Wednesday, March 30, 2011

STRANGER ON THE SHORE by Roseanne Dowell

Since signing with MuseItUp Publishing, (they're releasing an e-book version of Dead Witness in July) I've met some wonderful and talented authors in their online authors group. My guest today is one of their Romance authors. Please give a warm welcome to Roseanne Dowell.


First off, let me introduce myself. I’m Jordan Blake, author and heroine of Stranger on the Shore. Yes, like my creator, I’m an author and a very successful one, I might add. I’ve lived on the shores of Lake Erie for several years. Okay, three years, since my divorce. And I was quite content.
I lived alone, which suited me just fine. I didn’t have to answer to anyone, and no one answered to me. I ate when I wanted, slept when I wanted and wrote whenever I felt like it, often late into the night. I wasn’t keeping anyone awake and no one was waiting for me to come to bed.
I was happy and quite content with my life. At least I was until that cold October day when an early snow storm blew in off the lake. Nothing worse than lake effect snow, and this one was a doozy.
There I was minding my own business, securing cushions and patio furniture in preparation for a storm that was moving in way too quick, when I caught sight of something washed up on the shoreline.
Well, curious as I am, I had to investigate. Besides, it did look like a body and if someone needed help, far be it from me to ignore. Well, I was right; it was a body, thankfully alive. The thought of spending time with a corpse didn’t exactly enthuse me.  I mean seriously, can you picture being stranded in a snow storm with a dead body. I mean I couldn’t have left it outside, not that it would have known.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter because this guy was alive, though not kicking. Nope he was out of it. If you could have seen me trying to move this six foot God knows how many inches, at least 190 maybe more pounds of muscle off the rocks, you probably would have died laughing.
I laugh myself when I think of it now, but at the time it wasn’t funny. For starters, the icy waves lashed out at both of us. He was unconscious, dead weight and soaking wet. Of course the rain started and that didn’t help and I don’t mean just rain,  more like a torrential downpour. There I was, all five foot two of me in a sweatshirt, soaking wet trying to move this hunk. I did manage to move him. Little by little, I rolled him toward my house and managed to get him up on the deck. Wind whipped through my hair and rain quickly turned to  freezing rain pellets that stung my arms even through my shirt.. 
Let me tell you, it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Would I do it again? Probably, cause that’s the kind of person I am.
If you want to know what happened after I got this hunk into my house, you’ll have to read it.
Stranger on the Shore will be released in March 2011 at Muse It Up Publishing http://bit.ly/dM2bHA 
Bio
Roseanne Dowell is an avid reader and writes various types of romance - paranormal, contemporary, and mystery. She has several books published as well as over 40 articles and short stories published in magazines such as Good Old Days, Nostalgia, and Ohio Writer and several online publications. Besides teaching writing courses for Long Story School of Writing www.lsswritingschool.com ,she also taught two writing courses for the Encore Program at Cuyahoga Community College.
Roseanne lives in Northeast Ohio and where she enjoys life as a wife, mother of six, grandmother of fourteen and great grandmother of one.  Besides writing, Roseanne enjoys embroidery and quilting, especially combining the two.

Blurb for Stranger on the Shore
Author, Jordan Blake lives in a house along Lake Erie. She’s a recluse and likes it that way. No interruptions while she’s writing. At least not until that day in October when an early Lake Effect Snow storm brews up. Not that she minds snowstorms. Far from it. She loves them. While she’s on her deck securing chair cushions and chairs, something along the rocky shoreline catches her eye. A body? Hard to tell from where she stood. Not being one to ignore someone in need, she rushes across the yard. It’s a body all right–a male’s body. Thank God he was alive, but unfortunately unconscious. After much pulling, rolling and pushing, Jordan manages to get him to her house and finally inside, undressed and into something dry. Jordan finds herself strangely attracted to the man.
More than a storm rages inside and out.

