Quote of the Day

more Quotes

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Received My Income Tax Refund

For those of you who mailed in your income tax paperwork yet wanted a direct deposit to your checking, take note I received my refund today.  My documents were mailed 02.07.2012 at my local post office before the last scheduled pickup for the day with sufficient postage attached.  My IRS office within my state probably received my envelope marked "refund due" the following day on 02.08.2012.

And here it is, 02.28.2012, and my bank has the funds!  I cannot e-file with my self-employed author earnings constituting part of my home business (along with my freelancing).  So even without e-filing, the whole process evolved for me within twenty-two days' time.  Not bad.

Hope y'all have received yours by now as well.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

. . . Like You Are On Vacation

I just revised my blog header to include a new quote by me, which incidentally is now the closing line before my email signature.  "If your vocation isn't a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Since I work at home a lot, I tend to just "throw something on"--if cool outside, something to keep me warm; if warm outside, something to keep me cool.  Utilitarian.  Practical.  Yet . . . why can't I dress like I'm on vacation?  Wearing those things that bring me joy, make me feel great, cause me to smile and inspire me?

Like I would on vacation.

Why do we save stuff for later?  Save stuff for company?  Save stuff for special occasions?  We should dress everyday like we are on vacation.  Wearing the best of the best our wardrobes offer.

Do not run to the nearest mall.  Unless you have excess cash.  Just go shopping in your own closet; go treasure hunting in your own armoire.

Take that mind-set another step further.  Why can't our residence--in my case, my one and only--be our vacation home?  I subscribe to FLYLady.net and she posts occasionally this great email she received from one of her members.  It was about this wonderful bed-and-breakfast she stayed at.

Come to find out, it was her home.  All organized, decluttered, using her best linens, her wedding china, etc.  Isn't that happiness personified?  That's what I aspire to.  The decluttering part will take me a while as I am a pack rat when it comes to information.  Data.  I save it in bankers boxes.  Many bankers boxes.  It's fuel for my writing.

I have travel tips for various European nations.  I have pictures of homes, people, cars--all in want of a story to be told.  Of course, I collect quotations and favorite Bible verses and recipes.  It's all very important to me.  And it entails time to read through what I've amassed to find the nugget therein.

As per FLYLady, I'll do it fifteen minutes at a time (hopefully twice daily as she recommends).  Her website is in my sidebar under Favorite Links.

Getting back on my main theme here, let's continue with this vacation thinking.  Specifically:  Money.  On a vacation, do you worry about paying your rent, your mortgage?  You probably did that beforehand, calculating whether the old budget could handle this trip and still meet that major obligation.

So, I figure for a vacation to be a true vacation, you aren't worrying about the monthly bills.  You are focused on TODAY.  What to eat with joy and abandon TODAY.  No nagging thoughts about calories or counting carbs.  Well, maybe a few in the mental background.

Still, we set aside pesky internal monologues about bills, calories, and vow to live in the now, in the present, in the TODAY.  Shouldn't we do that even when NOT on vacation?  Before you correct me, yes, we should prevent disease by eating healthier and we should prepare for our future.  However, I didn't say "worry" about our future.

For example, we plant a garden, go on about our other business, reap later.  We don't worry incessantly about whether a seed really will produce a plant.  Granted, I didn't get the green thumb in my family so there have been two attempts at a garden that failed for me, but . . . if you are the same way, think of another analogy here.

Haven't we all worried for days only to have our problem "solved" in a blink later, or avoided altogether?  We wasted all those hours for what?  Stop it now.

While you live "like on vacation," you (1) appreciate more, whether the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the place you inhabit, the outdoors, the weather, etc. and (2) worry less, being more present, which is another form of both gratitude and joy and (3) smile more which makes you happier and is contagious to those around you.  Sounds pretty grand to me.

Do you have healthy loved ones; are you healthy and loved?

Consider yourself uber prosperous--because you are.

Do you have food, clothing and shelter for today?

Consider yourself wealthy--because you are.

Do you have enough money for just this twenty-four-hour period?

Consider yourself rich--because you are.

Do you need something tomorrow?  Pray.  "...yet you do not have because you do not ask."  James 4:2.  Ask of God.  Ask of your family.  Ask what you can do yourself.

Continuing on, do you feel like you are on vacation when you are at work?  I hear the collective groan.  However, I see a few grinning souls too.  Like my new header reads, "If your vocation isn't a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."  God didn't create us to be unhappy.  God didn't spend all this time surrounding us with intricate beauty for us to be sad.  God didn't fill our lives with blessings for us to be depressed.

