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Posts tagged with: liz talley

Crazy Town…Or Should I say “Crazy Business”?

A few weeks ago I as I rolled through the flat, hot backwoods of Louisiana, a song by Jason Aldean came on the radio – “Crazy Town.” Now if you’re a country music fan, you’ve probably heard it. As I listened to the words, it occurred to me that while I don’t live in Nashville, I exist in a pretty crazy, confusing, heartbreaking, soul stirring world of publication.

Now, some of you might not be published yet, and that’s cool because if you’re a smart writer, you’re paying attention to what’s happening every month, week and day in the publishing world. And if you’re smart writer (or even if you’re not so smart) you know that no one can make much sense of how to break into the big leagues anymore than those singer songwriters in Nashville playing night after night wondering why their ship doesn’t crash into the dock…yesterday.

I’ve wasted more time than I care to admit wondering this sort of thing myself. Where’s my ship? When’s it coming in? Do they know what pier I’m on? Cause I’ve been waiting a little while now and…where the hell is it?

As you may sense, I’m not so patient. LOL.

Recently I had the luck of catching the eye of a pretty good writer. She read my book The Sweetest September when it finaled in the Rita Awards a few years back. She was very complimentary, which we all know lifts us a little bit higher off the ground when we walk, and she was kind enough to mention my books to her friends….her writing friends. And they, in turn, read the book. One such writer was one who is known to populate the NYT Bestseller lists, and she reached out to me to ask a bit about my journey, and we’ve formed a friendship. Which is cool, right?

Absolutely.

Because the cool thing about having this accomplished writer as a friend is the invaluable advice I get. I’m telling you guys, I rubbed my hands together, greedily awaiting the magic advice that would get me over the hump, that would thrust me into the next level of the business. My name would be in lights…or at least in the Barnes and Noble, for cripe’s sake. But you know what her advice was?

Be patient.

Yes, be patient.

In a world scrambling to write faster, write more, market more, form a FB group, get a tribe, get a loss leader, run a sale, get a Bookbub, don’t wait to promote, another newsletter, giveaway, giveaway, write a novella….do you have a loss leader???? this writer is telling me to be patient and write good books. That’s her advice. In a nutshell (help! I’m in a nutshell). And you know, it sort of hit me upside the head.

Because I’m always trying to figure out how to do better with my sales. Are you?

I bet you are.

But the thing is, we can chase our tails until we fall out, flat exhausted on the floor, with not much to show for it. See, this writer reminded me of something I’ve always said (that may only make sense to me) but is my motto – the story is the thing.

You’re like, okay, yeah, so, you still gotta do stuff outside of writing a good book. And you’re right, but what I’m advocating is not tossing out your newsletter or running from FB parties, I’m saying that you have to write good books, you have to be patient and you have to be ready for success IF it happens. Because the fact is, for most of us, we won’t be wildly successful. That’s just fact. So all that stuff we panic about, the stuff we wonder if we should be doing, can actually be harmful to the thing that is THE MOST IMPORTANT and that’s the actual writing. 

While my son was at tutoring last week, I picked up a copy of The Naked Writer by Jennifer Probst. Often I browse the romance section and then invariably wander over to the writing section. I love that section. It’s like coming home in one way. I know I belong in that writing section because I’m a writer. Most of the time I don’t buy, but over the past month, I’ve entered this philosophical tough, pissed off girl stage where I’m just mad about my situation. It’s not a bad situation, but still I chafe at the constraints. I can’t make people buy my books, I can’t make my publisher give me promotions, I can’t make myself a success. I just can’t. And that’s pissed me off. Because I should be doing something. Maybe a Goodreads giveaway? Anyway, because I’m in this weird mood, I bought this book. This morning I read the first chapter. Damn, but it was good. It pulls together exactly what it is to be a writer. The story is the thing. And only I can write my story. In my room. By myself. With my computer (and coffee…let’s be real about that).

So what am I telling you? I know you’re wondering. Well, I’m saying you will go through times where you panic because you feel like you can’t keep up. You will go through times where you feel impatient, antsy, pissed off. You will doubt yourself, hate your friends (even though you love them), bow to buying 500 purple pens because surely that will sell more books, but in the end know that this is part of being in a crazy, changing business.  

But when it gets too noisy, chuck the crap and focus on what’s important – the writing.  In the words of Jason Aldean (or whoever wrote the song) “We love it, we hate, it, we’re all just trying to make it. In this crazy town.”

 

Three Perspectives on Your Writing

Hello, everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog on the RSS and I’m happy to be back. Late 2016/early 2017 was rough for me, but I made it. Right? That’s the perspective you must take sometimes when you drive through the rain.

Hey, I’m going to talk about perspective today. This month I’ll be doing a workshop at RWA with Winnie Griggs called Through the Lens which will deal with POV. In talking about POV with Winnie (as we fervently scribbled notes on what exactly we needed to cover), Winnie said, “I’d like to tackle perspective.” To which I said, “That will be good. Like what do you mean?” She went on to talk about two areas of perspective, to which I added a third. So let’s look at those:

Writer’s Perspective – This is the lens the writer uses in writing her/his stories. This includes world views, cultural mores, beliefs, region, etc. Essentially, who you are comes out in your writing. And it’s not necessarily your voice. Voice can be learned (to a degree). Say, I want to write funny, vampy, comedy but I’m a more serious kinda gal. Well, I can learn to apply a tone/mood to my writing and create a voice that is light, fun, and comedic. But who I am as a person will come through in the way I write characters, the way they handle situations, even the verbiage used in telling the story. This definitely shades voice. I mean, who you are, what you believe, your social conscience, your values, etc, will often leak into your story. Is this bad? Not really. It makes your storytelling individualistic. But it can have a negative effect if you use your story as a platform. How many times have you read a story and felt preached at? Raise your hand.

Now, put it down.

Hands holding a digital SLR camera with zoom digital lens. BW

LOL. See? We’ve all read something where we thought, “Is she trying to get something across here?”

In my opinion (yeah, I know you’re not supposed to write that because it’s understood) in commercial fiction, you want to be VERY careful doing this. If you don’t mind alienating half of your audience, by all means, write on with the intent of making your point. Just know before you go…uh, there.

Character’s Perspective – This is the lens the writer uses in portraying a character. It’s pretty much the most important of the perspectives because it’s the heart of your story. A good story is only as good as its characters? True? I think so. Creating believable, multi-dimensional characters is, well, a must. But your characters have to have different perspectives, right? They can’t all think and operate the same. So it makes sense that you do some legwork when it comes to character perspective. First, you have to know your characters. For many writers, that doesn’t occur until they are well into writing the book (I’m raising my hand here). Other writers carefully prepare background information on their characters. They analyze, question (hello, character interview), mull and muse over who their characters are before they even write the first word in Chapter One. There’s no right or wrong…as long as you intentionally make sure you have given your characters fleshed-out perspective. Some things to consider:

  • background – family history, events that have molded your character
  • origin – where your character is from says a lot about him/her
  • tragedy/events/nonevents
  • relationships
  • profession
  • personality
  • goals, motivations, conflicts (I ALWAYS do this chart after chapter three – it’s my spirit guide)

Once you consider a character’s perspective (essentially all the parts that make your character your character), you can more easily navigate your story and create authenticity in your characters’ actions and thoughts.

Reader’s Perspective – Ah, here’s the thing you can’t control – the way your reader reacts to your story. This has been the biggest hurdle for me as a people pleaser. I want people to like my book and my characters. But the thing is, you can’t control what the reader brings to the table. You can’t anticipate his or her perspective. He or she may have triggers that your book pulls inside them. Your characters may have a name, profession, hair color that they don’t like. The reader’s personal experiences color their perspective when they read your book. They can’t help it. It’s who they are, and you darn sure ain’t changing that. So you will have people who will say absurd things about your writing. You will have people misunderstand your intent. You will have people cast aspersions on your character based on how you write a fictional character. Crazy, right? I mean, according to one reviewer I wrote a misogynist man so bad that I (the writer) must be a man…or not understand men at all. And let me tell you, friends, I’m surrounded by testosterone (It’s me and my mama against a force of Southern redneck men). But to this reviewer, I didn’t get men. Or at least, I didn’t get her version of what a man should be. 

On the other hand, I’ve had readers bring their perspective and totally “get” my characters because they’ve lived through whatever my characters are going through. One of the best things you can get is a note from a reader who identified so much with your character that he/she LOVES the book. I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to say “thank you” for writing a character who says that or does this or goes through this, all because the reader could relate to the character. They felt they were validated because a character I wrote “was them.”

One thing I would like to note regards writing with unbarred authenticity. Writing “real” characters means oftentimes including the realness (or ugliness) of life. This leaves an author open to being accused of misogyny, racism, “slut shaming” or intolerance. If you’re dealing with sensitive topics like race, religion, politics, etc, it would be wise to get some beta reads or hire a sensitivity reader as suggested by Lizzie Shane in this post. At least be aware that readers bring a vast array of beliefs with them. You have to decide whether you ignore those sensibilities and write your characters completely flawed, or whether you temper your character’s actions, thoughts or speech to reflect a more tolerant leaning. 

Just prepare yourself for readers bringing their own baggage to your story. Have luggage tags ready 🙂 

Now you have three perspectives to consider as you write. Some you can control; others you can’t. So I’m interested in your thoughts about perspective. Do you think about your character’s perspectives? Do you find you bleed yourself into your character’s too much? Have some good stories about readers who hated your stories because of a character’s (or your) perspective didn’t match up with theirs?

Don’t be a Lone Wolf…

Or “why writers need other writers”

When I first started writing a book, I did it for fun. Most people thought I was crazy because most people think writing is work…not fun. But on those hazy, can’t-exactly-remember-because-I-was-a-tired-mama afternoons, I would put down the infant, drag out an ancient laptop and enter a fantasy world where characters did amusing things and drank lots of tea. Three years later after I typed the end, I realized I didn’t know what to do next.

I took to the internet and found…RWA.

I was titillated at the thought of belonging to an organization of writers, specifically romance writers. It was beyond comprehension that I could join and be part of something like RWA. After a few months, I researched chapters and found that the NOLA STARS chapter was IN MY TOWN! The rest is history…

So why am I telling you this? Because I kinda have a bug up my butt here lately about the attitude toward RWA specifically, and it bugs me that the perception is there’s enough information online that writers don’t need other writers. It bugs me that people say, “I get nothing out of RWA” which is something I’ve heard all too often this past month. It irritates me that people say this, yet they put forth ZERO effort to make our local chapter (or national association) better in any way. They want ROI without investment (other than dues).

