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Archive for October, 2012

Reach for the Stars

Let me start by saying, we are not omnipotent. It doesn’t matter how much you might fight it, life, or fate, sometimes puts you smack in the middle of where you need to be. Many times over the years I’ve bemoaned a circumstance or event, only to realize, sometimes months or even years later, that I needed to be there. There are lessons to be learned, even if we don’t think we need to learn them.

When writing a fiction book, the author is God-like. We make omnipotent decisions for and about our characters, their lives and their choices. We manipulate circumstances to bring about desired events and we put people in places they may not normally be. We give them emotions, thoughts and flaws to make them human (even when the characters aren’t necessarily human at all). When writing, re-writing, editing, and throughout the entire process of crafting a believable story, we do this. We place our characters and the supporting characters where we want them to be so we can hopefully tie all the pieces together for a cohesive, enjoyable tale.

What power! We can’t do that in our own lives. We are subject to the same whims, peaks and valleys as everyone else. We struggle with health issues, fears, love, failure, successes as any other. We are eminently fallible. We have no more insight into the whys of our lives than other people. We are human. But human nature wants to control. We want to make the decisions and postulate on the right to choose our destiny. As authors, we brave fear and possible failure and rejection every day. We wouldn’t have it any other way. But sometimes we fight where we are in our lives. We push and shove to move forward.

A prime example is what’s going on in my life right now. Several months ago my husband and I were struggling financially, so we opted to sell our house (at no profit), reduce our bill payments and start over financially. Like so many others, we were drowning in debt, and it didn’t matter what we did or how hard we worked, the numbers just weren’t lining up. Add to that some health issues I began experiencing due to the increased stress. We decided to man up and make some hard decisions. One of those was getting out from under mortgage debt. Goodbye my lovely little home. We maintained our seasonal park model trailer and stayed there for the summer while we strategized our next course of action. By summer’s end we’d decided to continue the breather we’d taken and move in with my parents, who encouraged the decision. Dad was finding it harder and harder to do the odd jobs around their 1800 square foot home, and my mother’s health had been less than optimal for quite some time.

I love my parents tremendously, but I didn’t want to move in with them, even temporarily. I wanted my own space, my privacy, and my own way of doing things. I was adamant we would only stay a short while as we began looking for permanent living accommodations. Everyone agreed. Okay, I was on the road to recovery financially and emotionally. We had a short term plan in place and were moving ahead. It was all good.

Then last week, at my mother’s seventy-fifth birthday celebration luncheon, my father experienced a mild stroke. We rushed him to the hospital and although greatly shaken, were relieved he seemed to have suffered only minor damage to his left side. Throughout the last week we travelled back and forth between my parent’s home an hour away, my sister’s house, and the hospital. We brought clothing and toiletries to my mother who opted to stay in the city at my sister’s, drove her to the hospital when we could, and visited my dad. Scary stuff. I was supposed to attend a major trade show in Las Vegas for business this week, but it’s a no-brainer. I’m needed here more than there. Sure I’m disappointed. I’ve never been to Vegas before and was really pumped about going, but hey, trade show vs dad and family. No contest.

My superhero, my dad

My dad is my hero – my rock. He’s the one who keeps us on track and laughing (he loves to laugh). I remind myself it could have been so much worse, and it could. We are very lucky. We got a whopping wake up call and thump upside the head to remind us no one is immune. Not even my father.

Here’s the funny thing though. It occurred to me about mid-week that it was a very good thing we were here with them. A very good thing we were able to help out however we could this week. And perhaps a true blessing that my parents won’t return home alone. Over the course of this past week, my mother has said many times how relieved she is that we will be here with them when my dad finally comes home. My dad has expressed the same thing, as have my siblings and children.

Two days ago, on the way home from the hospital, I heaved a great sigh and said to my husband, “I guess it’s a good thing we’re going to be staying with mom and dad for a while, huh?” All the fight had gone out of me. I realized I was right where I needed to be. Life was teaching me another lesson despite myself. It’s all good and well to fight, to strive, to move forward, but sometimes there’s a reason we are where we are. Sometimes we may have to accept that God, or fate, or whatever you want to call it, places us right where we are needed so the story can continue as it should.

Memories

As an author, and as a person, I get that. For now, I’m content to do what needs to be done and be grateful for the lessons learned. I am willing to accept change and let go, for a while, the need to control everything, yet even my decision to do so is solely within my control. Today, I’m just a daughter who is needed by her parents. Each day, each week, each month, I’ll pick up the threads and continue weaving my life’s story, learning as I go.

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Does it Matter?

I’ve recently had a couple of conversations with family and friends regarding e-book pricing. I guess I was shocked when three people told me that if an e-book is priced too low or free, they assume it’s garbage and won’t buy it. On the other hand, they won’t buy one that’s too expensive either. When asked why, they stated this is because it’s an e-book and therefore costs far less to produce, so realize it shouldn’t cost as much as a print book. What has not been surprising is the number of e-readers or tablets with e-reader apps purchased and downloaded by my family and friends has continued to grow.