Excerpt from Strange on the Shore
“Darn, it’s getting cold.” Jordan shivered and zipped her sweat shirt.  She hated storms, hated thunder and lightning most of all.  Grabbing at some papers that flew across the deck as the wind picked up, a movement caught the corner of her eye. Something washed up on the shore. Something big. A body?
Jordan jumped off the deck and raced toward the craggy shoreline.  Dark clouds hovered across the lake. Cold water splashed against her as waves crashed against the rocks like angry arms hurling water at an invisible enemy. The crash of thunder echoed across the lake. Ducking her head as lightening streaked across the sky and the air crackled with electricity, she thought she must be nuts. Probably just a bunch of old clothes washed up. Still, she had to see for herself.
Surely, no one in their right mind would be in the water this time of year? There had been storm warnings on the radio all morning. No one would be stupid enough to ignore the forecast. Would they? Heavy rain and strong winds then turning to snow, with a drastic drop in temperature, and blizzard-like conditions weren’t anything to ignore. Jordan winced as lightning flashed again, back-lighting the dark clouds.  Darn it, she wanted to be inside cuddling by the fire not out here in a storm. For two cents, she’d turn around and go back. But something drew her forward.
A man’s body against the rocks.
Oh, Lord, please don’t let him be dead. She had planned for a quiet weekend, writing. A weekend with a corpse wasn’t on her list of quiet. But she couldn’t leave him out here either.
 Jordan came closer and stooped down next to him. Lifting his head out of the water, above the crashing waves, she felt for a pulse. Thank God, he’s alive. Now how to get him out of here? She grabbed his arm, rolled him over and tried to pull him from the fury of the lake. Wave after wave pounced on him, their foamy peaks trying to reclaim him. Lord, if she ever needed help, now was the time.  Struggling to roll him to higher ground, she lost her breath. His long, muscular frame outweighed her slender five foot two body and felt like dead weight.
 “You’re going to have to help me.” Jordan grunted and gasped for breath when the full force of icy waves pulled her down and washed over both of them.
No response.
“Damn it. I can’t do this alone.”
Still no response.
Great, how was she going to pull him to safety? “I hate to do this, but I see no alternative.” Jordan took a deep breath and pushed him over, rolling him like a barrel and trying to avoid cutting him on the sharp rocks. It wasn’t easy, but at least he moved.
“Come on!” Jordan tried to encourage some life from his limp body.  Once he was far enough away from the waves, she stared at him for a moment, before leaning down to give him mouth to mouth. His long straight nose, eyes set wide with bushy eyebrows and the grin on his lips, even in his unconscious state, sent a ripple of excitement through her body.
Not a handsome man, but something about him caused heat deep inside her. Shrugging off the urge to run her fingers through his curly black hair, she began mouth to mouth. When her mouth touched his lips, opened them slightly, something familiar tugged on her heart. She hadn’t touched a man's lips in, what, three years. This wasn’t exactly the way she imagined touching them again. Not that she ever imagined it. Never even thought about it. She’d had enough of men to last her a lifetime. 

* * * *  
You can learn more about Roseanne at the following links. 

Stranger on the Shore, Double the Trouble, A Second Chance, May I Have this Dance, And They All Fall Down and Elusive Mission releasing in 2011 from http://tinyurl.com/22ppkmp 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

STYLISH BLOGGER AWARD

Amanda Borenstadt at A Fortnight of Mustard kindly bestowed upon me the Stylish Blogger Award. Thank you, Amanda!


I'm to tell you 7 things about myself:

1. I love cats; there are 4 currently living with us. All strays.
2. I can't watch any movie or television show where animals are injured without crying.
3. I'm afraid of heights, yet went zip-lining in Jamaica!
4. I began my career as a storyteller at the age of two. Apparently, I danced from foot to foot on the hearth while reciting my fascinating tales to visitors. 
5. Our 9th grand-baby is due in September.
6. When I was a little girl, I told everyone I was going to have 18 children and I'd support them by being an actor.
7. I don't know how to sew, knit, or crochet. And I can't make pastry.

