Christmas and Holiday Book Festival

Seasons Greetings!

I’m thrilled to be taking part in a huge holiday-themed event at N.N. Light’s Book Heaven’s Christmas and Holiday Book Festival . My book, Superstition, will be featured on Thursday, December 5. Each author shares a favorite family holiday tradition, including me.  You’ll even find a great recipe for egg nog.

Stop by and join in all the fun. There’s 63 holiday-themed books, 45 featured authors, plus a chance to win one of the following:

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Bookmark this event and come back every day:

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/christmas-holiday-festival

THE AGENT NIGHTMARE

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In 1993 I signed a contract with a literary agent.  When she said she wanted to represent me I thought I was finally hitting the big time.  She seemed as enthused about being my agent as I was about being her client.  I found her through a mutual writing friend who had just signed with her to oversee a movie deal he was working on.  His first book was being made into a mini-series for television.  He thought she was the perfect agent for his project, and to represent me, too.

A couple of weeks after signing a contract with this agent, she flew from her home on the west coast to Colorado meet me.  She spent several days with me.  I was amazed she did this and felt honored she would travel all that way to meet me in person.  It was summertime and we spend the days by the river, or biking and hiking, while discussing the way my career would proceed. We got to know one another and talked about how she was going to take my writing career to new highs.  At this time, I had just sold my eighth book to Zebra Books, a romance line at Kensington Publishing.  My contract with them read that they had the first option to purchase anything I wrote for an indefinite period of time.  My agent was appalled at the contract I had signed with them and vowed to get me out of this contract so she could find me a higher paying publisher.  I was thrilled!  I was only making about twelve cents per copy at that time and my books were selling pretty well.  I thought I might finally reach my lifelong goal of actually making a living as a writer.

When my new agent left, I sent my file folder full of numerous synopsis and possible book ideas with her.  I have always had more ideas for books than I’ve had time to write.  Being very optimistic, I was certain she would love all of my ideas and I was just waiting for her to pick the one she wanted me to finish writing first.  I envisioned this woman would make me a literary star.  She seemed like a real mover and shaker in the literary world.  Although, she lived on the West Coast, she was constantly flying back and forth to New York to meet with publishers.  Late night talk shows, book tours, and maybe even a movie, were surely in my future!   What an idiot I was.

Imagine my disappointment when my agent didn’t like the story about the first circus that traveled through the Old West?  Really, it was so unique?  But, why didn’t she like the time travel; a high adventure pirate love story set in Spain?  She really hated my romantic tale about the silent film industry when movies were first being made…it was such an amazing time in our history.  Okay, so why did she hate the paranormal story about the old Indian legend that became a reality a hundred years after its prediction?  All my friends really loved that one. Then, there was my amazing (my friends and I thought) story about the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.  Now, that had mini-series or epic movie potential, didn’t it?  Well, she didn’t think so.

My spirits were low.  Nothing I submitted to this agent seemed worthy of having her submit to a publisher.  But then, she called me with great news (?)…she could get me out of my contract with Kensington Publishing Corp. so she could find me a new publisher who would pay higher advances and royalties.  Nervously, I signed the release papers.  Now, I had no publisher and nothing worth publishing.  Or, so my agent thought, anyway.

By now, winter had set in and my agent’s teenage son wanted to spend a week with me so he could go skiing at our world class ski resort.  No problem.  I picked him up at the airport; he slept on the extra twin bed in my son’s room, and I drove him back and forth to the ski area everyday.  He had an awesome vacation.  My agent seemed very indebted to me and vowed to find me a new publisher soon.  I feverishly wrote more proposals and sent them to her.  We had some late night conversations about why they are not really up to her standards.  I was feeling completely defeated now.   How had I sold eight books on my own, which had done reasonably well,  if I was such a terrible writer?

