Monthly Archives: September 2013

American Christian Fiction Writers Conference 2013!

Barbara Vey -- September 30th, 2013

acfw

Our Cub Reporter today is Debby Giusti.  She is a medical technologist who loves working with test tubes and petri dishes almost as much as she loves to write.  Growing up as an Army Brat, Debby met and married her husband–then a Captain in the Army–at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  Together they traveled the world, raised three Army Brats of their own and have now settled in Atlanta, Georgia, where Debby spins tales of suspense that touch the heart and soul. Her work has won numerous awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award for Inspirational Suspense, the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Golden Quill, the Beacon Award for Excellence, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and the Write Touch.  Debby’s twelfth novel, The Soldier’s Sister, is a September 2013 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Jen Cvelbar, Susan Mason, Debby Giusti and Carol Moncado  before the next workshop.

Jen Cvelbar, Susan Mason, Debby Giusti and Carol Moncado before the next workshop.

 

Seeing old friends and making new ones is always a special part of the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. This year was no exception. Six hundred writers and industry professionals gathered at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Indianapolis from Friday, September 13, to Monday, September 16, for ACFW 2013.

Music minister Rachel Hauck and her band provided praise and worship music each morning, and keynote speaker and best-selling author Robin Jones Gunn reminded those attending that God is in control and wants the very best for us. We, in turn, must be open to his will and care for those he has placed in our path.

 

Friday night, the writers were invited to “dress” for dinner—as their favorite characters. Fictional figures dotted the dining room with an assortment of Regency ladies, Southern belles, fairies, cowboys and alien creatures that added a buzz of excitement to the evening events.  I went as a contemporary woman (yes, that means no costume).

 

Regency ladies, Debra Marvin and Susanne Diet

Regency ladies, Debra Marvin and Susanne Dietz

Civil War belle, Lyndee Henderson, models the outfit she stitched. Her skirt contains 13 yards of fabric pleated by hand.

Civil War belle, Lyndee Henderson, models the outfit she stitched. Her skirt contains 13 yards of fabric pleated by hand.

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The conference theme, “Endless Possibilities,” was borne out with an outstanding lineup of programs. Editor and agent appointments, workshops on craft, story structure, motivation and marketing as well as spotlights on publishing houses and literary agencies provided a wide selection from which to choose.

 

James Scott Bell takes a break from his workshop to chat with some of the authors from Seekerville (www.seekerville.blogspot.com). (L to R) Myra Johnson, Debby Giusti, James Scott Bell, Missy Tippens and Janet Dean.

James Scott Bell takes a break from his workshop to chat with some of the authors from Seekerville  (L to R) Myra Johnson, Debby Giusti, James Scott Bell, Missy Tippens and Janet Dean.

I attended James Scott Bell’s all-day, continuing education session on Saturday, “Blasting Past Good to Unforgettable Fiction,” and came away with new ideas on how to improve my work in progress. He started off by asking us to write a letter to our novel explaining why we love the story. Our next assignment was to have the novel write a letter back to us. Bell said we need to love our project or we’re not ready to write the story. He went on to say, “A good story is the record of how a character fights with death,” which can be physical, professional or psychological.

That night more than thirty Love Inspired authors, along with executive editor Tina James and editor Emily Rodmell, enjoyed a yummy, multicourse meal at nearby PF Chang’s Restaurant.

 

Biblical author Stephanie Landsem and ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Frank Peretti pose for a picture in Starbucks.

Biblical author Stephanie Landsem and ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Frank Peretti pose for a picture in Starbucks.

Sunday morning I had the honor of having coffee with best-selling author Frank Peretti. Frank’s a down to earth guy who enjoys life and makes everyone he meets feel at ease. The success of his debut novel, This Present Darkness, opened the doors to Christian fiction in 1986 and proved that Christian readers were hungry for all types of stories in a vast array of genres. Frank received the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday night at the ACFW Gala Banquet and Awards Ceremony. The Genesis and Carol winners were announced that evening amid cheers and tears of joy. Congratulations to all the winners…and finalists!

 Patti Jo Moore and best-selling author Mary Connealy at the Awards Ceremony.

Patti Jo Moore and best-selling author Mary Connealy at the Awards Ceremony.

 

Monday everyone packed their suitcases and headed home. I flew back to Atlanta tired but happy and brimming with ideas for my next story. Thanks to Robin Miller and her staff for a fantastic conference.

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Bottom Line:  Next year, ACFW will be held in ST Louis. Hope to see you there!