Now I'm suppose to pass this award along to 7 bloggers. I hope you'll take time to visit them all. In no particular order, they are:

1. Kim Smith, Writing Space
2. Christine (my MuseItUp editor), ChrisChat
3. Barbara Ehrentreu, Barbara's Meanderings
4. April P., Cafe of Dreams
5. Heather P. Soundoff
6. Laurel, Rainy Days & Mondays
7. Kathryn N. Perry, Katt's Komments.

It may seem as if there are a lot of awards online, but I look at it as a great way to meet fabulous new people. These seven are just a fraction of the many, many wonderful bloggers out there.

Happy Blogging.

Oops, just realized there are no men. Ps. I love men!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

TWO BIG BAD BUGS

I encountered two scary bugs on Monday, March 21st while my husband was out of town working. For some reason, problems seem a lot scarier when you're alone.

After spending the entire day in the city gathering supplies, meeting appointments, etc., I arrived home to find a huge alert message on my screen. It had come through Skype from sintsystmas8. The extra message was:

SYSTEM REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ATTENTION
****************************************

ATTENTION ! Security Center has detected
malware on your computer !

Affected Software:

Apple Macintosh 10.6 Snow Leopard
Apple Macintosh 10.5 Leopard
Apple Macintosh 10.4 Tiger
Microsoft Windows 7
Microsoft Windows Vista
Microsoft Windows XP

Impact of Vulnerability: Remote Code Execution / Virus Infection /
Unexpected shutdowns

Recommendation: Users running vulnerable version should install a repair utility immediately

Your system IS affected, download the patch from the address below !
Failure to do so may result in severe computer malfunction.

http://www.updateba.com/

For the link to become active, please click on 'Add to contacts' skype button or type it in manually into your web browser!

I clicked on the link and was  instructed to go to the checkout, pay $19.95 and have my computer fixed immediately. Apparently I had 364 infected files.
 
The dollar sign made me cautious, and so I decided to check my computer first. What if this Sintsystmas8 wanted to fix a problem they'd given me? It's happened before. 

I did a Verify Disk and was disturbed to discover that I did have a serious problem with my computer. But the repair Utility wouldn't let me fix it. At the bottom of the screen, the Repair Disk tab wouldn't light up. 

Instead of going back to Sintsystmas8 for help, (I was still convinced they gave me the bug) I called the tech people at Apple, paid for technical assistance, and a nice young man by the name of Damian helped me out. We inserted my factory disk, turned off my computer, and then turned it on while holding down the OPTION key. After choosing English, I clicked on the left-facing arrow, went to the utility heading on top of the screen and then did a REPAIR DISK

Over the course of two hours, we did three repairs -- just to make sure. Damian also helped me with a permission problem I had. For about a month now I've been unable to upgrade anything because my computer kept saying I didn't have permission -- even though I'd done plenty of Repair Disk Permissions. While we were using DISK UTILITY we did three permission repairs, (just to be sure) plus changed my password. 

Anyone who owns a Mac knows these aren't easy fixes to make even though they sound simple enough. One wrong move and things can become much worse. Consequently, when Damian said goodnight, almost three hours later, I was very relieved to have my computer running in topnotch condition, and so glad I hadn't jumped the gun and tried to fix the problem myself. Yay MAC!

 
Yes, I said two bugs, didn't I?

Later that night, I finished my work, turned off the lights in my quiet, lonely home, and went to bed for the night. Nothing exciting in that, except an hour and a half later, at 11:30 pm, I woke, then proceeded to puke my guts out until 5:30 the next morning. I had the stomach flu. I don't mean to gross you out, but yes, THAT stomach flu! From this day forward, I will be eternally grateful to the folks who invented the plastic bucket. I can't remember another time I was ever that sick. At 5:30 I actually asked God if that could be enough already. Although my bed was only a few steps away, I did nap on the bathroom floor at one point. 