Have you ever stopped to inspect a butterfly?  I mean really look at all the magnificent artwork that went into decorating a butterfly's wings?  What about a lily?  Its stamen, its freckles, its tipped petals?  It is said a butterfly lives only like three days.  Yet God went to all the trouble to paint multitudes of different butterflies just so we may see at least one fly by during our day.  Are you even noticing them?  How regrettable to have missed that opportunity.

Back to your job.  If it isn't fun, if it doesn't feed your soul, if you don't begin your day thinking about the great stuff you have awaiting your talents--before you even get up out of bed--then you, my friend, need new employment.

I know, we have to pay bills.  Maybe we should think more about that before we incur them.  Keep that old car, don't buy a new one.  Look for a roommate.  Reduce the monthly expenses we do have so we can take a better job that pays less.  You'll be so much happier for it.

Live each day . . . like you are on vacation.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An Overview of Free Campaign

There are many unknown variables involved that I am not privy to.  For instance, how many other free books did mine compete with each day?  If 4,000 on Day 1, then it's a miracle I ranked #99 that first round.  If 100, well then everybody was ranked in the top.

When is the best time to offer your free days?  The middle of the month?  Kind of like Wednesday, Hump Day?  The first of the month?  But mortgages and rent are paid then.  With this major bill a primary focus for most of us, do we automatically then think, I wonder what free books are offered at Amazon?

Should we do all five days consecutively, or pepper them throughout the first three-month exclusive run on Amazon?  Should we have a minimum of two novels uploaded before we offer one for free?  These are just a few questions that I've mulled over and remembered long enough to add to this blog.

Not to mention genre.  My e-book, my debut novel, Good Ole Boys, is a contemporary love story and I have properly placed it within the contemporary romance genre.  Within the Amazon rankings, there are two:  a generic one among all the freebies and then the specific genre-related category for the giveaways.  Emphasis on the FREE in both.  There are other rankings for the strictly "sold" books among Amazon.

In the first FREE ranking, my love story is competing against any and all genres, if I understand this correctly.  In the second FREE ranking, my contemporary romance is competing against all others within that category.  [Remember, as Indie-published authors, we choose our categories.  And as I've noted in an earlier post, there are some fiction books seated in nonfiction categories which makes for skewed bestseller ratings.]  But for our purposes here, we'll assume all books deemed "contemporary romances" were in fact truly a contemporary romance.

However, "tweaking the bestseller rankings" aside, between the general and the specific among FREE offerings, a contemporary romance seems to be a good fit for what readers are seeking, for the rankings were nice numbers for a newbie author like me fresh on the scene.

Plus, I have to wonder how many who downloaded my free book will ever read it.  I know I have many such e-novels patiently waiting for me to have the time to relish a five-hour read, uninterrupted, while working two jobs.

Still, I think most people are like me--downloading only those free books that I truly have an interest in.  So I like to think I have garnered 2,096 readers out of which there possibly are 209 (an estimated ten percent) who will become addicted fans.  Just my mental meanderings here, no math or facts to support it.

Now, for the overview of my last five days:

DAY 1 of 5
DAY 2 of 5
DAY 3 of 5
DAY 4 of 5
DAY 5 of 5
Contemporary. Romance
# 93
Fr, It, Es

The first day had the most downloads compared to the remaining four.  In fact, Day 1 had over 700 downloads and Days 2 and 3 had another roughly 700 downloads, followed by a repeat on Days 4 and 5.  Again, I don't know how that compares to other authors' free campaigns.

Take what you will from my chart, use it as you contemplate your own foray into the five days of promo offered by the Amazon Lending Library.

Best wishes to all!

Five Days and Over 2,000 Freebies Later

Well, there are no rankings to check now.  I guess the freebie status of my e-book put it into a "free" ranking that it does not qualify for now.

There were no downloads in Italy, France or Spain.  I really wanted to see some as these areas are so exotic and romantic to me.  With my sparse knowledge of the VAT tax, I would have thought all those countries "over the pond" would save the most by snagging these Amazon promotions. 

The final copies given away total 2,096.  Good Ole Boys was downloaded by 11 in Germany, 374 in the U.K. and 1,711 in the U.S.  Pretty amazing numbers for a new author with a new book and an, as yet, unknown writing style.

