Friday, June 29, 2012

Guilty Pleasures

Please welcome today's Friday Friend, Carol J. Larson.

Carol is the author of teen and young adult fiction. Her books include Big Stone Heart and The Secret Society of Sugar and Spice. Carol is also a physician and an artist. She lives in Minnesota and South Dakota with her husband and their dog, Lucy.

Guilty Pleasures
Okay, I admit it: I like the TV show America’s Next Top Model. It’s one of my little guilty pleasures. I can feel you rolling your eyes out there, but bear with me, there’s a point to be made. So one night, with shades drawn and volume low, I was watching the show. They were doing a photo-shoot for Seventeen Magazine. Seventeen Magazine! This was my guilty pleasure when I was a teen. Instead of doing my homework, I would pour over the magazine looking for answers to life’s most pressing questions: What to do if a boy wants to kiss you? How to make the agonizing choice between blue and brown eyeliner? Pointy toed shoes or not?

I write fiction for girls ages twelve and up and all of my books are set during the Victorian Era in America. Those of you who follow my blog know that I love all things nineteenth century. So here’s the point: I got to wondering – what did girls and young women read for magazines in the late 1800’s? Did they have a Seventeen Magazine equivalent and if so, what was in there? Today, we hear so much about the influence of print and electronic media on the lives of young girls: Do the stick thin models in women’s magazines promote anorexia and bulimia? Do the numerous articles on sex encourage promiscuity? Does TV cause violent behavior? Compared to today, what exactly were magazines telling young women a hundred and thirty years ago? I decided to find out.

It turns out that before the late nineteenth century, magazines for children weren’t differentiated by gender.  A look into some volumes of Youth’s Companion from 1877, showed games and puzzles, features about royalty, politicians, world events and exotic locations.  What was interesting were the serialized stories.  These were morality tales involving poor children, orphans or dead children.  And often the story revolved around a child teaching an adult a lesson.  Consider this passage from an 1877 volume of Youth’s Companion:  Marshall is a ten year old boy.  His family has been wronged by a Mr. Hogan. Marshall had this exchange with his parents:

“The more fault you!” said his father.  “After that man’s treatment of you and all of us!  I’m ashamed of you, Marshall!”
But now kind-hearted Mrs. Morrison seconded her son, and said, -
“For the sake of his poor wife and children, Philip!   Think how we should feel if you were hurt in that way.  And consider – what I have heard you say many times – that it isn’t Mr. Hogan himself, but the bad spirit which drink has put into him, that does these things.”

When a girl reached puberty and became of marriageable age, she put her hair up and her hem down and presumably switched from reading children’s magazines to lady’s magazines. Two prominent women’s magazines in the 1800’s were Godey’s Lady’s Book and The Ladies’ Home Journal (which is still extant today).  Both journals were formulaic:  articles on politics, royalty, world events, a serialized story, a patriotic article, sheet music, advice columns for both men and women.  Almost all of the articles on world events were written by men.  Articles on women’s fashion, babies, children and homemaking were written by women.  There was always an article on cooking, home decorating, fashion, and a feature for children. There were no articles on dieting, dating, sex, make-up or exercise - beyond advising girls that outdoor pursuits were healthful.

As for guiding young women in life choices, the following quote sums it up:  From Ladies’ Home Journal, July 1897.  The article, entitled WHAT NOW?, is aimed at new college graduates: 
“An intellectual ambition draws many a girl away from her true place in life, and makes her a cold, unloved, and unhelpful woman, instead of a joyous, affectionate and unselfish blessing to home and friends…”
“If the instinct of daughter, sister, wife or mother dies out of a college-bred woman, even in the course of a most brilliant career, the world will forget to love her; it will scorn her, and justly.”
As to Seventeen Magazine, no such equivalent existed back then.  In The Ladies’ Home Journal, dated January 1897, in an article entitled “Side-Talks With Girls” said this:
Girls of fifteen are not supposed to be in society, nor do they, if they have wise mothers, receive gentlemen visitors.  Girls of that age should be in the schoolroom.”
I picked up a recent volume of Seventeen Magazine the other day.  In addition to the usual articles on weight loss, beauty and fashion, there were these:
“Are Your Moves Sexy or Snoozy?”
“Movie Worthy Make-outs”
“Sneaky Ways to Keep Things Casual”
So the contrast between what girls were being told in magazines in the late nineteenth century and today couldn’t be more striking.  Is it better to bombard the young women of today with articles on sex, dating, dieting and exercise or to refuse to discuss what goes on between men and women and to completely ignore those parts of the body “down there” as they did in the nineteenth century?
I’ll let you be the judge.

