Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...something

Bethany: Is your house on fire, Clark?

Clark: No, Aunt Bethany. Those are the Christmas lights.

I can't tell you how excited I am that the holiday season is here - I love the lights, the decorations and especially putting up the tree (taking it down is another matter). And so begins the annual Fox family debate - what kind of tree to get.
My husband grew up in an "artificial tree" family. He believes in economy - grab that puppy from the basement, have it up in under a half hour, maybe spray some pine-scent and start decorating.
If only it could be so simple.
For, you see, I tend to channel the spirit of Clark Griswold during the holiday season. And worse, I come from a real tree family. And not just a "tree lot" tree family - my dad had us out early the weekend after Thanksgiving, hoofing it across massive Christmas tree forests, looking for the perfect one. We'd spent all morning walking - and goofing around - but all in search of the not-too-tall, not-too-short, no-bald-spots, does-it-have-the-right-kind-of-needles, long-enough-trunk, my-brother-did-NOT-see-it-first masterpiece of a tree. We'd take turns chopping it down and then my dad would haul it back out of the woods.
The first year we were married, I tried to re-create this tradition with my husband, the spray-on pine scent guy. He was cautiously optimistic. I picked the wrong tree farm. It was literally a long field flanked by other people's backyards. He laughed. And finally, I did too. It was fun. The tree was pretty. And we vowed ... next year would be spectacular.
Then we had one kiddo, and two. My husband began to point out ads for artificial trees - on sale! (Yeah, I'm a sucker for a sale.) But, no. While I'm not going to channel Clark Griswold to the point of dashing out to the woods with two small children and a hack saw, I still need a real tree.
So we head to the lot up at church. My husband talks with the guys, we all pick out a tree and it's just as pretty as the ones we dragged home years ago. But day...I'm going to get these people back out into the woods.
Now what about you? Are you an "artificial tree" person or a "real tree" person? And do you know any good tree farms?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wild Thing is Out!

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

I should be more excited--my fifth book is being released today, making me a confirmed career author! Did you hear a lack of enthusiasm despite the exclamation point?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled about Wild Thing. I think it's my favorite book so far. I love Toni and Hunter. I had such a hard time doing my galleys because I kept forgetting I was supposed to be working and ended up getting so sucked into the story, before I knew it I'd read three chapters and had to go back and re-check them.

My lack of excitement stems from the fact that now, with five books under my belt, I'm considered a career author. Did you know it takes five published books to be considered a career author? Well, supposedly it does, I'm just not sure who is doing the considering. In my mind, I was a confirmed career author the day I finished my first book--after all, I had a product to sell and was actively selling it. To me, telling an author they're not a career author until after they've published five books would be like telling Ray Kroc he wasn't a career restauranteur until after he sold a billion burgers.

Now that I'm a confirmed career author I thought I would feel different. I thought people take me more seriously. Yesterday I dressed seriously, I had the whole black on black thing going (a black turtleneck, black jeans and an awesome long sweater I picked up at Chico's.) It didn't work. I might as well have been running around in sweats--I still had to go to the pharmacy and then to the school to drop off the prescription to the school nurse in case Mini-Me has an allergic reaction to her new antibiotic. Unfortunately Mini-Me is also Worst-Case-Senario-Girl, something else she picked up from me. After that I had a lovely meeting at school to go over some testing. No change there either. I had an hour to kill and went to a restaurant to have lunch--I ate over my computer while desperately trying to get my email. It was the same-old, same-old. No sign of a Nora-esque moment. My life hadn't changed a bit (well, except I didn't end up with a spot on my new black turtleneck, but that I think was more dumb luck than a sign of the change). I also ran Mini-Me to the doctor's office. The nurse mentioned that she buys my books for Christmas presents and heard one was coming out. I'm thinking cool! Here's my moment! She asked who the hero was and seemed upset it was Hunter and not Trapper. A total crash and burn. No Nora-esque moment there either.

So I ask you, am I expecting too much now that I'm a career author? Should there be a change? The only change I see are the few coins ratting around in the bottom of my purse. And if there were a change what should it be?

I'll give away a couple copies of Wild Thing to lucky commenters (US only please--which is not my decision but that of my publisher, just so you know) so be sure to leave your email addresses--just spell out the at and the dot so weird people don't get them and send you spam.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bad News for Writers

In talking recently to medical professionals, I was enlightened with some bad news for writers and anyone else who spends a bunch of time sitting all day. The bad news is, sitting is really bad for your health. Well, we sorta already knew that, but here's the even worse news - even if you ran 10 miles every day, you still won't be as healthy as someone who doesn't sit all day.


Okay, typing is sorta sedentary work, but it's how I pay the bills. I don't think my job would appreciate it if I got up every ten minutes to run laps between the cubicles, and I certainly wouldn't get much work done that way - there or at home when I'm trying to write novels. So I went online and started poking around.

And I found the Air Desk.

It's a portable stand that allows me to work on my laptop standing. The height is adjustable on the model I got up to six feet, so I can also use it while walking on the treadmill. Can you believe that even just the act of standing will make you a ton healthier? Not running until you collapse. Not suffering through aerobics with Bambi and her g-string leo. Just standing.

Here's a pic of my air desk with the laptop hooked up to the wall-mounted television in my office. So that way, I type on the laptop but can see everything on the big screen.

I've also purchased a wireless headset and as soon as I get Dragon Naturally Speaking all configured, I'll be able to pace and dictate while viewing it on the television.

Every little bit helps, right?

Deadly DeLeon

Friday, November 25, 2011

Writing the Male POV with guest blogger Rita Henuber

Happy Thanksgiving!

Amanda is taking the next month or so off while she settles back in to life with a newborn. The new little man hasn't arrived -- yet -- but he's due shortly, so her buddy Rita Henuber is here today instead.

Male and female brains are hardwired differently. When it comes to love and relationships men are lousy communicators. Guys express themselves differently than gals and are not as complicated as women want to make them. Therefore writing Y chromosome dialogue can be challenging.

Take it back a million years. Females were driven to search out a strong mate to protect and provide for her and her offspring. The little woman stayed home and home schooled the kids teaching them not to play in dinosaur poop, to stay away from the fire, and quit rolling the family's only wheel down the hill. To relax, she painted her life on the cave walls and depicted how much she missed her guy.

