Author photos taken by Robert Abrams in Paris, France.



THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY - Rebecca Buckley's Blog
Hello, I'm Rebecca Buckley, and I write books! Welcome to my blog. Here I'll talk about almost anything. Depends on the mood of the day. I'll also talk about publishing, writing techniques, and editing ... subjects close to my heart. So today, anytime you feel like it, feel free to jump in ... click on the COMMENTS link at the end of a post and give your opinion. If you sign in "anonymous" to comment, it's easier, just be sure you say who you are in the content of your comment.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

IS THE PAST REALLY OVER?

I wonder what makes some reminisce and think of friendships past, and then others don't give their pasts a single thought. Of late I've had many memories of old friends float to the surface, friends who I haven't seen or spoken to in years, friends who I haven't a clue if they're still alive or not. It creates a nostalgic mood within me, half good, half not.

What happens is . . . although the memories are terrific, I find I long for those earlier days once again, which can put me in a blue mood. I miss those days, and I wonder if I had taken a different road, how would my life be today.

Although I have no complaints to speak of, and I'm happy with the way the years have gone, the places I've been, the people I've known, my children, my writing career ... I still find myself wondering about those in my past with whom I've lost contact.

And I find myself wondering if it is indeed true that the ones who have meant the most are traveling together from one lifetime to another and will rejoin in the next life in one capacity or another. I like to believe this is true, for that excites me and puts a pleasant perspective on the meaning of it all.

But in the meantime, I'm wondering where Dona is, what she is doing, where she is living. I suppose I could find out when I'm on the Central Coast in March. I did hear she lost her only daughter a few years back, so sad. I wonder where Ben is, whether he stills lives in Malibu or not, whether the fires or floods have destroyed his home, or whether he is even living. And what about J.C. - my childhood sweetheart from 1st Grade. Last I heard he was living in Henderson, NV. He had a huge impact on my young life, my first love. And Jim Alexander, I wonder about him - we had a lengthy affair, met him in San Francisco after seeing him on a trolley. And Errol . . . my dear 'Errol Flynn' . . . he was a teddy bear. I really thought I was in love with him. Another Central Coast fella.

And then there are the mere acquaintances I always enjoyed in Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach. Not as close, but people I cared about. Those years were my best. Fun times and the most to remember. I wonder if Emmett is still alive, one of my mentors.

I'm not mentioning my beloved schoolmates (other than J.C. above) because there are so many. And many of them I am in contact with on Facebook and otherwise. Thank goodness for Facebook by the way. I don't have to wonder, they're right there revealing their lives. And I'm not mentioning my longtime friends, 'cause I know where they are, and I communicate with them from time to time.

But you know, I'm finding it's difficult for me to anticipate what's in the future for me. I love my life, my home, my babies (cats), and my routine and traveling, so I don't mean that. And I love writing and publishing.

I think my problem is I'm split between being almost certain that a man-woman relationship is out of the question for me, and not sure I want that or the possibility of falling in love again. The romantic side of me still believes it can happen, and I've seen it happen to others my age, but the practical side of me says fugetaboutit!

Oh well! The past is over, girl, just write about it!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thoughts of a Weary Writer

Interesting how a movie can make one think about one’s life and purpose. Seven Years in Tibet is such a movie. One question that is asked of the lead character and his answer hit home with me. When asked why he loved climbing mountains, he answered that it was the absolute simplicity of it, the freedom, the focus … nothing else seems important, the mind is clear, light becomes sharper, sounds richer, one is filled with the presence of life.

I feel the same when I travel in other countries and write about it. When I visit the villages, churches, shops, and pubs, ride through the picturesque countrysides, meet the people and learn about the culture and history of each region … it all gives me a feeling of serenity and fulfillment and peace. And at the same time it’s overwhelming; I am filled to the brim with information and the desire to write about it, which is at times frustrating.

So when I see films such as the one above, or read novels of greatness, I’m even more overwhelmed and frustrated. Can I ever write at that level? How can I capture on paper what I experience and feel in this lifetime? And will it be of any interest to the readers? Will I only bore them with my take on life as it is, through my fictional characters and the plots I weave without giving in to the trends of popular fiction of the day? Can I afford to keep true to myself and write what I know?

I’m sure these are questions serious writers have been asking of themselves for ages, I’m not the only one with doubts and insecurities about my writing, but one thing I do know … if I don’t try, I’ll never know the answers. How does it go … better to have loved and failed than not to have loved at all … or something like that? Maybe it can be reworded to say … better to have written and failed than not to have written at all.

My New Year’s resolution is to write more than ever!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

HAPPY HOLIDAYS - ME TO YOU

Another year past, another year ahead, one right after the other, non-stop . . . for me it’s been decades of those critters zooming past. Incredible!
2011 in Arizona turned out to be another jam-packed and exciting one for me: many firsts, some repeats.

My family heads up my update list: 1) oldest son relocated to Cedar Rapids for 18 months with his job assignment as construction superintendent, 2) youngest son is finishing up his 24-month assignment this month as construction superintendent in Flagstaff, 3) daughter is taking on the world as a single gal in San Diego while employed at home by an insurance company (she’s taking writing classes, wants to be a writer, imagine that). All three of my dear ones are happy and look forward to even brighter futures. Love it when that happens.

My younger sisters Mary and Martha and their respective husbands Matty and Len (San Joaquin Valley) are alive and kickin’ and enjoying their children and grandchildren. Martha heads the list with the most offspring - six kids and tons of grandkids. But I win with the most great-grand kids, neither Mary nor Martha have any. So I get the prize, whatever it is or is not. Martha and Len were here for Thanksgiving week, it was so much fun having them.

I’m thrilled that this year saw my seventh book published, which is exciting to me, whether anyone reads it or not. Just writing the books is a triumphant feat in itself for me. The feeling of seeing and holding my books in print is indescribable. And here I am at seven with four more in the works. Sales are good, and royalties provide a little pocket money for my travels and antiquing runs. So what more could I want? A best-seller maybe? You betcha!

Also this year, fate brought me a housemate, Trish Alden, who I’ve known for several years (Bakersfield and Cambria), and we’ve been remodeling this Queen Creek dwelling to accommodate the two of us, still more to be done. You know how women are, we always need more space. She’s a godsend in more ways than one, for on January 29th I was returning from my son’s home and collided with another vehicle, totaling mine and having to be air-lifted to the trauma center for repairs (me, not the car, it couldn’t be repaired). So now Trish and her car are temporarily transporting me till I’m brave enough to drive again, if ever. Giving that much thought. No rush.

Much of my excitement and gratification this past year has been due to another near impossible feat, publishing in 2011 and contracting to publish in 2012 another 15 books by my publishing company, R. J. Buckley Publishing. If you aren’t aware of the titles that are offered by RJBP, take a look on the website - www.rjbuckleypublishing.com . All books are available in print on Amazon.com and other Internet bookstores, as well as available to order at your favorite neighborhood booksellers. If you’re after an ebook, all RJBP titles are available on Kindle, Nook, Sony, and other digital ebook formats through www.smashwords.com. So I hope you’ll be able to find some that catch your fancy in addition to mine. A N Y W A Y ... didn’t mean this to become a sales letter. It isn’t, actually . . . well . . . maybe just this one little paragraph . . .

Oh yes . . . made an 18-day trip to England in Oct/Nov, you know how I love England. Trish went with me this time. We spent a week in the seacoast town of Weymouth and the surrounding villages of Dorset, then spent a week in the charming fishing village of Port Isaac, Cornwall, while visiting nearby villages there. The last few days we were in London (had to buy another Harrods’s tote bag for my collection). If you’d like to see photos and read about the trip, try my travel blog: rebeccabuckleytravels.blogspot.com . One of my upcoming novels is set in Port Isaac.

