Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nancy S. Thompson

I'm very pleased to introduce my guest today. If you don't already know Nancy, you can find out more about her at her blog. What I've learned is that besides looking way too young to have a son in college, she's a gentle, thoughtful, and generous human being with a talent for writing suspense. When she mentioned her book was being released, I knew I had to have her on my blog to help spread the word. Please give a warm round of applause for a terrific lady and writer, Nancy S. Thompson!

Thanks for having me over, Joylene.  People always ask me the same question:  Why write a novel?  While most of my writer friends have been at it for years, that’s not the case with me.  Except for a little poetry, I’d never written anything in my life.  But back in March of 2010, I had a weird epiphany.

I was driving around when a new song started playing on my iPod.  It was Hurricane by 30 Seconds To Mars, and its lyrics—Tell me, would you kill to save a life?  Would you kill to prove you’re right? — incited an idea, or, more accurately, a question. 

We’ve all heard those news stories where someone, who’s never had a violent thought in his life, is suddenly caught up in an impetuous moment, lashing out, hurting or even killing someone.  We wonder what could possibly have made that otherwise non-violent man turn so destructive.  And that’s where the idea for The Mistaken took root. 

I wondered what could drive a genuinely good man to commit a violent crime, and, in the aftermath, if there was any way he could ever return to the man he used to be.  Well, for whatever reason, this idea simply wouldn’t let go, so I let it take over. 

At the time, I knew nothing about plotting, characterization, setting, dialogue, or anything else for that matter, yet it was all there, however rough.  After completing the first draft, I made all the typical rookie mistakes, like querying way too soon, but I learned fast and took on a bunch of critique partners who helped whip my manuscript into shape. 

I queried a few agents, as well as one publisher.  This small, new press requested a full, and, after a slight revision, offered me a deal, which I accepted.  I’ve been very happy with Sapphire Star Publishing.  They’ve given me considerable control and ample amounts of marketing and promotion, all well before my book has even “hit the shelves.”  But that day, October 18th, is very near, and I am filled with excitement and anticipation.  I hope you join me in its release.


As time passed and I grew accustomed to the intensity of my pain, I spoke to Nick about Jillian, about how much I missed her, how empty the house felt without her. Nick and I eventually straightened out the place after he reminded me how much Jill hated a messy house. It once again looked as it did when she and I lived as a couple, but it certainly didn’t feel the same. The emptiness tormented me. Everywhere I looked there was something that had a memory of Jillian connected to it, especially her photographs which still lined the walls, and what remained of all the things we had bought for our child, which lay refolded and untouched in a dark corner of the den.
It was just too much for me to see everyday. My guilt and loneliness gradually evolved into bitterness and rage, the venom of each so pungent and sharp it soured my only refuge, my treasured nightly sojourn with Jill’s haunting apparition. My last solace was gone, betrayed by the very bitterness that corroded my soul. That was when I first seriously considered suicide, contemplating the effectiveness of different methods. But there was one thing that held me back. Once I’d read the police reports and ascertained the extent of Erin Anderson’s role in Jillian’s accident and death, I knew I couldn’t leave this world with her still in it, especially when the cops refused to arrest and charge her.
Whereas I once spoke to Nick about Jillian—my memories of her and our life together—I now shared my fantasies about gaining revenge on the woman who had provoked Jill into such reckless behavior. It soon became a favorite pastime to lie drunk around the house and spin wild tales of vengeance against Erin Anderson, the bane of my existence, the core of my deep-seated hostility.
They started simple, as visions of setting her house on fire with her trapped inside, or perhaps I would run her car off the road and down into a steep ravine where she would lie immobilized, entangled in the wreckage, unseen from the roadway far above. I had an endless reservoir filled with pernicious scenarios. I found that when I fantasized about a long, tortuous death, I felt a greater sense of vengeance and a considerable awareness of relief, as sick as that was. And I knew it was sick. But I didn’t care anymore. I wanted Erin to suffer for a long time before she died. Or maybe…maybe she shouldn’t die. Maybe she should just suffer. Forever. I could think of many ways to make that woman suffer forever.
At first, it gave me some relief to savor the vision of retribution. Yet, I always woke up the next day with the realization that Erin Anderson was still alive and well, walking the earth, enjoying her life, enjoying her family, while my wife was not, while my child lay eternally buried in Jillian’s cold womb six feet beneath the heavy earth, a tiny speck of immeasurable possibility heartlessly quashed into nothingness. I spoke to Nick about this train of thought and how crazy it was making me, how utterly enraged I felt, powerless and impotent.
“Tyler, do you think if you were to somehow get even with her that you would actually feel…I don’t know...better?  Relieved maybe?” he asked late one afternoon.
“Hell yes,” I admitted. “Most days, it’s the only thing that keeps me from drinking until I just fucking die.”  I shook my head, disappointed in myself, far removed from the man Jillian once loved.
“Well then, maybe we should do it,” he suggested. “Get revenge. Go Old Testament on the bitch.”
I snorted and rolled my eyes. “Don’t get me started, Nick.” 
“Why not, Ty?  I mean, we could probably do it, figure out a plausible way to really get back at her, to completely ruin her life. How hard could it be?”
“Nick, as good as that sounds, I don’t think I’m actually up to killing someone. Even that rotten whore.”
Nick walked around with his head down, his finger drumming absently along the sharp edge of his jaw, deep in thought. He turned to me, rather excited at the plan forming deep within the dark confines of his mind.
“We wouldn’t have to kill her, Ty. Just make her wish we had…” 

