Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wherever Home Is

I read Carol Garvin's blog this morning and it gave me the idea for today's post. What really matters in life.

If I could lift our house up and move it 3000 miles to New Brunswick, I would. But sometimes, no matter how much you want something, it's just not feasible.

We raised our 5 sons in the highlands of Prince George, BC. When we decided to sell and move to Cluculz Lake, we put the house on the market and sold it in one day. 


Last June, we put our current home (photo above) on the market and haven't had one person even look at it.

I know, the market is slow everywhere.

Our house in Prince was in a crowded neighbourhood. My sons could walk to school, the arcade, and the ski-hill. We heard sirens, traffic, screeching tires, and dogs barking.

Our home at Cluculz Lake is surrounded by quiet (except for July long weekend). We see the stars. We hear eagles and loons cry. Moose walk through our yard. Our front faces a 14 km lake!  

Building our home was an adventure. So many great memories over the 21 years. I made wonderful friends. My husband was the fire chief for our ERT. I was an active member for years. I made pizzas at the local resort. I also served as secretary for the community association, treasurer for the fall fair. Our decision to sell was not taken lightly.

courtesy of Dean Birks
But the time has come to leave, and now I'm obsessing about it. I spend much too much time googling houses for sale in Rusagonia, Oromocto, and Fredericton areas. Time that I should be spending writing and reading.

I think about the stuff I have to do to be able to move. I lay awake at night wondering why the house hasn't sold. I know, I know -- slow market. It doesn't make me feel better. Yes, only a certain type of buyer wants a home on a lake in central BC, an hour from the nearest airport, an hour's flight to Vancouver. An hour drive to Costco on winter roads November to February.

Before I was published I obsessed like this. I made fake covers for each of my novels and wrapped them around other books. I walked, talked, ate, slept "published".

I first published in 2008.

I'm absolutely thrilled to be published.

I've replaced my obsession for being published with selling and moving to New Brunswick. Once we do, I'll probably obsess about something else. I suppose that's what people like me do.

courtesy of Dean Birks, realtor

Friends tell me it will happen, I just need to keep the faith.

I'm trying. But to be honest, my faith is shaky. Part of me believes that it does matter to the universe whether I'm happy. Another part realized it's up to me to be happy wherever home is.

The reason I haven't been blogging much or commenting as I generally do is because I've let myself become too obsessed. I'm consumed by thoughts of moving and all it encumbers. And now I'm low under the weight of it all.

Somebody told me once that we all have our place in the sun. I hope that's true. Because I watch the news and see so much pain, abuse, and sadness, and my little obsession seems silly in comparison.

courtesy of Dean Birks, realtor

Obsessing about moving, neglecting my writing, keeping myself awake at night is silly. Yet, I can't seem to stop myself. Home is where my heart is. And honestly, that means anywhere my husband is.

courtesy of Dean Birks

Tell me to stop obsessing about something I can't control, and I will.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cover Reveal: CASSA STORM

Today I'm pleased to announce the cover reveal for our Ninja Captain's new novel, CASSA STORM, due for release September 17, 2013. 

Congratulations, Alex. The cover is stunning.

CassaStorm by Alex J. Cavanaugh

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, his only struggles are occasional rogue pirate raids and endless government bureaucracies. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, shaking Bassan to the core and threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could be on its way back. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

Release date: September 17, 2013
Science Fiction - Space Opera/Adventure
Print ISBN 9781939844002
E-book ISBN 9781939844019

Friday, February 8, 2013

WHat ARe yOUr 18 THingS?

I know I said I was only going to blog once a week, but today is special. I'm doing a shout-out for my blogging friend Jamie Ayres. If you don't know already, Jamie's newly released novel 18 THINGS (prologue here) was an instant best-seller on Amazon. 18 THINGS outranked James Patterson's The Kiss!

I mean--how fabulous is that!

In honour, today I'm going to attempt to add 18 THINGS to my bucket list. Why I never had a bucket list until now is bizarre, but there you go. Never too late.