These are just the highlights of 2011, and there is much more I could tell you, but I’m limiting this to one page so as not to take the chance of boring you too much and taking up more of your valuable time. Would love to hear from you ... drop me a note or an email or a post on Facebook or Twitter. You can always check the two websites above and the two below to see what’s happening.

So, you have a fabulous and prosperous Year 2012, okay?

www.rebeccabuckley.com rebeccabuckley.blogspot.com

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen . . .

Remember the gospel/spiritual song from way back when ...?

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
Nobody knows my sorrow
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
Glory hallelujah!

Sometimes I'm up, sometimes I'm down
Oh, yes, Lord
Sometimes I'm almost to the ground
Oh, yes, Lord

And so forth ...


I'm remembering other songs of that era, the old hymns: "What a Friend we have in Jesus", "Amazing Grace", "In the Garden", "Have Thine Own Way", "Abide with me" and many many others ... in fact I have my grandmother's old hymnal from the Methodist Church she attended in the late 1800s, early 1900s. I've inherited the love for those songs, by the way. And as a gospel singer in the '80s, my sister and I sang our heads off all over California ... in fact The Blackwood Brothers (you probably don't know who they were) sang one of my songs in their program, asked for it after they heard us do it. It's called 'God is Listening'. A very personal song I wrote. We grew up with my father singing in a gospel quartet, when we were just tykes in a tiny, steepled church - one front door, one back door. And as teens we were always in the church choirs wherever we went.

I suppose that's what gave me the basis for the love of most music in my lifetime. My mother's love for country music and daddy's love for classical later on, lead me to play the piano and sing at home, and then in public, which led to my producing music concerts and festivals. It all went hand and hand.

Anyway ... I'm only mentioning this because a conversation tonight reminded of my upbringing, where I came from, and where I went after that, the hard times, the good times, the tragedy, the sorrow, and also the spectacular life I've had in spite of it all. Of course I'll write about it in my autobio one day, but for now I just want to mention a few things and tell you why.

Let's start with the 'why'. I believe I've gone through what I have in the decades I've spent on this earth, and have been subjected to the people, things, places and events (good and bad), for several reasons. Here are three. One, that I may be able to empathize with others, to be able to understand what others feel, what makes them tick, what makes them cry, and so forth, and maybe just maybe I might possibly assist them somehow because of my own experience. Two, that I may have another chance to discover more about myself on this short journey through life, my purpose, in preparation for the next one. Three, that I may experience life's truths and drama to include in my own writing, and thereby bring knowledge, joy and enlightenment to others.

Yes, I'm a contemporary romantic suspense writer, but I don't write lightly. I write about truths and real life, the bad as well as the good. If you've read my work, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't then you might figure it's just another romance novel for women only. Nope, it isn't. My novels have a purposeful and deliberate pouring out of the soul and spirit under the guise of romantic suspense, but they're entertaining as well as enlightening.

What I'm getting at here, is that I draw from my own life and the life of others around me when I'm writing a book or short story. The plot and story are from imagination, but the motivation, emotions and drama are real. Without the years of that emotion and drama in my own life, I doubt that I would be able to write the novels I do at all. It just wouldn't be there to draw from, no depth at all.

Now, although I write contemporary romantic suspense, I read other genres. My favorite are historical thrillers and suspense. I read military thrillers, mysteries, detective mysteries, and other such. I don't care for horror, but I do read Stephen King and Dean Koontz (a cross between thrillers and horror at times), love them both. And in my publishing arena I read many books of different genres that are submitted to me for publishing.

I've edited novels and non-fiction, and tons of short stories for the past fifteen years. So my experience might be a bit more than the novice or that of an author, but less than the old-timer editors, and the major publishing house editors. I'm just a beginner as an independent publisher. But I do my homework.

Now I was going to talk about some of the mishaps and tragedies in my life, and the highlights for a reason ... but I've run out of steam for now. I'll save that for another time. You'll just have to wonder a little longer what the hell I'm getting at ... lol lol lol In the meantime I'll try and figure that out.

Monday, October 31, 2011

COMING UP WITH A NEW STORY

Here I am, at last, in Port Isaac, Cornwall. And here I've been dredging my imagination inspired by this incredible fishing village to come up with an idea and a story for a new novel. A novel not part of my 'Midnight' series. A complete stand-alone. But still a contemporary romantic suspense novel, but the first one without my character Rachel O'Neill.

So, I've been thinking and thinking and thinking, making notes about possibilities, scrutinizing my surroundings with the purpose of creating the backdrop for my story, focusing my every waking thought on it ... until last night. Last night I met up with a couple gals and their husbands who we'd met the first night Trish and I arrived in Port Isaac. Fun people. And last night I put a question to the gals ... why would my protagonist be in Port Isaac, hiding out, living in a cottage she purchased without her husband of six months knowing, while he's back in New York City not knowing where she is? Why is she here? Why did she disappear?

Well, then the story unfolded. Between the three of us, we came up with a wonderful plot. At least a starting point with possible plot points ... and it was a fabulous brain-storming session. So now I'm eager to get to the writing of it.

After leaving them, I went for dinner at The Mote - crispy salmon, spinach, potatoes, and salad - then I walked back up the hill to our cottage in the rain, feeling the night had been totally productive and exhilarating. Trish stayed in for the evening, had been out walking all day while I worked - publishing stuff.

Today we went to Tintagel a few miles from here - the Camelot Castle Hotel and the village that was a complete surprise (the village is not portrayed well on the Internet, it's terrific). And as we traveled the bus ride to and from Tintagel, my mind continued writing this new novel ... working title JESSICA. (Oh, our busdriver on the return trip was a flaming queen - ruby red nail polish and all. He was a riot, entertained us all the way back. Lots of laughter.)

By the way this was the first time I've discussed a possible plot with anybody else. And it's strange how it all came about. It only goes to show that wherever and whenever you can come up with a story, and with whomever, do it. They were very helpful. Both Brits. And I truly thank them.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

THOSE DREADFUL 'ING' WORDS AT THE BEGINNING OF A SENTENCE . . .

Okay, I must get this off my chest. And I'm not targeting any one writer, because every writer has committed this dreadful crime at one time or another. Usually at the beginning of their writing career . . . until someone like me calls their attention to it.

ING words at the beginning of sentences is a no-no, please! Or rather, an OVERUSE of ING words at the start of sentences is a no-no. Take a look at what you've written lately. Do you have more than one sentence on a page starting with an ING word?

And while you're at it, also look for sentences beginning with AS ... same thing. You can overuse AS as much as ING words.

Now an occasional ING word and an AS is okay starting a sentence or paragraph, but not when it becomes one after another on one page . . . when it stands out and leaps at you because of its overuse. The construction of each sentence needs to be different than the last, a contrast to the last, and words need to be of a variety so as not to bore and be repetitive.

Starting every sentence or a paragraph with a name is a no-no too.

But back to the ING words. Have you ever read a sentence like this: "Opening the door, she went directly to the bedroom." Oops! You can't open the door and go to the bedroom at the same time. In this instance, the ING word was not part of the action of the same sentence. So it's wrong anyway. You would say, "She opened the door and then went directly to the bedroom."

I saw one perfect example of misuse on the Internet - "Unlocking the door, she left the room." You see the problem here? You can't unlock the door and leave the room at the same time.

So when you do use ING words at the beginning of sentences, sparsely, make sure the ING phrase relates to the subject of the sentence. Here's one use - "Transfering the information was the important task of the day." But could also be written as - "The important task of the day was transfering the information." The second is preferable.

So watch those beginnings of sentences and paragraphs, and remember variety is best ... so crucial in your advancement as a writer.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

WRITING SHORT STORIES

Where do you begin after you decide to write a short story? What is the process? Do you have a plot in mind or do you start with a character?