* * * *

The Mistaken Synopsis:

All Tyler Karras wants is to enjoy life with his expectant bride; what he gets instead is a graveside seat at her funeral.  With the woman who killed her uncharged and still free, all Ty wants now is revenge.

His brother, Nick, has dangerous connections and suggests a sadistic plan: grab the woman responsible and hand her over to his associates—sex-traffickers in San Francisco’s Russian Mafia.  They offer Ty more than he dreamed possible.  In exchange for the woman, they’ll finally let his brother leave the business for good—with his debt wiped clean and his heart still beating.

There’s just one problem: Ty kidnaps the wrong woman.

Now he must protect Hannah Maguire from the very enemy he's unleashed, but the Russians are holding Nick as leverage to force Ty to complete their deal.  Caught in a no-win situation, Ty must find a way to save himself, his brother, and the woman, but with the Russian Mafia, even two out of three makes for very long odds.  


Nancy makes her fiction debut with The Mistaken. She is an interior designer and California transplant, currently living with her husband near Seattle, WA.  Find her on her publisher’s website, her blog, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.  Nancy invites you to learn more about her novel, The Mistaken on Goodreads, as well. 

Beginning October 18th, her book (ebook & trade paperback) will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, as well as Sony, Kobo, Apple, Diesel, and Baker-Taylor. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Peace vs Happiness

The 2012 Global eBook Awards announced the winners this morning. No, I didn't win, but it gave me an idea for a post, which probably sounds weird. You see, I try not to blog about disappointments. With so many struggling writers out there, it feels wrong to reiterate how published writers have bad days too. You already know that: no sense reinforcing the negative, right?

Right. Unless it evokes something positive.

I could go into the other reasons why I woke feeling blah, but that's not really the purpose of this post. What I'd rather talk about is why it's impossible to be happy every single day.

I believe there exits in each of us the potential to be at peace despite the absence of happiness. In fact, I actually believe peace is better. Happiness is an emotion fed by the ego, while peace is inherently ours by the very nature of our existence.

For years I couldn't imagine peace without happiness. There were times when I couldn't imagine happiness period. As I grew older, I learned that emotions are fleeting. When I woke this morning to a dark cloud hanging over me, I tried to shake it. I read my emails, visited some of my favourite blogs, yet, couldn't escape my unease. Then I realized the source of my mood was my ego; and thus my spirit was still at peace.

You're probably thinking, Joylene, that's all fine and dandy, but you don't know what's happening in my life.

True. But I understand great sorrow, disappointment, and confusion. I understand that life isn't always fair or easy. And yes, it's sometimes difficult when you're in the midst of misery to see through it.

Maybe bad days are there so we recognize good days.

You must clean what you catch. <g>
If you're not feeling happy today, take a moment and concentrate on your breathing, focus on the life force surging through you. Feel it? That's your spirit, and with it comes the peace I'm speaking of.

Ah, the ran-out-of-gas trick.

