Kay: Me and Nora

Nora Roberts

I’ve been having a tough time with the WIP. I’m doing revisions after an edit letter, and friends, it’s not going well. The book sucks. Why didn’t the editor just say so? I hate it when they’re so polite, like they think you can make it better. No, I cannot make it better, because maybe you didn’t hear me: The whole thing sucks. If I could have made it better, I would have done so long ago.

I should probably just delete the whole thing now and save everyone a ton of misery.

So I went looking for something to cheer me up, and what I found was 10 well-known quotes from Nora Roberts. She’s so bracing. I swear to you, that woman has never thrown herself a pity party in her life. Hearing her speak or reading her advice is like dashing ice water on your face. It makes you blink, but it brings you to your senses. And more good news: her birthday is Saturday, so you have time to get her a card. Continue reading

Kay: The Train Wreck of Traditional Publishing

Did you ever wish you had a traditional publishing contract? Count your lucky stars. Since our pandemic began, traditional publishing has gone off the rails.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch breaks it down for us on her blog. It all began when she tried to order a book in June and was informed that the book would ship in September. Surprised that it wouldn’t arrive sooner, she looked into why that should be.

And guess what? It turns out that traditional publishing isn’t all that nimble when it comes to crises. Here’s the story.

What the heck happened?

When the pandemic hit and bookstores closed, some publishing companies moved their biggest spring and summer releases to the fall, hoping that the situation would have recovered by then. But as the pandemic dragged on, the schedule fell apart, because the fall schedule was already mostly full. Continue reading

Kay: What Next?

The view from my living room window, 10am, Sept. 9, 2020.

A friend gave me a $50 gift card to Amazon for my birthday a few weeks ago, and today, while we in California’s Bay Area are living with skies that look like the apocalypse, I spent it on ebooks.

I was frightened when I woke up this morning to dark red skies—fires are all around us but haven’t been of immediate danger. However, when I first moved to California, a big fire erupted just a mile or two behind my house and burned through more than 3,000 homes and killed 27 people. Most of my street evacuated voluntarily at that time, but I had faith in the fire department and the hydrant at the end of my block. My faith was rewarded, too: the fire came no closer than about three-quarters of a mile. Continue reading

Kay: Agatha Christie’s Villains

We’ve been talking about plots this week—Jilly about what she likes; Jeanne, what she doesn’t; and Elizabeth, how many plot elements in a story are too many. In keeping with the theme (especially Elizabeth’s theme of murder mysteries), I found a great article by Dorothy Gambrell in Bloomberg Businessweek, of all places, that charted plot and character elements in Agatha Christie novels. It’s pretty cool.

I’ve read quite a few of Christie’s novels, and while I’m not a huge fan of her work any more, there’s no denying that she had a huge influence on the development of the mystery genre. So it was interesting and fun to look at these charts and see what characteristics Christie gave her killers, broken down by age, gender, occupation, method, motivation, and relationship to the victim—and how these elements changed over Christie’s working life. (I tried to post some of the charts, but alas—Bloomberg didn’t use a format that I could reproduce.) Continue reading

Kay: That’s Entertainment!

In these days of pandemic and stay-at-home orders, lots of people seem to be reading more. Think you have to break the bank to get more books? Not so! Curbside Larry is here to tell you different. You may have seen him before; he’s getting a lot of coverage these days. But in the event you fear that a furloughed used-car salesman is running amok in the public library system, be assured that Curbside Larry is really library staffer John Schaffer.

For people who would rather watch TV than read, deciding which platforms to subscribe to—or even figuring out what platforms are out there—can be almost a fulltime job. But now there’s help for the curious, the desperate, and the Netflix-challenged.

Finally, here’s a 2016 episode of Black Jeopardy with Tom Hanks that is still remarkably relevant. Not to mention, funny.

That’s all for now, folks! Stay safe out there!

Kay: Got Gender Bias?

Where’s that comb when you need it? From rebloggy.com

No comb needed here! From Ablemens Facebook page

A lot of professional writing organizations (well, all of them, I think) are struggling with diversity issues, and writers are scrutinizing their characters, looking for hints of bias. But gender stereotypes—we’re past that, right?

Um, no.

The latest Sisters in Crime newsletter pointed to an article in The Pudding, in which author Erin Davis recounts reading a novel for her book club that had a 35-page description of the heroine that made everyone’s eyes roll. She started to examine what she was reading and found that female characters often had red lips and soft thighs, and men had strong muscles and rough hands. She wondered how prevalent those kinds of descriptions were. Continue reading

Kay: A Blurb for a Blurb

I got nothin’ this week. I spent a long, difficult Saturday having endless problems uploading a new cover (yay!) and newly formatted interior (double yay!!) for a paperback edition (triple yay!!!) of an old novel to Amazon, which necessitated tweaking my book blurb, among other refreshes. Nine hours later, I had a carpal tunnel flare up. So I’m typing briefly with two fingers. Nothing but good times ahead!

But in an effort to be useful (and mercifully short), I’m adding a link to an article about writing blurbs and teasers. Some of you might find it useful, as I did. (Full disclosure: I’m a columnist on the Writers Fun Zone site.)

Kay: Finding New Authors with StoryBundle

One of the four books offered in the “Glitter and Hope” StoryBundle

One of the four books offered in the “Glitter and Hope” StoryBundle

I recently fell onto the mailing list of an outfit called StoryBundle, an organization of which I had never heard until then. They’ve been operating at least since 2017, so that’s my bad. And while I’m not one to promote shamelessly (and full disclosure: I have no connection to these folks whatsoever and have not benefitted from their program), their operational model is an interesting one.

StoryBundle groups books by indie authors and sells them for a short time at a low base price (usually $3), inviting purchasers to pay what they will, as long as it’s at least that base amount. In the current bundle, you’d get four books for that $3. If you pay a minimum of $15, you get 11 books—the original four, plus seven more “bonus” books.  You choose how much of your payment goes to the author and how much goes to StoryBundle, and a portion of your payment can go to a charity of your choice, as well. Continue reading

Kay: Quiz for Y’all–Which Cover Works Best?

The “calm” one

I’m sorry to plague you all with yet another cover query, but I’ve been looking at this thing for so long that I’m not sure what I’m seeing any more.

The new cover for Betting on Hope is essentially done. The copy has been tweaked since you saw it last, and the last thing to be decided is the color saturation. I have three variations, and they vary only slightly: One is the “calm” one, one is the “hot” one, and one is “the other one.”

The “hot” one

I’d like to know what you think: Which one is easiest to read? (I realize that if you’re looking at this post from a phone, none of them will be easy to read—it’s scarcely readable from my computer screen.) Does any of them appeal to you more than the others? What about the color on that back cover?

Any thoughts on these or other matters gratefully received.

The “other” one

Kay: Getting Unstuck

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Father Tim Pelc of St Ambrose Church in Detroit, Michigan, blesses parishioners by shooting holy water into their car windows. He’s been a little concerned about how the Vatican might react if these photos reach the Pope, but so far, no word from the pontiff.

Things are tough all over, but I’ve been happy to see that the Catholic Church seems to be doing a good job at improvising during the pandemic.

In other news, the folks at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) have nagged me relentlessly the last couple of weeks, begging, exhorting, cajoling, and threatening me to join JuNoWriMo, the summer version of Novel Writers Torture Month. I have easily resisted this call, because I tried the November version once.

But when I was thinking about what to post today, I bumped into the blog of author Sarah Wynde, who talks about participating in this event. I’m sure otherwise she is a sane person. I’ve seen her comment on Jenny’s blog, and she always strikes me as intelligent and thoughtful, as well as amusing and kind. Continue reading