Jilly: Short Story–The Great Escape

I was too busy to play along with Elizabeth’s writing sprints last Friday, but I was in the mood for something upbeat and I really liked the prompt words. So…here’s a short story featuring a character who lost something important, including the words proud, plaid, thief, viper, whisper, drawer, crazy, disguised, deceit, fictional, ideal, sibling, insecure, nerve, garden, and squirrel.

The Great Escape

It was a crazy plan, so audacious that nobody suspected a thing.

Theodora Greatly-Minted started the rumor herself. She confided in one carefully selected friend after obtaining a pledge of utmost secrecy. Then watched it snowball from a faint whisper to the hottest tidbit in the ton.

Poor Lady Theodora. Too proud to admit she’d fallen victim to The Squirrel. Too haughty to acknowledge that her family’s place in the highest reaches of the Upper Ten Thousand was suddenly— calamitously—insecure.

Society’s most poisonous vipers salivated over every humiliating detail.

The Squirrel, legendary thief and expert forger, was a master of deceit. He’d waited until Theodora was out of town, disguised himself as her long-lost older brother, and convinced the manager of Cahoots Bank that he was the heir to the Greatly-Minted fortune. The fictional sibling had emptied the vaults, mortgaged the town house and the country estate, and sold every painting, horse, and stick of furniture. He’d left Theodora so indebted she didn’t have a feather to fly with.

Continue reading

Michaeline: Book Review: Jackie Lau’s Man vs. Durian

Handsome Asian guy holding a durian fruit

Image via Amazon

I’ve talked about Jackie Lau here at Eight Ladies before; I was impressed with Ice Cream Lover, a book about ice cream, Canadian love, and a grumpy but adorable Asian-Canadian hero who meets a bicultural Ice Cream Queen. (Both the heroine and the ice cream are bicultural.)

That was Book Two in the Baldwin Village series, and Book Three, Man vs. Durian, was just released on August 27, 2019. Jackie writes fast, and she writes well – an amazing combination for readers who devour books and want more.

The marketing tags for Man vs. Durian promise a fake relationship, a very sweet hero, a grumpy heroine, and lots of food – and the book delivers on all counts.

First, I really like to have food in a book – good food, bad food, food that provokes emotions and socially smooths the path for our characters. Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me revolves around chicken marsala and doughnuts; Lois McMaster Bujold invented the delightful and talented cook, Ma Kosti, with her little chocolate desserts of plutonium-like density. Food, written well, taps another level of our consciousness, and gives a story depth and heft.

Second, a fake relationship – in other words, the good old “marriage of convenience” trope in modern form – is also something I enjoy. In this case, Valerie (our heroine) has disappointed her mother on both the professional and the biological empire fronts (no boyfriend, no marriage, no grandchildren being the logical progression). Harassment made her quit a job she liked in computers, blacklisting prevented her from finding a new one, and a sucky boyfriend, straight from Reddit’s Relationship Advice pages, soured her on love. She’s now scooping ice cream in the shop from Baldwin Village Two, sorting out her options, and she’d like to get her mother off her back.

On the spur of the moment, she invents a Peter – who is not only a male boyfriend, but a children’s doctor. And, as fate would have it, Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday.  How was your week?

Mine was quite productive, despite losing a day and a half to a business trip.

Today was “Cleanup Day” at work – a day set aside for folks to get rid of unnecessary files – both of the paper and the electronic variety.

I don’t generally accumulate much at at work, but even I was able to reduce my paper files by half and to free up gigabytes worth of server space. My efforts were dwarfed, however, by those of some of my coworkers of the gold-medal level packrat variety.

No matter how much or how little cleanup was done, we were all rewarded with pizza for lunch.  Tomorrow people will be back to printing things out and filing them away, but for now we are all reasonably tidy and well-fed.

Now that the great cleanup is a thing of the past, it’s time for me to do some writing.  Since one of the things I unearthed during my cleaning efforts was an embarrassing abundance of blank notebooks, I’m thinking the least I can do is use one as I give today’s   story prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me?

For those of you working away on a story (whether a first draft or a polished version on its way to publication), if you’re not feeling random, we’d love to hear a bit – whether it’s a scene, a paragraph, or even a phrase that you are especially pleased with and would like to share.

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, I hope today’s story prompt and/or random words will catch your creative fancy.

Ready?

What if: “Your character lost something important?”

