Thursday, May 31, 2012


Tomorrow begins a big free Kindle e-book giveaway. It will run between June 1-5, 2012. I've never done this before and thought I'd give it a whirl. I'm giving away 5 novels, 2 short stories, and 2 short story collections for readers and I hope you will pick up a few if you're interested in dark fiction. I have 39 separate titles on the Kindle platform as e-books. This giveaway represents about one-fourth of my titles. I know that's a lot and not everyone will want it all, but I thought this way readers could have a pick of this or that, a novel, a story, a collection of stories.

I don't expect I'll burn down Amazon and make it hiccup the way other promotions of free books have done. I only hope to pick up some new readers who might like my works. I've been quite busy creating new works in the past year. I have a new novel, BANISHED, and several new short stories, plus collections where I gathered some of the stories together. I haven't counted up how many words I wrote this past year, but it's been quite a lot. Does that mean it isn't quality work, that I rushed my fiction to market just because it was easy to do with e-books? No, I wouldn't do that. I take pride in my work and take as much time as a particular work needs to make it as error-free and well-written as I possibly can. Does that mean everything I've written this year is outstanding? Probably not. But some of it is, I think. That is up to the reader anyway. The author rarely knows how well she is writing until others read and respond with reviews or messages.

I'm just grateful I have been able to stay so busy writing because that's what we do--we write. Sometimes we give away our writing, but that doesn't mean we think less of it. I won't be doing such a large giveaway of free books in the near future. This is a blowout. This is a birthday celebration. My birthday is June 5 and I wanted to do something spectacular involving my books. I wanted to be generous and share and give out presents to strangers. This is one way to do it.

I hope you will sample my novels, stories, and collections. I hope you will enjoy them and if you have the time, leave short reviews. Authors can never get enough reviews and I certainly could use them.

These free books range in genre from suspense thrillers to horror stories. There might even be a little fantasy in there. It is a lot to choose from and a crazy thing to do, but some birthdays make you crazy, you know?  Please partake and enjoy yourself. It is my present to YOU, dear readers.

Go and download a book or books of your choice!----->
Links to my FREE BOOKS at Digital Ink Spot.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


We can't sell books if the descriptions and the books contain mistakes. I understand formatting mistakes and overlook them, because that can happen to anyone--and does! It happened to me. As soon as I found out, I made corrections, and when that still wasn't good enough, because the book had been scanned from a paperback and then put through OCR, I had my proofreader go over it to catch the mistakes I missed. Not only that, I owned up to the error-ridden e-book and offered everyone who had downloaded it on a KDP Free day a replacement book.

The mistakes we need to really talk about aren't made by scanning and OCR errors. I'm talking about the mistakes made in grammar or spelling, wrong punctuation or garbled sentence construction. These are the problems that really turn me off from wanting to read a Kindle title. I think everyone reacts that way.

I read a whole blog about a woman who received a bad review. She began defending herself, but her remarks were so littered with bad spelling, word use (their for there), and pure, crazy anger that she proved the review to be true. The big problem was she really believed her book was "fine," as she called it. It was not fine. The writer hadn't done her homework and did not get her work checked for mistakes before putting the book up on Kindle. Once called out, she proceeded to make blog posts that were senseless and full of grammatical errors. This not only did harm to her reputation, but it tolled a death knell for her book sales.

There are few places we need perfection--or as close to it as humanly possible--and one of those places is in publishing our books for public consumption.

I used to teach writing for the Writer's Digest School (and a course for novelists on AOL) and, at one time, I used to charge a set fee per page and edited books for people. Writers who want to give their books every chance for success don't have to necessarily hire any editor to go over their works, but they do need feedback and critiques by someone who is competent, someone they trust. I use a writer friend who is extremely good at finding technical mistakes in manuscripts and who also is adept at plot construction. I try my best to be careful with my own work, but just because I can edit others doesn't mean I'm perfect in editing my own writing. I think we all need other eyes on the work before it's published. You can lure in a buyer for your e-book with a great cover, title, and description, but if the book itself is riddled with grammatical mistakes, poor plotting, or poor characterization, that reader won't come back for another book by you.

We have to face the fact that there are over 750,000 e-books on Kindle so it's always important to give our work the best we have. If readers buy one of our books and they aren't happy, we have lost the potential to sell them the rest of our novels.

How many of you have editors or other good writers go over your book before offering it for sale? How important do you think it is to do so? The books I've put up so far, except for one, were published in print first, so they had editorial input. When I put up my original that had never been print published before, you can bet it was checked carefully first by both my reader and my proofreader. How did I do? Not badly. The reader found a plot hole and I rewrote a couple of chapters. The proofreader discovered I had two Chapter 17s and I had to fix the chapter numbers. He also found a few other mistakes that I corrected. Overall, it wasn't in terrible shape, but I sure wouldn't have wanted it to go out into the world with plot holes and duplicate chapter numbers and other small mistakes. Being a professional means you care enough to work hard on your novel and then find others who can work hard on it too. Not your mom or your best friend, either, but someone who has technical expertise and who will tell you the truth.

There are fewer e-books lately that I notice are full of bad writing and I think that's because those who tried to sell them discovered it wasn't going to work. Readers are used to reading books from print publishers who employ editors and proofreaders. They simply will not put up with a book, e-book or paper print, that is riddled with mistakes and bad writing. Why should they pay for that? You have to respect your reader most of all. He is your boss. If you abuse him and make him upset with your writing, you're upsetting the boss--and trust me, he'll fire you. Or in the case of e-books, he might ask for a refund and never buy another word you ever write. That's the same as being fired. You only have one chance to impress your reader and you have to make the most of it if you want him to return to find more of your work.