So, what's the lesson in all this? 

First, if you ever do have a problem with your beautiful MAC computer, do yourself a flavour and call APPLE.

The other point? 

If there's a bug going around, and your friends and family say it's a bad one, wash your hands every chance you get!



What made the entire experience quite amazing is while I was wrenching my guts out and wondering just how much fluid does one human body hold, I was making mental observations for later when one of my characters in one of my books became gravely ill. Go figure. 

Oh, almost forgot to mention ... I'm now SEVEN POUNDS lighter!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Shorter Is Better

I'm currently working with an editor from MuseItUp to prepare Dead Witness for its ebook release in July.  So, when I read Katherine's article for this month's column, I was amazed by her timing.  I'm sure we all know this stuff, but sometimes we need a short reminder. I hope you'll find it equally helpful.

* * *

Most people think of "rushing about" as a modern dilemma. But though faster technology and unlimited options have exacerbated "hurry sickness," dislike of "wasted time" has been around for quite a while. The classic composition booklet Elements of Style, first published in 1918, urges writers to avoid wasting readers' time with "needless words": "A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts."


A sure way to offend magazine editors is to submit a manuscript with the comment "I know you don't normally publish stories of over 1,000 words, but I'm sure you'll find this 3,000-word piece is worth making an exception for." Such approaches frequently come from writers who haven't even bothered trying to shorten their first drafts. And the temptation is even worse in business writing, where there are no official word counts, no obvious immediate rejections, usually more of a sense of "rush," and (in e-writing) no extra expense involved for additional length. No extra expense in terms of print costs, that is. One can only guess how many potential customers lose interest after one glance at the infinitesimal size of a screen-height bar, or give up in disgust after two rambling paragraphs.

The #1 hint for concise business writing is Take time to edit. First drafts always ramble; it's unavoidable.

Some other (short and sweet!) hints:
  • The word that, and phrases containing it ("the fact that," "it occurs to me that"), are among the most dispensable items. Ditto for qualifier adverbs such as usually, frequently, and very.
  • Active voice ("Tom brought the salad") is more concise and stronger than passive ("The salad was brought by Tom").
  • Replace adjectival phrases with nouns, and adverbial phrases with verbs. ("Prodigy" instead of "brilliant young man," "sprinted" instead of "ran quickly.")
  • Keep a thesaurus handy; it cuts words wasted trying to achieve precise descriptions.
  • Keep your topic or thesis narrow, and remove any sentences (or paragraphs!) that don't relate to it.
Hope this post was short enough!

* * * 

Katherine Swarts is a professional copywriter and journalist, founder and owner of Spread the Word Commercial Writing in Houston, Texas. Spread the Word is certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council.

Since 1993, Katherine has published over 50 articles in numerous periodicals, including Carus Publishing's Appleseeds, Faces, and Odyssey; Children's Writer (on which see comments in next paragraph); and Christian Home & School. She has also prepared two anthologies for Thomson Gale.
Katherine has a bachelor's degree in English from Austin College in Sherman (TX), and a master's degree in written communications from Wheaton (IL) Graduate School. She has also studied with the Institute of Children's Literature, which publishes the monthly newsletter Children's Writer; two annual market guides; and an annual writer's yearbook.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What Inspires You to Write?

When someone asked me that the other day, my answer was vague but spontaneous, "Because that's who I am." In truth, if I knew why, I'd bottle it up and force-feed myself during those bleak times.

Another writer might say it was the sun, or the stars, or the satisfaction of seeing their words in print, or maybe the knowledge that one sentence might immortalize them. Me? I'm not sure.

I received my first diary when I was eight. It had one page per day, and a little lock kept it safe from prying eyes. And if I remember correcting, it was blue. Or maybe red?


I wrote in it everyday. Nothing mind-boggling, or inspiring, just my thoughts for the day. What I did or wanted to do. Stuff about as interesting as any eight year old could come up with.