You may be wondering if the heroes of my novels grow to understand that peace of mind?

Well, yes they do.

In closing, in addition to the photos of our hotter than normal summer, here's some that weren't so peaceful.

Yes, that's hail~!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Unthinkable: Doing Nothing?

Gabrielle Desjardins Nowell
I don't remember my mother ever doing nothing. Even when she watched her soaps, she'd bake, iron, or sew. Idle hands, never. Summertime, she gardened. When dad was working, she'd tend to the farm animals. In the winter she'd can, bake bread and sew. Later years she hooked rugs. She was always doing something.

Bibianne Gauthier Desjardins

I imagine it was the same for her mother, who had 12 children before she was 50.

Gabrielle, 2nd from left, and her sisters
My mother never ridiculed me in public or private. She never questioned my values. She never criticized my religious or political views, though they might differ from hers. Okay, I remember one time she did raise her eyebrows and her jaw did drop at something I'd said. I was pretty mouthy as a teen. At 13, I was an enigma to her.
Gabrielle with her first child

I've been imagining her this week. Generally I think of her every day, but this week I've been seeing her busy doing her chores: cleaning, sewing, weeding. I wish I'd asked her what she thought about while her hands were busy. Did she stop thinking and just enjoy the tasks?

Every day I make a point to grab a book and read for 30 minutes. I do this a few times a day. Sometimes I meditate. During the summer I sit on the deck. Lately she's there beside me, crocheting or doing needlework.

My hands are often idle. Sure I watch TV with my laptop open, but other times I sit and try very hard not to think. I notice the lake, the eagles, the loons, the ducks. In my mother's world, that would have been the same as doing nothing.

I asked her spirit once if she was disappointment by my idleness. I heard a clear "No."

She thought I was smarter, prettier, and more astute than she was, and said so often. "You're so much brighter than I am, Joylene. I hope you realize that."

I didn't. She played the piano and the guitar, yet couldn't read music. I can't read a note; and forget trying to play an instrument.

She read the first 4 pages of Omatiwak: Woman Who Cries in its infancy the night before she passed away. In the  morning I found the pages on the dining room table with the spelling mistakes circled. She was an exceptionally good speller despite only reaching grade eight. She said it was because she read lots (lots being in bed at night).

Gabrielle, before the children.

My mother attended an English speaking school before she could speak English. She had to quit in grade eight because she was needed at home to help with her younger siblings. Her father died when she was eighteen, and she found a job at Swift Meats in Winnipeg so she could help with the financial burden on her mother. During the war, she rose to shift supervisor. On her days off she toured the province with the Glee club. She had a wonderful singing voice. She and two younger sisters performed regularly on the radio. Their official name was The Three Ds, but fans referred to them as the Winnipeg Lennon Sisters. On one of their tours she met Bob Hope.
Gabrielle, grandmother.

I do remember my mother saying "Oh shit," once. Okay, maybe twice. When I told her I repeatedly mumbled "Bloody hell" during the birthing of the little man above, she nodded and said, "That's understandable."

On one of their trips to Manitoba from BC, my mother had to pee badly. Dad wasn't always quick to pull over. When he finally did, the traffic was thick and he grabbed a blanket to give her some privacy. But the wind was blowing and when a big semi-truck sped past, the wind picked up the blanket and flapped it with such force that Mum peed all over dad's moccasins. Ah, the look of horror on her face every time he repeated that story.

Pregnant with Joylene

My mother passed away in her sleep October 16, 1999. I wonder if she's able to see me now, the daughter who wasn't always as considerate or conscientious as I should have been. I hope so. Because in the end, I turned out very much like her. No, I don't sing, sew, crochet, or play an instrument, but I'm a walking institution on the merits of keeping busy. The best part, I get to share stories about her in blogland.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

ASK PZM - Aug 2012: Kindle Direct Publishing

Q: What is your opinion of KDP Select? Is it worth forgoing putting an ebook anywhere else than Kindle?

To answer this question, let’s first start with the basics.

Anyone can upload an ebook via kdp.amazon.com. The Kindle ebook format is mobi as opposed to epub used for the Nook and other devices. But Amazon cleverly provides for free Kindle apps for almost any electronic device, including the iPad and PC or Mac.