I've found that when I don't have a plot in mind, which is most always, since I'm a writer who lets the characters pull me through the story, I use a gimmick to get me going. One of the best is to make a list of 10 words, then start a story incorporating those 10 words in the first paragraph. It actually works. Gets you going.

But for my latest short story, a nightmare ignited it. An honest to goodness nightmare. Here is how the nightmare translated to the page:

I was awakened by the most horrifying, blood-curdling screams I had ever heard in my life. At first I wasn’t sure if it was real, maybe I was having a nightmare. But no, I was wide awake and my worst living nightmare had just begun.

These weren’t the usual cat wails of animals mating. This was something more terrifying - long mournful high-pitched screeching.

Soon my own pitiful, painful screams were added to those of precious Princie, my beloved ten-year-old cat. I pushed past my parents who were rushing down the hallway, the blood splattering thuds on the outside of the door’s etched glass panes. It took all my guts and strength to fight the fear as I reached to open that door.

There, writhing violently as he hung from the Christmas wreath hook was my once beautiful, fluffy Princie, now a bloody blob. A thick wire had been wound around his neck and looped over the hook.

My sobs intensified when I saw all four of his paws had been chopped off; the bloody stumps gyrating in the air, slinging blood everywhere.

I couldn’t bear to have Princie live with the memories and pain of the merciless assault, although I was left with the memory. As my father drove wildly to the animal hospital with me crying and cradling Princie tightly in a blanket, I knew he had to be put out of his misery. My heart was laden with anguish and agony, he was my baby. He slept with me.

I’ll never forget it. Never.


So, I began with that verbatim ... and then did a fast-forward to 20 years later. My protagonist is twenty years older and living unhappily in Los Angeles.

There we go ... the nightmare got me started. It totaled 3500 words and I submitted it to a Good Housekeeping Magazine Short Story contest. We'll see what happens - results in February.

So that's one way to be inspired ... dreams and nightmares. Another is through the listing of 10 or more words and incorporating them into a story, and another is through ideas that come to mind during your everyday activities.

Ray Bradbury wrote a short story almost every day, he talked about it at a book festival I attended. It was a daily exercise for him. He'd spend hours upon hours at the library, in his day before computers, reading and coming up with all sorts of ideas. And he's considered one of the most prolific short story writers of our time. He's still at it, by the way. In a wheel chair now.

When I was writing articles on assignment for a magazine five or six years ago, I found that once I sat down and began writing, it would flow. But I was a champion at procrastination. I'd dread having to write the article, even though I enjoyed the interviewing and all, but the actual writing sometimes took me right up to the deadline to begin the article, and I'd knock it out in an hour. It's the same with short stories or any other writing ... ya gotta sit down and start writing, not just think about it.

I guess I'm lucky for I never seem to be without inspiration. I believe I could write one a day like Mr. Bradbury, if I were of the mindset. It might be a fun exercise to see what spills onto the paper (or computer screen in my case). Besides, it's almost time again to compile another short story collection ... my third.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's 4 a.m. and I'm on my second cup of coffee!

So how did this happen? Got up at 3 a.m., opened the cat door for my fellas, made some coffee, and then I was in a quandry as to what to do next.

Did some reading of Publishers Weekly, Facebook, and Twitter ... posted a few ... and here I am. Blogging.

Did you know that Amazon has several imprints? Yes, they've entered the traditional publishing market. First one was AmazonEncore - May 2009. AmazonEncore is a new program whereby Amazon will use information such as customer reviews on Amazon.com to identify exceptional, overlooked books and authors with more potential than their sales may indicate. Amazon will then partner with the authors to re-introduce their books to readers through marketing support and distribution into multiple channels and formats, such as the Amazon.com Books Store, Amazon Kindle Store, Audible.com, and national and independent bookstores via third-party wholesalers.

Then according to a press release AmazonCrossing was launched in May 2010. AmazonCrossing uses customer feedback and other data from Amazon sites around the world to identify exceptional books deserving of a wider, global audience. AmazonCrossing will acquire the rights and translate the books and then introduce them to the English-speaking market through multiple channels and formats, such as the Amazon Books Store, Amazon Kindle Store, and national and independent booksellers via third-party wholesalers.

Here's an EXCERPT from a May 2011 Amazon Press Release regarding its new Montlake Romance imprint: Montlake Romance takes its name from the central Seattle neighborhood of Montlake, and will publish a broad range of front list titles in popular romance sub-genres, including romantic suspense and contemporary and historic romance novels, as well as fantasy and paranormal. The new imprint joins AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossing and Powered by Amazon as part of the Amazon Publishing family. Montlake Romance books will be available to North American readers in Kindle, print and audio formats at www.amazon.com, as well as at national and independent booksellers.

Looks like Amazon is launching a new imprint in May of each year, doesn't it? Interesting.

Now it's Thomas & Mercer ... "The new imprint should come as no shock to those in the book community, as its rollout is part of the larger plans Amazon said it has for its publishing program. When the e-tailer announced Montlake, it said it would be expanding into category publishing in mystery, thriller and science fiction. Amazon called Thomas & Mercer its fifth imprint, adding it to AmazonEncore (the company's flagship, general imprint), AmazonCrossing (dedicated to literature in translation), Powered by Amazon (a self-publishing platform and less of an imprint per se) and Montlake."

Makes this writer want to get on the bandwagon and focus on her Amazon author's page as well as encourage Amazon reviews of her books and write reviews of other books. All ways to be seen and heard to increase exposure and be noticed by the Amazon powers that be. Certainly to increase sales if nothing else, it all works together ... get the picture?

AND ... if a writer's work creates enough visibility on Amazon in all those ways, why not shoot for one of their imprints to publish your books? As for me, Montlake would be best for my next romantic suspense series.

How about you?





Tuesday, August 23, 2011

NEVER FEAR, I'M STILL HERE!

Ha! Life has gotten in the way the past few days, hence my absence from my blog. But in a couple days I'll be back. Never fear, I'm still here!

After cleaning up the residue and downed trees from a violent storm that hit before this past weekend, I am in the middle of finalizing the edits of SNIPER by Tom Onstott. You will definitely want to read this exciting novel. It's really somthing. I'm loving it. Will be available on Amazon September 30 if not before. So be sure you buy it, folks. It's a page-turner. First novel published for Tom Onstott, although he's written nine. Next year we'll be publishing another of his too.
Here's a blurb of the book:

"Could it happen? In the aftermath of 9/11 fear and confusion created a country-wide cry for protection against another terrorist attack. The government responded by passing the Patriot Act and introducing a new agency, the Department of Homeland Security. These actions gave the Executive Branch powers not enjoyed since the Second World War.

Then it happened! An unwarranted phone tap sends an FBI team to the right address in the wrong town; the home of Master Sergeant James Simpson. When the smoke clears, six innocent people are dead including Simpson’s wife and child. After the people involved decide the truth would devastate the new government programs and bring to an end their own careers, a story is concocted sparking a massive manhunt."

It's another novel perfect for a movie. You'll see.

Okay, back to my writing experience next time ...

Ciao for now!



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Story behind the Story - Part 4 - DELLA

Now in the fourth novel MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW we have Della Doheney, a flaming red-haired Irish lass (40, still single) from New York City and Oklahoma ... that's a combination for you. Makes for a very spirited character, which is the whole idea. I find that the character's background, just as in real life, is important in conveying his personality and general impressions to the readers.