Maybe I’m stepping on toes. And if so, I apologize. But I find a great deal of value in belonging to RWA. I’m a romance writer. It’s an organization for romance writers. It costs around $8 a month. They don’t ensure I’m successful but they provide many of the tools I need to grow and be successful. RWA isn’t a magic pill, but it brought me here. To this blog. With these incredible women. And that, for me, is enough for me to shell out my annual dues.

<stepping off soap box>

But this isn’t about RWA, it’s about not going it alone. And why you shouldn’t go it alone as a writer.

Over the years, I’ve learned that writing is a solitary profession. Only I can create my story. I must sit and pound out words that form sentences that form pages that make a book. It’s on me. But at the same time, I NEED other writers.

Why? Why do I need other writers?

Because this industry is tough as….well, you fill in that blank. And other writers give me something that no one else in my world can. They give me understanding, an ear, advice, a kick in the pants, a shoulder to cry on, and they do that because they understand. Because they are me. Since I joined my local chapter, I’ve had enormous support. Three ladies met with me every week to critique, give advice, eat chips and salsa. At conferences, I met my critique partner and other writers who did things like introduce me to their agent, editor or ask me to write a book with them. I’ve met friends and business associates who have helped my career whether it was to give me a word of encouragement, share a post or buy my book (and love it). I have installed around me mentors, critique partners, brainstorming buddies and true friends who know my struggle. They give me validation and knock me down a peg or two when I get too big for my britches. In other words, they complete me as a writer.

Okay, so maybe you don’t belong to RWA. You belong to another writing group. Cool. Maybe you don’t belong to a writing group but you have a critique group. Or maybe you have writer friends who meet you at a chalet in the mountains to do a writing retreat.

Good.

Because that’s good for you. You need to belong to something and you need to give something back. It’s like a balance thing in the universe. You give. You get. Universal truth, or at least I think it is.  SO this post isn’t a how-to, it’s a should-do. If you don’t belong to a writing group or partnership, do something about that. RWA has resources and so do other writing groups. Get out there and be part of something. Judge contests, sign up to volunteer, make a lunch date with other writers. Don’t be a lone wolf. Because lone wolves are lonely. And probably hungry (since wolves hunt in packs). And probably have short life spans (I’m only guessing because I’m not a scientist).

So here we go, right here on the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood you can be part of something. I mean, we’re writers and this is a platform, so let’s use it. What’s been bugging you? Are you having trouble with your WIP? Need some brainstorming help? Title suggestions?

Lay it on us…

Putting on Your Big Girl Pants

liztalley_princenotsocharming2500So this isn’t going to be one of those how-to posts some of the Rubies are so good at (I’m looking at you, Hope Ramsay :))

But this, rather, will be more confessional. See, I’m going to totally get naked here. Don’t worry. You won’t have to look at this 44 year old pudgy body, but I will open up about my career – the good, the bad, and the meh – for the last year.

Let’s begin with a brief bio: finaled in Golden Heart, sold first book three months later, sold two more five months later, embarked on career with Superromance, signed 8 book deal, realized publishing was changing, stuck in 8 book deal, signed book deal with Berkley, signed short story with Storyfront, sold two books to Montlake, turned down three book deal with Harlequin, subbed two more books with Montlake, got rejected, writing a new proposal…

And six years later, here I am. In that time, I’ve had some bright moments – a Rita final, RT Superromance of the Year, Amazon book of the month. But I’ve had some bad times too, namely, realizing I can’t control what happens. I CAN’T CONTROL WHAT HAPPENS.

What looks to be a sure thing, turns south quickly. And thus, this is where we are in publishing. So what, you may ask?

Indeed. So what.

Well, here’s what. All this time I thought if I wrote good books I believed in, if I made my deadlines, if I jumped through publisher hoops, and if I smiled a lot and was agreeable that I would reap the rewards of my efforts. That’s what we tell ourselves, right? That’s what we tell our children. That hard work pays off. Except sometimes it doesn’t.

It just doesn’t.

So two weeks ago, I made a HUGE decision to take the series my publisher felt all meh about and publish the remaining books myself. You may be like “So? Lots of authors do this.” But it feels bigger than that. Because this wasn’t about tossing something out there and seeing what happens. It’s about the foundation of what I believed being shaken, about me losing some faith in what I thought I knew and about me putting faith in myself. So for me, it was big. I quickly set about getting covers (that look awesome, btw), finding an editor (done) and creating my own publishing company – ARTalley Books, LLC. I applied for my EIN and uploaded the first offering Prince Not So Charming to Amazon. In two weeks’ time, I changed my destiny.

Here’s the whole point of this post – I resisted taking action for far too long. I didn’t believe in myself, and though I’m still quivering in my slippers, I now believe in myself, and something about this is freeing.

Yes, freeing.

I did it myself. Myself. Like a big girl. LOL.

And, though I’ve heard so many people rave about self-publishing (and just as many complaining about it), I never understood how empowering it is to make your own decisions. I chose the cover and I wrote the blurb. I selected my own meta data and figured stuff out. I’m still blown away by myself. Which is silly, but it’s true. I sort of want to huff on my fingers and polish them on my shirt. Did you see what I just did? Yeah, me. I started a business.