It was about this time that my personal life was also falling apart.  I was going through a brutal divorce that had been dragging on and on, my youngest son was getting in trouble with the law, I was barely making ends meet and needed to get a second job. Everything seemed to be overwhelming me.  I called my agent…I needed to discuss something with her.  But she had a new assistant (there had not been an assistant when I first signed with her, so I was a bit surprised) who told me she would have her call me back.  My plan was to tell my agent, whom I also considered my friend, I was going to take a year off from writing to deal with all my personal issues and I would submit new proposals to her at a later date.  But, guess what?  She never returned my call.  So, I wrote her a letter and explained what was going on and guess what?  She never wrote back.  I was really hurt she would ignore me this way.

That brings me back to my friend whose book was being made into a mini-series for TV.  By now, he was starting to have doubts about this agent we had both been so excited to have represent us.  His television series had aired and was a huge success.  He had even been in Los Angeles for the filming and was looking forward to the royalties he was sure would come his way.  After all, his (our) agent said he would see a large payoff from this exciting venture.  Too make a long story short, many years and lawyers later, he finally had to accept the fact that he had signed a really bad contract with a really bad agent, and although she had received her share of the money from the movie deal, he was only getting a small portion of what he was expecting to get.  He had trusted his agent to go over all the small print, and apparently, she had only looked after her own interests.  After hearing his story, I thought maybe she had just decided to give up being a literary agent and maybe that’s why I never heard back from her.  Besides, I had too much going on in my life to worry about it back then.

My crazy life went on.  The year sabbatical somehow turned into twelve years.  Not possible!  I wanted, no needed, to write again.  I dusted off one of the Indian stories I had submitted to my agent years earlier.  How could she not like this one?  I thought it had great potential and I was going to prove her wrong.  After updating some of the scenes, I was ready to submit it.  But, was I still under contract to my agent?  She had not contacted me in over twelve years, but I had to know for sure if I was free to submit the manuscript to publishers myself.  Sure enough, my old contract with her said that if I wanted to dissolve our business contract, I must state so in writing.  Since I had not actually stated this intent when I had written her years earlier, I figured I needed to look into this further. I got online to see if she was still in business and there she was…still going strong all these years later.

This time I was no longer hurt, just angry.  It appeared that not long after she had signed with me, she had also signed with another author who had become very successful.  It’s a name you would all recognize immediately from books, television and movies.  My agent obviously decided to ignore me so she could concentrate on her new star.  At least, that is how I felt.  But, I just wanted to move on, so I wrote a brief letter telling her I would no longer require her to act as my agent and I would appreciate a response back acknowledging the dissolution of our contract.  And, guess what?  I never heard back from her!  I considered this the end of our contract.

I submitted my manuscript to a publisher on my own again.  Black Horse was the manuscript my agent did not think was publishable, but it was published by Dorchester Publishing in October 2009; White Owl was an August 2011 release.    The rights to both of these books has now been purchased by Amazon Montlake Romance.  They are available in Kindle and paperback format at Amazon.com.

Now, I feel the time is right to find an agent for my new manuscript, a Paranormal Romance.  But, as you might guess, I’m more than a little nervous.  I have no visions of glory.  I’m just hoping I will find a good agent, and they will believe in me and in my writing.  If not, well, I will just keep doing it on my own.  It’s not like I haven’t done it before.   Wish me luck!

NO PLOT…NO PROBLEM?

I am reading a book that is driving me CRAZY!  It was free for Kindle and it sounded scary; my kind of book.  It got a few really scathing reviews, but most of them were decent reviews, so I decided to give it a try.  Besides, I try to ignore most reviews because who is to say what kind of book (or movie) I will like or not?   In my opinion, however, this book the most poorly written book I’ve ever read.  It has page after page after page of nothing but text…every character’s life story is told in huge chunks of narrative with no dialogue at all, even when two characters are supposed to be talking the author just tells you want they said.  Grrrr!  I, personally, am a huge fan of dialogue.  I love to see how every character reacts and talks as each event unfolds.  But, in this book, I’m being completely robbed of that sort of interaction between the characters.  So, why you ask, do I continue to read it and complain about it?  Because the plot is so dang good!