Carol's YA novel 'Big Stone Heart' was released by Whiskey Creek Press this month
'The Secret Society of Sugar and Spice' will be released in March 2013 by Whiskey Creek Press

Big Stone Heart

Seventeen year old Carrie Smith knows everything about baby boys, but nothing about grown men. Raised in an orphanage, unloved and unwanted, her only joy is the care she gives to the abandoned babies. When a letter arrives from a man in Dakota Territory who is looking for a wife, Carrie must choose between her lonely life in the orphanage or take a risk on an unknown man in a world about which she knows very little. Summoning all of her courage, she travels to Big Stone City, Dakota Territory, only to encounter heartbreak, deceit and betrayal. Bruised in body and spirit, Carrie flees to a small prairie town. When a shy farmer, Christopher Bachman, enters her life, Carrie must learn to trust again.  Faced with a shattering secret, she must find a way to open her heart to forgiveness and love.
You can find Carol's website at
and her blog at 
Thanks so much for being here with us today, Carol, and we wish you every success with your novels.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Four (?!?!?!?!?) Books

Seriously. There are billions of books out there. I am never without one I'm reading. I don't let a week go by without at least one trip to the library. And I have a personal library of over a thousand.

And I'm supposed to choose four?!?!?

Okay...just randomly.

Nancy Drew - Doesn't matter which one. This series got me hooked on reading when I was a kid. I craved them. Couldn't wait to go back for more. And I still read them.

Mariah by Sandra Canfield - This is a Harlequin Superromance from the 80s. It is hands-down my all-time favorite category romance ever. My copy is so tattered and torn it's falling apart. There are three other books in the Calloway Corners series...each is about a different sister. Those are good, but Mariah is a standout.

The Twilight series - I've read it over a dozen times. I am one of 'those' fans. I absolutely cannot live without Edward.

Gone With the Wind - What can I say? Rhett is the ultimate anti-hero. What's not to love?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Paula's 4 Favourite Books

Oh, what to choose – there are too many!

If forced to take only 4 books to a desert island, I would choose:

Sharon Kay Penman’s “Sunne in Splendour” – IMO the best novel about the 15th century Wars of the Roses and Richard III. Sharon’s research is second to none. I’ve read it several times, and learn something new every time.

Anya Seton’s “Katherine”- one of the first historical novels I ever read, with a wonderful portrayal of Edward III’s court and the history of the later 14th century. Again, superbly researched, and I totally fell in love with John of Gaunt!

John Jakes' 'North and South' trilogy - and if you won't let me take the whole trilogy, I'd choose the 2nd volume, 'Love and War' covering the 5 year panorama of the Civil War, which will remind me of my visits to the battlefields of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

And okay, the 4th one might just have to be Pride and Prejudice, so I could dream of Colin Firth, the consummate Mr. Darcy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jennifer's Four Favorite Books

I love books and hate the idea of having to choose only four. Do I choose ones that are the most beneficial? What about favorites? If I can only pick four, maybe I really need "escape from reality" books, because, seriously, what kind of reality would require me to choose only four books?!?!

Realizing that as soon as I hit "publish" I'll think of more, here goes:

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach: I read this in middle school and it resonated with me. Still does.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte: To me, the epitome of the tortured hero romance. Can't live without it.

Living Judaism, by Rabbi Wayne Dosick: Not my favorite book, but answers all of my questions, so if I have to be limited, I'd better have this with me.

This Is All I Ask, by Lynn Kurland: She's my favorite author, and this is one of my favorites of hers.

What are yours?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Water's rising fast. Grab 5 books you can't live without

My essential books are:

"English Through the Ages" by William Brohaugh. From Old English to modern-day slang, a word-by-word birth record of thousands of interesting words. In use in 1605: tumble, verb, as in to have sex with. Used as a noun, 1905. Fascinating to read, if you're a word lover, and useful for writing historical romances.

"The Joy of Cooking" by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. THE basic cookbook to have.

"Planets in Transit" by Robert Hand. The best astrology book ever written. (Transits are aspects between planets in real time and one's natal horoscope. They describe the energies one experiences, positive or negative. Mr. Hand suggests how best to benefit, or survive, them.)

"Flip Dictionary" by Barbara Ann  Kipfer. For when you know what you want to say but can't think of the word. A super thesaurus.