It is quite the experience having all that adrenaline for five straight days--and I guess to sleep that profoundly (and early) was to be expected.  IMO, all newbie authors would benefit from this "worldwide" campaign offered through the Amazon Lending Library that puts your name in front of all those future readers in all those countries.  I did wish I had my prequel readied for uploading before (or during) the five free days, but it wasn't yet ready.  So I would suggest that others have a second book in their Amazon offerings to keep their new readers engaged after the free giveaway program.

My next completed novel is almost ready for publication.  In the meantime, I'm going to get my coffee and enjoy the start of another day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day Five, Ending Stats

I will post tomorrow morning about the final numbers garnered up until midnight tonight, when my promo campaign for free giveaways of my debut novel, Good Ole Boys, will end.  In the meantime, and as of 8:15 p.m. (CST), here's the ending numbers for my fifth and final day:

Italy = 0 downloads
Spain = 0 downloads
France = 0 downloads
Germany = 11 downloads
U.K. = 373 downloads
U.S. = 1673 downloads

The rankings as of now are #688 Free in Kindle Store and #95 within the Contemporary Romance Genre of Kindle Novels.

Day Five (and Last), Beginning Stats

The beginning stats for this final day of offering my debut novel for free are starting earlier than the others, as it is 5:04 a.m. (CST).  Good Ole Boys, a contemporary love story, still shows up as item #1 when searching for that title, with three likes so far.  With no downloads yet in Spain, Italy and France, Germany has 11, the U.K. 349 and the U.S. 1552.  A lot of activity in the States since I last reported numbers about 8:30 p.m. last night.

The rankings start off today as:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day Four, Ending Stats

As of 8:30 p.m. (CST) on this the fourth of five free days for my debut novel, Good Ole Boys, and here are the numbers.  Still no downloads in Spain, Italy or France.  Germany has 11, the U.K. 338 and the U.S. 1481.  My novel's best rankings throughout today were about 7:30 p.m., as follows:

  Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store 
              #69 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Romance > Contemporary

However, the standings as of now are:

Sol Stein's Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies

Finished reading the above-noted book about 1:00 a.m. this morning.  Great how-to manual.  Full of wonderful tips and insights. He reduced to words what I was trying to name about what I do, and don't, like while reading novels.

This was the loaner from one of my CPs (Thank you!) and therefore I couldn't indulge in underlining and highlighting someone else's resource material.  I took about fifty pages of notes (front and back, so one hundred sides of handwritten reminders).  I hope to type them up later today and will probably share some highlights with y'all, without "giving it all away."

This is another reference book I want for my home library and just now added to my Amazon Wish List, along with Stein's latest How To Grow a Novel.  He created WritePro software for authors, which I'd be interested in checking out further.

It's drizzling here in the DFW area this morning (began while I was finishing Sol's book), and there is even a frosting of ice dribbled in a path in my backyard.   Good thing I have plenty of To-Do items to keep me inside today.  Have a good week, everyone!

Day Four, Beginning Stats

First, I got my third "like" yesterday and other authors' books are showing up in "also bought" row.  Nice.

Second, as of 6:55 a.m. (CST), here's the download data on my free e-novel, Good Ole Boys, a love story:

Italy = 0
Spain = 0
France = 0
Germany = 10
U.K. = 224
U.S. = 1258

Third, my debut novel's rankings--these figures as of 7:01 a.m. (CST)--now show:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day Three, Ending Stats

As of 8:25 p.m. (CST), there have been zero downloads in Italy, Spain and France, with 10 in Germany, 182 in the U.K. and 1201 in the U.S.  My novel, Good Ole Boys, had its best rankings today first thing at 8:11 a.m. being #557 Free in Kindle Store and #71 in Kindle Store for the Contemporary Romance genre.  Closing ranks twelve hours later are as follows:

Day Three, Beginning Stats

One note.  On Day 1, when I keyed in Good Ole Boys to search through Amazon, my novel was item #6.  On Day 2, it became item #3.  Today, there it is as item #1.  Just FYI.

Overnight, the German downloads remained at 9, the U.K. grew to 129 and even the U.S. gained some, now at 1076.  Still no downloads in Spain, Italy or France.  Amazon rankings for Good Ole Boys, a love story, as of this morning show to be:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day Two, Ending Stats

Still no downloads in Italy, France or Spain.  In the other three countries we have 9 in Germany, 97 in the U.K. and 1033 in the U.S.  My best rankings today were #46 Kindle Store in the Contemporary Romance Fiction Genre and #296 Free in Kindle Store, as of 2:00 p.m. (CST) today.