Males were driven to spread their seed, pound their chest, protect their offspring from the dinosaurs, make the fire, and grump when the wheel got chipped. When he came back to the cave from a hunt and the little woman asked how it went, he grunted. To catch up on what happened while he was gone he checked out the cave wall and he found out how much she missed him and what she liked. -eyebrow wiggle here- .
So what's changed? Women still look for a protector and provider. Men are still driven to spread… well, we know, and they still grunt when you ask them a question. Each species has evolved and wants more from their mate. Men and women both want to be in a good relationship and find true love.

They still communicate those needs in different ways.

We as writers have to remember to put that difference on the page. Don't mess with the hard wiring and make your heroes so perfectly fit the mold we women want that they no longer fit the male species mold.

Start with the differences in the way we talk. Have you noticed we women tend to qualify what we say be ending the sentence with a question? "This color looks good on me, don't you think?" Guys do not do that.

Ask a guy a question that requires a yes or no -Do you want to ride into town with me?- men will answer yes or no. Ask a woman and she may say: "yes, but can we stop at mall first cause I want to exchange these pants I bought the other day. They're too long. If you don't want to stop it’s a no."

When writing dialogue for a guy the less words used the better. Men cut to the chase. They don't hem and haw and beat around the bush. They say what's on their mind. "Nice dress. Take it off." (From a Janet Evanovich book)

Then we have feelings- whoo O-O feel….ings.

Does your hero tell your heroine how he feels? Does he answer her when she asks how he feels? If the answer is yes then take a break and let's talk.

Even though you want your hero to be the man we gals want, having him talk about feelings early on could be asking your reader to suspend beliefs a bit too far.

Guys will gladly tell you what they think, but what they feel…? Try this experiment. Ask you DH, SO, any guy what they feel about a topic you know they are interested in. A couple of days later ask them what they think about it. In my tests the- how do you feel- got blank stares, a "huh?" and "that sucks." On the- what do you think,- I had a five minute monologue and way more information than I wanted.

What's the difference to a guy? The survey says: a guy is sure about what he thinks, but with his feelings he doesn't want to look like a fool to his woman. Men are intimidated by the fact women are born with a masters degree in talking about feelings. Also, they figure if everything is okay in the relationship she won't want to talk about feelings. Talking about feelings when things are going well, throws a guy out of the game. He gets nervous. Only after a relationship grows and he wants to make her happy does he begins to open up about his feelings. He doesn't exactly like it, but when she lets him know how worthwhile he is he becomes more willing to expose his own insecurities and sacrifice his comfort zone for her. Like, TALK about how he FEELS.

In general,a man feels his sacrifices show his love. Men love that power struggle, love to be in control and those sacrifices, big or small, will mostly center around that. It can be something as simple as letting his woman pick the radio station in the car when he wants to listen to the game. He derives great satisfaction when she acknowledges that sacrifice with a simple thank you, or a smile. I'm not saying a guy should forgo flowers on her birthday. I'm saying write smart. Show love in more than one way.

To wrap up. When writing the guys POV, use less words. Get to the point. Cut through the unnecessary. Consider subtle ways of him showing his love and showing her understanding that's what he's doing. Sounds like romance to me.


Rita Henuber is the author of UNDER FIRE, released this summer by Carina Press.

Coast Guard helicopter pilot Olivia Carver is on a very personal mission. Her twin brother, an undercover officer, was murdered by a drug cartel and she won’t stop until she finds the man responsible for his death.

In the course of her own investigation, Olivia meets informant Rico Cortes. He’s mysterious and sexy and despite her reservations, the two share a night of passion. But Rico turns out to be more than a one-night stand. He’s a DEA agent, deep undercover in Miami’s drug world, and possibly the one man who can help Olivia find the justice she seeks.

When Rico realizes his cover is blown, he isn’t sure whether it was someone in the cartel or an inside agent. Olivia is the only one he can trust and together they venture on a dangerous, rogue mission to infiltrate a drug lord’s inner circle…with Olivia as bait.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful For Tidepools & Oceans

This Thanksgiving I've come home to Santa Cruz.  Santa Cruz is the city where I grew up and my mother now lives in the same house that my grandparents used to live in; a house my grandfather designed and built himself. The house and the town holds lots of wonderful memories for me but even as a child I knew Santa Cruz wouldn't be my home forever. Filled with surfers, self-proclaimed hippies and little shops selling crystals and tarot cards the city has always been unique but it isn't my scene. While I was a resident here I longed for the museums, department stores, restaurants, clubs, urban culture and ethnic diversity that can only be found in the larger cities of this country. It was my longing for those things that prompted me to move to San Francisco when I was only seventeen. It's what brought me to New York and now LA. Despite spending almost all of my childhood years in Santa Cruz I have always identified much more with San Francisco. Over the years Santa Cruz has grown considerably. There are condos where there used to be communes. But it's still Santa Cruz and I still know that I will never want to move back here.

And yet whenever I do come for a visit I remember what there is to love about this place. There is no denying its beauty. I love the way the seals and otters play in the harbor. I love the way the air is so crisp and clean. I love the sense of peace that permeates this place with the quiet roar of the ocean. Two Thanksgivings ago I took my son (then 10) to see the tide-pools by the beach and he pointed out a small crab who had made his home in one of them. "For that crab living in that tide-pool is like living in Santa Cruz," he said. "The crab's whole world is that tide-pool, he's totally sheltered and protected from the ocean and everything that's in it! He might not even know the ocean's there!"

"But," he said, looking up at me with a sweet little smile, "it's a very pretty tide-pool. Plus it's not like any of the other tide-pools around it. It's not a bad place for him to live."

As usual my son summed up my feelings in a metaphor that is much more accurate and poetic than anything I could have come up with myself.

Personally, I love living in my metaphorical ocean and I can't see myself ever giving it up for anything smaller or more tame. But I do enjoy visiting my old tide-pool every once in a while and I understand why so many of my childhood schoolmates have chosen to stay.

It's incredibly pretty here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Leslie Langtry, the Tsilver Tsunami!