"Stella Natura Biodynamic Planting Calendar." This isn't a book, but I open it more often than any other collation of stapled pages in any given year. Month-by-month, day-by-day charts of moon cycles. I plant seeds by the moon to ensure crop success, and would hate to have to decipher the US Naval Observatory data myself.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Friend Nancy Jardine

It is our pleasure to welcome the super-talented Nancy Jardine to Heroines with Hearts! Today she's sharing a fabulous post about cover art.


Before I answer the questions myself I’d like to transport you back some decades -specifically to the end of the 1950s. At that time my reading skills were limited to that of a very good reader, at age 8. I owned a good pile of books, but back then my reading was more likely to have been books borrowed from the local public library. On Thursday evenings I’d trudge along the mile and a half it took to walk to the library with my father-rain, hail or shine. The walk wasn’t always pleasant, but getting a fresh bunch of books was FANTASTIC.
We’d check in the books just read, I’d go off to the junior section and my dad would disappear into the much more extensive area for adults. The library wasn’t big by any means, but growing old enough to borrow from the adults section became my goal. The grass is greener on the other side kind of thing. This became even more important years later when I’d devoured almost everything in the junior selection.
My dad and I often sat reading at the fireside together after we returned, and for nights after. I’d have raced through my two books (I’m sure that was all I was allowed to borrow) and though I tended to choose the biggest fattest books on the shelf, I always seemed to finish them very quickly. The last page would have been read and I’d ask dad what he was reading. I couldn’t tell because his books almost always tended to have a plain simple cover- typical of those being a dark reddish leather bound volume.
Laid down on the table I wouldn’t have a clue what his book was about. It might have been anything, but there was nothing there to spark my imagination. Dad would then give me a resume of what he was reading. He was very partial to novels like H. G. Wells-Time Machine; or Hemingway’s –The Old Man and the Boat; H. Rider Haggard’s-King Solomon’s Mines. Something with a bit of adventure. From his descriptions I was so desperate to get up to the ‘big’ library to read those books.
I’d ask him how he knew the book was going to be good, since it had no picture on the cover. He’d just smile and tell me that was often the greatest challenge of the week. Would he pick well or not? In those days there were no reviews around to guide the reader- or none that I knew of.
My books usually had a dust jacket cover with an image for me to imagine what would be inside. That image was like a talisman. If the book lived up to its cover I was one delighted child come the following Thursday. If not I avoided that author!
Judgemental? Definitely! At the time I had no concept that the author probably had little say in what went on the cover-as is sometimes the case, presently. I’m not sure I have really shaken off that need for a cover design to match the content.
Over the decades the dust jackets, or paperback cover designs, became works of art. Print paperbacks still fall into this category, but do they live up to my expectations? I have to be honest and say –in general not always.
If there is a gist of what the contents of the book are in the cover design then I’m a happy reader, but I confess to being a very disappointed reader if what is portrayed on the outside bears little relevance to what’s inside.
It may seem a minor matter when a hero has a blonde crew- cut on the cover and jet black flowing locks on the inside, but that irritates me a LOT.


Some cover artists get over that sort of niggle by using clever techniques. In my MONOGAMY TWIST cover design the hero and heroine are there at the top but, since they are featureless it leaves it to the reader’s imagination as to what he/she looks like till they are described in the novel. And readers of romances know that doesn’t generally take long! What else can one discern from MONOGAMY TWIST’S cover? Is the house significant, and if so what is the premise of the book? If you, as the reader, are asking those questions then the cover artist has done a great job. Even if the house doesn’t quite match the description in the book the idea is there that it is probably a larger than average house. Can you tell what country the book might be set in?

I hope that my cover design for TAKE ME NOW (due 3rd Aug 2012) says a little bit more to a potential reader. Again the fine details of the couple are vague but there’s just a hint there of what my heroine, Aela, looks like. What might the floatplane tell you, though? The buildings have to be significant as well. What impression do they give you? I wonder if the setting will give you any clue as to where in the world it refers to.

Both of my above novels will be available in both print and ebook formats from The Wild Rose Press. The same cover design will be used for both print and ebook and I have to say I’m DELIGHTED with them. The economic necessity, for a small publisher, to keep the costs for cover art down as much as possible, without losing any impact, is paramount though and an exact match isn’t nearly as possible as the cover designs of some of the major romance publishers of even a decade ago. Employing an artist to paint a ‘made to measure’ cover, I believe, are long gone-though to me they often seemed truer to the contents.
Ebook only publishers, and some authors self-publishing, want to pare costs to the bare minimum. I think a new skill in cover art has now dawned. The 1970s/80s fantastic futuristic covers of science fiction authors are now replaced with just as effective, often computer generated artwork.
Yet some ebook covers are now veering back to the most simple of designs-giving only a hint of what the book might be about. Back to the plain covers of the books my father borrowed from the library? And the leather bound copies of the books he owned that decorated our book shelves? I believe so.