But currently, as of 8:00 p.m. (CST), Good Ole Boys' rankings are now:

·  Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

Good Ole Boys, a Love Story - FREEBIE Day Two, Beginning Stats

Overnight, my giveaways rose to 847 U.S., 89 U.K. and 8 Germany.  Still none in France, Italy or Spain.  I did notice yesterday afternoon that Good Ole Boys' rankings were reset hourly on the hour, FYI.  Those figures edged up higher while I slept, to these current postings: 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Current Stats on Free e-Book, Good Ole Boys

As of 8:00 p.m. today, 637 U.S. downloads, 67 U.K. downloads, 7 German downloads, with rankings per Amazon of:

Latest on Free e-Book, Good Ole Boys

As of 1:39 p.m. (CST), my free U.S. downloads of my debut e-novel, Good Ole Boys, total more than 400.  As for my book's ranking, here it is per Amazon:

Sally Hogshead's Book Fascinate + Her F-Test to Get Your F-Score

Per Randy Ingermanson's newsletter of Thursday, February 9, 2012 (see his Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine at
http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/ezine) he talks about Sally Hogshead's book FASCINATE. Part 3 is designed to help you figure out how to make your own marketing more fascinating.  Sally also has a fun (and short) test to take that ranks your fascination score.  It's the "F-Test" to learn your "F-Score" and can be found at:  http://www.SallyHogshead.com.  Have fun with it!

Update on Free e-Book Campaign for Good Ole Boys, a Love Story

By 10:30 a.m. CST on this my first of five consecutive days of free promo, my debut e-novel was ranked #99 within Kindle Books, for contemporary romances.

By 11:30 a.m. CST on this first of five consecutive days of free promo, my debut e-novel had hit more than 300 downloads just on Amazon U.S.

I'm grinning like a loon!

Numbers on My Lending Library Free Promotion Campaign

Just to recap:  My debut novel, Good Ole Boys, is in the Kindle exclusive Lending Library for three months (until mid-March).  Maybe I should have done a freebie promo up front, but this Valentine's Day placement works for me and the Good Ole Boys love story.  Plus, I'm living and learning.  Yet, I couldn't be happier to see the numbers in my Amazon Report to date.

So today is Day 1 of five consecutive days of the Good Ole Boys for-free campaign.  I am so excited.  I have no idea if I get part of the Lending Library monies designated for February for these giveaways, but maybe not--they show up as copies sold not as copies lent (once I find out something on this, I'll share it with y'all).  Still, you'd think I was getting paid for all the joy I feel at seeing the tally of my new readers stack up.

Here's my totals as revised at 9:19 a.m. CST on the first of my five days:

1. 131 free downloads in the U.S.
2.   35 free downloads in the U.K.  (I have sold there before so this wasn't my first "sell" in England.)
3.    2 free downloads in Germany--now THIS is the FIRST entry I've made into the German market.  Wahoo!

These numbers change each time I recheck Amazon and I've already had to edit them three times here.  How life-alteringly amazing!

None--yet--show up in France, Spain or Italy.  I'll let y'all know.  I can already see myself in manic refresh mode within Amazon Reports today!  Maybe I'll settle down as I get into Day 2.  No guarantee though.

This is SO much fun . . . .

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Be, Do, Have

This thought has been tormenting me to become a blog post.  I'm not sure why I'm supposed to write this, only that it needs to be done for the benefit of someone out there.  So here it is.

That explanatory preface completed, I'll proceed with the actual topic of this article. 

It is not unusual for us to read how we can have want we want, do what we love and become a better person on our journey of self-improvement.  Yet look at the three verbs. 

"Have" entails buying, spending money, online, in a mall, however.  While some of our time could be involved, we could hire a personal assistant to purchase it for us, thus freeing our time and using just our funds.  After all, we can make more money, but not necessarily more time.  (Although there's that Old Testament Bible verse where a man prayed for fifteen more years and got it--so maybe we can create more time.  But I digress.)  So the "having" probably takes the least involvement by us personally.

Moving on to "do," this verb describes action that probably cannot be delegated.  Granted, "I'll do it" seems like literally that person volunteering would actually carry it out, but could still be passed on to another.  Unless it was a dentist appointment or the like.  For our purposes, when we set out to "do," it enlists us, our time, our expenditure of effort.  Whether an hour of exercise, giving a weekend to Habitat for Humanity, a Saturday for a garage sale, a Friday night of babysitting, we give ourselves for a certain part of a day or week.