Disclaimer - the following photos are not for the faint of heart.

As you can see, the gray is really growing in fast. I knew y'all'd want an update. Not bad, right? At some point, I'm going to have to cut the red out. Jana made me promise I wouldn't let it get all frizzy and dry like "an old witch."

And I've got a list of snappy comebacks when someone asks me what happened. It will be a shock to those who haven't seen me in a few months when I'm all silver. So here goes:

1) I got scared... all of a sudden.
2) I was President of the United States last month.
3) WHAT? My hair is GRAY??? (grab person by shoulders and shake violently while swearing and spitting) $#@!&!!!

Now, for the fun stuff. I'm getting ready to put a book up for sale that, while some agents and editors loved it, they said it wasn't "marketable" - which is a euphemism for more swearing.

Originally called, THE ADULTERER'S UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO DISNEY WORLD, this is the book I wrote just before Gin Bombay's saga. I changed the Disney World to Family Vacations - since I'm going it alone, and not that stupid (well, not anymore at least).

Anyway, this book is a departure from my others. There's no mystery, murder for hire and for some reason it has lots of sex (which means my mom, dad and any male relations may NOT read it) - but it's still humor - so that's okay, right? I've been messing around with covers and wanted to get your opinion. What do you, my minions, think? And please be honest.

I still have no idea how to make pictures appear side-by-side. Sorry about that. I really don't get how this blogger thing works. I assume there's a magical hamster inside somewhere.

Oh, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

The Assassin

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hanging on. Hanging in there.

Amazon Gift Card Winner!

I had so many wonderful comments on this blog. It was difficult to pick a winner for the Amazon gift card. You all deserve to win, but, unfortunately, I can only pick one. So the winner of the Amazon gift card is Refhater. Please email your snail mail address to christie(at)christie-craig(dot)com. You've had a rough year, and I hope this marks the beginning of your luck turning around.

Well, hubby did it again. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about setting anything on fire, or tearing the house down in his plumbing misadventures. Nope, I’m talking about his rushing into my office and announcing in a direct tone, “Grab your camera and follow me.”

Now, for those of you who are new to the blog, or perhaps just want to chuckle at the memory, let me start by enumerating some of the great snapshots I’ve gotten at his encouragement.

There was the awesome sunset outside the plane’s window.

There was my cat imitating me after a book release.

There was the peeping frog in our pond.

And the lizards doing it on the side of our house.

Yeah, that’s hubby. He has eclectic taste. So as you can imagine, I never know what to expect when he tells me to grab the camera. Ahh, but this one was pretty good.

It was a praying mantas.

I got excited. As a kid, these bugs were my favorite insect. They were just so odd. They have that weird head and huge honking eyes that look right at you and follow you as you move. And they kept their front legs together as if they were praying.

When I was young, I wondered what it was they prayed so hard for. Ahh, but when I got a little older, I figured it out.

The female Praying mantas has an after-sex ritual. (And human males think that snuggling is bad, but they got off easy). You see, this female insect turns around, right after, or sometimes even during the deed, and bites the head off their mate and has him for an after-sex snack. (Hey, it does increase our appetites.) So I figured the females are praying for forgiveness, or asking for a lover good enough to keep, and the males are pleading for the willpower to avoid the hot looking female mantas.

However, as interesting as all this is, that’s not what this blog is really about. You see, hubby had spotted the praying mantas on top of our car at the post office, and not having anything with which to move the creature, he left him alone. And he was somewhat shocked to discover that the little fellow had hung on all the way to our house.

And that, my friends, gets us to the real subject of this blog: Hanging on. Hanging in there. It’s what I tell my friends whenever they find themselves in a tough spot. It’s what I tell myself when I find myself facing a hurdle. And don’t we all face hurdles? We’ve all been in that tough place where our patience was tried, or our spirit tested.

In my life and in my career, I’ve faced quite a few hurdles. I wanted to be a writer, but being dyslexic, the thought of having to get my ideas on paper, having to spell, and not leave out words, seemed too much. Also, I didn’t have the educational background that so many writers have when they set out with publishing dreams.

I tried anyway.

In spite of receiving over 5000 rejections on my work, both for my freelance articles and novels (yes, I was told "no" that many times) I hung in there. In spite of reading judges’ comments from writing contests like, “You should stop trying to be funny, because I think you might be able to write a good scene,” I didn’t let it ding my sense of humor.

In spite of being told by the professionals that what I wrote was too outside the box and my work was unmarketable, I continued to nourish that tiny seed of hope.

In spite, of it taking ten long years to publish my first book and another thirteen years before I sold book two, I didn’t let go.

I hung on to the hood of my dreams. I found ways to continue to believe in myself. I found ways to continue to improve. I cherished the love ones who found the ability to believe in me. And when the ones who gave up on me said, “Maybe it’s time to stop banging your head on the same damn door,” well, I’m just thankful, as they are, that I’m not a praying mantas and I didn’t turn around and bite off their heads for trying to “screw” with my dreams. But I’ll admit that I wanted to.

In this past couple of years, I’ve taken some major steps up the ladder in my career, and believe me, I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I’ve seen my books auctioned by publishers both in the US and in other countries. I’ve gotten fan mail in over seven languages. Some may think I’m an overnight success, but honestly, there’s been 9,855 nights, give or take a few for leap year, in the twenty-seven years that I hung on.

While I’m doing well, just in the last year, I’ve faced lawsuits, publishers unable to pay royalties, and health issues of loved ones, all of which can take a bite out of our optimism. But I just kept telling myself and them…"let’s hang on.” When our choices are to give up or just to keep going, why not just keep going? And tomorrow, if my genre falls out of favor, if my publishers close house, if life gets in the way of my well laid-out plans, I pray I’ll tighten my grip on life, remember to keep my sense of humor intact, and continue to hang on.

And I’d just like to say to any other writers out there who are facing rejection or non-believers trying to screw with their dreams, take a page from my playbook, and hang in there. To non-writers I offer the same advice. It really doesn’t matter what your dreams are: to run a marathon, to lose a hundred pounds (or even ten), to beat cancer, or to make enough to pay for a dream vacation. Whatever your dream is, hang on like the praying mantas clung to the roof of my husband’s car. Don’t give up. Ever.

