite, all-time romance authors.

Ahh, the 80s. I didn't read romance novels even then, for it was well into the 90s when I actually discovered them. Before then I worked all the time, and when I did find time to read a little, I read magazines.

When I found a ten-year-old paperback by Janet Dailey in a used book store, I remembered reading many western novels by Louis L'Amour  and Zane Grey. This novel I held in my hands, though, was a Western Romance novel, titled This Calder Range, the first in a three-book series. The first few pages grabbed me, and I bought the book for 50 cents. Later, I began searching for more of her books, especially the next two Calder novels.
In searching, I found Rosanne Bitner's books, too. She, also, has a prolific career of writing Western Historical Romances. She became one of my favorites, as well. Her byline is "Heart of the West."

Catherine Anderson came next, and her books were much more emotional, often dealing with some  disability, but still...her novels became part of my reading search.

Katherine Stone did not write Westerns, but she introduced me to contemporary romance novels. Oh, she could tear your heart out.

LaVyrle Spencer. My lands, I've mentioned her name a hundred times on-line. She is in a class all by herself. Her romances varied, depending on the whim of her muse, but most..if not all..of her books were set in Minnesota or the Dakotas. She had retired by the time I discovered her, but believe me, I found every one of her books. She is the only author who holds a special place on my book shelf. Every book she wrote is right there.

Sandra Brown really caught my attention with her Western Historicals and Contemporary Westerns. Before I settled in with her writings, she quit and began writing Romantic Suspense. Of course, she's very good, but...I'm still a little angry with her for making this switch.
Kathleen Eagle. Wow, can she write about contemporary Native Americans. I think her husband is NA, so she know whereof she speaks. I adore her stories, and still look for them.

Many of us today are writing Western Romances, some historical, some contemporary. I wonder if twenty years from now some of us might be remembered as I remember these I listed. Are we as good? Can we hold a candle to these successful authors? My goal is always to do the best I can, in school, with my family, in my teaching career, and now with my writing adventure. I wonder, though, if I can ever come close.

Who were your favorites?
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas