Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Greetings

Hi. Thank you for stopping by our diner. We appreciate your company and want to wish you the Season’s best. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanzaa …
and Merry Christmas!

Or in thirteen other languages--

  1. Arabic: Milad Majid

  2. Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun

  3. Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok

  4. Danish: Glædelig Jul

  5. French: Joyeux Noel

  6. Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!

  7. German: Fröhliche Weihnachten

  8. Greek: Kala Christouyenna!

  9. Icelandic: Gledileg Jol

  10. Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha

  11. Spanish: Feliz Navidad

  12. Tagalog: Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Tao

  13. Thai: Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan Christmas

However you say it, we hope your holiday is wonderful! And again, thanks.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Indie Author Spotlight: The Jaguar Legacy

by Maureen Fisher

Book Blurb:

Ancient danger stalks the jungle on velvet paws...

Take one lost city in Mexico where occult energy abounds;
Add one sassy reporter on a quest for an exposé;
Combine with a generous helping of brilliant archaeologist who hates the press;
Throw in a dollop of vengeful ex-wife and a pinch of mysterious shaman who has mastered the mystic arts of the Ancients;
Stir until well combined before placing in pressure cooker;
Stand well back from the fireworks.

The Journey:
This book has a good mixture of many things: archeology, ancient civilizations, centuries old curses, reincarnation, shape shifting. I know it sounds like a lot but Fisher skillfully weaves them together for a fast-paced, entertaining romp through the jungle.

The Characters:
I loved the character Fisher created in the hero, Alistair Kincaid – a sexy Scottish archeologist with a penchant for tacky Hawaiian shirts. I could so picture Gerard Butler in this role. Yum! Charlie is interesting too. She has secrets, some she isn't even aware of. It's an intriguing journey as readers discover her forgotten past along with her.

Jungle Love:
The sexual tension between Charlie and Kincaid is well-played. I always enjoy a good verbal sparing between characters, and these two know how to push each other's buttons. I often have a hard time when characters fall in love too quickly. While the entire book spans only one week, there is a lot packed into it and by the end, I totally believed these two characters cared deeply for each other and had a chance for their happily ever after.

Those Pesky Mosquitos:
There were a few instances that pulled me out of the story. I had a hard time believing anyone would pack silk blouses and lingerie to take on an archeological dig in the jungle. I also had to wonder how none of the characters noticed the hidden ceremonial chamber had recently seen human activity (fires near the altar, incense burning, footprints in the centuries old dust, etc.) when they thought it had been sealed up for 2000 years. There was also a ring Charlie wore that seemed to have special significance but it was never explained how she got it. But these were small bumps in an otherwise interesting journey.

And Now For Something A Bit Different:
Like many authors these days, Ms. Fisher’s novel was previously published by a small press and when she got her rights back to THE JAGUAR LEGACY, she decided to self-publish it. I asked her to tell us how the experience has differed from being traditionally published versus indie publishing the same book. Here’s the author in her own words:

I would like to extend my thanks to Lori for reviewing my re-release of The Jaguar Legacy, a paranormal romantic suspense previously published by a small-press publisher.

Now that I have self-published two books, I can say with some certainty that independent publishing is both incredibly rewarding and also not for the faint of heart.

The major downside of self-publishing is that, in addition to writing high-quality books, the indie author must do all the tasks normally handled by a publisher. These include:

Editing: I highly recommend making an investment in yourself by hiring a professional editor. For me, this is a mandatory step to ensure a quality product. If a reader hates my book because of grammar errors, spelling mistakes, or, worse, unsympathetic protagonists or plot flaws that slipped by my beta readers, she will never return to buy another book.

Cover: The cover is a reader’s first impression of your book. An amateurish cover screams, “Novice writer,” and is the kiss of death. Unless you have the skills to design and prepare your own cover, I recommend hiring a professional cover designer.

E-book preparation and conversion: This time-consuming work requires patience, the reading of much fine print, attention to detail, and technical savvy. For the technically challenged (like me), it also means a steep learning curve. I was lucky because my husband was willing to act as my technical guru. Or you can hire someone to do this for you.

Handling all the administrative details involving taxes and dealing with distributers and/or printing houses.

Handling all promotional activities including blogging, networking, soliciting reviews, posting to promotional sites, placing ads, organizing book signings, and more. This isn’t as bad as it sounds because most publishers now expect authors to do much of their own book promotion.

On the plus side, I love, love, LOVE the control indie publishing provides. I can change the pricing, the product description, even the book content, all at will, and if book sales don’t improve, I can change everything back again.

Moreover, I don’t need to second-guess whether or not an agent or editor will reject a manuscript because it doesn’t fit into a traditional genre box and is therefore unmarketable. That means I can write any kind of book I want with no restrictions on the content. The downside of all this freedom is that I might write something no one wants to buy, thus proving that the genre boxes are there for a reason.