This time I pulled her character strictly from my imagination, but of course using my experience as an independent publisher came in handy, plus the knowledge I have of big game hunters and Oklahoma oil and cattle barons. It all seemed to fit together in forming this nice little lady. lol

Della was born and raised in Oklahoma on a cattle ranch with a few oil wells thrown in - a typical mix for that strata in 'The Sooner State' (Sooner meaning early-birds in the race to claim Indian-Territory land). So what I was creating in Della would prepare her for what was to come in Russia, she couldn't be some delicate flower wimp. She needed to be fiesty, strong, able-bodied, experienced in self defense and handling of guns, etc., as well as feminine and appealing, for I had things planned for her. Making her the daughter of an award-winning big-game hunter and a cowgirl of sorts, a scholar, and later on a publisher in Manhattan ... well, I would say this gal can be one tough cookie. She has to be able to handle whatever comes her way in Russia or wherever. But it's Russia she chooses and it's Russia where she immediately falls for Valentin Ballanchine of Ballanchine Brothers - diamond and amber merchants.

Of course the 'publisher' link puts her right in line to connect with Rachel O'Neill who is a novelist and an American living in Cornwall and also traveling to Russia. Rachel plans to do research and reconnect with Maxim Ballanchine (Valentin's brother) who she'd met in Brussels the year before. See how the web is woven? lol lol

So there you go ... the secondary protagonist and cohort in the fourth novel - MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW - of the 'Rachel O'Neill' saga.

Ciao!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Story behind the Story - Part 3 - SHELLIE

I know I've been talking about the Brussels novel and Amanda, but let's shift today to the Eiffel novel and the character Shellie, for she's on my mind. She's in the second novel in the series - MIDNIGHT AT THE EIFFEL. Also a protagonist right along with Rachel - a different one to accompany Rachel in each novel remember, and this time it's Shellie.

Shellie is a 40-year old jazz singer who has never quite made it. She knows all the musicians and sits in with them at their gigs all over L.A., but hasn't had the break she's been searching for. She has a day job as a receptionist in a doctor's office. My mental picture of her came from that of one of my friends, who is still an aspiring singer/songwriter to this day, although her chances may have slipped by, for she isn't getting any younger. I say 'may' cause she's living in L.A. at the moment and you know, you never know when that right person may come along and snap you up ... I'm hoping she's still invited to sit in whenever and whereever she can. But it has always been her desire to live in Paris and sing. So there we go ... our Shellie has the same desire ... a coincidence?

I decided Shellie should be married but she would end up in Paris where she would meet Rachel O'Neill. They have a few things in common which will draw them together. So, how to get her there? Well, it didn't take long ... the story formulated almost immediately. I saw an Oprah show that day on TV about abusive relationships and with a stretch of the imagination and using some of my own experiences it all came to light.

But we must back up a few years when one of my ex's and I lived in Marina del Rey, California, in a high-rise apartment building with our docked 40' sailboat down below. 'Twas a great life. I loved it at first, but after a few months the relationship waned and began to fizzle.

Although my husband was not an abuser, not at all, one night after we were separated (I lived in the apartment, he lived on the boat) our paths crossed while we were out on the town in the marina. He was with a younger woman (who he later married, I think they married) and he was startled to see me in the same lounge (I was with a girlfriend from work, hadn't started dating yet). Since he'd been saying for weeks he wasn't interested in anyone else, he wasn't going out with anyone (didn't matter a hill of beans to me, by the way, if he was or not), he became irate. Told me to leave the establishment. I said no, I was there to hear the music and he couldn't tell me what to do. He and his party left.

About 30 minutes later, my galpal and I went down the street to my other favorite place in the marina - CLEM'S. Terrific bar/restaurant at the time with an incredible piano player - a showman, wore a keyboard scarf, was very flambouyant. Yikes, my ex was there too. This time it was worse, he was livid, so I left. Said goodbye to my friend and went home down the street to the apartment.

I went to bed. Next thing I knew, my ex was opening the apartment door with his key, and stumbled drunk into the bedroom insisting on husband/wife privileges. I said no, we weren't together anymore, said he should have gone home with his girlfriend. That triggered I don't know what. Pissed him off. He grabbed me by the legs and tried to force me to have sex with him. I got away, ran through the living room onto the balcony (14 floors up). He ran after me and pushed my head and shoulders back over the metal railing (hurt like hell), threatening to toss me on over. At first I struggled and screamed as he was trying to lift me over the railing. Then I just went limp, giving in to the death below. The look in his eyes revealed his intent.

Suddenly, he let me go and stepped back. I ran into the house, got my coat and purse and ran to the elevator. Rushed to the garage and drove across L.A. to Glendale where my galpal lived. I never went back to the apartment. My friends went after my things.

Sooooooooooooo ... I took some of that and heaped it onto Shellie, placed her in Marina del Rey where I had lived. Except her husband was certainly controlling and an abuser. A downright asshole, he was! Her escape to Paris, with the help of a friend, enabled her to flee a terrible situation and marriage and at the same time present music possibilities she didn't have in the States. The big fish in the little pond as opposed to the little fish in the big pond . . .

Anyway ... that's how Shellie was created. There's more to her backstory, of couse, there always is. You'll love her. Whereas Amanda is tall, blond and slender, Shellie is a petite little gal, looks like the girl on the cover of the book.

Okay, that's it for today ... more tomorrow about the writing of my books.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Story behind the Story - Part 2 - AMANDA

When I was conjuring up Amanda as the other protagonist along with Rachel O'Neill in Midnight in Brussels, for in each novel there is an additional leading gal introduced, my mother's personality came to mind.

Selma Dearmore (my mother) was born in Arkansas, was the last of a hoard of siblings, spent much of her time alone with her paper dolls, telling stories and creating imaginary people, and drawing, and what have you, entertaining herself (much the same as I did as a young girl, amazing how that works).

Her mother, my grandmother, was an industrious sort ... had a cafe and millinery shop in the small town of Branch. In the '90s, after my father died, I took my mother back to her roots to a class reunion, first time she'd been back to Arkansas since she left after graduating high school. So I had the chance to see the boarded up shops and the blacksmith shop where my grandfather had fit horseshoes. We weren't sure which house was where she was raised, but we settled on one that was a short distance from town. But she remembered it as being much farther out, which we always do ... everything is bigger and farther in our memories.

Anyway, mother was a shy girl growing up, stayed pretty much to herself. She did have a couple of girlfriends in school (we saw one at the reunion) but that was pretty much it. And she had a boyfriend, who we also visited at the reunion. That was priceless. She sparkled when she talked to him and they held hands. Childhood romances, can't beat 'em.

But at age 18 mother went to beauty school and then married someone else because he said he was moving to California, where she had been wanting to go because all four of her sisters and her brother had gone. Well, husband didn't move to California, he moved to Little Rock with no intentions of going west. So, mother, packed her bag while he was at work one day, after nine months of marriage, and took off to California anyway where the rest of her family was already ensconced. She'd hitched a ride with other people who were going.

When I began delving into who my character Amanda was, again, I saw my mother at that age. Although my mother was shy and insecure, secretive, and kept pretty much to herself, she still had the balls and gumption enough to take action when it was necessary for her to do so. She was a survivor. She knew what she wanted and by god she was going to get it come hell or high water.

Same as Amanda.

See you tomorrow ...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

'The Story behind the Story' - Part 1 - Beginnings of AMANDA

I first wrote a short story called 'Amanda's Dream' which is included in my book of shorts - 'Love has a Price Tag'. The short story later became 'Midnight in Brussels' as some of you know. That has happened to me several times, a short story developed into a novel.

How it began, the story behind the story is this ...

One time when I was in Vegas taking part in an event at the convention center, a group of Nevada writers had invited me to be included in their book booth to sell and sign my books, my ex-husband (who went with me on that trip) wanted to take the heliocopter flight to the Grand Canyon. It was a champagne lunch flight, we landed on the edge of the giant gorge and viewed the wonders of God's handiwork.

As we were flying in the direction of the canyon from Las Vegas, I was watching the terrain and saw a small settlement of mobile homes and the old fashioned 'trailers' (as they were called in the '40s) in the middle of nowhere. I mean the people who lived there were terribly isolated in that desolate desert.