My historical novel THE BELTANE CHOICE will be available in ebook formats from the 31st Aug 2012 from Crooked{Cat}Publishing. I was involved in the choice of cover design and am, again, DELIGHTED with it. I hope there’s just a hint of what it might be about. What do you think it is about?

I’d really love your answers to some of my questions.

Thanks for inviting me along today Debra, and to all the readers…Happy reading and ENJOY those covers!

TAKE ME NOW by Nancy Jardine
Nairn Malcolm’s looking for the impossible. He needs a highly skilled, enterprising aide who’ll be at his beck and call 24/7. No ordinary Jane Doe will do. He doesn’t expect the only candidate who drops in at his Scottish castle for an interview to be so competent…or so stunning.
Aela Cameron’s got exactly the right mix of talents to satisfy all Nairn Malcolm’s needs, and more. She loves the jobs he needs done, adores his castle, and finds his frenetic lifestyle energising. But she’s only looking for temporary: not to fall in love with the man.
Can Nairn convince Aela she’s tailor-made for him in every way…and not a passing fancy?
Unadulterated vigor oozed from every last bit of him—overall a dangerous concoction. Something stirred way-down-low inside Aela again. He was a real honey, and the bee in her wanted to be very sticky.
Her mind whirred. The man bore a vague resemblance to the ruggedly handsome thirty-two year old Nairn Malcolm of the internet photograph, but would the blonde limpet in the recent celebrity snapshot want to curl herself around this forbidding wreck of a man? Aela thought not. She wondered, though, if his blank expression was caused by current circumstances, or if this was his normal demeanor, since he hadn’t been smiling in the photograph either.
With the high granite wall as his backdrop she could easily imagine this man lording over the castle, ruthlessly challenging any invaders to his domain. Taking any woman he wanted? Now there was a thought she was happy to entertain. A tiny smile broke free. Tamping down her crazed imagination she re-assessed him.
What had the guy been doing to get himself in such a state?
Who was he?

Bio and links-Nancy Jardine
Having taught 11-12 year olds for many years, Nancy Jardine finally gave up the chalk in the autumn of 2011. During the last few years she has written a historical novel, three contemporary novels- two of which are what she calls her history/mysteries. She’s also written the first of a time-travel series of novels for children aged 9-12years, and a family saga is her current work in progress.

Nancy lives in the picturesque castle country of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband who now does all the cooking…the menu far more exciting and tasty than it used to be! Ancestry research-if you hadn’t already guessed-is one of her hobbies, as is participating in exciting events with her family which drag her away from the keyboard. Working in her large garden, she tends real flowers and now grows spectacular weeds which she’s becoming very fond of!




MONOGAMY TWIST is available from:
The Wild Rose Press :
Barnes and Noble:

Link to YouTube Book Trailer for Monogamy Twist is:

Coming Soon:
TAKE ME NOW will be available in print and ebook from The Wild Rose Press 3rd August 2012.

THE BELTANE CHOICE will be available in ebook formats from Crooked{Cat}Publishing 31st August 2012.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Five Favorite Foods

Gotta love alliteration!

I also love food, so it was difficult to narrow it down to five favorites. So, we'll just say these are foods I really, really like!

Bread. Any kind. Any way. Warm, fresh out of the oven. Garlicy. Crusty. Rolls. Buns. Bread sticks. You name it.

Pasta. My hubby likes plain ol' spaghetti, but I like my pasta in different shapes. Curls. Bow-ties. Elbows. Mosticholi (sp?). Egg noodles. It makes eating even more fun if your food looks cute! I know there are different types of pastas for different kinds of dishes, but for me I just like the variety.

Pizza. Friday is pizza night at our house. My favorite deep dish is Lou Malnati's. My favorite thin crust is from Jake's, a pizza place down the street.

Chicken Tenders. Weird. I know. But on Fridays (hot lunch day at school), I look forward to chicken tenders and caesar salad for lunch. I dip the chicken into extra salad dressing. Just one more thing to love about Friday.

Chocolate. No further explanation needed! (Although dark chocolate is my favorite.)

As you can see, I'd never do well on a carb diet. (shudder)

Food is fun to include in novels, too. My characters always eat at least one meal together. Food is so sensory, it's a great way to add taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing to a scene.

And now after making this list, I think I need a snack...

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not-so-glorious Food (in my opinion, of course!)