So what does this mean for you and what’s the point? Um, honey (and I say that in a non-offensive, non-patronizing way), if I can do it, you can too. And I’m not merely talking about self-publishing. I’m talking about writing that book you’re scared to write or starting that editing business you’ve been mulling over for months. Or maybe it’s something non-writing related – running a marathon, leaving that jerk, or quitting your day job. Deep down you know what is right for you. Stop doubting who you are, stop making excuses. Put on your big girl pants and get busy.

It’s beyond time.

 

Liz Talley is the new owner of ARTalley Books, LLC. She has published twenty-one stories the traditional way, but as of Nov. 17th, she’ll be doing some things her way. And that has her pumped! You can find out more about the newly bold Liz at http://www.liztalleybooks.comor find her on FB at https://www.facebook.com/liztalleybooks/.

Oh, and if you want to support her new business and get a fun little novella in the process you can buy Prince Not So Charming here http://bit.ly/PrinceNotSoCharming

HOT Reads Edition of Fan Girl Friday

Welcome to Friday! Can I get an AMEN?

And we have a long weekend. I can almost hear a gospel choir in the background. Yes, we get an extra day and that means more time for….READING! possibility - Beth

So what do we have on tap for you this edition? Well, a few sales from two Rubies and a couple of recommendations plus a new release. You ready to check these out and then give us your recommended Labor Day weekend reads?

First the sales…let’s check out the deals:

Ruby Sister Laurie Kellogg has The Parent Pact FREE. A Little Bit of Deja Vu will be only $1.99 and Baby, I’m Back! will be only 99 cents. All only at Amazon. Here’s the page where you can score these deals https://www.amazon.com/Laurie-Kellogg/e/B0076J5Q20/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1472784812&sr=1-1

And from yours truly (Liz Talley), the first book in my new Morning Glory series Charmingly Yours is on sale for $1.99! I’m a little too excited about having a book on sale because as a trad pubbed author I don’t get to run sales. It’s the perfect light escapist read that’s heavy on romance with a tinge of Women’s Fiction. And the cover is really cute if I do say so myself. Here’s the link where you can score this one: http://bit.ly/CharminglyYours

Oh, and Ruby Skye Jordan has a fabulous promotion and giveaway going this Labor Day weekend. Plenty of books on sale and a change to win books. There will be 24 WINNERS with tons of great authors (72 of them!) participating. You can ENTER HERE: http://bit.ly/2bdoG1M

Now on to RECOMMENDATIONS….

From Tamara Hogan:

Last week, I read former MTV VJ Dave Holmes’s new memoir, “Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs.” A “hilarious memoir of a perpetual outsider fumbling towards self-acceptance, with the music of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and today as his soundtrack,” Holmes, now Editor-At-Large at Esquire magazine, brings serious writing chops and massive pop culture cred to this bittersweet – and did I say hilarious? – coming of age story.

 Here’s a shortened link: http://amzn.to/2bG4gUb

From Elizabeth Langston

I recommend Noelle Adams for adult contemporary romance. A Negotiated Marriage and Listless are two of my favorites. LISTED will make you cry. https://www.amazon.com/Listed-Volumes-I-VI-Noelle-Adams-ebook/dp/B00BXPHW5C A Negotiated Marriage is a modern marriage of convenience. https://www.amazon.com/Negotiated-Marriage-Noelle-Adams-ebook/dp/B00B09UST8 I also like her Willow Park series. It’s set in a small mountain town in NC. Attending the same church is the the common thread throughout the series–but that is one happy congregation, because these books are sweet and steamy (is that even possible?) https://www.amazon.com/Married-Christmas-Willow-Park-Book-ebook/dp/B00H0OKQ76

 

And finally a NEW RELEASE from Ruby Julia Day (Yes, a pen name…we have a few of those but no worries, they’re still Rubies!)

  I have a new book releasing on Tuesday, Sept 6.  If you want to add it tomorrow, it is available for pre-order.  If you want to wait until next week, that’s fine too.  The book is THE POSSIBILITY OF SOMEWHERE.  My first YA contemporary romance. 

Here’s a link to my books page: that might be easier than including a gazillion buylinks. http://www.juliaday.com/books/the-possibility-of-somewhere/

Now let’s hear from you. WHAT ARE YOU READING THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND?

 

 

HOT READS Edition of Fan Girl Friday

Well, it’s Friday again. How did that happen? Rolls around quite regularly, doesn’t it? And since that means the weekend is here, we’ve got some recommendations for you for some RUBY RED HOT READS!

First Elizabeth Langston has a recommendation our first FROM THE TBR STACK:it ends with us

I’ve always been fascinated by Thomas Jefferson. So smart, eloquent, and flawed.  When I saw America’s First Daughter on sale recently, I grabbed it.  I’m loving it; the research and detail is amazing.

America’s First Daughter: A Novel by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
https://www.amazon.com/Americas-First-Daughter-Stephanie-Dray-ebook/dp/B00ZP4KE70

Autumn Jordan’s rec sounds pretty but may be a bit twisted:)

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

If you want to read an emotional psychological thriller where every characters’ personality is revealed like an onion being peeled, then the The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison might be for you. It might not be for you if you’re faint of heart. I gave this book a 4.75 rating. 