Finally, "be."  This is the most demanding verb of the three.  To be a better person, a better parent, a better spouse, a better author or whatever, takes over the rest of our life once we decide this.  Talk about time-consuming.  There it is.  For it warrants our complete attention not for a short duration, like when "doing," but long-term.

Maybe we need to learn first about Have, then Do, then Be.  Maybe its a maturity-based learning curve where we graduate from one to the next.  Maybe it is simply about focus.  First money, then action, then essence.  Or dollars, time, discipline.  Could be lessons on patience mixed with engaging the law of giving and receiving, starting with an immediate exchange, progressing to the short-term exchange and finally experiencing a long-term exchange. Maybe it is all of the above and yet still more.

I don't know.  I don't have all the answers.  But maybe these questions will get us to thinking and will lead to the greater knowledge out there, hooking us into the Universal Mind and giving us insight.

Maybe I was just supposed to write this entry for myself.  If so, the reasoning is still not clear.  But it will come.  And to the person(s) in need of it.  Because that's the way the world works.  Like William James said: "Let everything you do be done as if it makes a difference."

A Snapshot of Joe Konrath's e-Book Success

As authors, we know to write it now, get it out there and expect our payday later--much later.  And, yes, we cannot all pretend to reap the numbers of Joe Konrath, but we still have our hopes.  Whatever yours may be, here's a quick look at what Joe did and his earnings (per internet findings; my apologies to Joe if any of the info is incorrect).

To date, he has nineteen novels (purely written by him, whatever pen name used) which is what I'm tracking in this particular post.  So I'm not counting those books where he paired up with another author.  FYI:  He also has four short story collections:

03/01/2010 - Horror Stories - Assorted short stories, e-book
03/01/2010 - Crime Stories - Assorted short stories, e-book
11/11/2010 - Jack Daniels Stories - Assorted short stories, paperback
03/23/2011 - 65 Proof – An Omnibus:  Sixty-five Short Stories, paperback

The date shown above corresponds with the publication data given on Amazon.

From my research, Joe Konrath had his six Jack Daniels mysteries written, one per year, up to and including 2009 when he first began to upload his books to Amazon.  So he had a "backlist," multiple listings to entice new and newly addicted readers.  TIP:  Never stop writing.  Keep on creating those novels even while rejections are coming in.

Here's the Jack Daniels books and their "publication" date.  Sorry I don't know if that is the date of copyright/creation or whether they were actually published pre-Amazon.  Regardless, I'm just seeing how many books Joe had up to match against his earnings therefrom.

05/01/2004 – Whiskey Sour
05/01/2005 – Bloody Mary
05/01/2006 – Rusty Nail
05/01/2007 – Dirty Martini
05/01/2008 - Fuzzy Navel
05/01/2009 – Cherry Bomb

These are the other novels Joe uploaded to Amazon within 2009:

04/01/2009 – Afraid, horror novel, paperback
04/08/2009 – Origin, e-book
04/11/2009 - Disturb, horror thriller about medical experiments, e-book
04/12/2009 - The List, a police technothriller, e-book
04/12/2009 - Shot of Tequila - heist thriller, e-book
07/04/2009 - Truck Stop, a psycho thriller, e-book

He also offered Cherry Bomb in hardcover and e-book on 07/07/2009, but I'm just counting actual titles, not their form of publication.  Still, you can always keep those different formats in mind for later application with your own e-books--branch out into audio, paperback and hardback.

Then in 2010, Joe added three more novels:

06/16/2010 - Endurance,a horror novel by Jack Kilborn (pen name), e-book
06/20/2010 - Trapped, a horror novel by Jack Kilborn (pen name), e-book 
10/26/2010 - Shaken, e-book

Paperback versions of The List, Shot of Tequila, Disturb and Origin came out in July, October, November and November, respectively.

By 2011, besides Shaken coming out additionally in paperback form in February of that year, there were four more Joe Konrath novels on Amazon:

02/22/2011 - Shapeshifters Anonymous, e-book
02/22/2011 - The Screaming, e-book
07/27/2011 - Banana Hammock, a Harry McGlade adventure, paperback
11/22/2011 – Stirred, e-book

As of this writing, I have not found a new J.A. Konrath novel out yet this year.

His earnings are reported as being:

$    2,300/month as of January 2010 (first uploads in April 2009) from 12 novels offered
$  34,000/month as of January 2011 (first full year compared) from now 15 novels offered (total)
$100,000/three weeks as of January 2012 from his total library of 19 novels to date

Keep in mind he's doing e-books, audio, paperback and hardback, plus his books resulting from collaborations with other authors not to mention his short story collections, so all those are included in the earnings quoted above, with each book selling for a minimum purchase price of $2.99.  While almost all of his novels are in e-book format, only some become paperbacks, with less as audiobooks and even fewer in hardback.