I eat to live, rather than the other way round, and prefer fairly basic meals rather than anything fancy. I can’t really pick out 5 favourite foods, so instead I’ll tell you about a few thing I simply cannot eat.

As a child I couldn’t eat cheese or even anything cheese flavoured. Over time, I’ve been able to eat cooked cheese e.g. on pizza or in lasagna and even cheese-flavoured sauce (as long as it’s fairly mild). But I still can’t eat ‘raw’ cheese. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s the texture that I dislike (slight understatement, it actually makes me gag!)

Again, something I’ve never been able to eat and, again, probably more due to the texture than anything else. I can still remember my first school dinner when I was five. It was salad, and we were told we had to eat everything on our plates before we would be allowed to leave the dining hall (this was in the very strict 1940's, remember). Imagine my horror when the salad consisted of lettuce, cucmber, cheese and beetroot. I had to sit there when everyone else had left, forcing myself to take very tiny pieces of cheese and trying to swallow them. The teacher must have eventually taken pity on me, because I was finally allowed to go back to my class!

Anything with almond favouring.
No reason for this (that I can think of) – it’s just a flavour I dislike, so I can’t eat the marzipan on Christmas cakes, or macaroons, or a dessert we call Bakewell Tart which has a pastry base covered in jam and then an almond-flavoured sponge filling. Yuck!  The only time I ever had any amaretto (without knowing what it actually was), I had to spit it out!

I have no idea why people rave about shell-fish. I dislike the texture and taste of prawns, couldn’t eat a mussel or oyster to save my life, and the only time I’ve ever had lobster, I decided it was completely over-rated, as it was bland and boring!

I don’t mind the cream and custard part, it’s the soggy sponge at the bottom that I loathe!

I’m sure someone will tell me that all these things are their favourites – if so, they are welcome to them!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Food, Glorious Food!

I have a complicated relationship with food. I don’t like eating in large groups, especially when standing. Stress takes away my appetite, but boredom increases it. I will often forget to eat breakfast or lunch, but become super cranky when I skip meals. My father-in-law is one of the few who appreciates the fact that I choose my restaurant meals based on the dessert menu. That being said, my five favorite foods are:

  1. Goat cheese
  2.  Homemade chocolate chip cookies—my own
  3. Peaches
  4.  Sushi
  5. Chocolate

I deal with food every day. I raise over 100 varieties of vegetables for my CSA. My husband raises milk and beef cows, as well as laying hens. In my Secret Garden business, we make soup, bread and seasoning mixes. I can and freeze most of my family's food. I have over 100 cookbooks on my bookshelf.

We joke, half seriously, that our income borders the poverty line, but we eat like kings.

My favorite things:
the first spring salad of baby lettuce with arugula and radish slices.
BLT's with Japanese Trifele tomatoes.
Twice baked potatoes.
Home-made pesto in February. By the spoonful is fine.
Anything chocolate.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Books Sell - Or Not?

Welcome to today's Friday Friend, Linda Swift, who is asking a question that every writer must ask at some point!