It’s a horror novel and the descriptions of the crime scenes and victims are graphic and very well done, and the building suspense of learning about the beast that is doing the killing has me totally engaged.  I don’t want to stop reading, yet at the same time, I am so frustrated I want to give it up.  So, how can a writer be so good at writing a plot and so horrible at writing dialogue and emotion?   I’ve always felt the plot is not all that hard once you have a basic story idea in your head, and I find that my plots usually end up taking their own twists and turns once I really get going with it.  But bringing the characters to life with depth and dialogue, which is unique to each one is an entirely different issue.  I think of my characters as my babies since I create them, first as nothing more than a vague image with a possible name.  Then, I flesh them out and breathe life into them with their own individual appearance and traits.  They become real to me because I’m inside their heads at all times.  I want to know everything about them; what they were like from birth through death even though I am only writing about one small period in their lifetime.

Another thing bothering me in this book is the point of view issue (POV).  This writer switches point of view from one paragraph to the next.  Now, years ago, when I first started writing in the late 1980’s (ah, the 80’s were the best) I was also guilty of switching POV at the drop of a pin.  But, this is a terrible crime in the literature world now, and it was something I worked very hard on correcting so that I could keep up with the new literary guidelines.  Now, reading a book (even my very old ones) that does not follow this rule is so distracting I can barely get through it.

I checked to see who the publisher of this book is that I hate to love and it’s self-published.  Since all of my past books have been published through a traditional publishing house, I’ve always had to adhere to all of the strict guidelines of my editor and publisher.  However, this is not to say there have never been any errors in my books, because unfortunately there has been.  Even writers and editors make mistakes.  I know, hard to believe. LOL!  But, with self-publishing, do all the ‘proper’ rules and guidelines go by the wayside?

Please, self-publishers, don’t send me hate mail, because there are amazing self-published books and very talented self-published authors out there.  I know the majority of self-published writers don’t publish their work until they have made sure all the grammatical errors are corrected and the sentence structure is as perfect as possible.  They fret as much as any of us about point of view and character development and believable dialogue.  But, what about the ones who don’t take the time to have their manuscripts reviewed by a professional copy editor and are not qualified proof readers themselves?   Well, obviously they can just publish their books and hope their readers won’t care.  I’m sorry, but I care.  When I buy a book at a bookstore or for my Kindle I know I’m getting a book I might not like once I start reading it.  That’s a chance I’m willing to take and its okay.   What’s not okay is getting a book by an author who thought I would be okay with pages full of grammar mistakes, confusing sentence structure, no character development and no dialogue.  So what’s a reader to do?  I suppose we just keep taking chances, just like we always have when we buy or download a book to read.  Like everything in life…you win some and you lose some.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU WRITE, RIGHT?

My boyfriend’s twenty year old nephew got a brand new sports car (one of his uncles gave him the down payment and co-signed) and he made the comment that, “You are what you drive, and now, I’m the coolest kid in town.

This got me thinking…and worrying.  I drive a beat up old SUV that is eleven years old, has dents in the front from the horrible time I hit a deer, and makes wheezing sounds when I’m driving down the road.  So, does that mean I’m a used up old lady who will probably be headed for the junkyard soon?  I certainly hope not!  I still feel the old girl has a lot of life left in her—both me and my car.

So, now I’m thinking if the same holds true for writing?  Are we who we write about?  I can honestly say I was about 99% my heroine in my first book, TEXAS ROSE.  Lisa Parker was a very spoiled, rebellious, passionate cowgirl who loved as fiercely as she lived.  Every raw emotion, every burning desire I had ever had up to that point in my life were the elements I used to create Lisa’s character.  I believe each one of my heroines have a little bit of me in them, and my heroes are definitely all men that I could fall in love with, so maybe it’s true…we are what we write, and I’m good with that.