Shop and Let Die

New Series! Out June 15th

The FairyTale Bride

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Once Upon A Wedding Box Set

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Vermont Solitude

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Another trip across country begins

I’m on the road again!

baybridgelightsWe’re heading toward grandson territory in California. This time, we decided to go through Canada. Passports in hand, we looked forward to conquering new lands.

20140606-121147-43907269.jpgWe only got as far as Lyndon, Vermont the first day.

We stopped at a B&B, where the proprietor made us feel like slackers — she and her husband retired, then bought and spent three years renovating a beautiful Vermont farmhouse as a B&B.

20140606-121147-43907892.jpgAfter 25 years, she clearly still loves the work, and takes care that her guests will be comfortable in one of the 5 unique bedrooms. Because we were her only guests that night, we picked the canopy bed room. Lovely night’s sleep.

20140606-121148-43908444.jpgThe breakfast was done on an AGA stove (I forgot to snap a picture!) and served in a dining room with an elegantly set table.

The little touches were everywhere. Flowers. Paintings, a huge photobook of the renovation process (they took the place down to the studs in some areas).

If you’re ever in Lyndon, Vermont, I highly recommend the Branch Brook Bed and Breakfast. They’re open year round, and love bicyclers, hikers, snowmobilers, skiers, and anyone with an interesting story to tell. 20140606-121149-43909022.jpg

I hope to be so enthusiastic and connected in my retirement.

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Posted in Travel

Remembering Maya Angelou

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Standing at The Corner of Fate and Coincidence

book coverI just spent the morning gathering together inspirational quotes to Tweet. Started with Gandhi (of course), moved on to Lao Tzu (naturally), then Dickens, then Shakespeare…and then I realized they were all men. So I found Maya Angelou, renowned poet and author, and immersed myself in reading her many pithy sayings.

And then I went onto Twitter, where my dashboard informed me that a trending hashtag was RIP Maya Angelou. I checked to make sure it wasn’t a hoax. It wasn’t.

I’m both sad, and oddly inspired. We all die, and 86 vital years on this earth is not too shabby a legacy for anyone. Her words were so powerful they will live on after her.

For example,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Thank you, Maya, for making me feel the full human scope of passion, loss, and redemption with your writing. I will never forget that.

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Posted in About a Book, Pardon My Gossip

Seeking a True Account of Cinderella

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cinderellabrideEvery tale … should be a Fairy Tale

That’s my new tagline. Do you like it? I do.

I’ve been quiet for a few months, but now I’m bursting with news, on two fronts. One is that Shop and Let Die, the first book in my mystery shopping mom series is in production and will be released June 15th (at last!).

The second is that I’ve taken my cue from some other successful indie authors and begun working on a second series. While that novel won’t be out for a while yet, I have begun working on the tie-in short stories. There will be a thousand of them (yes, 1,000).

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Posted in Fairytales, Mystery Shopping Mom

How To Make A YouTube Video in Under an Hour

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YouTube, the Intimidating Frontier

I have wanted to do a YouTube video for a long time. But I was intimidated by the idea. Would I need to wear makeup? I rarely do makeup. Could I be clever enough? Brief enough? Visual enough?

I have discarded ideas for YouTube videos as diverse as book trailers, cooking demos, and writing instruction (exactly how do you break a scene down and see how it works well…or doesn’t?). I have half-written scripts. I even did a video for a Kickstarter of mine. But never a YouTube video.

Until today. In under an hour.

The Video

Yes, Really, Under an Hour

Here’s all you need to do the same:

  1. An idea (mine was to share the “Don’t Text and Drive” promotion that was already ongoing)
  2. Graphics (our infographics, a screenshot from our contest page, easy peasy)
  3. Audio script (better to know what you’re planning to say than to sound hesitant with a live mic)
  4. Special effect audio files (car crash, creative common score)
  5. A program to edit everything into a work of beauty (we have Final Cut, but iMovie is good, too)
  6. A YouTube channel

I suppose I should confess my secret ingredient: my youngest is a videographer and he was home today. But this project truly went from soup to nuts in under an hour.

I can’t wait to decide on my next YouTube project. Hmmmm.

P.S. Please take the poll in the sidebar about whether you’ve ever texted while you drove.