Giveaways-1

From Debby Giusti: Celebrate Seekerville’s 6th Birthday from OCT 1-31! Daily and weekly giveaways, plus a Grand Prize of an iPad Mini. Leave a comment to be entered in the drawings! The more you comment, the more chance you have to win!

 

Where in the World is Barbara Vey

Barbara Vey -- September 27th, 2013

world

It’s that time of year again to be thinking about what I’ll be doing next year.  Seems like things have to be planned earlier and earlier to fit in everyone’s schedule.  There’s weddings, babies being born, kids graduating, moving and life in general getting in the way.  One exciting thing for me is that I get to have my grandkids visit for 2 weeks next summer.  This is a first, so I’m beyond thrilled.

Other than that, I’m posting my schedule so far.  If you’d like me to attend your event, please email me at bvey@publishersweekly.com with your information.  Here’s what’s coming up for me next year:

2014

January 9-12 – Keynote Speaker for the Seymour Agency Author Retreat in Orlando, FL 

February 14-16 – Workshop for Southwest Florida Romance Writers

April 25Q & A with over 25 authors in Milwaukee, WI Free Event

April 26Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon in Milwaukee, WI

May 14-18RT Convention in New Orleans

May 28-31Book Expo America in New York

June 5-8, 2014 Lori Foster Reader/Author Get-Together West Chester, OH

June 2014Heart of Dixie Luncheon - Huntsville, AL

July 23–26RWA San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter & Marriott Riverwalk

September 2014 – Speaker at Women’s International Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy

So what are you doing in 2014?

Bottom Line:  Don’t forget…I have a passport now.  :)

 

What the Author Recommends…

Barbara Vey -- September 26th, 2013

authorsrecommendingbooks

I just got my ticket for the Southern Magic Reader Luncheon.  This was one of the luncheons that made me want to start my own.  What makes it special is the southern charm that is served with the meal.  I’ll be a “Special Guest” along with award winning audio book narrator, Tavia Gilbert.  The wonderful Jeaniene Frost will be keynote and welcome speaker is Ella Grace/Christy Reece (a twofer).  It’s November 1st, so hurry and register.  But in the meantime, here’s what some authors enjoy reading.

 

r is for rocketmixing it upAndrew Peterson recommends R IS FOR ROCKET by Ray Bradbury.

Maggie Shayne loves MIXING UP A MEMORY by Jena O’Connor, because it’s about the five Haggerty sisters, who are inspired by my own five daughters, and because it’s my firstborn’s fiction debut. But I also love it because it’s a warm, charming, upbeat, family story, the first of the Sprinkle of Faith series.

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-7-5Desiree Holt recommends the entire McCarthys of Gansett Island series by Marie Force. Love stories just the way you want them and so well written.

Kate Hewitt recommends The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. This is such a compelling and thought-provoking read, with very real and heart wrenching relationships. I read it practically in one sitting!

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sign off-4Mary Buckham loves Patricia McLinn’s Sign Off. The debut of a new mystery series with finely developed characters, whip-sharp dialogue, and setting that makes you want to step into the page, put this on my keeper shelf.
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Danielle Monsch highly recommends Flowers From The Storm by Laura Kinsale. This is not an easy read. It demands you engage both your mind and your emotions and will leave you wrecked and drained by the time the HEA occurs, but it is by far the most satisfying and rewarding romance, one that will stay with you over 20(!) years since the first time you read it, and one you will read multiple times as it finds a home on your keeper shelf.

Eye of the Needle.
Just a miracleLaurie Gifford Adams recommends Just a Miracle by Zita Christian. Zita does an excellent job of building a world where you care about the characters and what happens to them because they are real and their conflicts are accessible. Her command of the time period brings the story to life in an authentic way.

DV Berkom recommends Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett. Ken Follett’s book about a German spy in WWII and the woman who has to stop him began my journey in the thriller genre and I never looked back. It’s masterful storytelling and was one of the first books I’d read with a heroic (but realistic) female protagonist. Talk about hooking me instantly.

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-2Maggie Mae Gallagher recommends Across A Moonlit Sea by Marsha Canham. This is one of my all-time favorite books. Thanks to Ms. Canham I know what it feels like to stand aboard a privateer vessel and sail the Atlantic.

Katharine Ashe recommends THE CHOCOLATE KISS by Laura Florand, a deliciously magical contemporary romance set in Paris with wonderful characters and a sparkling, sexy story. It left my mouth watering and my heart completely satisfied.
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Bottom Line:  I read Eye of the Needle when it first came out in 1978 and it’s still one of my favorites that I reread.