The advice I offered to the praying mantas who hitched a ride home with hubby: Take the vow of celibacy, dude. Seriously, take it. Oh, and to all men, be glad snuggling is all we ask for.

Today, I’d like to offer a little Thanksgiving contest, a $25 gift certificate to Amazon to someone who is hanging on. So make sure you post a comment and you might just win. I’ll post the winner on top of this blog tomorrow morning. So make sure you stop by.

Winner Alert!

The winner of Gina Robinson's hilarious and romantic book The Spy Who Left Me is Sarah. So please email your snail mail address to christie(at)christie-craig(dot)com. Congratulations!

Happy Thanksgiving, guys!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Secrets . . . Shaken Not Stirred by Diane Kelly with guest Gina Robinson

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting author Gina Robinson when I flew out to Seattle to present a tax workshop for the Greater Seattle RWA chapter. Much to our surprise, as we chatted over lunch, we realized that not only had we contracted with the same publisher, but we also had the same editor and the same release date as well. Gina’s books, like mine, contain an entertaining mix of romance, crime, and humor. She’s a former engineer and I’m a CPA/tax advisor, so we’re both recovering nerds, too. It’s like we were twins separated at birth!

Recently we wondered what it might be like if the heroines of our novels met each other, too. Both of the women have trust issues when it comes to the men in their lives. We decided to let them meet over drinks at a bar and compare notes. Read on to see what happens as Treflee of Gina Robinson’s “The Spy Who Left Me” Meets Tara of “Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure” . . .

IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway, still dressed in her gray business suit, bellies up to the bar and takes a seat on an empty stool next to a pretty blonde. Thank goodness it’s happy hour. She could use a drink or two. She catches the bartender’s eye. His biceps are the size of hams. Nice. He definitely works out. “Sex on the beach, please.”

The bartender slides a flirtatious grin Tara’s way. “Is that a drink order or a proposition?”

Tara returns the grin. “Drink order,” she replies. “As tempting as you are, I’m having enough man trouble right now.”

Treflee can’t help overhearing the woman next to her. Too many years of being married to a spy. Eavesdropping is second nature to her. She takes a sip of her martini, shaken, not stirred, and turns to the woman in the gray business suit with great empathy. “You, too? Must be something in the water around here.” She smiles at her. “I’m Treflee. What has your man done?”

“That’s the problem, Treflee,” Tara says, glad to have someone to confide in and share a drink with. “I’m not entirely sure whether my boyfriend Brett has done anything or not. But I have some suspicions he may be involved with a con artist.” Tara takes a long drag through her straw, savoring the peach flavor. Yum! “What about your man? How is he giving you trouble?”

“My husband? He’s a con artist himself.” Treflee sees Tara’s shocked expression and laughs softly. “Sorry to give you the wrong impression. I’m kidding. Sort of. I should have said lying, secrecy, and intrigue are his stock in trade. He’s not a crook. He has the government’s blessing. The thing is, the secrecy doesn’t stop when he comes home, if he comes home at all, and it’s killing our marriage. I can’t live his life of lies anymore. It’s just too dangerous.”

Treflee pauses, fearing she may have said too much already. You never know where an enemy agent may be hanging out or who’s listening in. Tara looks like a member of the sympathetic sisterhood of women with man troubles, but she could be a foreign spy. Still, Treflee can’t help adding, “I think he may have done something, really, really bad. And now he’s put me in danger.” She takes another sip of her drink. “You and I are suffering from the worst kind of man problems—the kind where they could either be completely innocent, or in horrible trouble. What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to get some answers. I have ways to make men talk.” Tara pulls back her jacket to give Treflee a glimpse of the Glock holstered at her hip, then flashes a smile to let her new friend know she’s teasing. Tara can’t imagine using a gun on Brett, though slapping her handcuffs on him could lead to some fun. Was it possible to boink the truth out of someone? Tara was willing to try. “I suppose I’m a bit of a hypocrite,” she admits. “I’ve kept some secrets from Brett, too. The guy has no idea I carry a gun on the job.” Tara leans toward Treflee, her voice low. “As difficult as secrets can be, sometimes having secrets can be kind of fun. Sexy even. A little mystery keeps things exciting, don’t you think?”

Join in the conversation. Should couples always be completely honest with each other or does knowing everything about each other take the fun out of a relationship? When, if ever, is it okay to have secrets?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Self-publishing Number Breakdown

Two weeks ago I posted about hitting the milestone of selling 500,000 self-published ebooks, and promised that throughout the rest of 2011, I’d be talking about self-publishing.  So, today I wanted to touch on how and where I sold that many books, breaking them down by vendor.
I first started putting my books up for sale myself through Amazon’s KDP program in May 2010.  At that time, Amazon was really the only big player around for self-publishing ebooks.  Which meant they had the market cornered, so all of my sales for the first 5 months I self-published came from Amazon.  To date I have sold 312, 958 books at 

The key to selling books at Amazon for me has been having multiple titles available.  I first started with just a couple of short stories.  Those sold okay, but not enough for me to get excited about.  Then I added one novel.  Still not many sales.  It wasn’t until I added my entire backlist that I saw a huge boom in sales.  And it wasn’t just more books – each one of my titles sold more copies every time I added another book to the mix. 

The other thing that’s made a big difference for me has been pricing.  Most of the books I have on Amazon sell for $3.99 and I have NEVER discounted them.  The majority of my sales have come from my High Heels series and my Hollywood Headlines series.  Of these, I have only ever discounted the first book in each series.  I think this is really key to generating income from the books as well (though I’ll talk more about the money side of things next blog post).  I have offered the first books in my two series for $.99 or even free for a limited time, but the idea behind that is to generate sales of the other books in the series.  I see a lot of other authors doing this successfully, as well – discounting just one title, but keeping the prices for the rest of their titles at an even price, usually between $3.99-$5.99.   

Barnes & Noble:
I’ve had books up at Barnes & Noble since the October 2010, so just over a year.  BY that point I had my entire backlist to work with, so I saw sales take off there right out of the gate.  To date I have sold 185,255 books at BN. 