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Posted in Crazy or Genius?, My, How This Business Has Changed

Great Ideas Come from the Heart

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Ten authors. Thirty plus audiobooks. One contest.

Ten authors. Thirty plus audiobooks. One week. One contest.

Good Ideas, vs Great Ideas

I often think I have great ideas. Ask anyone who has known me longer than a few hours. They can tell you that I frequently start a sentence with, “I just had a great idea!”

Not that the ideas are always that great, of course. But I do love that burst of excitement that comes with an idea that seems a real winner. Having had a few great ideas that panned out in my life, I can definitely say they are fun…in the same way roller coasters are fun, even when your heart dips into your stomach and you wonder if you’ll survive the trip this time.

Telling a great idea from a good idea isn’t always easy, but the great ones tend to stick with you. If they don’t work at first, they come around and sneak up on you another way, until everything comes together and magic happens.

I can also say that my greatest ideas always come from the heart. Like this newest idea I had to promote audiobooks, which, along with 9 other authors, I’m unveiling today.

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Posted in Crazy or Genius?, My, How This Business Has Changed, My, How This Business Has Not Changed

An End is Just One Step to a New Beginning

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a picture of a sign that says Welcome The Author's World NINC 2013

What I saw when I got off the plane in Myrtle Beach!

Sometimes It’s a Book That Ends, Sometimes It’s a Conference

The 2013 NINC (Novelists Inc) conference ended October 27th. I left the beach on the 28th. That’s two weeks ago and I’m just now ready to blog about it.

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Posted in My, How This Business Has Changed, My, How This Business Has Not Changed

An Audiobook Narrator Talks Accents and Character Voices

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Recently, I had a conversation with the narrator of two Once Upon a Wedding audiobooks (The Impetuous Bride and The Next Best Bride). She’d begun with The Next Best Bride, which has a female British narrator and all British characters. I really liked her narration (as do readers, judging by the brisk sales). However, The Impetuous Bride offered much more of a challenge, because the very British Rosaline Fenster has her romantic adventure along the wagon trail to California accompanied by a runaway slave, an American child, and with a very American male in the person of Rob Lewis.

Arielle did a beautiful job. As I listened, I began to wonder: just how does an audiobook narrator keep all those character voices and accents straight? And then I quickly snapped Arielle up for The Twelfth Night Bride (where Kate, the youngest Fenster sister, follows her wayward husband to Ireland).

Arielle Lipshaw Speaks in Many Voices

You asked how I keep both accents straight during a book like this. The answer is – it’s not easy! This book is definitely the most challenging I’ve done as far as keeping character voices and accents straight. It included narration (my own voice but using a British accent), Ros (female, British), Rob (male, American, western), Gwyneth (child, American), Moses (male, American, southern), Ophelia (female, American, southern) and a bunch more! There were definitely many, many times when I found myself forgetting to switch back into a British accent after reading some of Rob’s dialogue, or started reading one of Ros’s lines as a man rather than a woman.

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Posted in My, How This Business Has Changed

I Never Thought I’d See You Again is available for preorder

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INeverThoughtMy Newest Story is Soon to Be Released!

I am very excited to announce that a new short story of mine, “Solomon’s Paradox” is about to see the world in the newest anthology from Novelists Inc. I Never Thought I’d See You Again.

Here’s the blurb:

I never thought I’d see you again.

What comes to your mind when you see that phrase? A reunion with a former lover? A shocking encounter with a dark face from your past? A dearly held memory come to life . . . or one you’ve tried desperately to purge from your mind?

In this extraordinary collection of original fiction, sixteen great storytellers spin the tales that filled their imaginations when considering that sentence:

New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan brings us the reunion of father and daughter under deadly circumstances.
USA Today bestselling author Janet Tronstad weaves a tale of lost love on a Christmas Eve during the Great Depression.
New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Day traverses realities to pull together generations.
USA Today bestselling author Kathryn Shay returns to her Hidden Cove series to tell of a father returning to his son’s life . . . and turning that life upside down.

Romance, suspense, and magic, secrets unearthed, mysteries revealed, and promises finally kept – all of this and much, much more comes to you in this unforgettable anthology that is every bit as evocative as the title that served as its inspiration.