WW Ladies Book Club

Barbara Vey -- September 25th, 2013

WW Ladies BC

Great news!  The For the Love of Romance Webcast I did with Harlequin, Kensington and Sourcebooks is up and running.  If you haven’t yet had a chance to listen to it, please do.  Dianne Moggy, Esi and Deb Werksman were amazing.  These women know their stuff and offer a lot of insight and advice.  You can catch the whole webcast here.  (There’s even slides to look at while you listen).  Now the WW Ladies offer up their reads of the week.

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Joan

Joan

Law of Attraction by Allison Leotta

Read by Joan

Anna Curtis is a green prosecutor assigned to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C. She runs into an old law school classmate, Nick Wagner. Nick is a top notch in the Public Defenders office. Anna prosecutes a case of a battered woman and Nick ends up defending the boyfriend that has beat her up and not for the first time. Nick and Anna have begun dating secretly so as to avoid conflict with their jobs. However when Anna’s client turns up dead and Nick again defends the boyfriend, she breaks off their relation ship.

WOW! I loved this book. I was lucky to meet Allison Leotta and after learning she really was a federal prosecutor in D.C. and her background, I could not wait to read her first book. It was so fast and intense and exciting, I look forward to reading the next one, Discretion. Don’t walk to get this book; run to your nearest bookstore.

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joysann

joysann

The Bounty by Beth Williamson

Read by joysann

Bounty hunter Tyler Calhoun came a long way to take up the hunt for outlaw Nicky Malloy; after all, money is money. Nicky has been on the run for three years since she killed a man. After the bounty hunter captures her, she has to use the long trip back, and maybe their attraction, to convince him of her innocence.

The Bounty turns out to be a sweet, sexy, hot and fun Old West adventure. It doesn’t take long to like both the main characters and to get involved in their romance. This is the first book in The Malloy Family series, and I’m working my way through it.

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Heidi

Heidi

Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Read by Heidi

Hannah Swensen is at the biggest party in Lake Eden. So is her worse nightmare, Doctor Bev. As Hannah is spending time with her family during the party and enjoying her famous Red Velvet Cupcakes, one partygoer takes a dive off the hotel’s roof. While Hannah is trying to figure out who would want to hurt the sheriff’s secretary, Doctor Bev is stirring up trouble with Hannah’s current boyfriend Norman. Hannah’s mild manner is at a breaking point, until Doctor Bev ends up dead, with Hannah as the prime suspect.

I really relished the fast pace of the book. It tingled my spidey-sense on who was the killer and who was the culprit causing someone to jump off or did they push off the roof. Add in Hannah’s mouth-watering recipes and this is one book that is delectable and intriguing from beginning to end.
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joysann

joysann

Affliction by Laurell K Hamilton

Listened to by joysann

When Micah’s estranged father becomes critically ill with an unknown affliction, he, Anita, Nathaniel and their bodyguards go to Boulder, Colorado, where Micah’s family lives. The mysterious illness is the result of a zombie bite, but there is something a whole lot more dangerous and sinister behind it. Anita and her companions join local law enforcement to prevent a zombie apocalypse.

I don’t get tired of listening to the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels. As always, there’s a bit of the complicated relationships and sexy scenes, but Affliction has an exciting story and a bit of a good mystery. Listening to it read by Kimberly Alexis is a lot of fun because she is very versatile with the myriad voices, which makes the audiobook enthralling entertainment.

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The winner of Six Times a Charm box set is Robin Greene.  Congratulations!  Please email angie @ angiefox.com (no spaces) with Winner of Box Set in the subject line.

Bottom Line:  Only 16 more days until I speak at Oxford and on to London, so if you’re an author there, contact me so we can meet up and yes, I talk funny (Wisconsinese).

New Releases Tuesday!

Barbara Vey -- September 24th, 2013

new releases

Well, it looks like we hit the mother lode with the new releases this week.  Please keep in mind that while we say “New Releases,” some may be reissues.  With that said, go forth and add to your TBR pile!

As a special treat, we have a wonderful gift box set (that is also being released this week) donated by Angie Fox. Who doesn’t want a little magic in their life?  And just in time to get you in the mood for Halloween! Six Times a Charm, is a limited edition boxed set featuring six of the top names in paranormal romance.  

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Haunted on Bourbon Street by Deanna Chase
• The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox
• Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner
• Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky
• How to Date a Werewolf by Rose Pressey
• Easy Bake Coven by Liz Schulte

Just comment, “Six Times a Charm” in the comments section for a chance to win.  Winner will be posted tomorrow.

A Lady Most LovelyThe Trouble with Christmas-21Never Desire a Duke

 

 

 

 

 

A Lady Most Lovely by Jennifer Delamere (Forever Mass Market)

The Trouble with Christmas by Debbie Mason (Forever Mass Market)

Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis (Forever Mass Market)

Never Desire a Duke by Lily Dalton (Forever Mass Market)

FacadeThe Grand Opening    

Façade by Nyrae Dawn (Forever Trade Paperback)

The Grand Opening by Ava Miles (Indie)

Here Comes Trouble by Erin Kern (Forever Mass Market)

The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed (Plume Books)

 

Pecan Pies-14-11Kissing Under the Mistletoe

 

 

 

 

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Pecan Pie and Deadly Lies by Nancy Naigle  (Montlake Romance)

Sleep with the Lights On by Maggie Shayne (Harlequin Mira)

The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, Kimberly Kincaid

Kissing Under the Mistletoe: A Sullivan Christmas by Bella Andre (Harlequin MIRA)

2xA Proposal for ChristmasWhite ChristmasGlory Glory

 

 

 

 

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Two Times As Hot by Cat Johnson (Brava trade paperback original Contemporary Romance)

A Proposal for Christmas – State Secrets\The Five Days of Christmas by Linda Lael Miller, Lindsay McKenna (Harlequin HQN)

White Christmas - Woman Hater\The Humbug Man by Diana Palmer (Harlequin HQN)

Glory, Glory  - Snowbound with the Bodyguard by Linda Lael Miller, Carla Cassidy (Harlequin)

Call Me Mrs. MiracleSusan MallerySleigh BellsA Seaside Christmas

 

 

 

 

Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber (Harlequin MIRA)

Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery (Harlequin HQN)

Sleigh Belles by Beth Albright (Harlequin MIRA)

A Seaside Christmas by Sherryl Woods (Harlequin MIRA)

Christmas CowboyMerry and Bright-9-15

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas Cowboy by Janet Dailey  (Zebra Mass Market Original Contemporary Romance)

Merry and Bright by Jill Shalvis (Kensington mass market reissue Contemporary Romance)

What Happens At Christmas by Victoria Alexander (Zebra Mass Market reissue Historical Romance)

 Soul Survivor by Katana Collins  (Aphrodisia trade paperback original Erotic Romance)

10 Shades-10getting rowdy-1

 

 

 

 

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10 Shades of Seduction  - Submit to Desire\Second Time Around\Tempting the New Guy\Giving In\What She Needs\Vegas Heat by Tiffany Reisz, Portia Da Costa, Alegra Verde, Alison Tyler, Lisa Renee Jones (Harlequin MIRA)

Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna  (Kensington trade paperback original Romantic Suspense)

Getting Rowdy by Lori Foster (Harlequin HQN).

So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl (Harlequin HQN)

 

forsaken Butterfly Cove

Search the DarkWhat a gentleman desires

 

 

 

 

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Forsaken by B.J. Daniels (Harlequin HQN)

Butterfly Cove by Christina Skye (Harlequin HQN)

Search the Dark by Marta Perry (Harlequin HQN)

What a Gentleman Desires by Kasey Michaels (Harlequin HQN)

The Stranger you know-3-7-4

 

 

 

 

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The Stranger You Know by Andrea Kane (Harlequin MIRA)

Classified by Fern Michaels (Kensington trade paperback original Women’s Fiction)

The Memory Tree by Joseph Pittman (Kensington trade paperback original Women’s Fiction)

Bodies of Water by T. Greenwood (Kensington trade paperback original Women’s Fiction)

-6-8Losing to Win

 

 

 

 

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You Give Good Love J.J. Murray(Kensington Trade Paperback Original Women’s Fiction)

Anything But Civil: A Hattie Davish Mystery by Anna Loan Wilsey(Kensington trade paperback original Historical Mystery)

Losing to Win by Michele Grant (Kensington Trade Paperback Original Women’s Fiction)

Phew…that’s a lot of new books.  BTW, the winner of yesterday’s blog is Jacs.  Please email your street address to coreenecallahan @ gmail.com (no spaces).  You have one week to claim your prize.  Congratulations.

Bottom Line:  The darkest hour is just before dawn…I’m only saying that because I’ve been up since 2:30 a.m. and it’s really dark right now.

Serial Novels: What’s Old is New Again

Barbara Vey -- September 23rd, 2013
Coreene Callahan

Coreene Callahan

I met the cheery, congenial, Canadian Coreene Callahan (now say that 3 times…fast, you know you want to) at RWA this year.  Her infectious smile and charm drew people to her and after chatting with her over coffee, it was easy to understand why.  She loves what she does and wants to share it with the world.

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While we were talking, I could almost see the wheels turning in her head as she was thinking ahead to the next thing she wanted to try.  At the time she was experimenting with putting her book out there as a serial novel.  Readers would pay one price an get installments weekly.  I signed up to see what it was like and it reminded me a lot about what it was like watching “24″ every week.  You were left with a cliffhanger and had to wait to see what happened next.  While this idea isn’t new, it was the first time I experienced it with a book and I have to say I enjoyed it.  It was fun getting that email every week to let me know a new episode was waiting for me to open like a present on Christmas morning.  I had to find out what the experience was like for Coreene.

Warrior's Revenge/

BV:  You’ve written full length novels before. What made you put Warrior’s Revenge out as a serial novel?

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CC:  In all honesty, I did it for my readers. I wanted to give them another story. Something fun and fast-paced to bridge the gap between the release of Fury of Seduction and Fury of Desire (Dragonfury series, books 3 and 4), but that also tied into Knight Awakened (Circle of Seven series, book 1). I thought Warrior’s Revenge would do that, adding a fun twist to summer reading. I’m happy to say, the feedback from readers has been amazing! Now I’m so very glad I took the plunge and put the book out as a serial novel for others to enjoy.

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But what’s truly amazing is that Warrior’s Revenge has been re-released as a full length novel and is now available in all formats: print and e-book. The audiobook is coming soon too. So much fun!

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BV:  How does a serialized novel work?

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CC:  It’s really a great concept. A serial novel is a full length book broken up into episodes. In my case, Warrior’s Revenge had a total of ten episodes, one of which was released every week. Each Tuesday a new episode was automatically downloaded to the reader’s Kindle, so no muss, no fuss. But what I really like about serial novels is the price. You get an entire book for just a $1.99. Not per episode, but TOTAL…as in, pay once, get the whole story for $1.99! I love a good deal, and this has to be one of the best.

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BV:  What has been the reaction of your readers?

b
CC:  The reaction, overall, was fantastic. Most of my readers loved the serial novel format, enjoying the added tension of having to wait to find out what happened next each week. Others didn’t like the format as much. They wanted the rest of the story NOW!…and I didn’t blame them. Some of the cliffhangers in the book are intense! So waiting for the next installment was difficult to do.
But in the end, most everyone fell in love with Brigham and Aurora, the main characters along with their story. The book is fast-paced and action-packed, but more than anything, it’s about two people struggling to find love, acceptance, and a second chance in a place where everything can—and usually does—go wrong.

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BV:  You have a special problem with Amazon because you live in Canada.

.Serial Fiction
CC:  Ah, the problem! Here it is in a nutshell…
Although, the idea of serialized novels has been around a long time (think back to the Victorian era when Charles Dickens released stories one installment at a time), the serial novel is a fairly new concept for us. We haven’t seen stories in the romance genre released like this for a while and exploring new territory necessitates a little experimentation—i.e.: testing the story medium to see whether readers will enjoy it or not. Because of this, serial novels aren’t released as widely (across international platforms) the same way full length novels are at the moment. The program is still in its infancy and only available to those who live in the United States right now.
So back to the problem…because I don’t live in the US, I couldn’t get my own book! Odd, I know, but there’s an upside too. After just ten weeks, the serial novel phase of Warrior’s Revenge ended, and now I (along with everyone else!) can read the entire book all at once.

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BV:  Would you consider doing it again?

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CC:  I really enjoyed releasing Warrior’s Revenge as a serial novel. The experience challenged me in interesting ways, and although the pace was frenetic, I think it made me a stronger storyteller and a better writer. Always a good thing. So yes, I would consider writing another down the line…with one caveat. I would want any future serial novels I write made available to all my readers, which means internationally. It’s important to me that everyone have access to my books, no matter where they live. That’s only fair, right? :-)

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Thanks Coreene for joining me today.  The good news is that your book is available for everyone, everywhere now.  As a special surprise, Coreen has graciously offered to give away a copy of Warrior’s Revenge to one lucky reader.  Just put “Warrior’s Revenge” in the comments section and a winner will be announced tomorrow.  The winner must contact the author in one week or forfeit the prize.

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Bottom Line:  “Serial novels have an unexpected effect; they hook the writer as well as the reader.” ~ Alexander McCall Smith

Do You Need an Author Assistant?

Barbara Vey -- September 20th, 2013
Author Assistant

Author Assistant

 

In today’s ever changing world of publishing, authors can’t just sit back and write their books.  They have become marketers, branders, spokespeople, social media experts, publicists, promoters, web designers and sometimes even publishers.  Sounds like a serious Type A personality.  But does it have to be all or nothing for authors?  I sat down with three author assistants who’s job it is is to assist the authors in anyway they can so the author can concentrate on writing their books.

Kim Castillo is a virtual assistant who spends her days trying to give her bestselling clients more time in the day to spend writing and with their families. When she’s not at her computer working on fabulous marketing ideas she’s chasing down one of her three cats, two dogs or bird.

Kati Rodriguez is a virtual assistant by day and a recovering romance book addict and blogger by night. When not assisting, blogging or reading, she spends time ogling the local firemen behind the safety of her aviators at Starbucks. A lover of the color pink, you can always spot her at conferences with a giant pink bag.

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Maggie Mae Gallagher is a virtual assistant, writer, Cub Reporter for Beyond Her Book, and Event Manager for RomCon. When she’s not assisting her authors, spending time writing, or being a social media wiz, she can be found wrangling her niece or attending the latest comic con/geek fest.

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Why did you become an author’s assistant?

Kim: I actually just kind of fell into it. Eloisa James was a friend and I wanted to help her out. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else. Its the most perfect job for me.

Kati:  To tell you the truth, I sort of fell into being an author’s assistant thanks to Vicky Dreiling. She had gotten a bit overwhelmed with writing and doing administrative/promotional things so she asked if I would help her out. Vicky was very instrumental in me becoming an author’s assistant. She told author friends about me and it sort of snowballed from there.

Maggie: My journey happened by chance and was not a path I had originally intended. Two years ago, I was at a breakfast with a bunch of authors and happened to be sitting next to Eileen Dreyer. During the course of our conversation, Eileen mentioned she had been looking for an assistant with little luck and if I knew anyone.  Fate nudged my hand forward and I tossed my hat into the ring. I built my business part-time for about ten months before I made the leap into being a virtual assistant full-time. I feel so blessed to have meet Eileen because looking back, it’s been such an incredible, exciting journey thus far. I love what I do

What makes you so valuable to authors? Value

Maggie:  The skills I acquired during my tenure as an Office Manager have been supremely useful. Granted I have modified those skill sets. The publishing industry requires an ability to adapt to the ever evolving business model at lightning speeds while maintaining strident attention to details, a fearlessness in approaching new opportunities, well developed networking skills, the ability to anticipate what my clients need by keeping my finger on the pulse of the industry, and organizational abilities that would make Sheldon Cooper proud. I apply all of this to my business in the hope of delivering the highest quality service.

Kim:  My flexibility, willingness to please and understanding of marketing and readers.

Kati:  Gosh! Do I have to answer this question? I feel like I’m tooting my own horn but here it goes…I think my ability to adapt and learn as the market changes makes me valuable to authors. Whether it’s social media, a new idea for promoting new releases or something an author sees that a fellow author is doing that seems to be working, I try my best to add it to my skill set.

Some of you work for more than one author.  Does it ever get confusing?confusing

Kim:  Surprisingly no.

Kati:  Sometimes it does get confusing but the calendar on my phone, computer and even an old fashioned monthly planner keeps me on track. I even have a large wall calendar above the desk to keep me on track. Sticky notes and color coding are my friends :)

Maggie:  Yes and it’s a constant juggling act but one that I love doing.  As an Office Manager, I had three to four hundred client files to stay on top of a daily basis so I understand how to balance my client’s needs while prioritizing duties. A typical day in the life of an assistant can have a range of jobs from shipping books at the post office to creating an ad design to website maintenance to…whatever else my authors need me to do.

Are you all aspiring writers?I Vant to Write

Kim:  Nope.

Kati:  I’ve been writing since I can remember so I guess you would say that I’m still an aspiring writer.

Maggie:  As a writer seeking publication, you couldn’t hope for a better internship. I have seen behind the curtain of what it truly takes, not only to be a successful writer, but what it takes to make a career out of writing.

Why do authors need assistants?WHY

Kati:  As an author, if you get to the point of dreading the following, you might look into getting an assistant:

  • Not getting your word count in for the day because you’re so busy doing non-writing stuff.
  • That inbox is looking really scary. (100+ emails, anyone?)
  • You hate standing in line for the post office to send out promo.
  • Updating your website. (Why are the links not working?)
  • New forms of social media keep popping up and it makes you want to cry because do you really need an account?

Those are just a few examples. I’m sure as an author, you can think of a whole lot more. If you ask around, you will be able to find an assistant within your budget. So even if you’re not a New York Times bestselling author, you can still get yourself an assistant.