A character immediately came to mind and formulated as we flew to our destination. What if a young girl, a Gwenyth Paltrow type, from the Ozarks (my mother's birthhome) married young - say like 16, not ever having experienced life, was now living in one of those 'trailers', stuck there, while her husband worked in Las Vegas at The Plaza (where we were staying). She had never worked and didn't have any skills, except sewing, which her mother taught her before she died back in Mountain Home.

And that's how it began. That was the backstory of Amanda, and how it came to me. I started with a character.

Some writers start with places or events. And you might say this was a bit of all three. Seeing the lonely community of 'trailers' below sparked thoughts of how it would feel to live there, away from everything. I wondered if I could do that, or if I would even want to. I wondered what the circumstances would be that would get me there. And in that wondering I conjured up Amanda.

Tomorrow I'll tell you what came next ...


Friday, August 12, 2011

LOVE IS IN THE AIR!

I ask myself quite often, what is it about love that fascinates me? Romantic love, that is. Yes, I'm all about romantic love. But I respect all types of love, I do - love for family and friends, love for animals, love for the world and other cultures, other peoples, all races and religions, all walks of life - but, I believe romantic love has always had me in its clutches. Romance me and I'm yours. (used to be my unspoken credo, lol lol, as it turned out) Not anymore, needless to say.

So why do I feel as I do? Why has male/female romance been the utmost priority in my life ... leading me hither and yon ... helter skelter ... off to this place and that ... to this adventure and to that one and then to the other?

If we truly believe 'everything happens for a reason' and 'everything comes gradually at its appointed hour' ... and I must say, this I do believe ... then I feel that the reason I have had countless romantic relationships and husbands and all that goes with them in my lifetime is twofold. One: to be able to feel compassion and empathize with my fellow women and men in such relationships, good or bad ... Two: to be able to write romantic novels knowledgeably and believeably. I'm not joking here, for without the experiences and life I've had, I do not see how I could possibly be writing the stories I write. The brain-bank in which I've stored all my memories, the loves and happiness, the heartbreak and tragedies, death and divorce, rape and addictions, abuse of all kinds, success and elation, overcoming insecurities and baggage ... it's all there, stored in the Becca Buckley Brain-Bank to be retrieved at any given moment. Then add a bit of imagination, fiction, technique and creativity ... and voila! I've written a story not only for my readers' enjoyment, but for their enlightenment too. At least that is my hope, that something positive will be gained from what I have to say. (I throw in quite a bit of travel too ... some neat stuff, exotic places maybe you haven't seen.)

And guess what? There have been bonuses for me through all the romance ... I have my children, and my friends that I've made along the way in all the locales my eight husbands and multitude of lovers took me, and the fabulous unending travel, the masses of work experience, and of course, the many survival techniques I've mastered. Yes, mastered. I could probably write a book about any or all the above. Just may do that.

So, what am I trying to say here? What's the point?

Well, in trying to figure out how I got to this point in my life ... writing books and publishing other authors' books ... it has occurred to me that I am doing exactly what I was meant to do since the day of my birth. It has taken me this long to get here, and ... everything has happened for a reason! Love and romance have deliberately played the most important roles in my life, upon which I capitalize, and I have no regrets.

I am as I should be. I am in a good place with a lot to say. And what better way to say it than through my stories.

Soooooo ... what I'm a gonna do is this ...

Starting Saturday, August 13, I'll be writing a series of blog posts entitled "The Story Behind the Story". First one will be about the third novel "Midnight in Brussels" ... what inspired it and the writing of it, including my two eventful trips to Belgium doing research. I'm thinking this might be helpful to new writers who aren't sure about how to get going, as well as those readers who might be curious about the 'real story.' lol lol I hope you'll follow along and I'll be eager to read your comments.

Meet you here tomorrow?



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER VS. DISTRIBUTOR ... OR Between a Rock and a Hard Place!

A bit more about the publisher/distributor dilemma ... here's something I found interesting on the Frugalmarketing.com website. Explains a bit more about how it all works.

"Ingram is the 6000 lbs. gorilla of wholesalers. It doesn't accept books from publishers of less than 10 titles or whose income *from Ingram* is less than $25,000 a year. (This figure will probably be raised to $30k next year.) This makes life very hard for the new or struggling small press. Most bookstores won't bother with a book that isn't listed in Ingram. It's not fair, but it's the way things are."

Just a note: RJBP books are listed with Ingram, but through Lightning Source which results in a 20% discount to booksellers on land. We're okay with Internet booksellers, it's just the brick & mortar stores that are the problem ... age-old problem for small independent publishers.

"Baker & Taylor is more open to small presses. They have programs through SPAN to sign up. Be aware that unless there is significant ordering, B&T will not stock your book. They will list it in their database and order when there is activity. They have the most hair-trigger returns program I know of (books can often come back 2 weeks after shipment when you are a 1-2 book publisher). This is because they are terrified of You owing Them money (returns are charged back to you)."

Now, I'm talking here as an independent publisher (R. J. Buckley), folks, not as an author. In my last post I believe I was misunderstood, comments were confusing, sounded as if the posters thought I was talking about authors self publishing. Not the case. The subject is Independent Publishers vs. Distributors - the relationship between the two.

Self-published authors are different all together. Falls into a different category completely. Your chances of being taken on directly by Ingram and Baker & Taylor are next to nil. That's a given. And getting your books in a store are next to nil, other than the neighborhood bookseller who takes local authors as well as getting into the library you frequent regularly.

So what I'm attempting to do here is explain the whys and hows it does or does not happen for clients of independent publishing houses.

DEFINITION OF AN INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER (or publishing house): "By definition, an independent publisher is any publishing company that operates on a traditional business model – where the money flows to the author – but is not owned by another company. That is, an independent publisher is not an imprint, nor an arm of another company. Independent publishers function in much the same fashion as an imprint of the Big Six, albeit on smaller scale."

In case you don't know ... here are The Big Six:

1. Hachette Book Group
2. HarperCollins
3. MacMillan Publishers Ltd.
4. Penguin Group
5. Random House
6. Simon & Schuster

There you go ... the BIG SIX! Operating as an independent publisher, RJBP has published 20 books to date, with three more to be published by the end of December this year (2011), bringing the total to 23. So far, 7 more books have been contracted to be published in 2012. So we're growing very fast for an independent the size of RJBP.

And again, the issue I'm facing is the best way to accomplish distribution to bookstores and libraries. Internet and ebooks are not a problem. That's solved. Readers ordering single books through bookstores isn't a problem. The problem is selling to booksellers and libraries at an attractive discount price that will entice them to purchase in bulk. That's the problem. And to do that, I have to be doing DIRECT business with the major distributors ... such as the two listed above.

And that entails a whole other can of worms ... to the distributors I must present an adequate business plan and projection, meet the annual gross and net sales criteria, inventory, pricing, cost of sales, etc. YIKES! But again, it's a puzzle that can be worked out. I know it can. Other small publishers have done it. I just have to figure it out. And when someone says to me "you can't do it", or that "it's too difficult," then that just pushes me forward.

HOWEVER ... "Getting into distributors, wholesalers and bookstores is not the important part. You have to create demand for your book--which means you have to figure out how to create customers!" EXACTLY!


Friday, July 22, 2011

THEY'VE GOT ME BY THE GONADS!

Correct me if I'm wrong, by all means ... but it seems to me that this fledgling independent book publisher's gonads are caught in the proverbial ringer. I mean, really! Here's the delimma:

For a title to be purchased in bulk by a major bookstore chain (excluding Borders who just went out of business), the title must be distributed by one of the biggies - Ingram, Baker Taylor, etc - and it must be discounted to the bookseller at a 45 percent discount.