At Barnes & Noble my strategy has been a bit different.  I’ve found that discounting doesn’t do much to change my sales there.  In fact, I had a book for free on BN and didn’t sell any more copies than I had the previous week when it was priced at $3.99.  My experience is that Barnes & Noble shoppers are hard-core readers.  They are book people.  They mostly have no problem paying $3.99 or even $5.99 for a book, as that’s still a bargain form the paperback or hardcover versions.  I don’t sell as many books here as I do on Amazon, but I sell more of my higher priced titles, so that on the monetary end, it kind of evens out. 

So far I’ve been selling at Apple’s iBookstore through Smashwords.  Which, as some of you probably know, has notoriously hard to read sales reports.  So my info isn’t quite as shiny and up-to-date for my sales here.  I’ve been selling through Apple since November 2010, so a solid year.  To date (or as far as I have sales reports for) I’ve sold 8,856 books at Apple. 

Sales started out VERY slow for me here – just 4 books sold in my first month, but picked up after a while.  I think the iBookstore is just now becoming more of a force in the “i” world, so I expect to see sales continue to climb here.

Other outlets:
I’m lumping these all together, as I haven’t sold a ton at other outlets yet.  I definitely think it’s worth having your book for sale in as many places as possible, but I’ve seen sales very slowly creep up in these markets.   

Sony: 2,861
Kobo: 1,275
Smashwords/Diesel/ARE: 453

(Just a note: I see romance books  - particularly hot ones - sell much better at ARE than my books have.  I think I've sold a total of 7 copies in four months at ARE.  It's not the best place for mystery, but I'd definitely check it out if you write more romance books.)  

Foreign Markets:
This is where I’ve seen the biggest jumps lately!  Amazon UK is a major sales outlet for me, and the other Amazon markets slowly becoming so, too.  I haven’t independently tabulated my foreign sales for the other vendors, as they don’t amount to large numbers each month yet, but I have sold well through Apple in the UK, Germany, Australia, and Canada, and through Kobo in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, and Trinidad & Tobago (I got a kick out of that one!).  There isn’t really anything special to do for the foreign markets (except perhaps translate you books – which I am planning to do starting in the new year!), but here are my numbers there:

Amazon UK: 127,386
Amazon DE: 325
Amazon FR: 106

And for anyone keeping track with their calculators, that does add up to 639, 475 books total.  After calculating in the last month’s sales numbers, it looks like I’ve hit a new milestone!  :)

Since I won't be blogging again until after Thanksgiving, I hope everyone has a great holiday!  I know I have plenty to be thankful for this year!

~Trigger Happy Halliday

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Promo Puzzler

Publishing is a very different animal than it was just ten years ago. With digital sales taking off and more writers taking the self-pub plunge and publishers' promo dollars shrinking, discovering the most effective bang for your promotion buck is more important than ever.

Bookmarks, magnets, posters, pens, post cards, buttons, book trailers. Authors try everything to attract readers to their latest book offerings. And the million dollar question is always, "What works best?"

Two of my friends recently celebrated the launch of their first book, DESPERATE HOUSEDOGS, the first in the new Pampered Pets mystery series by Sparkle Abbey. At several recent book events, the debut authors really impressed me with the thought they put into their promo items and giveaways.

Between their publisher-created book trailer, large colorful poster, bookmarks, postcards, dog treats and human treats (chocolate in the shape of a bone), these authors obviously put a lot of thought into their promo and presentation.

Certainly, some books and series lend themselves better to clever and unique promotional items, and authors and publishers continually try to evaluate which ideas provide the best return on their investment.

Questions of the day:

Authors: What promotional items have you found give you the best result for your promotional dollars?

Readers: What promotional items do you most like to receive from authors?

With more of the responsibility for promotion falling to authors, it's crucial we figure out what works best and focus on those opportunities so we can spend more time writing the books our readers are waiting for.

I won't be blogging on Thanksgiving so I want to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving. And if you venture out on Black Friday, be careful out there!

~Bullet Hole~

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkins on the porch and Christmas in the bag

Okay, so I know Halloween is over. I've taken the witch off my porch, the light-up bats out of the trees, I even took down my favorite decoration - the skull door knocker that sings songs until his eyeballs pop out. Literally. I love that guy.

But one thing I haven't been able to do is take the pumpkins off the front porch. Maybe it's because I can justify them - well, they're a symbol of the harvest, and we haven't had Thanksgiving yet, right? Never mind that they're probably frozen to the front stoop by now.

Still, I think the real reason the pumpkins have survived is, well, because they made it through a season in my garden. That means they ARE survivors. For those of you who haven't heard me rant about my garden, let's just say it's usually the place where plants go to die. I've killed tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, three kinds of peppers, onions, strawberries watermelons and a particularly hardy lavender (Someone told me it would ward off rabbits and deer. Ha! They just saved it for dessert).

This year, I planted pumpkin and watermelon in the main garden. Almost immediately, the pumpkin vines ran all over the watermelon. I didn't care because it meant something, anything was growing in the garden. Yeah, just call me Martha Stewart. In the end, we had five - count 'em - five pumpkins this fall. It was the first successful gardening year ever. (As long as you don't listen to my husband when he questions exactly what happened to the tomatoes, peppers, watermelon and strawberries.)

We carved two of the pumpkins. The kids glued sequins all over another one. But the last two are still looking plump and gorgeous on the porch. So, as far as I'm concerned, they can stay. Sure I passed them yesterday going into the house with a bag full of holiday-themed books.

Which gives me an idea...Christmas pumpkins, anyone?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Santa Came Early This Year...

After the week from hell, three days with a raging fever, and six days on antibiotics, Sunday I finally felt well enough to venture out. Well, okay, if I hadn’t been headed to the Apple Store to buy my new iMac, I would have skipped the whole thing.