Maggie:  For a number of reasons. First, in this day and age with the sheer scope that social media demands on an author, assistants help carve away some of time they would spend promoting on those outlets so they can accomplish more writing. Second, as another partner to help market, establish blog tours and find reviewers for releases. Third, someone to take care of those pesky little things like website updates, newsletter formatting, and the list of inglorious time sucks on an author’s time could go on and on. Assistants help defray those demands so an author can focus on the most important part of their job, the writing. Assistants are an author’s partner very much like their editor and agent.

Kim:  Because no one can run a business alone and once published, that’s exactly what an author is. They are a brand that needs time and cultivation. If an author tried to write, do all their own administration and have a family/life, they wouldn’t have much time for the family/life, in my opinion.

 What are some of your duties for the authors?duties

Maggie:  My daily tasks can range across the board. A typical day in the life entails conversing with the publicity department at a client’s publishing house, addressing my email inbox, designing an ad, updating clients calendars, packing book shipments for winners, updating websites, and that’s the first half of the day. I tend to tailor my tasks to what my client needs.

Kim:  Social media help, website updating, schedules, contests, graphics, events and pretty much anything else I’m asked to do.

Katie:  Duties include: checking emails, running contests, mailing promo/contest prizes, coordinating blog tours, updating websites/social media sites, designing graphics for ads, social media or promo items (bookmarks, buttons, postcards)

What advice would you give someone who wants to become an author assistant?free advice

Kim:  Being an author assistant sounds very cool and glamorous to readers (and it is!) but its also a job that takes a certain type of person. You have to be thick skinned and not take constructive criticism personal. Eloisa is an English professor and punctuation sometimes isn’t my strongest skill. I never take it personal when she corrects me, I appreciate it! While you may be brilliant most of the time, you won’t hit every task out of the park every time and you will make mistakes. It’s just part of the job, part of any job. Being an assistant is being the background. Our job is to always make our client look great, we’re there to make everything run as seamlessly as possible.

Kati:  Some advice I would give someone who wants to become an author assistant is: be willing to learn, be adaptable and have fun with it. If you are unsure of how to do something, google it. Google and youtube are my go-to sites for things I don’t know how to do. They’ve saved my butt a time or two. You can also ask a fellow VA if they know how.

Maggie:  Study the market. I was lucky in that I had been working as an aspiring author and a member of RWA so there were contacts I had already made within the industry which made my transition a whole lot easier. RWA has some of the best information on the business of writing.

Be willing to learn. This is not a nine to five type of job, you have to be willing and able to keep odd hours. And being an author’s assistant is like being on-call 24/7.  I love every minute of it and am thrilled by the authors I get to work with.

Thanks to Kim, Kati and Maggie for sharing their expertise with us today.  You can contact them here:  Kim Castillo, Kati Rodriguez, Maggie Mae Gallagher.

Bottom Line:  Is it time for you to get an assistant…I know I’m ready.

 

And the Author Recommends…

Barbara Vey -- September 19th, 2013

authorsrecommendingbooks

People have been posting on Twitter and Facebook that they have successfully listened to the For the Love of Romance webcast.  Here’s the link they give.  PW has not officially notified me that it is ready and when I tried to listen I only heard part of the audio.  Please listen when you have time and let me know if it works for you.  I’d love to hear your feedback.  What you liked, what you’d want to hear in future webcasts.

And now, here’s what the authors are recommending.

cold

.Redeeming Love

Carla Neggers recommends COLD by Stella Cameron (thriller)

Debbie Kaufman highly recommends her all-time favorite inspirational story, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

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Every Breath She Takes

The Wolf Gift.Pamela Clare recommends Every Breath She Takes By Norah Wilson (romantic suspense)

Anne Elizabeth recommends Anne Rice’s The Wolf Gift – Rice’s hero is flawed and perfect in so many wonderful ways and speaks to the primal nature of man and the beast. I’m looking forward to the next book.

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HotHead-Suede

.Silverhawk_cover-xxx

Jade Lee recommends Hot Head by Damon Suede (M/M romance)

Jennifer Jakes recommends Silverhawk by Barbara Bettis.  (Historical Romance) It’s one of my fave books ever and I would LOVE to recommend her book.

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DickCover17877304KT Grant recommends Take Care, Sara by Lindy Zant. This book will tear at your heart, but in a good way. Don’t be surprised as you read, you find a lump in your throat and tear up at certain points.

Holly Jacobs recomments How to Write a Dick by Colleen Collins/Shaun Kaufman,   This is a fantastic read for writers, and for people who just want to know how a detective really works. (Nonfiction)
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Authors can send their recommendations to maggiemaepw@gmail.com

Bottom Line:  Ok, I’ve got to admit the title How to Write a Dick made me think of a Dear John letter but the guy is named Dick.  I need more coffee.