Now if an independent publisher sells through Lightning Source or other such wholesaler/printers who then lists with Ingram Book Distributor, the entire picture changes. If the book is listed at the usual 45 percent discount with Lightning Source or other such wholesaler/printers, Ingram will offer it to the bookseller at a 20 percent discount. Yea, that's right!!! They take their cut from the 45 percent. No bookseller will pay that price for a title, no way. And why should they? There are hundreds of thousands of books out there to choose from that are being offered at the appropriate discount. So, your title will NOT be stocked in a bookstore and most likely will NOT be ordered in bulk for booksignings. That's just the way it is.

By the way ... Baker Taylor may not even list the book in their catalog for whatever their reasons anyway, it's their option. No guarantees there.

Now the above is the scenario of an independent who is relatively new - trade paperback, print on demand, no or not many heavy-hitter sales, a publisher in the growing stage. And I might add, in order to guarantee a 40-45 percent discount to a bookseller, a 55 percent discount must be listed at the onset.

So let's figure this out ... on a $19 retail book:

55% off retail = $10.45 distributor and bookseller cuts
Cost of printing to publisher = $5.91 (depending on number of pages, etc.)
Author royalty = $2.85 (depending on percentage)

TOTAL: $19.21

OOPS! Publisher gets minus .21 And that's just basic costs, not taking anything else into consideration, operating costs, etc. Ain't gonna happen, is it?

So can you see why some publishers have a high price tag on the book? And can you see why your book is not in a major bookstore?

But if the independent gains momentum in sales and meets Ingram's guidelines for inclusion in their direct distribution program, then the above changes. Dealing direct with Ingram or equivalent distributor (and most charge an arm and a leg for services) provides acceptable discounts to booksellers. However an independent publisher must have at least 10 good sellers and have an increasing track record as well as a terrific business plan. He has to qualify. This applies to print sales.

Anyway, I'm frustrated at the moment. Beating my head against the wall. Need to find a better way for the print division to cut costs, etc. Printing and warehousing is not an option for me, although that would possibly cut costs considerably but would then create a distribution problem. Not an option, as I said. Not yet anyway. Hey, if everything was easy, it wouldn't be fun and exciting, right?

Soooooooooooo ... I'll continue to plug along at a steady pace, publish to the best of my ability, concentrate on marketing both print and ebooks, and cut costs where I can and must. When I reach the level to pitch to Ingram, then that will be the direction I'll take. Maybe. Maybe by then there will be other alternatives. Maybe there is now. If so, I'll shift gears. But I will do what I have to do for my authors. They are my sole concern.

Thanks for reading my rant!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

YOUNG OR OLD, THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Okay, so I don't ever learn. Go ahead and say it. I still think my body is that of a 20-year-old, still lifting boxes and going from morn till night putzing around and readying things for whatever. Still mowing lawns, pruning trees, hauling out the cuttings bags to the trash cans. Moving furniture, climbing on ladders to hang heavy paintings, and yada yada yada ... WHEN WILL I EVER LEARN?????

Because right now my body is angry with me. It hurts! It's crying out to me to go soak in a hot tub, take a handful of Advil, down a glass or two of wine, and end this day ... give it a rest. But it's only 10:42 pm. I can't quit yet, it just isn't right, I'd feel guilty. There are still things to do.

And tomorrow at 8 a.m. Trish and I are going after a U-haul truck in which to load the remaining boxes from the garage, in preparation for the tile man to lay a new floor. After that it'll be smooth sailing till the furniture arrives on the 8th, so I'll get some rest after tomorrow till the 8th. Rest from manual labor, that is.

The other kind of work continues ... completing the design and editing of the new RJBP novel SNIPER by Don Onstott, am waiting for the first edits coming on July 1. Then first edits arrive for HALLOWING SCREAMS by Barbara Watkins, followed by first edits for NEON RAINBO by E. Don Harpe. So, there you have it. The three remaining novels to be published by R. J. Buckley Publishing in 2011. Release dates - September 15, October 15, December 15 ... respectively. Exciting work I do, it really is. I love my life.

So, when I do this physical stuff, the heavy work like I've been doing the past week or so ... it really isn't so bad, and I do eventually get over the pain. So, maybe I am as young as I feel AT TIMES. And as old as I feel other times.

But I do think I will call it a night, maybe take two Aleve and a glass of OJ, and douse myself in a tub of hot water. Yep, that'll do it. Sounds good.

So ciao for now ...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

'MIDNIGHT SALE' - Rachel O'Neill is on the road again!

Yes, it's a Midnight Sale! I mean, the novels, the Midnight Series staring Rachel O'Neill are on sale! She's going from city to city, finding purpose, romance, and adventure, oft times danger. She's meeting new people, handsome sexy men, making lifelong friends, a bit of mystery and suspense in the mix ... so jump in, come along for the ride. All for 99 cents per Kindle version. And if you want the trade paper copies, on my website you can also have all four novels for a very special price - that's for those of you who like to hold the physical book. And they're signed copies. Such a deal! Click on my website link to the right to buy them: Rebecca Buckley - Writer.

In celebration of the release of my new novel - MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW - this special pricing is for you. For a short time. At last #4 is out there! So exciting!

And by the way ... all my novels and books are available at Internet bookstores as well as your favorite local booksellers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Making it real!

Making it real is what the writer does with his characters. That is, if he wants it to feel real, having the characters leap off the pages so the reader feels as if they're in the room with him, or he's right along with them on their adventures or journeys. How do we do that?

Well, first off, with your main characters, whatever the number (I usually have six, amounting to three couples), create a different personality and characteristics for each of them. The easy way to do this is to make a characterization journal with page headings using names, or you can do it with index cards. For instance: John, Mary, Richard, Rhonda, Gerald, Louise. If you use index cards, you can have multiple cards for each character, and when you need to refer to them you just go to the index card holder and flip to the name for instant information.

Now on each page or card describe the characters: physical descriptions, favorite clothing, quirky habits, whether they are slow moving or fast, chatty or not, loud or on the quiet side, and so forth. Descriptions. The reader must be able to instantly visualize the character every time he reads his name or reads about him.

Next what are your main characters' goals and ambitions in life, in love, businesswise, and family? What do they think about? How do they express themselves? How do they behave in stressful situations, happy situations, sad, etc.? Are they highly emotional or hide their feelings?

What about their history and early life, their childhood? Were their parents loving, were they raised by one parent, or by grandparents, or on a farm, in the city? Big family, only child? Was there alcoholism, physical or sexual abuse? How were they affected if there was abuse or otherwise?

And so on.

Get to know each and every main character's heart, mind, and soul ... so the reader will be able to tap into that source through you. And the more you know the innards of your characters, you can't help but put it to paper as you are writing. Make sure you do. Share that information with your reader through the character's thoughts, dialog, and actions AND through other character's observances and interaction.

So, make it real ... regardless of the genre. Your characters must be believable in all facets.

Friday, May 13, 2011

MUST HAVE BOOK PROMOTION TOOLS

I've talked about this before on previous posts, somewhere in time. But I just want to reiterate once again and possibly give you information you haven't heard as writers.

First of all, these are the imperatives, as far as I'm concerned. If nothing else, please do these things for yourself:

1. Create an author website
2. Create an author's blog
3. Create an author Facebook account
4. Create an author Twitter account
5. Create an author's page on Amazon

If you do nothing else, this will get you out there and make yourself known and broaden your base of readers, thereby increasing your book sales.

Let's take them one by one. Today, let's talk about number one: Create an author website. This will be the only of the five that will cost you. But it can be minimal, depending on how you approach it.

I would suggest . . .