Not bad.  Not bad at all.  I look forward to being able to report these numbers!  Of course, I need to get moving on my novel production, instead of my nonfiction books.  I'll have to work on that.

Starting right now . . . .

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Received My Amazon 1099-MISC

It was at my post office box.  Next year I'll know better.  I don't think it was delivered today (even though I'm in the DFW area and corporate Amazon is based out of Seattle) because my mail is not posted to my box until 11:00 a.m.--or so the post office signage says.  I probably got it yesterday, Monday, February 6, or possibly Saturday, February 4.  I don't check my box daily.  Come 2013, at the end of January, beginning of February, I might just do that.

Okay.  Now for finalizing my income tax forms and going back to the post office once again to mail those off.  See how much fun my days are?

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman

I read the above-referenced book eons ago but was reminded of it this week, so looked up my typewritten notes on it.  First, I love taking quizzes to find out more about myself and, second, what a great tool to utilize in my novels on relationships and love.  Oh, yeah, and let's not forget its intended purpose--to be useful in real life.

To summarize the five love languages, per Dr. Gary Chapman, we have our first and primary language.  If our spouse has another way that is primary for him, maybe it isn't being received or seen as love in action.  Sadly, we may actually be loved but just not in the way that counts most for us.

Plus we have secondary love languages to consider.

Here's the choices:  (1) words of affirmation, (2) quality time, (3) receiving gifts, (4) acts of service and (5) physical touch.  The quiz consists of thirty pairings, where you have to choose one of the two.

I wonder if it is normal to have a zero score on one element of the above listing?  I did on gifts.  I've never been a fan of presents on that set, preplanned annual occurrence.  I would much rather a friend or family member help out when there is a need.  Plus, I'm probably hard to buy for.  I'd prefer to receive cash to pay bills (I know, boring--but practical) or one of the books off my Wish List at Amazon.

I love buying used paperbacks at Half-Price Books from my Also Want list to complete my J.D. Robb series, my Janet Evanovich series, or some of Nora Roberts's many novels that I don't yet have.  So I guess in a way, I'm actually easy to buy for.  Give me a gift certificate to a book store (or a monthly supply of Starbucks beans) and I'm good to go.

My primary love language was evident, scoring a ten.  My secondary love language actually was tied with another, but yet I can see one hedging out in front.  Still both earned a score of eight.  My last love language rated a four, with gifts getting a big fat goose egg.  So those three at the top of my list are pretty closely situated.

Think about your story characters.  What if we had a man that brought fancy gifts, daily, to a practical yet mortified woman (much like me) who just wants her bills paid timely and not some expensive tchotchke to gather dust on a shelf?  You can see where that relationship is doomed.  His natural inclination to show his love is wasted on our particular female.

Or you could have a woman who loves to do things for others, her man included, and his language may be quality time.  She's off flitting around washing his clothes, detailing his vehicle, picking up his dry cleaning, cooking meals, sewing on missing buttons and what-have-you.

Or worse yet--in his eyes anyway--spending all her time volunteering on committees, taking her away from home most nights when he's finally off from work and all that he wants is for her to sit next to him while he watches the game or maybe a movie they both choose.

Could be his need to feel loved is satisfied merely by her sitting outside with him after having eaten dinner together and now sharing a coffee or one glass of wine.  That would be one miserable couple.  Or rather one miserable husband and one surprised wife if he complained to her, trying to communicate what he sought from the relationship.

I can see lots of uses for these love languages by putting some relationships to the test in many a novel.

Like I mentioned earlier, it has been a long while since I read the book.  I wonder what Dr. Chapman has to say about the chances for changing one's foremost love language to suit a lover, a spouse?  It probably doesn't work that way.  I somehow feel that we are predestined to seek and show love the way we do.  Each of us are "as is" in that department, IMO.

Still, it would make for a fun research project and a great reason for me to read Dr. Chapman's book again.

However, I could see where if lovers or spouses had their first and second love languages swapped, in reverse order, that particular situation should be successful, right?  For example, let's create a man and woman who have yet to meet, but set them up to fall in love and get that happily ever after.

For the man, his first love language could be physical touch followed by words of affirmation.  Hers would be flip-flopped, with words of affirmation first, physical touch second.  I could see where that would work both in reality and in fiction.