18 THINGS - Book Description:

Can eighteen things save a life?

Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers of course) and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten.

Then, Conner is killed in a freak boating accident and Olga feels responsible for his death.

When she downs an entire bottle of pills to deal with the emotional pain, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled "18 Things": eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday.

All she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record, and err . . . go on her first date. Good thing Nate, a new hottie in town, enters her life with perfect timing. He brings the fun factor to her list and helps her discover the beauty and
strength inside herself, then complicates things by falling in love with her.

But there's more to Olga's quests than meets the eye and when her therapist reveals a terrifying secret, her world is shaken.

There's only one thing she knows for certain: her choices won't just affect her future, but all eternity.

Jamie's actual blogfest is over now, but I say never give up the opportunity to do something fun along with a shout-out of an awesome writer. 

Hope you'll check out Jamie's blog and learn more about her and 18 THINGS.

Now for my 18 Things:

1.  Sell our house for a fair price and move to New Brunswick.

2.  Sign a copy of my book for Eric Lustbader. (in person)

3.  Attend a Geneen Roth retreat.

4.  Meet with medium John Edwards and hear how our twins are doing.

5a.  Finally meet Keith, Chris, and Vicki, my awesome critique buddies!

5.  Visit UK, Europe and Russia. (meet Penny, Jack Russell dog and internet superstar)

6.  Take a course in tiling bathrooms and floors.

7.  Attend a cooking class in NYC.

8.  See Barbra Streisand perform live, then get autograph after show.

9.  Sign with Literary Agent Donald Maass. 

10. Live close to a gym I enjoy and erect an outstanding exercise room in my house. 

11. See Adam Beach in starring role in film version of Omatiwak: Woman Who Cries.

12. Learn how to ice skate and roller skate. 

13. See Olga Kurylenko star in the film version of Kiss Of The Assassin.

14. See Tina Keeper in the starring role of Brendell in Broken But Not Dead.

15. Take a 6-month writing sabbatical to UK.

16. Win the Giller Prize.

17. Visit Australia and New Zealand, then trek over to Vietnam.

18. Be interviewed on TV by George Stroumboulopoulos and Charlie Rose the following week.

Who would have thought this was so addictive.


19. Visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall. 
20. Have a makeover.
21. Get my teeth capped. 
22. Teach T'chi at a community hall in N.B. 
23. Visit Newfoundland.
24. Kayak in Caribbean.
25. Take a Caribbean cruise. 
26. Attend a writer's retreat in NYC, Surrey, and Maritimes. (different times)
27. Have a family reunion somewhere warm with my entire family.
28. Sell a million copies of each novels. <g>
29. See Eagles in concert. 
30. ...  

I better quit, or this could go on forever...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

ASK PZM: Feb 2013 - Keywords

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I like that our IWSG day generally falls around the same day Phyllis Zimbler Miller answers questions about marketing. Let's face it, we have to know this stuff if we want to succeed as prolific authors. Writing is lovely, but what fun is it if nobody reads our novel? So, I'm combining both IWSG and ASK PZM.

Without going into a song and dance, I am feeling insecure these days. Not sure if it's winter, overwhelming research, or circumstances, but if you're doing a little keep-my-fellow-author-uplifted, please put my name on your dance card.

Thanks to Ninja Captain and IWSG creator Alex J. Cavanaugh, on the first Wednesday of every month, we have a gathering place where we can share, encourage, or express our insecurities. If you'd like to join, sign up at   

Next all you have to do is post something, insert the logo, link back to Alex, then go off and visit as many other IWSG blogs as you can. The list of insecure bloggers is at Alex's IWSG blog.

Today to celebrate IWSG day, Phyllis is answering questions about keywords and bio placement. 

Take it away, Phyllis~!

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the co-founder of the online marketing company Miller Mosaic LLC, which has just introduced a Kindle ebook conversion service. Read about this at She is also the author of fiction and nonfiction books, and she blogs on author topics at

Q. Could you explain how and where to use keywords?

A: First, I’ll begin with a definition appropriate for book authors (because keywords can be defined differently).

On Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), for example, when you upload your Kindle format ebook to KDP, you are asked for up to seven keywords (which can really mean seven keyword phrases) each separated by a comma.

Let’s take my romantic suspense spy story CIA FALL GUY (free on Kindle on Feb. 7 at as an example:

Drum roll, please: 

I just looked at my keywords and I don’t like them (thankfully, they can be changed). I actually used seven keywords rather than seven keyword phrases:

adventure, CIA, espionage, mystery, spy, thriller, women

Now I’ll try to improve on these by being more specific because the above keywords are way too broad – I’m very unlikely to place in the search results with those keywords. (An Author Central rep confirmed that more specific keyword expressions are better.)

Here are my revised keywords as keyword phrases:

CIA, spy adventures, romantic suspense, espionage fiction, espionage mysteries, spy stories, women sleuths (spy thriller is not included per information below)

Okay, I could perhaps do better. I could plug these keyword phrases into the Amazon search field and see what book results I get. (Go ahead and try a couple of the above keyword phrases to see the results that you get.)

And this is what keywords – or keyword phrases – are for: to help our books be found by people who are searching for books on specific topics.

Another drum roll, please: 

I just discovered that tags are missing from my Amazon book pages. So I called Amazon Author Central for information.

Answer: Amazon is rolling out the removal of all tags on book pages. And, after talking to Author Central, I learned that tags did not help in general search results as keywords do. While you still may see some Amazon book pages with tags, eventually these will all have disappeared. (There are the Amazon book categories, which are often broader than keyword phrases. Discussing these with the Author Central rep, I learned the answer remains that the keywords are the most important for Amazon search results.)

Another nugget from my Author Central rep conversation: 

Shelfari information shown on book pages is becoming more important. Amazon now owns Shelfari, and it is a good idea for authors to utilize this opportunity. While Shelfari information on your book’s Amazon sales page will not help with search results, it will help with a stronger book product page.

I called back Author Central for additional information and spoke to a second rep: 

If you have linked your physical format of a book to the Kindle format (which you should via Author Central), the keywords on the Kindle format will also help the physical book be found.

But if you only have a physical book, such as I do for my Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION, you have to email or call Author Central to have Author Central manually add up to seven keyword expressions. (The rep helped me add keywords to my two books that do not have a Kindle format.)

Regarding Author Central: The rep suggested I remind authors that you do want to be a member of Author Central – go to and click on JOIN NOW – even if you are traditionally published. This way you have the right to make certain changes, including asking for seven keyword expressions for your books only in physical format.

The second rep also explained to me that there is no advantage in using as keyword expressions the words already in a title or subtitle. Thus, for example, there is no advantage in having “spy thriller” as a keyword expression for CIA FALL GUY because “spy thriller” is part of the book’s subtitle. In other words, there is no reason to use up one of my seven keyword expressions on that expression.

P.S. I asked the first Author Central rep to recommend to higher ups that, since Author Central has the email addresses of all Author Central authors, Author Central could please send an email when major changes such as eliminating tags are made. He said this was a good idea – and I hope Amazon does this.

Q: Do you think an author bio should be at the beginning or end of a book? 

I do not believe there is one correct answer. But I do think it is important to consider what you want to tell your prospective readers and when.

Let’s say you are writing on a nonfiction topic. I believe it is a good idea to have your author bio at the front of your book. In this way, when people utilize the LOOK INSIDE feature on Amazon, for example, they can read in the author bio why they should trust that you can write a book on this topic.

The one item I think should definitely be at the back of a book these days is the acknowledgments. While these are very nice for the people being thanked, acknowledgments are unlikely to encourage people to buy and read your book.

You want to put upfront in your book those items that will encourage readers and leave until the end those other items.

Fritzy-Girl says, "Have a great day, everybody."

"How and Where to use Keywords." (click to Tweet)

"Where to place your Author bio." (click to Tweet)