Monday, June 29, 2015

Agatha Christie Whodunit

Why did an Inspector from the Government Printing Office get crushed between two rows of electronic compact shelving? Find out in this murder/mystery, an Agatha Christie-type whodunit with multiple suspects whom, in the last chapter, the book's detective assembles in one room for "the big reveal." Death-by-compact-shelving may seem like a stretch, but it almost happened at a library where this book's author worked. You will never look at librarians and library shelving the same after reading it.

Death Among the Stacks: The Body in the Law Library
By Louise Hathaway

Only $2.99 at most online bookstores
Paperback version available at Amazon

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Orleans Travelogue and Romance Novel

"Honeymoon in New Orleans" by Louise Hathaway is mostly a travelogue, but it's part romance novel also. It is chock full of my favorite places to visit and dine at in the Crescent City. Have you ever wanted to pretend that you're Scarlett O'Hara and live at Tara? With a little imagination, you can at one of my favorite plantations, Oak Alley, a short drive from New Orleans. You can stay there overnight and soak up the vibes after the tourists have left. Sounds fun. I wish I was there now. Until then, this travelogue will have to do.

It's only $1.99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords.  If you subscribe to Scribd or Oyster, it's free.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

High School Reunions

How many of you go to your high school reunions hoping to see “the one who got away”? That’s what this PG-rated romance novel is all about. In this story, Danielle, a woman who has just turned 30, goes to her high school reunion hoping to see Sandy, a tall redhead, who, on their last day of school, gave her a poem he’d written about her. One of her biggest regrets is that she let him go away without telling him that she shares his feelings. He’s been impossible to locate so far, but she’s hoping that at tonight’s reunion, he will finally walk back into her life. For the most part, it is a true story about my husband & I, who met in high school, and reconnected after some time had passed. The people mentioned in it are real, too: we really did have a pimp, Playboy centerfold, and famous mystery writer in our class.
Available at most online bookstores
Only 99 cents

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dogs: Woman's Best Friend

My husband and I recently said goodbye to our little fur child.  His name was Rascal and he was a Jack Russell Terrier. We were lucky to have him in our lives for almost 15 wonderful years.

We never had any children and were used to a very solitary life of reading, gardening, and traveling. We were afraid that we wouldn't be good parents to a breed of dogs who are notorious for being high-enery and willfull.  Beforehand, we even found ourselves taking quizzes about whether or not we would be able to "handle" a dog with such special needs.  It was scary; but we were willing to take a chance.

I think I first fell in love with Jack Russell Terriers when I watched PBS's "Wishbone".  It was a show for children featuring a dog who was able to talk, read and travel back in time to become a character in literature and teach kids to love reading.  I'm an English Literature Major, so this was right up my alley. In the series, Wishbone would wear cute costumes and would be Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood.

Then, I saw the movie, "My Dog Skip".  That had to be the cutest dog and the cutest story I'd ever seen. To top it all off, a flower shop in my town owned a little JR named Gumbo who would often hop up onto the window display at the store and I'd see him whenever I drove by. It really was like the song, "How much is that doggie in the window?"  And then, of course, there was the JR in the movie "Mask" and the TV series "Frazer."

So, with much trepidation, my husband and I threw caution to the wind and became parents to our little 8 week old JR who we named Rascal before we'd even met him.  We picked out his name, thinking that it best described the temperment of this lovable but challenging breed.  It was love at first sight.  He was the runt of the litter and had a interesting early life: his mother had become "Mommy Dearest" and attacked and killed the last puppy of the litter.  She had tried to kill our little boy, too, until the breeder intervened.  The breeder had to separate the mother from the rest of the puppies and bottle-feed the rest of the litter.  Everyone loves an "underdog" and that's who our little Rascal was.  I immediately considered myself his "mother" and protector.  I was going to save this little dog from his psycho mom.  He weighed only 6 ounces when we brought him home.  I was so afraid that I was going to step on him and crush him accidentally.

My husband and I love to travel: we have been to France, Italy, England, Belgium, Holland, Luxemberg, and Switzerland and many big towns in the US such as New York, New Orleans, and Chicago.  But our lives entirely changed when we brought this little bundle of joy into our world. Whenever we traveled, all we could think about was coming home and seeing our Rascal again.  We even cut vacations short because we missed him so much.  We were truly smitten. 

Our little fur child died almost a week ago.  He had "been there for me" through it all and was by my side when I lost both my parents and my brother and sister, who died 3 months from each other. Rascal and I were inseparable.  Whenever I'd be gone for the afternoon, when I opened the front door he was there waiting for me and would crawl on the ground with his tail wagging until I got down on my hands and knees and crawled right along with him.  He acted like I'd been gone for days.

 We brought his ashes home tonight.  I'm so glad to finally have him back.  He was the best dog in the world.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Marketing Your Book

Okay, you’ve just written the great American novel and can’t wait to release it to the world; then watch those royalties come streaming in.  You’ve asked a friend to proof-read it and give you constructive criticism.  He thinks your book is really good.  You may have even forked over $100.00 to a professional who designed a mind-blowing cover. Who wouldn’t want to buy a book with a cover like that? you ask yourself.

Stop.  Take a deep breath.  There’s one more make-or-break job you have to do: write a book description.  That’s not as easy as it sounds, especially with publishers like Smashwords who limit the short description to only 400 characters.  You may have a great long description, but you are going have to start deleting parts of it to fit into the short one.  It can be very frustrating.  I've seen some short descriptions where part of the last sentence is cut off.  Obviously, the writer didn't double-check it before publication. 

Here are some suggestions to consider:

1.     Don’t use subplots:  Keep to the main point and don’t confuse your readers: they probably don’t want to take the time to read a long description anyway.  Ask yourself, “What is the primary action that drives my book?”
2.     Make it concise.  A creative writing teacher once told me that a poem is more difficult to write than a short story or novel because with a poem, every single word must be packed with meaning.
3.     Keep it under 150 words.
4.     Write in the third person, present tense.  Imagine sitting face-to-face with your reader and they’ve asked you what your book is about.
5.     Write it as if you are the publisher—not the writer. Remember—the book description is a marketing tool—it's not literature; so it’s okay to hyperbolize a little.  Just don’t overdo it.
6.     Read book descriptions by other authors in your genre.

Last, but not least:  Use Emotional Power Words.  Make your readers wake up and take notice.   How?
1.     Use words that will raise their spirits and make them feel better.  Examples: miracle, triumph, jawdropping.
2.     Sex sells.  Take advantage of this by using words such as: sensual, thrilling, naughty, steamy, brazen.
3.     Make it forbidden by using these words: Pandora’s Box, confidential, cover-up, bootleg, Black Market.
4.     Fear is a powerful motivator, especially if you write murder mysteries.  Use words like: looming, revenge, frantic, searing.
5.     Fan the Flames.  Make them feel outraged at injustice. Use words such as sick and tired, back-stabbing, ruthless.
6.     Feed Their Greed: most people either want to make or save money. Use these power words to take advantage of this: bargain, profit, discount, quadruple.
7.     Make them feel safe.  Use these words: no risk, privacy, official, tested, guaranteed

Try using only six to ten of these emotional power words in your description. And last, but not least, here’s the most important factor to keep in mind when you are writing your description: make sure that your book lives up to your promises.  You don’t want your reader to feel cheated.  Make sure you deliver what your advertise, or your reader may want his money back; and even worse, may feel compelled to write a bad review or give a one-star rating.  And that’s the last thing we writers want.  Happy editing and good luck with your amazing new novel.