Conversely, try to mate an acts-of-service person with a receiving-gifts individual and I see a big mess.  Here's a guy or gal wanting a real present, fancy bow, beautiful gift wrap paper, something probably costly inside the big or little box and instead you have their spouse into fixing the broken garage door, cleaning out the dryer before the backed-up lint catches fire, taking down the Christmas tree and boxing up the ornaments to return to the attic all by January 5 each year.  Sounds wonderful (to me), but not that other person.  What a shame.

Being an author, a logophile, which love language do you think was my number one?

Read the book, take the quiz, have your spouse do the same.  Compare notes.  Understand your mate, communicate better.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

One for the Money Box Office Results

I was curious, plus had mentioned it in an earlier post, so I'll share what I found with you.

Per boxofficemojo.com, OFTM was second place in first-week showings, earning $11.5 million, with first place going to The Grey bringing in $19.6 million.

Even if the Evanovich book-turned-movie had no standings in the polls/revenues, I still loved it.  And have pulled out my copy of her paperback to reread.  As authors, we all need to remember:  we won't reach everyone.  And that's alright.  That's why we have so many different kinds of books out there, so each person can find something to their liking.

More Random Musings + An Author's List of Lists

One more thing about Nora Roberts.  She grew up with four brothers and I'm sure that added to her savvy insight into the male mind, dialogue, actions.  Plus, it is not unheard of for her to write about a family of four brothers (the MacKades, for just one example).  And I know my "Good Ole Boys:  The Prequel" that I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2011 went smoothly and I gather that has to do with the fact that I knew my character already.  He was Pops from Good Ole Boys, my debut e-novel.  I had him figured out in that first book.  Yet I still needed his given name in the second.

I'm not saying Nora bases all her male four-sets on her brothers.  Maybe she does, but I have no way of knowing that.  What I did think, though, was how great that would be to establish this foundational basis, just waiting to take on our characters within a story.  With all their foibles and flaws, values and strengths, already mapped out--based upon our own unique individual take on life.  On love.  On family.  On careers.  On fidelity.  On monogamy.  On money.  On looks.  On whatever else we have a definite and unchanging opinion.

Take those "root" characters embodying our morals and mind-sets, slap a different physical body on them, select another career, drop them in a different city, pair them up with an unlikely (?) romantic interest and . . . see what happens.  Not that the writing process is this simplistic.  But, for a blog, this pared-down snapshot works for me here.

You can always use the opposite of those mores and drives to serve as foils, useful for your minor characters.

I love Jane Austen's opening line to Pride & Prejudice:   It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

That statement pretty well encapsulates many items I want in my books:  morals, universalisms to be oft quoted by my readers, both the successful workings and equally disastrous undoings of relationships, love, plus other things.  Also, in line with my immediately previous post, confirms the theme of her book.  Sets the tone.  Gives the reader the emotional baseline for her story.

And shows us four examples in Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, Lydia and Wickham--ooh, two more couples, I forgot about Charlotte and Mr. Collins plus Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner--without going into any of the underlying subplots of sibling interaction.  If you think of your story's byline as being your theory to prove to your readers, then these four examples are your proof.  To me, the plot is thin if you only have one.  But you don't want to clutter your premise with too many, either.

Now I'll share my Author's List of Lists.

After reading Getting into Character (another earlier post from January 2012), I was moved to compile some Cheat Sheets to aid my writing.  Two I have not yet done, one for its complexity and the other for its ease which already resides in my mind.  But the facile remains on my list as it serves as a reminder nonetheless, for while I like bearded men, I'm not explaining it well enough or completely.  I like men with well-trimmed beards.  Which must be spelled-out to adequately portray the picture in my imagination.

So here's my lists.  To be used in the process of revising my novels.

1.  Voices
2.  Walks
3.  Postures
4.  Facial Expressions / Body Language
5.  Names
6.  Colors
7.  Hairstyles / Beards
8.  Sixteen literary archetypes (eight for hero; eight for heroine)
9.  Sixteen archetypes for villains
10.  Emotions
11.  Descriptive verbs
12.  Specific nouns
13.  Six senses (I include intuition)

I found a wealth of searched-for information within www.descriptivewords.org.  Also check out online Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions in addition to Parrott's Emotions by Groups.  Within Wikipedia, I found a good list of virtues.  I got some Body Language Basics as well off the internet, although I have Margie Lawson's class notes on body language that I need to gather from and add to my current "short" list.  For voices, see www.dhorizon.org/characterBuilder/voices.html.  Find a great overview of the archetypes at http://www.tamicowden.com/default.htm.

