USA Today Best of 2012

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cover reveal and...whoa. What is this blog thing? Really, I used to do this all the time?

It's long-lost me.
A lot, and I mean a LOT has changed since my last post here.

My relationship with a longtime publisher dissolved, I left my job as an editor with said publisher and went 100% freelance (and will never look back, lol. Freelancing is the bomb!), and sadly, a friendship went up in smoke. That part was a painful bummer.

But, like the phoenix rising from the ashes...

Some of my books are getting a home with Hearts Desire Press, where the talent is amazing and the owner is the best.

And I'm going to self-publish my other books. Which is a whole new frontier of "stuff I gotta master". And I've let myself get a little off-track, by trying to research and learn Every Thing an Indie Author Must Do. Which is beyond overwhelming. But what I figured out last night was, instead of trying to make lists and not forget and keep track to make sure I do "everything" to promote, I can do some things. And later do the other things.

One of those "things" I'm doing is setting up a newsletter. Over the years, I've culled so many email addresses from people who've asked to be added. And, well...I've still never sent out a dang newsletter!

I'm ready to begin formatting my Fantasies, Inc books for Amazon. Here's a peek at the cover for Book 1 (formerly known as Fantasy Mountain).



Isn't she lovely? On a referral from two of the lovely authors I've worked with in both contracted and freelance capacity (Jennifer Lowery and Jessi Gage), I had Kim Killion of The Killion Group design my covers. The new cover for Victoria's Secret Wish should be ready later this week.

And that's all I've got for now.

Have a lovely Thursday.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Publisher pitch sessions?

So, I've been seriously considering attending RNCon this summer.
It's a totally new convention, it's in Las Vegas, and it'll be a nice excuse for hubby and I to get away.

So I started thinking about whether I should advertise there, and maybe put some swag in the bags...

And in reading their promotional opportunities, I came across an interesting theory.
Not only do publishers have to pay to have a table/pitch session scheduled, but they must pitch their company to three authors at a time. Likewise for editors, cover artists, reviewers, web designers, etc. Now, I read the text provided and I "get" where the owner (a cover model) is coming from. His stance is, without authors, the romance industry would come to a halt. He thinks they are the only people in the industry who could continue on without anyone else. (seriously though...as an author I can attest, if every writer decided to eschew editing from here on out, the romance industry would DIE. Readers could only stand it for so long. lol But back to the topic...) Okay. I can see how a web designer, promoter, or cover artist might promote their business to authors--self pubbers, for the most part.

But editors and publishers? I'd say only an ed or pub who is desperately hard up (probably one an author should be wary of) would be willing to "pitch" their company or editing skills to a bunch of authors whose work they have not previously reviewed. Because let's be honest: For every good author, there are at least 20 more who--I'm not mincing words--suck. People who rush out some crazy story with no thought to story arc, character growth, or resolution. People who think their "life story" would be of great interest to everyone in the free world. People who spell and punctuate at or below a 3rd grade level but think because they can put 95,000 words' worth of that poor spelling and grammar (quantity being paramount over quality, naturally), they should be published. Just because somebody can type in a word processing program does not mean they can write. Just because it's a story, does not mean it's worthy of publication.

I'm going to be even more honest now. I've got loads of better things to do with my time than to spend it working on a subpar book. So am I going to "sell" myself or Lyrical Press to a bunch of unknowns? Heck no. If they send me a book and it looks ready for editing and publication, then we'll talk--about the good things Lyrical Press does for their authors, or about positive referrals from authors I've edited.

An author should always check out any publisher or agent before signing contracts. But she'd be a fool to simply go by what a person tells her in a "pitch" session and she should research more--online--about that entity anyway.

Quite frankly, many of those authors who'd feel they need pitched to are divas who are completely clueless about the publishing industry and what marketing and promotion are really about. They've got another think coming, but I'm not about to be the one to spend months explaining that "think" to them.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!








Thursday, May 9, 2013

A.M. in the life?

Blogging has been on my to-do list for 4 days now. 4. And that's since I determined I absolutely positively would blog this week. LOL.

I have accomplished quite a bit, playing catch-up. Authors on my roster know my projects often get pulled forward. Which is great for them...and for me, sometimes. But it also kinda means every time I get caught up, I turn around and realize I'm chasing newer, different deadlines.