Feel free to interpret the “What if” any way you choose and include any (or all) of the following random words:

proud        plaid          thief        viper

whisper    drawer      crazy      disguised

deceit        fictional   ideal        sibling

insecure    nerve        garden   squirrel

I look forward to seeing your stories in the comments.  If you’re not feeling in the writing mood today, or don’t have time, feel free to post suggestions you might have for future “what-if” prompts.  Ideas are always welcome.

Happy writing to all!

Michille: The Grammar Police

Parse_tree_1That’s not me. I’m not the Grammar Police. I am a Grammar Police wannabe. It’s on my to-do list to find a refresher course on grammar because I believe mine is somewhat lacking, which is something I usually discover when I go to edit (I don’t worry about it when I’m writing the drafts). I’m not trying to diagram my sentences, but sometimes, I think that would help. Go back to the basics to boil the sentence down. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Stay Curious

It has been a long and busy week and it’s only Tuesday.  The week has included planes, cabs, and training sessions – which is great – but what it hasn’t included is quality time to work on the post I had planned for today.

Désolé.

Instead, since I have a job interview tomorrow afternoon that I need to prepare for, I’ll leave you with the above quote from Dorothy Parker that I came across the other day.

So, what have you been curious about lately?

Have you learned anything new recently?

Jeanne: Things I Learned from Publishing My First Book

1. Rely on others

I’m not a very visual person, so when I got my teaser ads back from my publicity agency, I asked other more visually gifted friends to look over the ads. They came back with issues I never would have seen.

Takeaway: Rely on your posse. (And plan to be their posse in return when the time comes, with whatever you have to offer.)

Even though I’m not very visual, because I’m less emotionally invested in their stories than they are, there’s still a chance I’ll notice things they didn’t.

2. Give yourself more time than you think you could ever possibly need.

Once you get a final draft completed, it feels like most of your work should be done. While that’s probably true, there’s still way more to do than you realize, especially if you’re going to give your book a sendoff that will allow it to sell well.

3) Give yourself plenty of backup. Don’t rely on any one arena to promote your book.

I have a couple of friends with upcoming releases, one a debut. A couple of weeks ago their web host ghosted them. Their sites are down and they can’t get support from the hosting company.

4) Make sure you know your target market and the comps for your book.

After The Demon Always Wins came home with the Golden Heart, I kind of expected agents and editors, maybe not to flock to my door, but at least to be interested. So it was really disappointing when they weren’t.

Now, four years down the road, I understand why they weren’t. Paranormal romance wasn’t selling well at that time and the demon sub-genre was almost non-existent. When asked for comps for my book, I didn’t know of any. I wasn’t sure why it mattered, since the book wasn’t likely to wind up on physical shelf anywhere.

Then I tried running an Amazon ad. Amazon ads live and die by your keywords, and your keywords are mostly going to be a list of comp authors for your book.

These days I can list half a dozen off the top of my head.

5) Understand the conventions for your niche.

We’ve covered this in some detail in other posts, so I’m going to keep this brief, but my covers were all wrong. Very cool, but all wrong for romance. Your cover should not be weird and exotic and intriguing. It should be similar to the covers that sell those comps we just talked about.

6) Recognize that you don’t know what you don’t know.

There’s a learning curve to the book promotion game.

You can bypass some of it by hiring people to do some of it for you, but the fact that you don’t know how to it very likely means you won’t know how to hire the right people either.

You can bypass some of it by reading books and taking courses in book promotion. I read some books, but I didn’t take the courses. I have a friend who did. Her first book will debut later this year, and I’m waiting to see how well she does before passing judgment on the value of the course.

Justine: Drip Campaigns (aka Automation) for New Authors

email marketingI recently switched over my email service from MailChimp to MailerLite (for a detailed explanation of why, read this post by David Gaughran). Mind you, I hadn’t sent any emails to my 46 subscribers since last November, and I figured (now that my kitchen reno is done and the kids are back in school) it was time to saddle up the ‘ol marketing horse again.

At the same time, I’m planning some FB ads in the near future to spread the word about my free short story (which is also a backstory to my first upcoming book His Lady to Protect) and hopefully help drum up newsletter subscribers prior to its release later this year.

However, before I go gung-ho on the FB ads, I wanted to make sure I had a drip campaign–also know as “automation”–set up for my new subscribers. Continue reading