First go to GoDaddy.com and purchase a domain name. That will be your address (URL) on the Internet and will come up in searches for your name. So use your name or your penname as your URL. For instance, mine is www.rebeccabuckley.com . My publishing companies are www.rjbuckleypublishing.com and www.orangeflowerpublishing.com . The simpler the better, be specific. Don't make it difficult for potential readers to find you. Being too clever or cutesy can lose potential readers and buyers, they won't be able to find you. So use your name as your domain name.

Now, you might want to also create a website for each of your books, in addition to your primary website which will have all your books and everything about you. For instance, if your title is "Brownout", then you'd purchase the URL www.brownout.com . But if you have quite a few books, it could be a time-consuming task. So to start with just purchase your "name" domain name (URL, Internet address).

Next, on GoDaddy, you can actually begin creating your website right there, immediately. They provide that process for you. Or you can go to other website-maker sites and create from templates that are provided. Do searches on "how to create a website" or "website templates." Here are a few easy do-it-yourself website companies:

www.freewebs.com
www.intuit.com
www.weebly.com
www.webs.com
www.wix.com
www.yola.com

Some authors hire website designers because they just don't want to deal with it, depends on your budget. Some write their own html (the source code that creates the page) and upload their pages using CuteFTP, which is what I do. I purchase templates or get free ones, download them to my computer and then through WORD notepad, I create my pages, using CuteFTP to upload them to my FTP space parked on GoDaddy.

CuteFTP is a program that makes it sooooooooo easy to upload revised pages to your FTP space (which is the space parked on GoDaddy if you use them as your host). Your FTP space would be your domain name, for instance, mine is ftp.rebeccabuckley.com. That's where all your web pages are stored so when searchers type in www.rebeccabuckley.com ... they will be essentially directed to your homepage in your ftp space. And, CuteFTP makes it easy for you to upload or delete files in your FTP space. Check it out.

Now if you use a webpage maker, an Internet company who handles all that for you, then you wouldn't need CuteFTP. You'd upload and make changes through their website.

Whatever direction you go, however, it is a must to have a website. You have to do it. Do your research.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

DO YOU INCLUDE NEWS OF THE DAY IN YOUR NOVELS?

Whether you're writing period romances, historical fiction, or contemporary novels ... do you include the news and headlines of the day in your stories? For instance "Bin Laden is Dead"? Or do you focus only on your characters' stories, not the periphery real-life happenings in that time-frame?

In one of my novels, I did include the death of Princess Diana in a flashback, my character remembering where she was that week, which fit into my story, but in all honesty, I must say I haven't used any other current events in my novels. In my latest novel, I have used the Russian diamond industry vs DeBeers controversies, but it is part of my characters' story. It just happens that two of my major characters are involved in that industry. But what I've written is fiction. And I'm not giving my opinion or preaching about any of the above. As a fiction writer, you're walking a fine line. Keep it interesting and fresh for your readers. Write an essay if you want to drive home an opinion.

My thoughts are that including the visual of real places and settings is plenty to please the senses in the reality respect, and writing the feelings and thoughts of my characters provides glimpses into their personal surroundings. So I don't narrate and preach boring opinions of a political or newsy nature to my readers. People can read history books, newspapers and the Internet, and view TV news for all that. But I do write, like I said, what is going on in my characters' minds, which sometimes includes a bit of history, and I write what is happening to my characters. That is what fiction readers want to know. And it must relate to the story unfolding.

I read somewhere that "Fiction is much more effective when it poses questions than when it tries to provide answers."

Monday, April 25, 2011

BOOKS ON THE SHELVES

How many times do you go into your library and browse the shelves for a good book to read, one that you haven't read yet? One that will jump out at you as you scan the rows of titles? By the way, what constitutes the meaning of a "good" book to you?

I become bored very easily when it comes to reading. The content has to grab me at the onset or I have trouble reading on. Now I know that the inability to catch my attention at the beginning isn't always a sign that the book isn't good, not at all. For I've plodded on through boring only to discover the book was a gem. So although it's best to have those action openings -- murders, rapes, interesting incidents, exciting happenings (doesn't always have to be a bad occasion)-- quality writing will most assuredly hold the reader till the action does begin, or what have you.

One such writer who takes a lot of patience out of me is Thomas Hardy. If you've ever read Hardy, you know what I mean. He'll drone on and on about something and you wonder if continuing with the read will be worth it. Of course it will, for here we have a classic, quality writer ... and reading his words whether there is action or not is very much worth the read. This man has a way with words. Love it.

On my library shelves, in addition to the latest best-selling novels, I have many classics, in fact I collect them. Books written by L. Tolstoy, F. Dostoevsky, T. Hardy, Du Maurier, D. H. Lawrence, George Elliot, Cookson, James Joyce, Dickens, Trollope, Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Twain, Melville, Hemingway, and so forth. And of course all the popular classic writers of today.

This morning I was searching the book shelves for a book that might hold my attention, and nothing leapt out at me. Can't imagine that happening, for I love to read. It soothes my soul. I looked through the self-help book shelves, nothing there grabbed me either; looked through my writing how-to bookshelves in my office, nothing there jumped out at me; took a look at the biography shelves, even the Presidential auto-biographies, nope, nothing there.

So, maybe I'll do some writing and editing instead. Although I had wanted to take a break from both, since just finishing two novels to be published in the next few weeks.

Maybe that's the problem, after such concentration and dedication in getting the two novels into shape, and now that they're pretty much done, maybe I'm just feeling restless after experiencing the elation, then a let-down one usually feels after writing or editing a book. Could be.

Maybe I need to rest my mind, do something utterly mindless like watching the broadcasts leading up to the Royal Wedding this week. Yes, that's what I'll do. Then next week it's back to business, more editing, more writing, more reading.

So for now, the books on the shelves will be untouched, all nice and pretty in their rows, till I regroup and start all over again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Future of Book Publishing

As I sip my coffee this morning, my thoughts go to the controversial subject of 'self-publishing vs. traditional publishing' and I wonder about how it will be twenty years from now.

First of all the eBook is gaining more and more momentum right along with the number of e-readers, the devices that allow you to download the eBook and read on the go. I, for one, love my Kindle device. Friends of mine have Kindles, Nooks, Sony Readers, etc. to use when traveling rather than carry weighty books. Now with the iPad and other tablets, even phones, the eBook device base has broadened and is steadily growing. Downloading eBooks at discount prices on a light-weight device is the wave of the future, whether you want it to be or not.

So, with this influx of eBooks comes the publishing of eBooks. Many authors are asking why is it necessary to spend the time and energy pitching their manuscripts to the traditional publishing company when all they have to do is upload it themselves to the various digital device platforms? And now there are ways to upload only once to an interface for all the devices - for example http://www.smashwords.com .

But doing it this way, going the self-publishing eBook direction, doesn't provide you with a book in hand, a hard copy. You know . . . an actual book for your own personal library shelves.

However, there are self-publishing companies who will see to it that your book is published in hard copy as well as eBook format. Making it quick and simple for you either way, both ways.

But, if you'd rather go the duration, submit your manuscript for acceptance to a traditional publishing company and wait and wait and wait, with the possibility of being rejected time and time again, then by all means go that route.

I'm just being realistic and honest here. Do you know how many manuscripts are submitted each year? Over two million! Do you know how many books are actually published in the U.S.A. each year, including self publications? Around 275,000. So you do the math. It's like the lottery.

But, like you, I still hang on to that dream of being offered a major book deal and becoming a best-seller, selling millions of books and being the next J. K. Rowling - 450 million in sales ... or one of the following best-known writers of all time:

Agatha Christie - 4 billion in sales
Barbara Cartland - 1 billion in sales
Daniele Steele - 600 million in sales
Stephen King - 350 million in sales
Jackie Collins - 400 million in sales
Nora Roberts - 300 million in sales
John Grisham - 250 million in sales
James Patterson - 150 million in sales
Debbie Macomber - 140 million in sales
Catherine Cookson - 120 million in sales
Ken Follett - 100 million in sales
Mary Higgins Clark - 100 million in sales

Just a few of my favorites.