And since I'm feeling awfully schizo this week, and cannot come up with anything better, here's a morning in the life of an EIC:


  • 5:30 AM. Wake to an idea about adding another round of author edits to our process to solve a little problem we've been having with galley review becoming Author Tinker Time
  • 6:00 AM Get up, feed cats, let cats out. Wake daughter.
  • 6:15 Amble back upstairs after (hopefully) rousing daughter. Let cats in. Read emails.
  • 6:30 Compose email to other management at LPI about possible new idea. Let cats out. (see a pattern here?)
  • 7:00 Inhabit bathroom to do makeup and hair, since hubs has vacated premises. Make bed, straighten room. Cry like baby over niece's piccolo recital on YouTube/Facebook. Don't ask. It's just a waterworks kinda day. And she's graduating. And she's lovely. Lovely graduates are supposed to make one bawl like a soap star, no?
  • 7:30 Bid kids adieu, certain I won't miss the banshee screaming. Hate all breakfast choices. Settle on chocolate milk and last night's TMZ.
  • 7:50 Begin 2nd round of content edits on a file. Then get up to start laundry. Return to file. Start dishwasher. Still hate all breakfast choices. Reply to mgmt discussion about possible new round idea. Let cats in. I made the donuts!!!
  • Answer some title and scheduling questions for roster author.
  • Check out RNCon after receiving invite to judge their novel contest. Get excited and wonder in what universe I can talk hubs into letting me go to Vegas for 5 days
  • 9:00 Continue CE3. Have hair appt today. This file must go out today. Reply to a grammar question on FB, as well as 20 more replies/questions. It's all good. I've helped some folks with adjectives and nouns. Hopefully.
  • 10:00 break for hot topics segment of The View. Text Renee and Sutton about RNCon. Dream. Eat...alas, a Jimmy Dean breakfast croissant. Byebye low cal day.
  • 10:20 Return to content edits.
  • 11:00 Complete content edits (God, this was an easy round. Wish they were all like this!) Email to author.
  • Reply to another author question re: scheduling and vacation.
  • 11:10 Open 2nd round file from Sutton. Review new edits, fix a formatting glitch/question. Email file back. (also wish all edits were THIS easy)
  • 12:20 Search for blog ideas...
Yeah. Got a hair appointment 45 minutes from now (My inner Betty White--or shall we say Betty Silver is pushing her way out via my hair roots), which will get out about an hour before I have to pick up the banshee, who hopefully will howl no more today. It's Friday for the kidlets, so tomorrow will be much less productive.

But I blogged, dadnabit.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reviewers are not editors.

Forgive me. I'm feeling a bit soap-boxy today.

You see, I've noticed a trend in book reviews, particularly those done by upstart review sites and bloggers(many of whom are obviously trying to gain a following by being snarky): Book reviewers seem to think they are editors.

Now, I firmly believe an avid reader is capable of spotting typos, wrong word usage, poor grammar, bad spelling, and the like. And even the cleanest, most edited book will have an error or two. A 63,000 word book, which is rather at the short end of novels, has nearly 350,000 characters. That's a lot of opportunities for oopsies. Are errors okay? Not in my book (pun intended). But I've edited enough books--heck, I've written enough of my own and pored over them at the galley stage, only to crack them open a couple years later and see some blatant error--and I've read enough bestsellers with blips, to know perfection is elusive. And probably the average reader doesn't pick up on most of these mistakes.

So forgive me if I find it a tough pill to swallow, when a reviewer (who has at least one error in every review she's posted on her blog) makes some off-the-cuff comment about poor editing or "grammar challenges"--whatever the heck that means--in her book review. Or when a reviewer gives a book high praise, but says she was disappointed in the editing because none of the dialogue was punctuated (and it turns out she messed up by trying to read a PDF file on her Nook, which doesn't process formatting from PDFs correctly). Really? An author who is fantastic, and the editor of this otherwise wonderful book, both failed to punctuate any dialogue? No warning bells chiming? And yet the reviewer posts this opinion, without considering the consequences...

Consequences such as: the author is trying to make a living with her books. Saying this one is poorly edited will most likely turn off readers. Which affects the editor and also the publisher, who are also making a career of selling books. Which I'm finding in the majority of these cases, have been edited properly, but the reviewer (minus editing experience, knowledge, and the obvious IT skills needed to upload a digital book to a reading device) wants to convince others (and probably herself) that she's smart. That she could do a better job. When in fact, we can all see from her own errors in a 300-word blog post, is not the case.