I’d been holding out for two years because my beloved iMac G4—aka MacGorgeous was six years old (that’s about two in Mac years), and still ran like a champ, making it difficult to talk myself into plopping down the money to buy a new Mac when there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the old one. Of course, with enough incentive, I could talk myself and anyone else into just about anything so it’s not surprising that I somehow managed it. It did help that my daughter’s PC went to the big Windows Cloud in the sky, and like her mama, Twinkle Toes is a Mac Girl. I decided that I’d go even greener—I do drive a Prius after all—I’d be even more environmentally friendly and recycle MacGorgeous, though there are some who might call me cheap, but let’s not even go there. I doubled the memory, put a little bounce in MacGorgeous’s beach ball, and with a tearful goodbye willed him to my daughter which seemed apropos since I felt like death…

I had been so excited, I was finally getting the iMac of my dreams. The one I would visit anytime I was within a twenty-mile radius of an Apple Store. The Mac with a screen big enough to land a plane on. AKA—MacDreamy (sigh)—the 27-inch iMac proving the old adage that size really does matter.

But by the time my husband and I got home, I didn’t even open the box. I just asked DH to set MacDreamy up because I needed a nap. I was almost happy it took eight hours to complete. Who knew strep throat could pack such a punch?

Monday began early with my youngest waking me with 103 fever—yeah, she’d been feeling like crap since Saturday and I’d been delusional enough to think she had a cold. I told you I could talk myself into anything. I had no idea that cleaning up MacGorgeous and setting up MacDreamy would take all day when done in the midst of dealing with a sick kid and doctor’s appointments. On the bright side, the lovely Apple Care people and I are now intimate friends.

Imagine my surprise when my son came home from a half-day of school (yeah, I’d forgotten about the whole half-day thing) so it was a double surprise when I noticed he carried a box addressed to me containing my new book, Wild Thing.

So to celebrate, my new book, my new iMac, and the loss of MacGorgeous who, I might add, looked stunning sitting on my desk right next to MacDreamy, I’m giving away two copies of Wild Thing to a lucky commenter. Reading your comments will give me something to do other than take care my son, who woke up this morning claiming illness too. Yeah, Santa really did come early…

Monday, November 14, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

Seriously, can anyone tell me? It's NOVEMBER! Thanksgiving is next week. Then Christmas will be along shortly after, then it will be 2012. Where did the year go?

I am fairly certain I spent it in a work-related haze, but I did get quite a bit done this years, so there's that. Next year, I'll have four books out with Harlequin Intrigue to show for all my hard work, so I'm not going to complain about the lack of personal life, or the pedicure I needed two months ago, or the fact that my acrylic nails are currently up to Cruella deVille length and still going.

Maybe next week I'll have time to worry about such things, but not this week. This week, I'm BUSY.

In good news, the cover for my 2/2012 Intrigue release is finally here and it's fabulous. What do you think? I think the cover gods continue to smile on me.

Isn't it creepy and really cool looking? I just love the color and the house and it's sooooooooo like my description in the book.

So what do you have planned for Thanksgiving? Do you do the whole cooking thing? I don't as no one wants me to cook. I bring paper plates and cups. My mom does most of the cooking and my dad fries turkeys. There is nothing quite like fried turkey. YUMM!

Deadly (now hungry) DeLeon

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

It's Veteran's Day, so before I go any further I just wanted to take a second to thank our military men and women for their service to our country. You're our heroes!

Anyway, because it's Veteran's Day, I have off from work today. Which means that I got to sleep in and also take my time getting ready for things, since I don't really have any schedule today. And in the life of a full-time working mommy of a toddler, this means that I had the chance to actually wash my hair for the first time in days.

Yeah, I know it's gross, but I've found that the longer my hair is, the longer I can stretch the time out between washings. Just pull it up into a bun or in a clip or in a ponytail, and nobody knows the difference. I am supremely lazy and would much prefer that extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning.

But today I decided to take advantage of the extra time in the shower. I'm 36 weeks pregnant at the moment, so pretty much everything on my body aches on a constant basis. (Mind you, I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled to have made it to 36 weeks! My toddler was born at 34 weeks.)

Anyway, I decided to let the water massage my back and while I did so, I looked around for some reading material. Since I was in the shower, all that was available were the shampoo bottles.

Yeah, I was that desperate.

So I'm reading the instructions and came across that cliche: Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Have you ever stopped to think about those instructions? It's like a perpetual circle.
Step 1: Lather
Step 2: Rinse
Step 3: Repeat

OK, so I go back to Step 1 and lather again. Then Step 2 tells me to rinse. And then I'm back to Step 3, so I have to repeat. And now I'm back to the beginning.

When exactly are you supposed to stop? How many times are you supposed to repeat?

And who actually has the time anyway to repeat? I know I sure don't.

Speaking of not having time, since I figure I could basically have this kiddo at any point now, I've scheduled some fabulous guest bloggers for the next couple of months while I go on maternity leave. I hope you'll enjoy them!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Plagiarism For Idiots

For those who haven't heard, Little Brown recently recalled a book titled, Assassin Of Secrets once it was discovered that the author (who is using the pseudonym Q.R. Markham) plagiarized several passages from other published novels. Now whenever I hear cries of plagiarism I always approach the complaint with skepticism. For instance, if I wrote the sentence: "Her heart caught in her throat as she watched him walk away," and it was later discovered that an author (or several authors) had written that same sentence I could rightfully be accused of unoriginality but calling it plagiarism would be a step too far. Using clich├ęs is never a great idea but it's not an act of theft. 

But this guy used sentences like this:
Then he saw her, behind the fountain, a small light, dim but growing to illuminate her as she stood naked but for a thin, translucent nightdress; her hair undone and falling to her waist—hair and the thin material moving and blowing as though caught in a silent zephyr.
Which just happens to be the exact same sentence used in a James Bond novel titled License Renewed penned by author John Gardner. It's hard to argue that's coincidence. "The thin material moving and blowing as though caught in a silent zephyr," just isn't a phrase people go around saying. 

When I heard this my first thought was not, How could Markham do this?! No, it was What an idiot. I mean, really? Not only are you going to plagiarize but you're going to plagiarize by lifting the most descriptive sentences you can find from a James Bond novel??? If he had plagiarized from a stand-alone backlist novel from a little known author that would have been bad and, thanks to the internet, he probably would have been caught but at least he wouldn't have been caught right away! Perhaps Markham is unaware of this but lots of people like James Bond! Particularly people who might buy a novel titled Assassin Of Secrets! He also plagiarized from bestselling author James Bamford. Once again, "Bestselling" is the key word here. In the incredibly unlikely case that some of you are as dim as Markham allow me to explain that, "bestselling" means that Bamford's books have been read by a lot of people

This is kind of like robbing a bank filled with security cameras without so much as a ski mask. You might be able to do it but you're obviously not going to get away with it.