As for the names, I've got a handful of baby name books and I should go through one letter a day and slowly build my preapproved list of names for my male and female characters that embody what I am looking for.  This, alas, is too personalized to become a list you can Google and locate.

The above list is not the end, but that should get an author started.  Remember, these lists help us zone in on that elusive yet "perfect" word we are looking for.  Not for first draft purposes.  Later.  Once you are adding finesse to your story.

Have fun, y'all!

Random Musings re Writing Tips, Styles, Mind-sets, Attitudes

As a rabid Nora Roberts / J.D. Robb fan, I often reread my particular favorites of hers.  Two are First Impressions (1984) and The Fall of Shane MacKade (1996).  Both are shorter category romances, yet still full of life and emotions, just packed in less than 240 paperback-printed pages.  I pick these for the sheer entertainment but also with an eye out for how she makes it all work.

Well, I may have latched onto a thing or two.

Let me start off by saying these revelations doused me when I was again rereading The Fall of Shane MacKade.  Nora first gives us pages of insight into the two main characters, the love interests, so that we get acquainted with their motivations, their values.  This is the WHY behind the characters' actions.  Short interplay with either dialogue or action or both is inserted in the middle, like roast beef between bread.

If you are a Numb3rs-holic like me, you may remember the follow-up episode about the cop (played by Henry Winkler) who had embezzled money--none of which he used and only to get FBI attention on his sister's case--which was eventually solved, but at a loss of both his job and retirement benefits.

Anyway, my point is this:  Nikki labeled him a dirty cop and Colby asked her if she knew WHY he did what he did.  That's it, isn't it?  We allow some things just based on WHY.

If this light-bulb moment seems DUH to you, I find most of them are.  These "secrets" are hidden behind the most trite yet sage sayings forever before our eyes and ears.  Then, one day, there they are, revealed in all their glory.

So don't let "show vs. tell" hamper you when you are divulging your characters' internal motivation. Now, we shouldn't always tell, that would be boring.  But there is a perfect time to do just that, as Nora adeptly utilizes in her books.  Just like there are times you have to use an LY word.  Maybe not as often as I do.  Ha!

I'll need to look for it but there was this wonderful example shared within one of my online writing classes where the author inserted Who, What, When, Where, Why (maybe not How yet) into his opening paragraph.  It was fluid and artistic.  Not journalistic.  I theorize that writing this beginning not only anchors the reader in the story, but also the author.  Confirming once again how effective just getting it down into a first draft per NaNoWriMo and pushing aside all supposed writing "rules" can unleash our muse, remove our internal critic and let us "git 'er done."

My second goldmine took more digging to unearth.  Maybe it was a side effect of hearing this great dialogue while watching Numb3rs:  "Some women go for the muscles; some women go for the brains."  I am definitely a member of the latter first.  And the first second.  Which is why my covers are chosen to depict the mutual values and desires  (or sometimes embodied in a caricature) of each relationship I write about.

Plus Nora's characters all resonate a sense of knowledge (whether via books, traditional schooling, or from life) and some wisdom and some common sense.  A nice well-rounded intelligence.  As a reader, I love that.  In real life, I search for that--among friends, fellow authors I happen to meet on a regular basis, or correspond with online.

That may be why Nora's characters and her J.D. Robb cast are so wonderful to me.  They are not these two-dimensional made-up people who are focused only on muscles or money.  Such superficiality is very off-putting to me.  In reality and in fiction.  Our writing styles cannot help but be influenced by our mind-sets, giving away our philosophies and takes on life within our words.

As for writing attitudes, I often think of Janet Evanovich and John Locke.  Their stories are fun and I figure those authors had to be experiencing great joy when they wrote them, too.  While the humor in my books is more sly, and I have been known to write a scene or two that made me cry while creating them, I don't get the belly laughs from my own stories that I get while reading Evanovich.  I envy her and Locke that.

But, ahem, garnering huge laughs was not part of my genetic makeup.  I can live with that.  After all, I don't usually get that reaction while reading Nora--although a smile is apt to come up often.  One exception was the giggles Nora twisted out of me while reading a mainstream novel of hers:  The Search (July 2010, 456 pages)Nora is a wonder with her highly tuned insight into humanity--and the animal world.

Well, as usual, take what you may from those ramblings.  Keep writing.  And happy reading!