– IMHO (In My Humble Opinion)
Let me say in the beginning that I am speaking here from my own opinions based on my experience with my books since 2008 when I became a digitally-published author. I have also discussed these topics with a few other authors of my acquaintance in the business which I may refer to (who shall remain nameless).  Knowing my lack of impressive credentials, you may choose to move on to something more worthy of your time and if so, I wish you a wonderful day.
Now, for the benefit of those curious enough to stay, I’ll try to make it worth your time. I have had books published with nine digital publishers and have more contracted for later this year. In all, I have ten ebooks (also in print) and four short stories currently available at these various publishers, Amazon and many other distributors. Some of my books have done well. Others have not.
What makes the difference?  I have tried to promote them equally but with books released last year in March, April, May, June, and July by different publishers and two holiday books in November by still another, I’m sure I did not succeed. An author friend who found herself in the same situation frequently commiserated with me and we asked each other “How did this happen? What were we thinking?  Will we survive this avalanche of new releases?”
So how did this happen? Heeding the old adage of not putting all one’s eggs in the same basket, I  submitted to several publishers simultaneously. Much to my delight, many were accepted, but I hastily add that at least as many were rejected. However, elation turned to dismay when I realized just how many were being released in 2011. There are only so many times an author can get the attention of people when announcing new releases on the loops. And let’s face facts here. Many of our sales come from other authors who read our promo excerpts there. The larger the number of a publisher’s loop members, the more an author interacts, the more opportunity for sales. I admit that I’m not very good at doing this.  So the moral to this confession is that I believe it is better to have fewer publishers and be able to focus on fewer books at a time.
I don’t have a blog. I wasn’t  born with a mouse in my hand as some of you were, and being totally overwhelmed with all things technical, I simply haven’t had the time to learn to use this great promotional tool. I do guest blogs when invited and also interviews for other authors’ blogs. I participate in publishers’ chats and recently did a marathon 12 hours forum with six other authors who “volunteered” to help me. We had about 1,500 viewers throughout the day with only a small fraction  of those commenting even though we gave away a book each hour. Did this result in added sales?  Who knows?
Not being a techie, and having so many print books to sell, last year I began focusing on book signings. Since most book stores won’t carry our print books due to not being able to return POD  (print on demand)unsold  books to our publishers, an author must buy and furnish books. Book stores such as Barnes & Noble do have an “open” signing annually at which local authors can sell self-published or books not carried in their systems.  I’ve lived a nomad existence so I can qualify as “local” in a lot of places. I’ve also arranged signings at libraries (sometimes in conjunction with doing a program), coffeehouses, and special events. Some have been very successful, others have not. Libraries have been least successful (probably because they lend books)  However, due to my association with them, I have libraries in three towns who buy my books from me at retail price and two others who order them through their distributor My university bookstore also buys from me,carries all of my books in their alumni section, and has sponsored two book signings for me.
Does paid promo increase sales?  I had a Civil War saga released in 2011, which began the four-year commemoration of the C.W. Sesquicentennial. I felt it deserved my best efforts so I bit the bullet and paid $225. for a 1/8 page BxW ad in Romantic Times. I did not find an increase in sales as a result. Others may have better luck. I’ve paid for a few inexpensive promo ops at LASR and other sites but have no idea if it paid off in sales but it did offer name recognition.
I’m lax about keeping up with my sales through statistical data. I do check the publishers’ best selling lists on Amazon and also where my books rank on Amazon sales overall. I was instructed on how to track my books but decided my time would be better spend promoting than tracking. My royalty checks tell me how my books are doing . . . or not.
What about the price of books? My various publishers have different  prices for books of the same genres having the same number of pages. I’m sure they have their reasons and the size of the publisher has nothing to do with it.  Overall, due to not having minimum 30K print runs like the NY pubs, I understand that they can’t compete with those prices. But neither can I sell a paperback book of less than 100 pages for $19.95 with good conscience, even to my friends! And ebooks for $6.95-$8.95 don’t sell too well either. This is one reason why I’m in the process of republishing some of my books with an independent publisher who has more realistic pricing.
Do book titles/blurbs/covers affect sales?  I am completely convinced they do. I’m glad that all of my digital publishers have allowed me to maintain the names I have given to my “babies.”  I renamed my Civil War book three times while submitting but don’t know if the present name helped it to be accepted.  I don’t enjoy writing blurbs and am always happy when an editor tweaks what I’ve written. I’ve had cover artists “get it right” the very first time and I’ve had some covers I’ve had to accept with “close enough.” I want to leave you with one current  example of my conviction of the part covers and blurbs play in sales.
My best contemporary book ever was released last year with a very dark scenic cover (which I accepted after a few tries as “close enough”). I’m guilty of writing the blurb that touched on all of the negative circumstances and events in the story. Despite a lot of promo the book did not do well. The publisher and I talked about this and I was asked to rewrite the blurb. From my conversation with the publisher, I realized for the first time (I admit stupidity here) that the theme of this book was overcoming the obstacles in life’s journey.  I agreed to rewrite if the publisher would change the cover.  The result was a beautiful new cover showing the H&H in a very tender embrace and a blurb that summed up the dilemma they faced. The price was cut drastically for a month’s promo and as I write this, remains .99 for the ebook and $13.56 for print. The book has been #3 and #4  on at the publisher’s bestsellers list the last two weeks and today is at #2. What made the difference in failure and success? Cover, blurb, promo or a combination of all three?  I wish I knew!
Why books sell . . . or not?   I’m still trying to figure this out, as are most of you who are also reading here. It goes without saying that it helps to have a good story (or the most clever packaging won’t result in re-sales). An attractive cover, an attention-grabbing title and blurb will help. Competitive pricing,  promoting widely, (both the book and yourself to gain a readership one sale at a time), and determination to succeed through continued effort day after day. It also helps to have a soft cushion in your computer desk chair because you’ll be spending a lot of your time there!
I want to thank Paula for inviting me to HWH. I hope my post has justified the time you have spent reading it.  I welcome your opinions on this subject and hope you will share with us what has worked for you.
Linda, thank you so much for being with us today - and for tackling such an important question!
Linda divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. .  Her  first two books were published by Kensington.  In her other life, she earned an Education Specialist Degree from Murray State University with post-graduate work from U. of Alabama and was a teacher, counselor, and psychometrist in the public schools in three states. She credits her husband and adult children for providing encouragement and technical support necessary for survival in the cyberspace world.
Linda is the only non-musical member in her family of professional musicians but likes to think she makes music with words. For more information, please visit her website at
Love sometimes happens when least expected.  Scott Parker and Leah Carson, principal and counselor of Central High in the small town of Olive Hill are blindsided by the deep emotion that grows from their dedication to their jobs. Working together day after day toward common goals, their friendship and respect for each other gradually turns to love. When purpose turns to passion, they attempt to deny their feelings without success. Scott and Leah face a decision that will lead to happiness or heartbreak. Caught in a vortex of circumstances beyond their control, how can they choose when so many others are affected by the outcome?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