I wrote in my diary right up until I was in my teens. Soon the diary became a journal, and I continue entering my thoughts well into my twenties. I kept writing because it felt right. Today I still write in my journal, but mostly I write fiction. I wrote my first short story in 1973.

Robin, Dad & Joylene

In 1983 my father passed away; he was fifty-six. To survive the grief I decided I'd immortalize (there's that word again) him through words. I'd write a novel about him, me, and our relationship. Seven years later, I finished. It was terrible! But, man, was I hooked on the process.

I'm not a deep thinker, but even I realized quickly that writing fills a void. Never am I more alive, more tuned to nature, or my own psyche than when I'm writing. A whole world opens up and swallows me. My senses heighten, my vision clears, and everything around me disappears.

Writing is who I am. Take writing away and I feel half-alive. Half-whole. I need to create on paper. It's no longer a choice. My ego, whether it be fragile or rock solid must be heard. Dreams come true on paper. Fears are dealt with. No obstacle is too big that I can't forever forge a more embraceable ending.

What inspires me to write? I guess living does. Breathing.

How about you?

Monday, March 14, 2011

From Brat to Hero

ARRIVAL Iskander: Book Three
Fantasy, Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing (2008)
ISBN-13: 978-1554046201

Not often does an author allow you a glimpse into the life of a series' protagonist prior to the novels. While you might wonder what s/he was like as a teenager, you can only guess what events shaped them into the adult they are in the books. That's why when I heard author Christopher Hoare's heroine Gisel Matah, of Deadly Enterprise and Wildcat's Victory was the sixteen year old "starship brat" in his third novel ARRIVAL, I couldn't resist -- I had to read the book.

ARRIVAL is the story of the dramatic events of the starship Iskander ending up on the wrong planet in the wrong world. Though there are plenty of mishaps and woes, it's fun to see just how much trouble Iskander's unofficial translator can get herself into. Not all the misadventures are of Gisel's doing. But take one feisty teenager, add attitude, rebellion, and a mouth that never stops, and you've got one exceptionally entertaining fantasy. 

Gisel's parents are recently divorced (seems Matah Senior can't keep his hands off young proteges), and Gisel suspects she's aboard because her father hopes to repair their estranged relationship. Only Gisel may never see her mother again because finding their way back to Earth  seems unlikely. If that isn't enough, she's subjected to an overbearing father, a recluse brother, and more chauvinists than most women meet in a lifetime. And that's only the beginning.

ARRIVAL has a huge cast of characters: engineers, scientists, knights, lords, ladies, earls, and a king and an emperor. What makes this books and the series so exceptionally well done isn't just the epic adventures of these fascinating characters, but the story of how Gisel rises from a lowly fitness instructor to a courageous, intelligent, and formidable agent. In ARRIVAL Gisel may start off as a brat, but by the end, she is anything but.

I highly recommend this novel and definitely books one and two in the Iskander Series. 

Christopher Hoare's Fantasy novel Rast is out in ebook through MuseItUp Publishing February 28th, 2011.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Talk, Creativity and Family Matters

I'm scheduled for a radio interview on Wednesday March 9 at 12 pm PST with host Anjuelle Floyd, author of The House. If you're near your computer you're welcome to listen in. In fact, knowing you're there will probably be my calming factor.

The call-in number is: (347) 215-7740.

We'll be discussing Dead Witness and my new book Broken But Not Dead.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/anjuellefloyd


Listen to internet radio with AnjuelleXXAuthorXMFT on Blog Talk Radio


Just found out today that I won Mayra Calvani's ebook How To Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event. Wow! Thank you, Susanne, VS Grenier Stories, and Mayra.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

ASK PZM: Mar 2011

Q. Authors can't possibly do it all in this age of self-marketing. Is there a list of must-dos?

I’m going to give you what I think is a must-do list, keeping in mind a self-published author who has a limited amount of money to spend on marketing.