 

 

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For the Love of Romance

Barbara Vey -- September 18th, 2013

Layout 1

Yesterday was the official launch of the Romance webcasts.  While there were a few bugs, it was an exciting hour.  I was honored to be asked to host the event and was beyond thrilled to be chatting with three very knowledgeable women in publishing, Esi Sogah, Senior Editor, Kensington Books, Deb Werksman, Acquiring Editor and Editorial Manager, Sourcebooks Casablanca and Diane Moggy, Vice-President of Series Editorial, Harlequin Books.

Dianne Moggy

Dianne Moggy

 

Esi Sogah

Esi Sogah

Deb Werksman

Deb Werksman

 

 

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I wish I could have been taking notes while moderating because it was a fabulous discussion.  Here are some of the questions we discussed:

1.Romance Readers are very loyal. In your experience why do you think that is? How are Romance Readers different from other readers you market to?
2. Editors are always asking for fresh and new ideas. What makes something fresh for
you?
3. How are publishers attracting new authors in this digital age? (Competing with selfpublishing. Barbara has example from last RomCon about the shift from publisher to self-publishing.)
4. What has digital allowed publishers to do that they couldn’t before? (I’m thinking novellas, e-serials, faster access, etc.)
5. There are so many different subgenres to romance. Why do you think that is? What are the signs that a subgenre is going to be a hit, have staying power? Or a subgenre that surprised you?
6. What are your favorites?

In addition, we took questions from the listeners and got the usual question about romance dumbing down readers.  Listen to what the editors say about that.

no audio

Unfortunately, there was a little technical glitch when audio was lost, but PW is working on it and as soon as it’s available, I’ll let you all know.

My favorite part?  Even though there we lost audio part way through, hundreds of romance readers stayed tuned and watched the slides.  That’s the kind of loyalty that abounds in the romance community.

Did you listen?  Did you enjoy what you did get to hear?  What would you like to see/hear in future webcasts?

Another one of my dreams has come true and I’m very appreciative to all of you who Tweeted, Facebooked, Google+’d and blogged about the webcast.  Your support is overwhelming and I’m eternally grateful.

Winners of the publishers gifts from the Webcast will be announced soon.  In the meantime, the winner of yesterday’s gift basket from Random House is Pamela Gardner.  Congratulations!  Please email suegrimshaw @ randomhouse.com for your prize.

Bottom Line:  Tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day…so start practicing…Arrr!

New Releases Tuesday

Barbara Vey -- September 17th, 2013

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Happy Announcement!  It’s official. I’m off to jolly old England next month to speak at the Oxford Author Courses.  Here’s what Elizabeth Edmondson said about the picture she sent me.  “Here’s a view of some of the dreaming spires, to whet your appetite. St Hilda’s, being a women’s college and therefore only nineteenth century isn’t as beautiful as this, but it’s a river college and pretty in its way.”  I am beyond ecstatic about this trip.  As many of you know, I just received my first passport a few weeks ago.  The other day I saw my plane ticket.  I’ve been watching the weather.  Does anyone have a raincoat I can borrow?

new releases

Wecome to New Releases Tuesday.  This will be a regular feature so feel free to send your new releases to maggiemaepw @ gmail.com (no spaces).

As a special sweetner, Random House wants one of you lucky readers to receive a terrific prize package from them but you must come back tomorrow to see if you won.  You have one week to claim your prize.

Random House Historical Romance Print Prize Pack
THE SCOUNDREL TAKES A BRIDE by Stefanie Sloane
WHEN YOU WISH UPON A DUKE by Isabella Bradford
A CHRISTMAS BRIDE/CHRISTMAS BEAU by Mary Balogh
IN BED WITH A HIGHLANDER by Maya Banks LOVER BE MINE by Nicole Jordan

Comment with “I love Historical Romance” to be entered in this week’s drawing!

Here’s the new releases that we received this week:

 

StevensonTheHinkyBearskinRug133x200_9-17-13The Hinky Bearskin Rug – Hinky Chicago #3 by Jennifer Stevensoncountryroads_250-9-17-13
September 17, 2013
Book View Café

 

Country Roads – Nancy Herkness
Sept. 17, 2013
Montlake Romance

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GetBackJack_DianeCapri_med-9-17-13

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Get Jack Back – Diane Capri
September 15, 2013
August Books (Self-published/Indie)

 

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Don’t forget about the Romance Webcast today.  Hurry and register.  You can listen now or later!

Bottom Line:  What shouldn’t I miss on my England trip?