Thursday, June 30, 2011

For Sale--Again!

Prince of the Mist was originally published in 2005 by New Concepts Publishing. At that time, the book received wonderful reviews and sold surprisingly well in those pre-Kindle days when few readers knew what an e-book was.

NCP decided to cull their collection at one point. Like all publishers, they wanted room for new books. Still, they quickly gave me back my rights and subsequently published two other books of mine--and one of those has been my own personal bestseller, so far.

Three of the four books returned to me were picked up by another publisher, but Prince of the Mist languished in slush piles here and there. I found it disheartening because I loved Wildon and Tia. I knew there were readers who would love them, too.

Fortunately, despite all the negative things said about e-publishing, it has created a wonderful opportunity for authors with a backlist. Any author can take their previously published books and publish those books on their own. Many have done it.

I decided it was time for me to dip my toe gently into self-publishing. I started by whipping up a new bookcover--something eye-catching. Then I uploaded the cover and the manuscript to Amazon's Kindle. It was not a difficult process at all.

Feeling confident, I decided to try Smashwords as well so my book could appear at other e-book distributors. Smashwords was a bit trickier. I had to carefully go through their style list, but I got the hang of it after a few tries.

Once the book was up for sale, I made another book video for it. I don't do anything fancy for the book videos, but I love the process. To me it makes the book comes alive.

Now all I have to do is promote the book, which is a job I have to do even if a publisher gives me a contract. I do not have plans for a paper edition of Prince of the Mist. For now, it can easily be read on personal computers, Kindles, Nooks, Kobos, iPhones. and iPads.

And that's awesome enough for me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lowering My Blood Pressure

I was diagnosed with high blood pressure about seven years ago. Since my mother suffered from high blood pressure for over thirty years, learning that I had the same problem was scary. My mother took several prescription drugs specifically for high blood pressure, but her doctors believed her anxiety exacerbated her condition and so she had tranquilizers as well.

Nevertheless, her blood pressure would often spike. Her greatest fear was that she would have a stroke. She decided to take a proactive stance and though she never stopped taking her prescription medicine, she tried every alternative known at the time to keep her blood pressure in check. She went on the Pritikin diet--reducing her fat intake to the lowest level possible. She ate raw garlic. She tried juicing her vegetables and tossed into the mix every vitamin that experts claimed would help reduce blood pressure levels. She kept a careful record of her blood pressure readings. None of her tireless efforts cured her. Her blood pressure was never truly under control.

She had a stroke at the age of eighty-six. She died a year a half later. Maybe all her healthy eating did help--there are a lot of folks with high blood pressure who never get that far.

Last week, my heart rate plummeted but my blood pressure went up. I went to my doctor who ordered another medication for me. (This is the fifth one.) However, he also became very serious and told me I will have to start walking--a lot--everyday. I was relieved that he did not suggest tranquilizers. I do not want to live in a Xanax-induced haze for the rest of my life--especially since it never did help my mother.

My father was quite surprised by my doctor's advice since none of my mother's doctors had ever mentioned anything about walking.

Obviously, times have changed and medicine is continuing to evolve. Maybe someday the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies will figure everything out. For now, I'm happy to put on my athletic shoes and take a walk. It's great medicine!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Blogs I Miss

I have been going through my long list of bookmarked blogs and deleting some of them. There are bloggers who haven't posted anything for a year or two--or more. The blog is still there, but nothing is happening. I feel bad about deleting them from my bookmarks, but there is nothing fresh to read.

There are plenty of people who give up blogging after a while. I don't know why. Perhaps they are too busy. Perhaps they said what they have to say or they moved on to another hobby. I miss them. To me, for a while, they felt like friends. I especially loved the blogs written by other mothers about their families. It was easy to relate to them because I had gone through many of the same experiences. Sometimes I would offer advice. :^)

Inexplicably, they stopped writing. With most there was no explanation. One claimed she lost interest, but most simply no longer posted.

I worried about them.

There are those of us who continue to blog. I don't think I'll ever run out of things to say--but, of course, I also have an ulterior motive for blogging. I have books to promote and blogging regularly helps in garnering followers who might be interested in reading my books.

That's the theory. Blog and they shall read. If they like what they read on my blog, maybe they'll pick up one of my books. Marketing--not very subtle, but that's what it is. Besides, I don't always write about my books or writerly topics. I tell true tales about my family, our travels, and troubles.

The blogs I enjoyed most were the ones where nobody was selling anything. The ones where the busy mother was herding her kids here and there, feeding them, taking care of them--and the house, the garden, etc. It's not an easy job and eventually the kids grow up. Maybe that's why they stopped posting. Maybe their offspring were starting to go through that phase where they aren't cute anymore. :^(

Or maybe, they found that they enjoyed writing. Maybe they are writing their own book--right now. Maybe they'll come back to the blogosphere and start hawking their wares--like me.

I don't know, but I pray they are all safe and well.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Peanut Chicken

This is delicious, quick and easy. The perfect dish for a busy writer to prepare.

1 onion, chopped
1 clover garlic, chopped
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon curry powder
a pinch of cardamom
a dash of Tabasco sauce
4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

Combine the onion and garlic, cook on high in the microwave for 2 minutes.

Stir in the peanut butter, chicken stock, honey, mustard, curry powder, cardamom, and Tasbasco. Add chicken. Cook, uncovered, on high for 6 minutes. Stir. Cook on high for 6 more minutes.

Serve over rice. (You should have a rice cooker for that!)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Pantster or Plotter?

There's that white page. What am I going to write on it? The blinking cursor waits and time moves on. I close my eyes and start typing. I can see my hero and my heroine--shipwrecked...on an island with a white sandy beach...

This is going to be fun!

That white page can be daunting, but authors are brave souls. However, they use different methods to get their books written. Some are methodical. They are the plotters. Then there are those who just sit down and write. Those are the pantsters, so called because they wing it--flying by the seat of their pants, or in their case, writing by the seat of their pants.

There are some writers who employ both methods.

Much has been written on this topic and you can find plenty of other blogs covering this subject just by typing pantster vs. plotter into Google.

As for myself, I have used outlines for several of my books, but I have often wandered away from my original plans. I have written some books completely by the seat of my pants--winging it through the manuscript. When I use that method, I have a lot more fun but I tend to go off on tangents. That results in more editing when all is said and done.

Nevertheless, I always have the story in my mind even if I do not have a detailed outline. I know the main characters, the main conflict, and the setting. It is quite an adventure to set sail without a script.

A brief survey of my Twitter friends indicates the pantster method is alive and well.

MiaMarlowe Mia_Marlowe @penelopemarzec Definitely a pantster. Once I figure out who my characters are and what they want, keeping them from getting it is my plot.

suzanne lazear suzannelazear @penelopemarzec I'm actually a puzzler with pantster tendancies.

Lisa Kessler LdyDisney @penelopemarzec Pantster! :)

Marci Baun freyasbower @penelopemarzec pantster all the way. (g)

Some of my Facebook friends chimed in, too.

Nancy Sue Petersen Brandt I'm a pantster trying to reform!

Catherine Guerrero I'm a pantser and proud of it. Got my rough draft for a new novel started that way back during NaNoWriMo.

I believe using the pantster method is rather like recording a dream while being awake. To do it, I must turn off my internal editor. Then I just let it rip.

Are you a pantster or a plotter or a little of both?