The good news is that my first three months of sales as an indie author have already exceeded four years of small press figures. While I still haven’t matched total revenues due to lower indie pricing, I anticipate that my revenues will soon cover my initial costs, and then gallop ahead of the earnings from my small press publisher. I have all the time in the world. Self-publishing isn’t a sprint, but a marathon.

Control, autonomy, and money! Short of a bestseller gone viral, what more could an author ask?

Learn more about Maureen at

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All Things Yule

I can't be the only one who gets a kick out of knowing the origins of our traditions. As writers it often becomes imperative to know such things. With the holidays upon us I thought it might be fun to explore the origins behind all things yule-related.

Yule or Yuletide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic people as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas.

The festival was originally celebrated from late December to early January on a date determined by the lunar Germanic calendar. The festival was placed on December 25 when the Christian calendar aka the Julian calendar was adopted. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt.

Yule is also used to a lesser extent in English-speaking countries to refer to Christmas. Customs such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from Yule. The fact that Yule is not tied to Christianity means Yule in the Nordic countries is also celebrated by many non-Christians and even by the non-religious. The non-religious treat Yule as an entirely secular tradition.

Yule is the modern English representative of Old English words, thought to be derived from Common Germanic. Specific dating is in question. Scholar Andy Orchard says that it is difficult to specify the yule-tide period more accurately than at some point between about mid-November and the beginning of January. Simek says that the Old Norse timing offers no point of reference for the feast and that the identification with the mid-winter time of sacrifice is most likely.

In most forms of Wicca, this holiday is celebrated at the winter solstice as the rebirth of the Great horned hunter god, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. The method of gathering for this sabbat varies by practitioner. Some have private ceremonies at home, while others do so with their covens.

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, may it be filled with blessings, peace and joy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Celebrating National Novel Writing Month

I Win! Well, Sort Of ...

Each year, in November, writers and wanna-be novelists from all over the world accept the challenge of generating a story of 50, 000 words during the 30 days, producing 1,700 words daily. Roughly, that's seven pages of 250
words each, with double spaced sentences. Day after day after day. Fortunately, National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, does its best to inspire us to get those scintillating tales out of our heads and on to paper. For a number of years I’ve joined buddies at coffeehouse write-ins as well as meeting them online in chat rooms and we’ve poured out our stories.

Some years we cross the 50K mark and others we don’t, but we always succeed in having a good time adding to the wads of words we hope one day will wind up as a published novel. This year, despite the dramas of normal life, I won! Yes! I crossed the 50,000-word finish line. No publishers are beating a path to my door. Not yet,anyway. But I'm hopeful.

To commemorate that milestone as well as acknowledging all my writing buddies whose fingers raced over keyboards with me, I’d like to share 13 statistics about National Novel Writing Month.

  1. 256,618 people participated in this year's NaNoWriMo challenge.

  2. Together, participants wrote a total of 3,074,068,446 words. That's
    billions, not millions. Wow!

  3. The average word-count per person: 11,979 words.

  4. A total of 36,774 writers crossed the 50k finish line.

  5. That means 14% of participants were winners.

  6. In the Young Writers Program, 81,041 participated.

  7. Young Writers are those under 12 years of age. Most take part
    in activities in the classroom. They wrote a total of 368,143,078 words.

  8. The Young Writers' average: 7,199 words per person.

  9. The National Novel Writing Site recorded 5,384,040 visits in
    November. Want to visit, too? Go to

  10. Where did all these visitors come from? Well, the largest number -- 77,947 -- came from New York.

  11. Google recorded 62,286 "guests" from London.

  12. The city closest to me, Madison, Wisconsin, had 12,650 visitors to the National Novel Writing’s site.

  13. All together, 3,605,003 people in the United States took a gander at and/or participated in NaNoWriMo.

Did you participate? What did you like best about the experience? The least? Please share your experience with me. Thanks.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Indie Publishing: It's All About Control

Ask any author why they chose to go Indie and you'll get a variety of answers.

For some, it's because what they write doesn't fit in the NY box (I'm one of those). They're good writers, but their stories aren't considered marketable by industry standards.

For others, they are traditionally published authors who've gotten their rights back and are re-issuing their back-lists (often with the edits they wish they could've made the first time around), giving old favorites a 2nd life with a new audience.

Then there are those who are all about the money. They're tired of being paid slave wages for their hard work. They'd rather be making 70% on their e-books instead of the industry standard 15-17% traditional publishers offer.

But for many, myself included, it's all about control. Authors are sick and tired of NY telling them what to write. They're frustrated when they want to write a WWII romantic suspense and their editor pats them on the head and says, "No. Go write another Regency historical like a good little author. After all, NY knows best." Or they're angry when they've invested years developing a series with compelling characters and a detailed world only to have NY say they're not interested in publishing the last book. Authors feel helpless because they have no control over their cover design. "Who cares if the model is blonde and your heroine is a brunette? Marketing says blondes sell more books so we're going to use it." Heads up, NY. Readers notice this stuff and often blame the author for it.

So for myself and many other writers out there, going Indie is about taking back control. Writing is a creative process. It shouldn't be restricted by anything but the author's imagination.