There are people online now who are very competent editors and proofreaders. Employ them. Care enough to do what you're doing the right way. Never go for second best, never take the chances that could mean the end of your career. Do it right. As a reader, that's all I want. As readers, that's what we demand. If you're going to be a professional writer then make sure you give the reader the best that's in you and that means your spelling is correct, your punctuation is correct, your verb tenses and sentence construction is correct. That means you must know how to write characterization, description, and dialogue. You have to know your business and then you'll get the business--sales of your work. And isn't that what we all want? Without an audience, can you be a writer? I guess you could, but it's a whole lot better WITH an audience. Give them--your bosses--what they deserve and at the very least that is a competently written, technically correct piece of work.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


This suspense novel, KILLING CARLA, was written in a white, hot heat during a period of my life when I needed my novel writing to support the family. My husband was looking for a job and having trouble finding one in the small lake town we had recently moved to. We had two children under 12 years old who not only needed feeding, housing, and baseball uniforms for school, but we had all the other bills families rack up to stay afloat. I had published three novels at this time and had a great agent and publishers interested in my novels, but I didn't have a novel. I was running a small used and new bookstore in the front of the house and we lived in the rooms in the back. The bookstore was making ten or twenty dollars a day on a lucky day. Things were in a dire condition and heading toward catastrophic. Until this point in our lives we always had an income. My novel writing and advances were windfalls, gifts, but the money I made wasn't necessary to pay the bills. This time it was.

I decided I needed to write a book--FAST--and sell it--FAST. I pinned a calendar on the wall near my desk where I wrote and where I sat watching over the bookstore. I turned on the computer and began to write. I had no outline, no characters, no idea what I was going to do. I had been writing about serial killers in my previous novels. They were my field of expertise because I'd spent years researching and reading about them. I came at them from different directions, in various books, exploring the aberrant mind of this particular type of killer.

When I began KILLING CARLA (originally titled SLICE by the publisher, Pocket Books), I thought this: the killer kills a man's wife and gets away with it. His case is thrown out of court. He walks free. What happens then? The husband of the victim is not a macho man. He isn't a gun expert or a hunter. He isn't a coward, not at all, and he adored his wife, but up against a seasoned veteran of murder, he was totally unprepared. What if the victim's younger sister is the tough one, the one ready and willing to take on getting revenge for her beloved sister's murder?

So the book pages began to roll out. The file grew. I worked on the book every single minute I could find between handling sales in the bookstore, washing clothes, cooking meals, and caring for my family. I wrote at night when everyone was sleeping and the house was quiet. I wrote out of desperation and from a feeling of peril. I was not the characters in the book dealing with the loss of a loved one through murder, but I was on the brink of bankruptcy and being on the street. Never before had my family needed me so badly to come through for them.

The book rolled on. The characters came alive for me and I knew them as well as I knew all the people in my real world. Sully was a man devastated by the loss of his wife. Carla was in a fury of wanting revenge against the cold-hearted killer who had waltzed into her life and stolen away her sister. And Martin Lansing, the killer, was changing...

You see sometimes books write themselves and sometimes characters take on a life that is not what you, the writer, planned. I thought Lansing had been in one foster home after another and he had been horribly abused by these people. It had chilled his heart and turned it to stone. He killed out of this terrible past that weighed on him and that had ruined the innocent child within him.

But no. Wait. As I wrote, the night flying past, the dark outside the windows my companion, the house quiet with my sleeping children and husband, all the books sitting silent on the bookshelves in the I wrote...Lansing told me his story and it was not about abuse at the hands of foster parents. That wasn't it at all! When the revelation of the true reason behind this man's murderous sprees was revealed to me, the words pouring out fast and furious, I lifted my hands from the keyboard, sat back in my desk chair, and just stared dumbfounded at the monitor screen. What? What? I couldn't believe it. For the first time ever what I thought about a character was not right, was not true. For the first time a character took on Such Real Life that he wrote himself and explained himself and made me see him in his own truth.

Amazing, I thought. That's just amazing. And it makes perfect sense. It's a twist and I didn't see it coming, but I knew it was absolutely perfect.

I won't tell you what it was about Lansing that makes him who he is in KILLING CARLA. That would ruin the story. But I can tell you it is a true character, perhaps the truest fictional character I've ever written about and I think that's what makes the book special and worth reading.

I have the book up for free through KDP on Kindle for 3 days. I hope a lot of people find it and give it a read. I hope they will be as surprised as I was when writing it and yet it makes perfect sense and Lansing is exactly as he should have been, exactly as he wrote himself.

Did the book save our family's finances? Yes, there's a happy ending in the real world now and then and this was one of them. I wrote the novel in 23 days over a 2 month period (there were days I could not get to the computer to write no matter how I tried--real life intervened). It was the fastest book I ever wrote in my life. As soon as I mailed it to my agent and he had it in his hands, he sold it to Pocket Books, the paperback division of Simon and Schuster. It brought in an advance that floated us and paid our bills until my husband found a job.

That's what this book did for me and I'm grateful to it for that. It was the one book that saved this writer from disaster. I hope you will give it a read and I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it through those 23 days and nights of desperation and darkness. Here is a link for your free copy May 3-5.