But let's not forget there is the premise that persistence pays ... we've all heard that one. And with the authors above, guess what? It did pay. They persisted in their search for traditional publishers that had faith in their work. Although agents do play an important role in this.

Always, it depends on the route you want to take. It's your choice. Like I said, though, it's like the lottery, with around 200,000 out of 2 million titles a year receiving contracts from traditional publishers.

It's your call, of course, but the world of publishing is changing drastically. Do your research.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WINTER GARDEN by Kristin Hannah

Early this morning around 3 a.m. I spent the hour crying and crying, couldn't stop. No, it wasn't due to personal or physical pain, it wasn't heartbreak, it wasn't sad news I'd just received ... it was due to the novel WINTER GARDEN.

Kristin Hannah held me to the end in this fabulous bestseller of hers. Two stories in one: a story layered upon a story but ending together at the same point in time. I didn't see what was coming until the last few pages, another reason to applaud Ms. Hannah. The mystery held forth till the last.

The tag line on the back of the book was true to form "How can a woman know herself, if she doesn't really know her mother?" Not knowing what to expect, I bought the book on that line itself. Not the cover, not the blurb, not the author, not the title ... it was that one line that reeled me in. And I am so glad it did. For this book was so different and so moving. Definitely set apart from most novels.

One thing it did do, as I said at the beginning of this post, it evoked emotion. Lots of it.

As a writer, that is a big concern in writing a story. The emotion one can pull from the reader. Whether it is elation, anger, passion, saddness, inspiration ... one of the primary goals should be giving the reader an emotional experience.

In writing my own novels, I have to admit the writing falls a little short of the tears department, but I believe the inspiration is there, inspiring readers to go for it, to follow their dreams no matter how big or little. And I believe in romance. That's there too. And I believe in truth, that's there too.

But the main advice I would give a beginning writer today is to raise your purpose, write to inspire, even in the darkest mystery and crime novels. We write to entertain, but we can still inspire.

And Kristin Hannah's sub-story was about family interaction and relationships, but was as entertaining and emotion provoking as all get out. Terrific novel!

PUBLISHER WEEKLY SEZ:

"Female bonding is always good for a good cry, as Hannah (True Colors ) proves in her latest. Pacific Northwest apple country provides a beautiful, chilly setting for this family drama ignited by the death of a loving father whose two daughters have grown apart from each other and from their acid-tongued, Russian-born mother. After assuming responsibility for the family business, 40-year-old empty-nester Meredith finds it difficult to carry out her father's dying wish that she take care of her mother; Meredith's troubled marriage, her troubled relationship with her mother and her mother's increasingly troubled mind get in the way. Nina, Meredith's younger sister, takes a break from her globe-trotting photojournalism career to return home to do her share for their mother. How these three women find each other and themselves with the help of vodka and a trip to Alaska competes for emotional attention with the story within a story of WWII Leningrad. Readers will find it hard not to laugh a little and cry a little more as mother and daughters reach out to each other just in the nick of time."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

FAT TO MUSCLE

Reading "The Fat-To-Muscle Diet - Boost Your Metabolism for Permanent Weight Loss" by Victoria Zak, Cris Carlin, M.S., R.D., and Peter D. Vash, M.D., M.P.H. Published in 1987 by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.

So far this appears to be the most logical and doable program I've run across. Makes the most sense. Reducing fat intake and increasing metabolism alone would usually do the trick if you can do it, but I've been searching for a complete new way to approach aging and weight gain.

And believe me, I've got all the books ... Atkins, Southbeach, Fit for Life, etc etc ... an entire shelf of them. This one gives you three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner), broken down into five components: starch, fruit, dairy, vegetable, protein . . . and gives you lists of foods that fit into those categories. You choose and create. If you snack you take something from the lunch or dinner groups, but you don't duplicate them, it's one or the other.

This along with exercise of course, it goes without saying. Doesn't work without exercise and drinking lots of water. Simple, simple, simple. Couldn't get any simpler. No fats at all for the first couple of weeks while you're acclimating to the change in your diet. After that you add a tad of fat to the mix. But at a minimum.

Something in the book that jumped out at me ... when you eat sweets and fats, each makes you crave the other till your diet is eventually made up mostly of the two. And I can attest to that as being factual. I've watched what I've been eating and it is so true. One breeds the other until they take over your food intake.

One thing I must do, though, is cultivate a taste for yogurt. Up to now I've never cared for the stuff. But I see it can be a substitute for fats in cooking. It works as a substitute for sour cream on vegetables along with spices although I don't like sour cream anyway, my downfall is butter). And you can use yogurt on baked potato, or as a mix for macaroni salads.

You can eat pasta, by the way, that's one of your starches - 1/2 cup at lunch and dinner. That appeals to me. Served with a half cup of chopped, seasoned, canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes . . . perfect! I can do that, I do it already. Just need to make a change in proportions, evidently 2 or more cups at a sitting just doesn't hack it. Proportions are very important, I'm seeing. No overeating allowed.

Instead of mayonaise on tuna, use a dash of mustard and a spoon of yogurt with seasonings.

Instead of poaching fish in oil or butter (like I do) use a 1/2 cup dry white wine with seasonings. The alcohol burns off and leaves a well-seasoned protein.

Lots of tips in the book.

Sooooooooooooooooo ... a new me will emerge in a month or two, and I'm lovin' it!

Monday, January 10, 2011

James Patterson Takes it to the Limit!

Well, I don't know about you, but I was borderline appalled at the killing spree in James Patterson's SWIMSUIT. I know there are heinous crimes out there, I do know that. So I know it's reality, and I'm not feigning innocence. Every day we're reminded on the tele about the atrocities committed upon our human race - shows like CRIMINAL MINDS, LAW & ORDER: SVU, CSI, depict it all to the hilt. But are you noticing the horrid extent to which novel writers are going to bring that sadistic realism to readers?

It's like the influx of bigger and more extravagant casinos in Vegas, each one doing a one-upmanship. Same is happening with movies, TV shows, and crime novels. It seems the more blood is shed, the more sales are made.

But this time, as I read SWIMSUIT, I couldn't believe the continual vivid descriptions and the number of visual murders this book contains. I understand Patterson's reasoning(unless I'm wrong) of portraying the serial killer from the character's viewpoint making it seem more believable. Yes, I understand that. But you know, I read to be entertained, to relax, to be taken to a place that I can enjoy, and to also learn more about my craft of writing. And I know, I'm not the only reader out there. I'm aware that others read for shock value and excitement, something to feed that inner craving for horror.

And yes, of course I must admit the novel was a page-turner, I read it from cover to cover in a relativly short time in spite of the horrendous visuals, and I do understand why it is a page-turner. Patterson is a genius when it comes to knowing how to end a chapter and begin another: short, clipped, action-filled chapters, one driving you on to the next. So you might say, that's a learning experience for writers who are not aware of the importance of it.

But for entertainment, no. I was not entertained. The book left me feeling frightened, and left horrid pictures in my mind, left me wishing I hadn't read it, made it difficult for me to sleep.

It also made me rethink my recent desire to write a murder mystery or thriller. On second thought, it seems to me there are enough murder mystery writers, thrillers, and so forth out there. I think I'll stick to what I know best. Romantic suspense. Sure I have crime and death in my novels, but that isn't what drives them,there is more good than bad. I write what I like to read and it's going to stay that way. If that means I won't be a best-seller like James Patterson, then so be it.

Just want to add . . . I read THE POET by Michael Connelly just before I read SWIMSUIT. And although THE POET is also a serial-killer page-turner, Connelly's take was much more palpable. I enjoyed the read.