And what's really sad is that Little Brown published 6,500 copies of Assassin Of Secrets. All that work stealing other people's words and it didn't even earn him a decent print run. 

There are so many lessons one could take away from this. Don't plagiarize, be honest, don't cut corners and so on.

But really, if you are only going to learn just one thing from this let it be this: Stupid people shouldn't commit crimes. It just works out badly for everyone. 

Kyra "Fashionista Fatale" Davis

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Okay, so it's technically been out for a couple of weeks, but this was the first chance I got to say it on this blog. Paris Bombay's novella is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords! So buy it today!

Jana & Leslie's Excellent Adventure!

Jana and I had a great time in Florida at the Novelists, Inc. conference last month. We drank, ate, and learned some stuff. We had an awesome view from our Tropical Suite - which, while it did NOT, in fact, come with a toucan, had a toucan motif.

The food was good, the company better - and I took a notebook full of notes. Although I did feel a bit Amish using something as prehistoric as a pen and paper, when everyone else was clicking away on iPads around me. What? I like to doodle.

The speakers came from Penguin (not the bird, to my disappointment), TOR, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, among others. And the authors were smart, funny and not to be patronized - which is nice.

At the same time, in the same hotel, there was a mixed martial arts conference and an herbalist conference. The lobby reeked of testosterone and Patchoulli.

The biggest message was that this is the best time to be a writer. And seeing the post where Gemma says she sold half a million ebooks last year, I think they may be right.

So now that PARADISE is up, I'm going to get to work on another project - a collection of short stories featuring Bombay hits through history. I think that will be fun... almost as much fun as if we'd had a live toucan in our room. Maybe next year...

The Assassin

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Gina Robinson

Winners please contact me.. Mo and Krisgils, please contact me about receiving your prizes from the What's On My Kindle blog.

Okay...I have a special treat for you today. Gina Robinson is one funny lady. Gina's book, The Spy Who Left Me will make you laugh and sigh. And today she's offering a copy to one lucky person who leaves a comment. So make sure you post!! I'll announce the winner on top of this blog tomorrow morning, so make sure you check and send me your snail mail address to receive your prize.



Test Your Spy Romance Susceptibility

You Might Enjoy a Spy Romance if . . .

The thought of a hot, mysterious man driving an Aston Martin DB5 customized for a super spy with a rotating license plate, ejector seat, and tire-slasher excites you.

You think lipstick should be used to mark your man with your passion, and your lipstick case should conceal a single 4.5 mm bullet, just in case the enemy shows up.

You make your man pancakes on Saturday morning, and your pancake flipper is actually a scabbard containing a fighting knife.

You can name all fourteen Ian Fleming Bond novels, and you know exactly who you'd pick to play Bond in a remake of any of the movies, and which Bond Girl you'd most like to play.

You understand what Ninety-Nine sees in Max Smart. Even funny spies are sexy.

You wouldn't mind if Max came over and installed a super vacuum fireplace of your own. It beats shoveling ashes after a romantic night spent in front of the fire, or having to hire a chimney sweep.

You love exotic locales, martinis--shaken, not stirred, and danger.

You receive the following apparently random garbage in a text:



and immediately decipher this simple code as a note from your lover--Meet me at ten today.

You gave the man in your life cufflinks equipped with miniature transmitters for his birthday.

You've wondered what it would be like to love and be loved by a spy. In fact, you think your secretive lover might be a spy.

You love alpha heroes.

You like your romance novels packed with intrigue, adventure, action, lying, deceit, passion, longing, lust, love, and yes, even humor.

The Spy Who Left Me from Visual Quill on Vimeo.

Or this review of my novel, The Spy Who Left Me, from Publishers Weekly piques your interest, "Punctuated with Bondworthy downhill car and bike chases and near-death surfing parties, Robinson’s clever concoction of lust and longing is a refreshing tropical cocktail.”

Have I whetted your appetite? Here's a blurb for The Spy Who Left Me.


If there’s one thing that can ruin a vacation, it’s running into your ex. Just ask Treflee Miller. If she’d only known that her husband Ty would be here in Hawaii—muscular, sun-bronzed, and infuriatingly gorgeous—she would have brought the divorce papers for him to sign. But life is full of surprises when you’re married to a world-class spy…


Ty Miller can understand why his wife is tired of playing Mrs. James Bond. He’s never home, he’s always on a mission, and he’s usually surrounded by exotic informants. He has to admit that the perfect spy makes a pretty lousy husband. But for the sake of Ty’s security and Treflee’s safety, they can’t blow his cover. Not here. Not now. Not when his longing is so strong, her lips so tempting—and his enemies so close…

I'd love to hear to hear how you'd complete the topic sentence of this post. You might enjoy a spy romance if . . .

Have fun!

Gina Robinson has always been a storyteller. An avid book lover, she grew up reading romance, mysteries, and suspense novels, but majored in Electrical Engineering. Eventually Gina gave up the glamorous engineering life for the equally glamorous life of a stay-at-home mom. Her first published novels received rave reviews, establishing Gina as one of today’s most exciting new authors of romantic suspense. Her most recent novel, The Spy Who Left Me, is published by St. Martin's Press, November, 2011.

Monday, November 07, 2011

What if Rhett Butler HAD Given a Damn? by Diane Kelly

A while back, I wrote a manuscript that included some characters from Ireland. To get a feel for their language and culture, I loaded my Netflix queue with Irish movies and watched as many as possible. My family was patient for a week or two, then they tired of me hogging the DVD player. They rebelled and logged into the Netflix account, rearranging the queue to add some zombie, action/adventure, and chick flicks to the mix. Thus, my selection Rory O’Shea was Here, was pushed far down the list.