LINK to The Buterfly Garden https://www.amazon.com/Butterfly-Garden-Dot-Hutchison-ebook/dp/B016ZNRC0Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1471265766&sr=1-1&keywords=the+butterfly+garden

 And let me add my rec for you. I’m in the middle of Colleen Hoover’s It Ends with Us and I’m really enjoying it. This is the first time I’ve read this author, and I particularly like the secondary thread of the journals. They’re sweet, funny and touching. It just came out at the beginning of this month and it’s a pretty hot read. If you’re looking for a nice escapist book, it’s perfect for you. Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/Ends-Us-Novel-Colleen-Hoover-ebook/dp/B0176M3U10/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1471573644&sr=1-1&keywords=colleen+hoover

How about a HOT COVER REVEAL?

Ruby Sis Addison Fox has a sweet new cover reveal over on Heroes and Heartbreakers. Go check it out:

AT LAST is the first in my new contemporary series about a trio of adopted brothers in Brooklyn. Here’s the story overview and the cover, as well as a link to the cover reveal on Heroes and Heartbreakers.

http://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/blogs/2016/08/cover-thursday-exclusive-reveals-cornwall-howard-fox

And the SIZZLING SALE for this week comes from Ruby Autumn Jordon:

For the first time ever, Seized By Darkness by Autumn Jordon is on sale for $.99.  Seized By Darkness was Voted a Kindle Book Reviews Best Indie Romance finalist. In this romantic suspense, Autumn has a different take on the topic of human trafficking and the story is about the young girl who was taken, escaped years later and then works with the U.S. Marshals to taken down the New Jersey based ring. Check it out here:  https://www.amazon.com/Seized-Darkness-Autumn-Jordon-ebook/dp/B008N3RK3Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1471266213&sr=1-1&keywords=Seized+By+Darkness  Hurry the sale ends soon. Then follow up the experience with Obsessed By Darkness.  

 

So now we’re looking for your recommendations. Any new releases caught your fancy? Or how about an old favorite your digging out of your own towering TBR stack? Know of any incredible reads on sale? We’d love to know about them!

 

What you see….what they see….

mosiac chairOnce upon a time in a galaxy far, far away I was a kindergarten room mom.

Yes.

That.

And as the room mother, when the annual silent auction came around, I was in charge of gathering up donations. Oh, and making a class art project to sell at the auction. Yeah, making an art object with the children in the class. Making an art object with children in the class that was something mosaic. MOSIAC!

Feel free to feel horrified.

I was.

So as I pondered what in God’s creation I could actually do for the class mosaic project, my glance happened upon an iron chair beside the pool that had come with my house (the owner had left it). It had lovely form and if I spray painted it and ripped the ruined cowhide upholstery from the seat, I could paint it and made a new seat…a new mosaic seat. It was brilliant. Truly brilliant. So I took myself off to the local craft store, bought outdoor spray paint in a lovely ivory and a mosaic kit. After lots of cursing and breaking of stones and glass, I hauled it all down to the kiddo’s classroom and the class “helped” me glue on the stones and glass. The kids loved placing the little bright bits of color. It was a true class effort. Sorta. After the making of the mosaic was complete, I sprayed the chair, set the grout and VIOLA! Precious mosaic class art piece for the auction. And, y’all, it was so pretty. I seriously wanted it for myself, but as instructed, I hauled the now heavy chair down to the auction and proudly placed it in the spot for our class.

Two nights later, dressed in my best business casual, swilling from a goblet of wine, I prepared myself for the comments that would come my way. “Oh, my gosh, I LOVE the chair! How did you do it?” or maybe “You have the best auction item. It’s going to fetch a small fortune!” I mean how could it miss? It was adorable and the kids had made it and it was creative and out of the box and….

…no one bid on it.

Yeah.

My precious was a clunker.

I was slightly crushed and somewhat insulted. How could no one bid on my cute chair? Well, here’s the point of this whole post (I know you were wondering) – the chair had to fit a certain person. Not everyone goes to an auction looking for a garden chair for their sunroom, right? A cute handprint painting with little silver beads glued on can go on a desk or a wall.  A wind chime made with mosaic tile can clink outside on any porch (and grandmothers LOVE wind chimes). But a chair? Has to have a spot. And match. Not an easy sale. In my creative lala land, I thought I had something different and thus I assumed it would be well-received. And I was wrong.

And, so we can draw the same parallel with our writing. We often complain that editors and publishing houses (and readers) want something different but not too different. How many times have we heard this? A dozen? Ten dozen? I’m pretty sure all my rejections letters arriving in SASEs (remember those?) said something pretty much like that. And every editor on every panel I ever attended wanted something fresh, not overdone, original….but then said it was too hard to market, they didn’t know how to shelve it, and could I add a secret baby? The book of your heart may stay the book of your heart (fresh and original though it is) if you can’t market it. Which means you have to know the market, you have to know what’s selling, you have to know your buyer, er, reader, and you have to think like a business woman and not a creative genius stuck in lala land wrapped up in the false knowledge your precious is going to sell, sell, sell and break the record for best auction item in the history of class auction items.

That does not mean you won’t find your reader….after all, my cute little chair found a home with the school secretary. She was the only bidder and got a steal of a deal for $30. But she loved that chair. Told me several times over the years how cute it looked in her sunroom next to her houseplants. But I learned my lesson. I had to know my market if I wanted to have my art project go for $350.00 (what the other class made with their cheap wall hanger….seriously!). It doesn’t matter how cool your project is. If there isn’t a market, you’ll be left to wonder why someone didn’t recognize your genius.