Maybe it’s because I’m smack in the middle of this whole e-book pricing and publishing thing and as I gear up for the e-release of my own novel, In The Spirit Of Love (Echelon Press). Because I’m a new writer and I know how much work and effort I put into my novel, I understand that other new(er) writers are in the same boat. I’m not put off by a low or free price tag on a book, in fact for me, I’m more likely to take a chance on it and purchase the book. If I don’t like the story, it’s no great financial loss, and if I do, I’ll look for others by the same author. I do the same for print books. If I like the story, I’ll buy more by that author, if I don’t, I won’t. Simple.

But new authors have to concern ourselves with price points and finding that magic number that encourages people to take a chance on our work. There has been so much controversy over e-book pricing from a whole slew of “experts”, and still no one seems to have a solid handle on it.

The reason seems to be because this whole e-book thing is so new and revolutionary, no one really understands the dynamics yet. More and more people are purchasing e-readers such as Kindle, the Kindle FireNook, etc. and literally thousands of books are being downloaded every day, but the statistics are still all over the place.

Exploding Myths

One thing everyone in the publishing industry seems to be able to agree on is that e-readers and e-books have become more mainstream. As a result, they are also accessible on more devices, and becoming more affordable for the consumer. The explosion into this new area of publishing has been overwhelming. According to Dana Lynn Smith, of The Savvy Book Marketer, “Ebook sales have surpassed printed books on Amazon.com, but the publishing industry continues to wrestle with the issue of how to price ebooks competitively, while still providing a reasonable profit for authors and publishers.”.

In May, 2011 CNN reported “…Amazon announced Thursday that its customers now buy more e-books for its Kindle device than all print books — hardcover and paperback — combined.” As I’ve predicted all along, ebooks are here to stay, and the controversy surrounding print vs e-books continues to roll on. In view of the facts, it’s not really surprising there are price wars and pricing confusion. If the publishers and authors are confused, of course the buying public will be too.

Have an opinion on ebooks vs print books, or e-book pricing? Please share your comments.

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The Ghost Hunter

Author, Lori Brighton, has penned a great paranormal romance story that I really enjoyed reading. This was the first time I’d ever read anything by Lori, so wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself continually picking up my ereader to read more.

Ashley Hunter doesn’t realize she’s just inherited more than an English pub, but a house full of ghosts, a witchy neighbour and one fallen angel, Christian. The haunted house and neighbour Ashley can handle, but Christian is another matter all together. With his wickedly handsome features, hot body and simmering sexuality, he’s not easy to ignore, but she’s determined to try. When her ghosts begin disappearing one by one, she suspects Christian may be the culprit.

I highly recommend The Ghost Hunter and author, Lori Brighton, to anyone who loves to curl up with a good read and a little romance.

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In The Spirit Of Love

I’m often asked why the male protagonist in my novel, In The Spirit Of Love, is a ghost. After all, he’s dead, and really, what chance for a future romance is there?

When I started writing ISOL, I didn’t worry about that. I was concerned with the issues they’d face, the obstacles that would be inherent in both being a ghost, and in loving one. See, the fact is, love doesn’t offer guarantees, it’s often a leap of faith to accept that you’ll be together many years in the future. For that matter, the same goes for life. We aren’t promised happily ever-afters, or even temporary happiness. We have to create them ourselves. Every turn of life could send us tumbling into the abyss. But I’m a romance writer, so I couldn’t help but wonder; what if you loved someone because you were destined to? What if you had to put all the “what if’s” on hold and just love someone because of who they were, not for what they had, or what they could do for you.

As a ghost, Lord Richard Abbottsford is limited in his ability to communicate with the outside world. After almost one hundred fifty years, he’s come accept this limitations. Then he spies Claire Jacobs, who is the exact replica of his long deceased love, and suddenly, the future is rife with possibilities – and love.

Lots of publishers and agents said “rubbish”, it’s too far-fetched. Again I thought, but isn’t that true of life? Don’t we all meander down a path, accepting things as they are, we stop fighting, stop questioning, only to come smack up against something – or someone – who alters our course forever. Doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes rail against our lot in life, the disappointments and hurts, but maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason for it all. Maybe we really are supposed to learn something from the obstacles and pain.

By allowing my protagonists to experience pain and unhappiness, as well as joy and excitement, I hope to instil a sense of hope and expectancy for the future for them, even when it seems impossible there could be one.

 

Movie – Ghost

Ghosts, re-incarnation, visions and déjà vu are all subjects that are kinda out there, but people have been talking about them for millennia. I’ll admit I think a lot of it is hooey, yet some are just so damned unexplainable – what if they’re real. What if the past affects the present, so that our future can change? I for one have definitely experienced many instances of déjà vu, or had dreams that were startlingly real – but those are stories for another time.

Because I wanted to write a story about a woman who falls in love with a ghost, I did a bit of research. Websites such as Ghosts and Stories abound, although I thought this one was fun and interesting. With the story set in England, I also researched haunted English estates and was surprised to discover there really is a Chillingham Castle in Northumberland. I say shocked, because I’d never heard of it before, yet I’d already written that one of the minor characters in the book is from “Chillingham Estate”. Coincidence, I’m sure but again, interesting.

So, back to my original question; why a love story between a woman and a ghost? Because it was a story that intrigued me, and once I started, it wouldn’t let me go. I don’t know if I believe in ghosts, or the paranormal, but I do believe in love, in second chances, and in leading with your heart as well as your head.

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The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

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