I love to travel, but I think my very favorite place to be is home. It's cozy, it's comfy, and it has all of my favorite things in it. No matter if I'm curled up on the couch with a book or watching a movie with the hubby, or sitting out back by the pond, or on the front porch, or cozied up in my bed, every spot in the house is special.

Then there's...

London. As part of a three week college course one summer I got to travel overseas. I immediately fell in love with London. I have to admit, I'm a bit of an American Royal Watcher, so to be honest, that was part of the thrill. But obviously, it's much more than that. Coming from a relatively 'young' country, it's hard to fathom the thousands of years of history over there across the pond. It was truly an amazing experience and I hope to go back some day.

Missouri. The Ozarks to be specific. Each year we head down with friends of ours on vacation. We ride ATVs, hike, swim in the creek, read up on the rocky shore, and best of all, I get to drive a big John Deere tractor. This place actually became the setting for This Can't Be Love.

Disney World. What can I say...I'm forty-three years old and I love Mickey Mouse.

Mt. Prospect. This is where I live. This is where I love. My friends are here. My church is here. My job is here. And I can walk to the library, bank, train station, the coffee shop, the ice cream store... In the summer there are concerts on the green in front of Village Hall. There are festivals and parades in every season. It is truly my hometown.

Michigan.This is where we want to have a vacation home someday. For me, something near the water. For the hubby, something with lots of trees. There's just something about it that calls to us.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Six of my Favourite Places

I have been to so many amazing places, especially in the 15 years since I took (early) retirement. Places I thought I’d never see, places which surprised me, places which seemed so familiar because I’d seen so many photos of them, and places which made a lasting impression on me.

Impossible to pick out any six ‘best’ so I’ve decided to list some of the places I’ve used in my stories, which happen to be among my favourite places.

1. The English Lake District.
This was the setting for Fragrance of Violets and, to a lesser extent for Changing the Future, and it’s also where my current ‘work in progress’ is set. I love this area which is about 70 miles from where I live. Beautiful scenery, with the lakes and mountains, and so familiar too, as I went up there a lot over a period of about 30 years when we had a caravan there. The Langdale Valley is my favourite spot, although sitting on the shore of Coniston Water with a large ice-cream comes a close second.

2. Paris
Abbey joined Jack there for a weekend in Fragrance of Violets. I first went to Paris when I was 18, and have lost count of how many times I have been there since. It really is a beautiful city, seen best (in my opinion) from a bateau mouche on the Seine. And, of course, there are all the pavement cafes where you can sit for as long as you want. Ideal for people watching!

3. New York City
Lisa and Paul have two days in NYC in Changing the Future. New York is one of those places that always seems familiar because, of course, you see it so much in movies but I’ll never forget the first time I was there (in 1980). We walked along 59th Street from our hotel and reached a road junction where the street sign said ‘Broadway’. I could hardly believe I was standing on THE Broadway! Since then I’ve been to NYC several times, but it’s always as exciting as it was that very first time.

4. Egypt
My next release (in November), Her Only Option, is set here and the story was inspired by the Nile Cruise I did in October 2010. Although I’d been to Cairo just for a day about 20 years ago, I always wanted to see Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, so my 2010 trip was the culmination of a long-held dream. I felt I had travelled back in time when I was in the Valley, seeing all the tombs of the Pharaohs, so that’s where my hero works. The other awe-inspiring place was the Abu Simbel temples on the shores of Lake Nasser. Sunrise there was an experience I shall never forget – and of course I took my hero and heroine there.