Hey, you really do learn all you need to know in kindergarten!

By the way, I have a new precious out. Just released yesterday. It’s my first single title with a new publisher and I’m hoping like mad it’s not a mosaic chair of a book, but rather a pretty little sparkly gem that will look good on everyone’s bookshelf. Here’s the link so you can check it out on Amazon. You’re feeling pretty sorry for me and my chair right now. Hey, I know how to soften a buyer up. LOL.

http://bit.ly/CharminglyYours

 

A Dark Horse is Born

Over the past few months I’ve been swamped. Spring is always busy with baseball, end of school activities and, since I try to write 2-3 books a year, a perpetual deadline. So, yeah, busy. Which means I haven’t blogged here in a while. It’s good to be back among my peeps.

Since I’ve been MIA, I thought I would share a day from my journal several months ago. It was a really good day, a click-my-ruby-slippers-together kind of day. We’ll skip the days with headaches, dirty socks and dismal book sales for now.

March 26, 2015, aka Golden Heart/Rita announcement day

7:00 am – Today is the day calls go out BUT I’m going to pretend I don’t know and act accordingly. Okay, fine. I have to promote the Ruby announcement party. That means I can’t pretend to not know. I’ll just pretend not to care. RITA schmeeta. Who cares? Doesn’t really mean anything. Besides I’m writing today. I have a deadline. Focus, sister. Focus.

9:30 am – Ah, Starbucks! My true friend with your muffins and much needed caffeine. Let’s get the laptop open. And maybe sneak a look at phone and see who has finaled.

10:00 – No writing done. Okay, one sentence done. Sinking realization I’ve entered wrong category. Let me hop on email loop to Rubies and share my idiocy (cause misery loves company). There. Feel better (but not really) but better. Try to focus on wip.

10:15 – chat with fellow writer about Chapter business. Don’t mention RITAS. Don’t think about the fact the categories are filling up. RITAS don’t matter anyway. Right? Right.

11:05 – Screw it. Check Twitter. See lots of congrats. Feel happy for friends. Sad for self. Consider saying to hell with it and buying a cake pop.

11:12 – see I have a message on Twitter. Wait. Abigail Sharpe wants me to check my messages. Why? Wait. What? Is this a sick joke? She better not be asking me something about the Golden Network. Is she in the Golden Network? I can’t remember. But, this could mean something.

11:13 – Send Abigail a message that I’m not at home. Send a question mark. Then send cellphone number just in case.

11:14 – pretend to write. Look at  friend writing across the table and try not to vomit.

11:20 – phone rings. Unknown number from Florida. Pick it up. Answer calmly with hello.

11:20:20 – break down crying when she says she’s calling on behalf of RWA. Scare writing friend. Alyssa Day says magic words  – “Is this Liz Talley? I have really good news.”

11:21 – look at writer friend who looks worried. Her eyes get big with unasked question. I nod and say something into phone that is gibberish.

11:21:20 – hang up and shake like leaf.

11:24 – wipe eyes and call husband’s office. He’s with a patient. Damn it. Leave message. Get on Ruby site and drop the bomb that I finaled in the RITA! The MFing RITAs that seconds ago meant NOTHING!

11:25 – call Mom (should have called her first!) Explain what the Rita is. Assure her it’s a big moment.

11:26 – call agent, switch over to tell husband, switch back to agent. Shut computer down. Who can write a sex scene at a moment like this?

11:35 – go to lunch. Eat grilled chicken and veggies because now I have to buy a dress and not resemble a baby hippo in it.

Rest of day – accept congratulations, try to get a grip on reality, and wash baseball uniforms. Oh, and answer perpetual question of “what is there to eat around here?”

So there’s a glimpse into a helluva day…a most wonderful day. Other good days came as a result of this day, things like getting Godiva chocolates and flowers, receiving invites to fun things like receptions, and getting that pretty little pin to wear at conference. I’m sure by now you’re thinking,  “Okay, sister, we get it. You’re a finalist. Whoop-dee-do.” And I understand.  Because what does it really mean? A pin, a moniker behind a name?  Why bother sharing this day with you?

Because often I’ve thought about quitting. Just letting my writing career slip from my fingers much the way my child’s hand slipped from my grasp at the playground. At some point it just all pulls away and you’re left standing, wondering if that’s all there was to it. You sit day after day on the sidelines, sending congrats to other people, watching them talk about the calls they got, the big news, the deals, the numbers, the accolades. And you feel like you suck. You fondly recall a moment when you were one of them. When you believed in yourself.  That’s how I’ve felt for the past two years. Very much like a nobody sitting on a park bench waiting for someone to remember she existed.

I don’t share the wonder of this day to gloat or to cheerfully say “looky here what I did.” No, I share it because I am you. I’m every writer who wants to quit and do something better with her time. I’m the writer who felt alone, who wondered why everyone else was doing better than she was. I’m the writer who doubted everything she did. Who didn’t know if she should write more, promote more…get another job and forget about writing.

And I’m the writer that on that day not only felt joy, but sincere, SINCERE relief that I might have some small glimmer of goodness still in myself somewhere.

In essence I’m every writer out there.