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Posted in About a Book, Pardon My Gossip

Audiobooks — The New Frontier for Indie Authors?

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A good book makes an hour on the treadmill seem too short.

A good book makes an hour on the treadmill seem too short.

Is Listening Really Reading?

I have a confession to make: I have become an audiobook junkie.

Back in the day, when an audiobook cost $80 dollars and came with a tray of cassette tapes 20 strong, I had to be highly motivated to check one out of the library. Even when my family purchased the last Harry Potter on CD for a long car trip, it was not a lightly made purchase.

But then along came .mp3, digital media, and now I love listening to books when I’m in the car, out walking, or running on the track at the Y.

In the car, I listen to Book Radio on Satellite radio when I can (bits and pieces, but I love it anyway). On our summer trip across the country, my husband and I must have listened to ten books in various genres. Some good, some not so good. All better than most of the choices on FM radio.

I hadn’t considered turning my books into audiobooks, though. It seemed like too much work. Until Audible (an Amazon company) performed its magic and created ACX — a platform that allows authors and narrators to team up to produce and sell audiobooks.

Still, I hesitated. Were my books really good candidates for audiobooks? I dithered. Recently, I decided to stop listening to other authors talk about turning their books into audiobooks and dive into the audiobook world myself.

So far, I have one book produced and expected to be on sale in a few weeks (The Unintended Bride) and six more in various stages of production. I’ve learned a lot — especially that, yes, my books are good candidates for audiobooks.

I should know. I have to listen to each one twice. The first time I go through while reading the text, to catch any errors or omissions. The second time, to make sure any changes have made made, and no new errors crept in (producers are miracle workers, they can edit in one word change and make it sound seamless, I am more in awe of voice talent and producer editing than ever before).

I only wish I could do the same for my Salem Witch books (but I can’t, they’re controlled by Simon & Schuster).

Having conquered audiobook production (finding the right narrator, proofing, listening), I wonder what frontier is next for me. A game tie-in? An app? The sky’s the limit.

I feel lucky to have had the ACX opportunity, and I once again marvel at the powerful tools the digital evolution has put in my hands.

May I always wield them wisely.

And a question for readers everywhere — do you consider listening to audiobooks to be reading? What’s your favorite genre to listen to?

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Posted in Crazy or Genius?, My, How This Business Has Changed, My, How This Business Has Not Changed

Why It Is a Great Time To Be An Author — Reason #1: Amazon’s Dan Slater

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I learned a lot at the recent Novelists Inc. conference. But one outstanding thing I learned was that Dan Slater of Amazon is a very smart man.

picture of Dan Slater from Amazon

I borrowed this picture from his Linked In page because it perfectly captures the face he showed us at the NINC conference — that of a man who loves what he does.

Faced with a room full of published (traditional, indie, and self) authors eager to discover the secrets behind reaching readers (aka discoverability), he dished facts, provided graphs, listened to suggestions, and explained Amazon’s policies.

And, like a cherry on top of an unusually nutritious sunday, he topped his fact-filled discussion with a friendly smile. Agents and editors may have been surprised to hear how successful so many NINC novelists have become in the indie sphere, but it was quite obvious that Dan already knew (having crunched that data and provided it to so many hungry authors over the course of several days).

We didn’t like all of the answers he gave us (we want that Pre-Order button! … not to mention the lovely red slash through our price tag when we run a sale). But we understood why, because he took the time to show us.

He also took the time to listen to us. Amazingly, this was in stark contrast to some of the other industry guests we had invited in to begin the discussion about the new partnership opportunities that are opening for all of us (foreign markets, audiobooks, print only rights, etc.).

Once again, it was obvious that Amazon’s bottom line is customer satisfaction. For many of us, that focus (currently) dovetails with our desire to give our readers the best storytelling experience possible (and to use data to change course if we don’t get it right the first time…just like Amazon).

I expect next year’s conference (theme: The Author’s World) will see many more industry guests with Dan’s friendly manner, willingness to not only answer but also ask questions, and — most importantly — a willingness to consider brainstorming new kinds of partnerships.

I can’t wait!

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Posted in My, How This Business Has Changed, My, How This Business Has Not Changed
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