Reviews are opinions. So reviewers should state their opinion about the book--the story, the characters, the pacing.

Spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules are cold, hard facts. Not up for debate. So unless the book is absolutely riddled with errors, reviewers should avoid commenting on editing. Clean mechanics should be a given, and if the editing is so poor that it detracts from the reading experience, then it merits a mention.

Just as publishing a poorly-edited book says "unprofessional," so does spouting off unfounded accusations about poor editing in a book review. I'd laugh if I saw the accused editor or author post a comment on the review citing all the typos the reviewer had made. But we all know how that would go over. Authors are supposed to sit on their hands when a reviewer steps out of line. No defending allowed...likewise, I'm sure, with the editors.

I'd like to stress, the "good" review sites know not to go there--they recognize the publishers they work with employ competent editors, so they review a book based on its content. In the end, I think that's what we're all looking for in a book review. Right?

Editors know they'll always find errors in books. Always. And the rest of the world (the non-editors) seldom notice the errors. So why would we need a book reviewer telling us a book has them?

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Guest Sara Walter Ellwood

Today I welcome a special guest, author Sara Walter Ellwood. I was lucky enough to find her last year at the Word Wranglers pitch session. She writes awesome romantic suspense set in Texas. Today we're spotlighting Gambling On a Secret, the first in her Colton Gamblers series. Her main characters, Dylan and Charli, agreed to an interview:






Charli: Hi Piper! Dylan and I were so excited to be seeing you again. We feel we know you almost as well as we know Sara.
Dylan: (Chuckles) Yeah, but we didn’t invade your dreams like we did Sara’s.
Charli: Hush! Let the poor woman ask us some questions. I think we probably tormented her enough when she edited our book.

When you two met, did you feel an instant attraction?
Charli: Lord knows I did and it was the very last thing I wanted.
Dylan: I honestly don’t remember. I was a little drunk when I went to the interview. But I remember thinking she had the longest legs and I still don’t know how she walked around on those sky-high heels. (He shrugs) Yeah, I thought she was hot—and scared probably of me.

Please compare/contrast your current squeeze to your “first love”. How is he/she different, and the same?
Charli: How do you compare an honest, loyal man with a drug dealer? Or my second love who was my abusive pimp, to a man like Dylan? You can’t. I never knew anyone like him. After meeting Dylan, I’m not even sure I’ve ever felt like this for anyone else.
Dylan: (Smiles at Charli and squeezes her hand) I met my first love who became my wife in ninth grade, after moving to Colton from Germany when Dad went off to fight in the Gulf War. She’s never been anything like Charli. Now looking back, I don’t know what I ever saw in Brenda. She was popular, the head cheerleader and self-absorbed. Charli is the most caring person I know. There’s no way to compare them.

If your town had a betting pool, which of you would have been given the best odds for staying single for life?
Charli: (snorts) I think the good people of Colton figured I’d marry Leon Ferguson.
Dylan: That’s because the town is full of damned fools who bought his bullshit without ever thinking about it. Anyway, I’m pretty certain, the Colton Grapevine had me dead by the end of summer. After all, I was the town drunk.

Which of you first knew you two would be a lasting item?
Charli: I’m not sure either of us figured that out until the end. But I think I was the first. (Looks over at Dylan)
Dylan: (Shrugs and rubs a hand over the back of his neck) I probably figured it out when she came to me after Leon caught us on the porch. But if I tell you more, I’ll give too much of the story away. And then I’ll be in trouble—again.
Charli: (Smiles) He’s learning.

Who is the better dancer? Cook? Singer?
Dylan: Emm... She’s got all three over me. Since she was a stripper she has some moves that make me...(He grins and looks at Charli) You get the idea. As for cooking... Although my mother is a world-class chef, I was too busy messing around with carpentry and horses to learn much from her. And Charli’s even got me beat when it comes to singing... It’s in her blood. Her half-brother is a famous country singer.
Charli: Well, I can’t rebuild a house... and a barn and... Well, we had to rebuild about everything on the ranch. I could never do that without you.