In other words, the proprietary Kindle format can be read almost anywhere today that ebooks are being read.

Now I personally do NOT upload a document and let KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) format my book for mobi. I know that bad formatting can interfere with a reader’s enjoyment of a book. 

Therefore I had my business partner teach me how to do html formatting myself based on this series of blog posts that starts at http://guidohenkel.com/2010/12/take-pride-in-your-ebook-formatting/ and explains why you want to ensure that your formatting looks good. 

After I do the html formatting (and check the ebook on Kindle to find my mistakes), I then use Calibre to convert the html document to mobi. Finally, I upload the mobi to KDP. 

The above is time consuming and complicated, so you may want to hire an ebook converter. But before you do, read the warning below. 

Warning: To learn how you can unwittingly lose control of your own book on KDP, read this guest post I did -- “Not All Ebook Converters Are the Same” or “Why I Love Chris O’Byrne” -- at http://budurl.com/converters

KDP Select: 

Now when you upload a book to KDP – or at a later date after you have uploaded a book, you can choose to put the book on KDP Select. 

Here is the important thing to know: For each 90-day period that your book is on KDP Select, it can ONLY be on Kindle as an ebook (can be elsewhere as a physical book). In other words, it cannot be on Nook, etc. 

And Amazon uses software to make sure that you comply with this requirement. In fact, when I decided to take my ebooks off all other sites so that the ebooks could be on KDP Select, Amazon found one site that I was unaware still had one of my ebooks for sale. I had to get that ebook removed before I could put it on KDP Select. 

For more information on KDP Select, answers to frequently asked questions are here: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/KDPSelect 

What is the advantage of KDP Select?

First, your ebook is available to be loaned to Amazon Prime members who own a Kindle. And Amazon pays you for each copy of your book loaned. 

Second, you can have five free days in any configuration during each 90-day period. And there are sites that promote these free days. 

Why I have decided to put all my ebooks on KDP Select: 

As an author I only have so much time in each day to market my books. Sound familiar? 

And one of the most important ways to sell books is to have good reviews. 

One of my marketing tenets is to make it as easy as possible for a person to say yes. Recently I have realized this means NOT sending someone to my website to learn about my books. Instead I want to send people directly to a book’s page on Amazon, where the book can be bought. 

And why Amazon? 

Because Amazon has the largest market share plus I can work on getting reviews for each book on Amazon. I cannot work on getting reviews of each book on numerous sites. 

My experience with KDP Select: 

For my first experiment I tried a two-day KDP Select with both a fiction and nonfiction book. I figured that, once I was posting the announcement of one book, it would not take that much more time to post the announcement of a second book. 

I also did NOT pay for any promotions. I wanted at least for the first time to try the free days without spending any money on advertising. 

Now many of you know that I am active on social media as I am the co-founder of an online marketing company. Thus I did have the advantage of having online connections. 

But I did NOT ask all my online connections to help me promote the free days for my thriller CIA FALL GUY and my new book TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK. 

I did upload announcements to numerous sites that I found by compiling lists from various sources, including ebooks that I bought. But I will admit I did not upload announcements to as many places as I could have done – again, available time is a restraint for all of us. 

My marketing strategy and conclusions: 

I put the Amazon page links to all my other ebooks at the end of each of the two ebooks that were free. (I did this per the steps above of html doc, Calibre conversion to mobi, upload to KDP.) 

I offered the free ebooks to introduce me to readers who did not know me. 

Judging by the number of downloads during the 48 hours, I did get my writing out to a good number of people. And I hope that some of these people will check out my other books. 

One warning: Someone wrote a mean-spirited review of CIA FALL GUY complaining that when you get something for free you get what you “paid for.” So there is this downside to people downloading a free ebook. 

In conclusion, authors have to decide for themselves whether KDP Select is right for them. But for me, I want to do more experimenting before I weigh in on one side or the other. 

In fact, my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT, which was a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist, will be a free KDP Select ebook on August 20th and 21st. Mark your calendars now to get it then at http://amzn.to/OXrBhh 

And I have a brand-new ebook – TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET ON THE INTERNET WITH PICTURES: Action Steps You Can Do Immediately Whether You Are an Expert or a Novice – at http://amzn.to/Oa5Cmb to accompany my other new nonfiction ebook – TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK: Action Steps You Can Do Immediately Whether You Are Traditionally Published or Self-Published – at http://amzn.to/N5H0Gj 

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books, which you can learn more about at her Amazon Author Central profile at http://amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller She is also the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com, which builds websites for clients and coaches them about online marketing. 