5. London
London is the setting for His Leading Lady, especially the area known as the West End, which is the theatre district (equivalent to NYC’s Broadway). I first visited London when I was seven and remember being so excited when I heard Big Ben strike the hour. At the time, in the pre-television era, I had only heard Big Ben on the radio. Since then, I’ve been to London dozens of times but, like Paris and NYC, it always seems ‘special’. I love its tourist sights, especially the 1000-year-old Tower of London and Westminster Abbey where history seems to come alive.

6. Ireland

I haven’t set any of my novels here (yet!), but I’m including it because it featured in the first story I wrote when I returned to writing fiction about 6 years ago. I was a fan of ‘The West Wing’ and discovered the world of fan-fiction. A chance comment from a friend set me off on writing a fan-fiction story about Jed and Abbey (the President and First Lady), which I set in Ireland. As a direct result, I went to the west coast of Ireland in 2007, and have been back a dozen times since then. I love Ireland’s scenery and heritage, not forgetting, of course, the REAL Irish pubs, and the friendliness of the people. One day I will set one of my contemporary romances there.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Shades of Judy Collins

There are places I remember, all my life, though some have changed. Some for ever, some for better...

I've been to some interesting places:
Arosa, Switzerland is as scenic as its postcards. Alpine lodges with steep roofs and flower window boxes. My family skied and skated. My brother was a hero when he put out a fire in one of the Christmas trees. They used real candles.

Asmara, Ethiopia is as stark as its name might imply. Tall, dark, thin-nosed people with the ability to adapt and survive. The food is spicy, and they scoop up stews with bread.

New York, New York is the world in microcosm. My grandma loved the Christmas shows at Radio City Music Hall. The Rockettes always put on a fantastic show.

Fallbrook, California claims to be the avocado capital of the world. Ripe oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit and avocados fall off trees in people's yards and roll down the street. What I would give to have that in Minnesota.

Park Rapids, Minnesota is where I live. Today it rained, finally, after a week of ninety degrees and wind. Grass, flowers, vegetable gardens and trees--Nature celebrates by shimmering in uncountable shades of green and giving a nearly audible, "Ahhhh."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wish I May, Wish I Might...

Once again in no particular order:

To be an author whose name people recognize and want to read more of.

To have a twenty minute conversation with Stephenie Meyer. I have a question for her about a writing process.

To 'finish' the basement of my house: right now it's a bunch of cement walls used for storage, laundry, and (dusty) workout equipment. I'd like it to be another livable part of our home.

To meet in person my fellow Heroines with Hearts. We're all so spread out, but I feel like I 'know' you all just a little bit. I wonder what it would be like to all be in the same room together.

To have a relaxing, yet productive summer. School's officially out...let the good times roll!

To visit the set of "True Blood" and see how it's done. And have my picture taken with Alexander Skarsgard.

To grow old with the one I love. Enough said.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wishful Thinking

Apart from the customary wishes for world peace, cures for all diseases, enough food for everyone, honest politicians (is that an oxymoron?), and health and happiness for my family and friends, here are my seven wishes and wants:

1. I want to see the Grand Canyon – not sure why, but it’s always been a wish.

2. I want to meet Colin Firth (quick drool) - a dinner date wiht him would be even better, of course.

3. I want a totally reliable computer and internet service – anything going wrong with either sends my blood pressure soaring.

4. I want my whole house redecorated – preferably while I’m not there to be involved in the chaos the whole process causes.

5. I want someone to invent a robot that will do my ironing (and the other boring household jobs, but mostly the ironing).

6. At my age, I want to wake up every morning and know I’m still alive!

7. And, last but not least, I want one of my books to become a NYT best-seller (not too much to ask, is it, huh?)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'll Tell You What I Want (What I Really, Really Want)

What do I want? In general:
More specifically:
·       Someone to remove the sensor in my butt that ensures someone needs something the second I sit down.
·       Hair that looks smooth and sleek, rather than frizzy and horizontal, regardless of how much product I put in it.
·       My body to let me sleep, uninterrupted, past 6 a.m. occasionally.
·       A maid, butler and chauffeur for a week.
·       A transporter.
·       Healthy food that tastes as good as junk food.
·       Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” to work a little faster.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

This isn't too much to ask for, is it?

I wish I'd known when I was twenty what I know now, but that is not possible. So what do I want?

More time to write.

Young people to turn our farm over to. So I have more time to write.

Continued good health, since our retirement is invested in our farm.

My daughter to "make it" in the film biz. (When she does, I get to be her personal assistant!)

My children and grandchildren to make a good living doing what they love to do.

A single-payer health care system that embraces the Naturopath who keeps my family, friends, and employees healthy.

An end to political stalemates that make problem-solving impossible, aka world peace.

Nope. This isn't too much to ask for.