So there. The reason why I needed to share this. And I’m sure you’re wondering about why I called this a dark horse. It’s because if I had an extra $100 I wouldn’t bet on myself. No. Seriously. I’m so dark a horse for this award, you might as well call me Midnight, Ebony, Obsidian and every other word you’ve used to describe your hero’s black eyes. But that’s okay, cause I made it to the track this time. I’m happy to be on the fricking track.

So I don’t even have a question to ask. Maybe you can think of something in your own life this pretend journal entry (like I keep a journal…I can barely find my list to the grocery store) can relate to. Do you feel like you’re on the sidelines? Are you waiting on something good to happen in your writing life?

 

 

 

Read a Romance Month

 

(I’m hi-jacking this post….but Darynda can keep her cute pic up there because she’s the blogger on RARM TODAY – go check out her post!)

So this is Liz Talley and just in case you didn’t know, August is the month of romance! SO this is OUR month, people. It’s our chance to stuff the good wonderfulness of romance books down the throats of all those prigs who scoff and turn their uppity noses to the sky at us and our inferior product. Oh, you didn’t know? Romance is trashy.

Which is why it totally fits me. In fact I may wear white after Labor Day this year. And I know how to tease my hair Texas-sized. Oh, and I’ve been known to mix silver and gold jewelry and I do love a good Moonpie. Yep, I fit right into trashy…except we all KNOW that romance writing is some of the most beautiful, clever, satisfactory writing out there…and we all love it.

Yes, this is our month.

Read a Romance Month was started by Bobbi Dumas RARM pic

The first Read-A-Romance Month was launched in August 2013 by Bobbi Dumas, an unabashed romance fan and advocate. As a freelance writer who specializes in romance and women’s fiction, Bobbi has been privileged to write about the books, writers and other great aspects of the publishing industry, especially as they affect and impact women. She primarily writes reviews and features for NPR and Kirkus, the book media site where she also pens a popular romance blog.

This month over on her website (http://www.readaromancemonth.com/) you can find 93 award-winning authors blogging and giving away fabulous prizes to help celebrate romance books. Isn’t that fun?

So I decided to ask a few Rubies why they love romance books so much and here are their answers:

Gwynlyn  MacKenzie

Why?  Because sometimes reality sucks.  Between the covers of a romance, the ending is always worth the struggle to reach it, and that translates so well to real life, infusing optimism into the darkest days, kindling the belief there will be light at the end of the tunnel.  Love is the most powerful force on earth.  Romance celebrates it, illuminates it, and shouts to the world that love is now, as it has always been, the answer.

 Anne Marie Becker

 For the escape and for the moment of triumph. When life around me feels crazy, which is most days, escaping into a character’s world for a few minutes is precious relief. And knowing they will overcome all obstacles to achieve the greatest reward is reassuring in a world where there are no guarantees.

 Heather McCollum

 For the escape and for the moment of triumph. When life around me feels crazy, which is most days, escaping into a character’s world for a few minutes is precious relief. And knowing they will overcome all obstacles to achieve the greatest reward is reassuring in a world where there are no guarantees.

Jennifer Bray-Weber

 To live vicariously in a time and place unlike my own. To relive the first blush of love. To sigh in satisfaction of a HEA. Yeah…that’s why.

Tamara Hogan

 I love reading romance because no matter what the era or setting, or how many dire complications might arise, I know the characters will find their way to each other by the end of the story.

 Jeannie Lin

 My first romance novel was handed to me in middle school by my BFF. “You’ve got to read this,” she said. “So we can talk about it after.” That’s how we’d first become friends. In elementary school, we happened to check out the same books at the school library and ended up chatting about them afterwards. This is why I read romance books to this day — to engage in rich and emotional conversation over books. And make new friends.

 June Love

 I read romance because of the roller coaster of emotions. I know the guy will get his girl. I know the woman will get her man. But, it’s their journey that keeps me turning the page. No matter how bad things get between them, love will win. And, that happily ever after is why I keep reading romance.

Elizabeth Langston

 I read romances because they remind me, over and over, of a universal truth. Love is worth fighting for. It takes work. It doesn’t always fall into place at first but we can keep trying and we’ll find it. Love is the most precious thing in my life and yet it’s free.

 Vivi Andrews

I read romance novels because I crave resolution.  In a romance, the questions get answered, everyone works through their issues, the world gets saved, and love conquers all.  And the girl always, always gets her guy.  Justice and symmetry and endings that make you sigh?  Yes, please.

 Diana Layne

Since HEA’s are not guaranteed in real life, I read for escapism, knowing I’ll get my happily-ever-after.

 Elisa Beatty

I read romance because it lets me re-live all the emotions of falling in love: the crazy attraction, the uncertainty, the frustration and fear, the giddiness, the tears, the bliss, the intensity of passion. I don’t want quite that much drama in my real life (I’ve been married almost 20 years, and am very glad to be past the thrill-ride stage), but it’s so much fun to read about it. 

Elizabeth Essex

I read romance novels because the HEROINE ALWAYS WINS. Always. I want the heroine to win the way a plant wants water. Romance books lift me up. They are  empowering, inspiring and just ripping good yarns!

Jackie Floyd

 I read romances for the HOPE they give. The hope that everything will work out and that Happily Ever After is a possibility for everyone.