Here's a link to an article Phyllis wrote on

SCBWI conference: Amazon cares about authors

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Secret to Being Published

My very first IWSG post!

It's that time again...


To find out more about the group, visit:

Alex J. Cavanaugh
[Our Ninja Captain]

~ ~ ~

It's not an easy life choosing to be a writer. We write because we love writing, but we also open ourselves up to rejection, lots and lots of rejection.

"Why would you do that?" non-writers want to know.

Why? Because it's who we are... and... we can't help ourselves.

Truth is most of us believe getting published is simply the final step in the process. First you write the book, then you query agents, then your agent finds a publisher, and voila: you're a rich published author.

How long before you realized it was never going to be that easy?

I bet (if you're not yet published) you read today's title and now you're waiting for the punchline. What is the secret to getting a contract, finding someone willing to pay money to turn your story into a novel or eBook?

In a word: WORK.

You work at writing clearer, smoother, better. You work at learning your craft. You work at becoming an expert in the art of fiction writing.

Could you be more specific?

Read the best how-to-books on writing you can find. Join as many writer's group as you deem necessary. Learn to give and receive helpful and constructive critiques. But most of all: write, write, write.

Getting published is like losing 20, 30 or even 100 pounds on purpose without dieting. (Bet you're shaking your head over that one. )

It requires trust, faith, perseverance, listening to your inner voice, AND (here's that word again) work. If you're shaking your head, mumbling something about "Yeah-well, I knew that already!" and getting ready to go to the next blog, I certainly wouldn't blame you. I can't count how many articles I read back in the days before I was published, promising if I followed their simple steps, I'd be published in no time.

Sorry, there's no real secret.

So, rather than waste your time with empty promises, here's something that might help enrich your prose, something I see many new authors struggling with -- the latest point of view:


You've been attempting to get a handle on First, Third and Omniscient POV, and now there's yet one more to worry about: Deep POV I can relate to your frustration. But as I've said above, though difficult to master, Deep POV -- the technique of going deeper into your point of view character -- is guaranteed to enrich your writing.

Here's examples of each POV:

FIRST:  When John returned, he found me sitting on the white leather bench. I had my eyes half-closed, my arms crossed, and I was feeling great sadness. "Well?" I asked, but I was thinking, 'Give me a reason not to kill you.' 

THIRDMatthew sat down on the white leather bench and lowered his eyes. Consumed by a great sadness, he crossed his arms and waited. When John returned, he asked him, "How long have you worked for me?"

OMNISCIENTWhen John returned from summing a plane to pick up his boss and return him safely to the mainland, he found Matthew sitting on the white leather bench with his eyes half-closed and his arms crossed. Matthew chose not to look at him, he was that angry. "John, tell me I didn't make a mistake bringing you," he said. John couldn't think and stuttered...

DEEP POVThe bench in the stern of the boat reeked of that new leather smell that burned all the way down his throat. A glimpse east and the sun's glare shot pain through his temple. Closing his eyes helped, but the trembling wouldn't stop. His pulse pounded through his crossed arms. This was John's fault. No respect. No gratitude. Hadn't he and his daughter been taken care of all these years. Ruby held a secure job at the Baja Hotel for the rest of her life if she wanted. John threatened that. Could his stupidity be forgiven without costing the Organization everything? A touch of the gun and the chill felt shocking at first, then comforting.

DEEP POV is a combination of first (intimate) and third (limited). As silly as it sounds, the only way to succeed in pulling your reader into the experience of your POV character is to become THAT character. Close your eyes, experience the totality of the protagonist, then open your eyes and start writing. 

If that's too difficult, start off by writing a scene from FIRST POV, then switch it to THIRD POV. Drop as many verbs as possible, (saw, thought, looked, etc) eliminate the tags: said, asked (no need to show the reader what they already know). Do this for every scene, and I promise it'll start becoming as natural as riding a bike.

After a few exercises, let me know how you're doing.  
--happy writing