First, let me tell you what I think you should no longer be spending money on: bookmarks and postcards.

I mistakenly spent money on this in the spring of 2008 for my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant” because this is what my Jewish holiday book co-author and I had done in 1992.

In 1992 it made sense when we sent postcards to Jewish organizations throughout the United States.

In 2008 I unexpectedly learned about online book marketing when “Mrs. Lieutenant” was a semi-finalist in the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. That’s when I realized how much cheaper and more efficient it was to use online marketing. (And I still have all those postcards and bookmarks I purchased for the novel.)

One offline item still worth having is business cards with the URL of the book author website. You want something to hand out when you talk to people in person. But I think it is better to hand out something that people are still used to getting rather than hand out a postcard that they probably don’t know what to do with.

And now we come to what I consider the most essential element of all book author marketing – the foundation for everything else:

An effective book author website that you control yourself (see below). In addition, this is a website that is NOT built to win a design contest (please, no Flash) but is built to be user friendly and search engine friendly and attract people to your book.

I walked away from the first website for “Mrs. Lieutenant” because, each time I wanted a new page added, I had to wait for the webmaster to do this – and pay him for his time. (Yes, it is fair to pay him for his time.)

I wanted to be able to do this for myself.

And just when I wanted to be able to do this, some smart people had figured out how to use WordPress blogging software to create websites with static pages as well as a blog section.

The co-founder of my company (and my younger daughter) Yael Miller taught herself how to build WordPress websites and then built a www.mrslieutenant.com WordPress website. (She also built a WordPress website for her own Middle Grade novel project – see www.hurricanehoodoo.com)

While you probably don’t want to spend the time to learn how to set up your own self-hosted WordPress site, once it is set up and you have learned to do such simple tasks as clicking the button that says “add page” – you are in control of your own site.

Of course on that site you have, at the minimum, a link to the book’s Amazon sales page and questions for book club discussion. (Yes, write these questions.)

Plus now you have a URL to use throughout the online universe to encourage people to visit your book author website and learn more about your book.

For example, if you leave a comment on someone’s blog post, you can put the URL of your website underneath your name at the end of the comment. Be sure to include the http:// because some sites require this in order to make the link hot.

And now this link can be used on your Twitter profile, your Facebook personal profile, a Facebook (business) Page, your LinkedIn personal profile, and your YouTube channel (where you upload a 1-2 minute video of you talking about your book).

All of these sites are important for interacting with your prospective book fans. But you don’t have to start participating on all of them all at once. You can add a new social media site to your repertoire one at a time.

Do take advantage of the free options at www.BookBuzzr.com – a company I’ve been connected to (NOT financially) for two years. Starting in January BookBuzzr (see @BookBuzzr on Twitter) has been offering free social media webinars for authors. You’ll find good book author marketing content on the company blog at www.bookbuzzr.com/blog/

Finally, as you are a writer, I would highly recommend you yourself blog.

While nonfiction authors appear to have an easier time finding a topic on which to blog (whatever their book is about), fiction authors (hey, you are on Joylene’s blog right now) have numerous topics on which to blog.

Author Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I have written a free report on ideas for blogging if you are a fiction writer. You can get the report at www.FictionMarketing.com (yet again a WordPress website built by Yael).

I’ve covered a great deal of information in this guest post. Just take it slowly and be willing to learn as you go along. (I did say on a BookBuzzr panel about Twitter to NOT wait until your book comes out to start harnessing social media opportunities. Instead start now making online relationships.)

And if you get the free report that Carolyn and I wrote, you’ll be on the Miller Mosaic email list. You’ll get about one email a week from me with information that can help you use social media to market your books.

The most important thing? Start now doing something from the above “list” that will get you in front of your prospective book fans.


Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic, LLC.  The company also builds WordPress websites for clients – see www.millermosaicllc.com/call-to-action-websites – and Phyllis is working on the novel “Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders” (see www.MollieSanders.com – yet another WordPress book author website built by Yael).