Author photos taken by Robert Abrams in Paris, France.



THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY - Rebecca Buckley's Blog
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.

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!