 Anne Barton

Romances let us experience  that scary, wonderful, crazy feeling of falling in love over and over again. We count on them to make us a little breathless and leave us happy. Who wouldn’t want that in a book?

Laurie Kellogg

 I read romances for the endorphin high I get from the happy ending.  It’s the same as feeling you get from eating chocolate. I’m an HEA addict.

Addison Fox

I read romance because it makes me happy. A genre totally devoted to the idea that love matters. ::sigh:: It doesn’t get much better than that!

Don’t you love those answers? And I bet you’re thinking of exactly why you love having romance novels in your life. And I want you to share with us why you pick up a romance novel as opposed to something else. We know you love all books, but why is romance one of your favorites? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win my two releases this month – The Sweetest September and the re-release of A Little Texas PLUS a $15.00 Starbucks giftcard.

If you want to see why I read romance, you can go to http://www.liztalleybooks.com/read-a-romance/

 

 

Ruby Release: The Sweetest September by Liz Talley

Amy_SweetWelcome, friends, to the party I’m throwing for myself. Presumptuous of me, huh?

But, oh well, today is a great day to celebrate, Friday and all that, so I figured why not throw a release party and invite all of you?

The Sweetest September is my 13th book, and I’m banking on it being lucky ’cause I’m positive that way. And not only am I celebrating another book released into the wild, but I’m celebrating a new me. Yeah. A new Liz Talley.

Once upon a time….a long time ago (aka, when the fab Liz Bemis set up a website design and promotions business) I put myself out there as Liz Talley, Romance Through the Seasons. Liz and I thought long and hard about what I wrote and she came up with a really cool idea based off some images I gave her. She’d asked me to think about my writing and what I wanted to represent to potential readers. I immediately hit upon the seasons idea because at that point, I liked to chose a different season in which to set my books. And the image that I finally settled on was a tree. I liked the imagery – the growth, renewal, and, well, trees are pretty awesome. So she came up with a website in which there was a tree and it changed with the season. It was very cool. Really.

And then I got a few more books under my belt, and Liz said, “Maybe we need to freshen your look” and so we did. She created an fantastic set of seasons that changed accordingly.

And it was good.

But this spring, I attended RT in New Orleans where I received the Reviewers Choice Award for Best Superromance (humor my bragging – I’ve never won anything before). At the book signing I sat next to the energetic, sexy Damon Suede (I say sexy because I don’t have a chance with him…and he’s totally cute).  Anyway, over the course of me taking pictures of him with his fans and assisting him with marking his books with stickers, we talked about the business. At one point, he leaned over and said, “I love your bookmarks.” To which I said, “Oh, thanks.” And then he said something quite transforming -“But they don’t really tell me much about who you are as an author.” Well, I sort sat back (not physically…but in my mind, I totally fell back, mouth open.) I took a deep breath and asked, “Huh?” And because Damon is a kind person, he broke it to me quite gently that I needed a brand that said something about my writing and what I brought to the reader, and while bucolic scenery is nice, it says nothing. I left the book signing hot (it was a bazillion degrees in there), flustered (those lines!) and confused about who I was.

The next day while lunching with my fabulous Rubies, I brought this up and guess what? They AGREED with Damon.

Set me on my ear, I tell ya.

But with my faithful sisters’ aid, I began to really think about what kind of books I write….and what I wanted the reader to expect when he/she first made contact with me.

So I took suggestions – magnolia, Southern, sassy, modern, small town, mint julep, porch swings, cotton fields, plantation houses – and I contacted Wizard Liz Bemis (Yeah, that’s her moniker around here – magic behind the curtain). And she started tossing those suggestions into her vat of creativity. And she came up with this: http://www.liztalleybooks.com

I think it’s the perfect combination of modern and country. It’s bright, sassy, slightly nostalgic and fresh. It’s what I hope people associate with my stories. And since I’m no longer limiting myself to romance, it still fits my overall writing tone and style.

So as I launch this new book, the first in a series set in fictional Magnolia Bend, I happy to say I feel renewed, energetic and optimistic about who I am. Which sounds weird, but y’all know what I mean. We all need a little spit and polish at times, a little fresh coat of paint. Feels good. Gives us a little oomph. So if you haven’t thought about branding and who you are as an author. If you haven’t looked critically at what you’re portraying through your website and promotional items, maybe it’s time you do.

It worked for me….and I’m really hoping I get to sit next to Damon again sometime. Maybe whatever he comes up with next time will land me on a list or lead to a six figure deal. He’s genius…which is why his branding is a light bulb.

So tell me today who you are as an author? Have you every changed your vision?

Oh, and since this is a party of sorts, we need a gift. And cake. Man, I wish I could share some cake with you. But I can give away a present. How about a lucky commenter (Rubies included) wins a $10.00 Amazon card and a copy of any of my books? Oh, and here’s the link to the book on Amazon in case you want to take a peek,. Happy Friday, friends!

 

 

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The Latest Comments

  • Cynthia Huscroft: Maybe next year…my current WIP has no “romantic inclinations”;) Thanks for the...
  • Justine: Just want to clarify that it’s 12:01 a.m. EDT when the contest opens?
  • Bev Pettersen: Yay, looking forward to reading the entries!
  • Elisa Beatty: I hope you’ll enter, Cynthia! It’s always fun to hear all the different voices, and get a...
  • Elisa Beatty: Gift cards are always a nice icing on the cake!

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