Slowly the movie worked its way back to the top, and last weekend it appeared in my mailbox. I’ve long since finished the manuscript with the Irish characters, but figured I’d go ahead and watch the movie anyway. It was here, so why not?

The movie was touching and poignant, even funny at times. The plot involves two disabled young men in their early twenties, both of whom are wheelchair bound. One has cerebral palsy, and the other, Rory O’Shea, suffers from muscular dystrophy. The two live in a home for the disabled. Rory has difficulty dealing with the loss of independence and strives to find a better life for himself and his new friend.

I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who might see it, so I won’t give specifics about the plot. But after I watched the movie, I noticed my TV screen displaying the option to watch an alternate ending. I clicked on it and watched.

The alternate ending was more uplifting and pulled the themes together more fully. But it also tied up everything very neatly and didn’t leave the viewer with as much to think about afterward as the original ending did. If given a choice, I'd have to say I preferred the alternate ending, though both endings had their own merits and were satisfying in their own ways.

Have you ever read a book or seen a movie that you wished had ended differently? How would you have ended the story? We’d love to hear about it!

Diane Kelly is the author of the humorous Death & Taxes romantic mystery series. Her debut novel, Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure is in stores now. Visit Diane at

Friday, November 04, 2011

My Self-publishing Milestone

I wanted to share with you fabulous Killer readers that I’ve hit a milestone.  After looking at my sales numbers from August of this year, I realized that I have sold over 500,000  ebooks since I started self-publishing last year.  That’s half a million books sold!  :O  Color me shocked.  And happy!

To celebrate this milestone that I never would have dreamed I’d see when I first started writing, I thought I’d do a small series of posts on self-publishing.  A lot of authors I know lately are going the self-published/indie published route, and I noticed that I see a lot of the same questions being asked over and over again.  Very good questions, too, and ones that I had when I first started self-publishing.  I know some authors have published books like “the secret to my self-publishing success”, but I thought it would be a lot more fun (and more free!) to answer some question on this blog instead.  So, here are a few questions I get a lot, and some answers that I hope make sense:

1. Do I need an ISBN to self-publish?
That depends on where you’re selling.  If you publish through Barnes & Noble’s PubIt! or Amazon’s KDP  they will assign you a special internal number for your books, so you do not need an ISBN.  If you publish through Smashwords, you do not need an ISBN at some of their vendors.  But, if you want to have your books available in the iBookstore (either directly through Apple or through a distributor such as Smashwords), then you do need an ISBN. 
What I’ve done: I currently let Smashwords distribute my books to the iBookstore, and have used the free ISBN option that Smashwords provides.  I do not use this ISBN anywhere else but Smashwords.

2. How do I format my books?
My best advice is to look at the Smashwords style guide for formatting, becuase if you can get through Smashword’s system, your formatting will work just about everywhere else.  You can then convert your formatted word doc into a variety of digital file formats to upload to the different sites. 
What I’ve done: This may draw gasps of horror from my fellow self-pubbers, but I upload my word docs directly to Amazon, BN, and Smashwords.  I don’t bother with converting myself.  Then again, I’m not very picky about paragraph alignment or having it spaced *just* so.  As long as it looks readable and professional, I’m good. 

3. Where do I get my covers?
There are a ton of freelance cover artists doing self-published covers, so ask around.  Prices vary (as does quality!), so be sure to do a little browsing before choosing your artist.  Generally $100-300 is what I’ve heard of people paying at the moment for good covers. Or, you can always make them yourself.     
What I’ve done: I do all my covers myself, because I love playing with Photoshop.  I buy stock photos from, which has a really great selection and very affordable pricing.  Then I do a little cutting and pasting – sometimes moving one model to another background, or adding small items in, like a gun or knife in her hand.  I try to work with large files, usually 300 dpi, so that they’re also good quality for print covers.    Generally, I tend to spend about 1-2 days on a cover and around $30.

4. Can I self-publish paperback books too?
Yes!  There are a few different places you can do this, though Createspace and Lulu are two of the leaders right now.  Both put out similar quality books and neither has high set up fees.  Createspace does have a premium option, which I would suggest purchasing (I’ve made my money back in the first month on every book), but there is not a lot of cost involved. 
Once the print books are up for sale, they distribute to Amazon and BN, so make sure that they link to your ebook versions in the systems.  One place you will not see them, however, is in physical bookstores.  Most booksellers will not stock print-on-demand books or self-published books.  They can special order them, though, so they are available to readers, just not on shelves.   
What I’ve done: I go through Createspace for my print books, and it’s been very easy and I’m very happy with the quality.  I honestly don’t sell a ton of print books – WAY fewer than ebooks – but I know there are some readers who only do print and really appreciate having that option. 

5. How do I market my self-published titles?
This is a personal choice and everyone’s mileage will vary.  The very best thing I have seen to increase sales is to have several books available.  So write fast!  ;)   Other than that, get word of mouth moving.  Research bloggers or reviewers that review self-published titles and send them all a copy.  Join indie writers’ groups and participate like heck.  Get a great website going and sign up for Facebook. 
What I’ve done:  You’re going to hate me but… nothing.  Okay, so I already had a website and this blog when I decided to jump into indie pubbing, so I had a bit of a presence and a handful of loyal readers already.  Which has helped.  But I have done nothing beyond that to market my books.  I just write more books. 
The one thing I have done is make sure I have slammin’ covers, interesting blurbs, and make sure I categorize and use search keywords that are in line with my target audience.    

6. What kind of sales can I expect to see?
This totally varies.  But, across the board, I see self-published books starting with small sales and building.  Unlike print books, they don’t have a short shelf life where you expect to see a big spike in sales in week one, then a slow decline over time.  Totally the opposite here.  The longer my books are up, the better my sales have grown.  So don’t be discouraged if they start out small, and it takes a few months to pick up to where you’d like to see them. 
What I’ve done:  I’m going to do a whole post later this month on my exact numbers, royalties, and what they’ve meant to me in terms of income (yes, I'm dishing it all, baby!) but just as a comparison… in my first month of self-publishing I sold more ebooks than I had sold print books (through a traditional publisher) that entire year.     
 Anyone else have other self-publishing questions?  Ask anything!

~Trigger Happy Halliday