Who is the better driver (and yes, I like stirring up trouble!)?
Dylan: And I like getting into it. Hell, I am.
Charli: (Narrows her eyes at him and crosses her arms in front of her) You can only say that because YOU never let me drive.
Dylan: Do you honestly think I’d ever be caught dead in that sissy car of yours?
Charli: There’s nothing wrong with my Lexus.
Dylan: (Raises a brow) I told you there’s nothing wrong with your car, just I don’t like it.
Charli: It’s better than that bucket of rust and bolts you drive.
Dylan: My truck would out-run that—
Sara: (Scowls at both of them as they glare at each other) See what you started. It think I need to take these two home. You should have known better than asking this.
Charli: I’m not fighting about this now. People will think that’s all we do.
Dylan: (Mumbles under his breath) Yeah, but the make-up sex is great.
Charli: (Slaps his hand, but gives him a small pout that cause him to chuckle) This argument is not over. You wait until we get home. Piper, it was a lot of fun coming to your blog. Thank you so much for having us. 

Blurb:
When Charli bets everything on a secret, will she find the deck stacked against her?

Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.

Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her.

When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?

CONTENT WARNING: Details abuse of a minor, drug abuse, alcoholism, swearing, spicy sex, murder.




COVER QUOTE: “Full of intrigue, tangled pasts, and raw emotions, this one is guaranteed to keep you turning pages from start to finish and then wishing for one more chapter!”
Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Just a Cowboy and His Baby.

Ms. Brown also named Gambling On A Secret as one of her favorite romance reads in 2012 in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today.

Excerpt:
“Ferguson, what are you doing here?” Dylan barked.

Leon ambled toward them on the stone path. “I’m saving a young maiden from torment. What are you doing here, playing the part of the devil?”

“I’m Miss Monroe’s new manager.” The deadly edge of his voice matched the flintiness of his eyes. “If there’s anyone to save the young maiden from, it’s you.”

“Mr. Quinn, please.” She turned to Leon. “Leon, is there something I can do for you?”

He smiled, showing off perfect white teeth in a face handsome enough to belong to an actor. “I was just passing by on my way home and decided to stop. How are the boys working out?”

Dylan’s stance widened and his hands flexed at his slides. “What boys?”

“Charli and I have entered into a business arrangement.”

She lost the battle with the urge to wrap her arms around herself. As much as she appreciated Leon’s kindness, respected him, and was even a little attracted to him, something about him didn’t sit right with her. He represented her peers in the community. According to Mrs. Pratt, besides the Cartwrights, she and Leon were undoubtedly the wealthiest residents in the county. No one in Colton could learn about her past. It would ruin her, and Leon, no doubt, had the means to dig up the dirt.

“Really?” Dylan stepped closer to her in a protective manner. Whiskey tainted his breath as the warmth of the exhalations tickled her cheek. “What kind of business arrangement?”

She could protect herself. Dylan Quinn wasn’t any safer than Leon Ferguson. Stepping away from him, she forced her arms to her sides. “Mr. Quinn, I can handle this.”

She faced Leon. “I’m amazed by how much the men got done since starting on Monday. The foreman told me last evening they’d be reseeding another fifty acres for hay this morning. And they have the corrals fixed and started on the fencing in the north pasture.”

“Good, good.” He glanced at Dylan. “I’ll be going, unless you need a more reliable exterminator. I couldn’t help but overhear about your snake infestation. I can give you the name of the company that has gotten rid of the snakes in our lakes over on Oak Springs for years.”

Although he presented the perfect solution, she didn’t the like way Leon had looked at Dylan as he said the word exterminator. “No, Mr. Quinn is quite capable of getting rid of the snake.”

“Oh, I’m sure he is.” Leon tipped his hat. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you, Charli.” Dylan’s jaw tightened as his uncle glanced at him. “It’s good to see you up among the living again.”

Leon headed back to his Porsche. With no pretense of lowering his voice, Dylan said, “Now, there’s a snake no one wants in their garden.”

Upon hearing the jibe, Leon’s shoulders jerked in mid-stride.

Rattled by Leon’s attention and the snake fiasco, she turned on Dylan. “You aren’t off the hook. I want those snakes gone.”

“We’ll see.”

“I hate snakes.” She shuddered and put her hands on her hips. “Maybe I should have asked him who the exterminator is.”

Bio:
Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.
           
She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name of Cera duBois.


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