Monday, July 29, 2013

Story Cartel Campaign for POWER PLAY

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

I recently read a post by K.M. Weiland on her experiment with Story Cartel. If you aren't familiar with Story Cartel, it is a site where authors offer free books. In exchanged, readers are encouraged to leave reviews (because what better way to support an author you like than by giving them a boost through "word of mouth," which is really what reviews are). To sweeten the pot, authors run a little giveaway for those who leave reviews.

Now, this may sound bad. "But aren't you buying reviews?" Not really. First, giving free copies of a book in exchange for a review is an old, well-established tradition. Do you think The New York Times buys all of those books it reviews? No. Publishing houses send out review copies (advance reader copies, or ARCs) to major book reviewers. In return, the publication runs a review. Naturally, publishers hope that the reviews are favorable. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't.

What Story Cartel appears to be doing (at least to my eyes), is opening this field up to small press/indie authors and ordinary readers. Because we all don't work for The New York Times, but if you're a reader, you are certainly capable of giving a review. And don't we all have opinions? Of course we do.

So for the next twenty (20) days, Power Play: Hero's Sword Vol. 1 will be available to download, for free, from Story Cartel by using this link. If you've already purchased the book, thank you. You can help by sending a friend or family member the link and with a recommendation. If you've been on the fence about trying the Hero's Sword series, here's your opportunity to try it, risk free (the only thing you are risking is your time).

You are, of course, under no obligation to leave a review - good or bad. And I really do want your honest review.

Numerous polls and surveys show that the vast majority of the book-buying public discovers books through "word of mouth." In other words, they read a review or get a recommendation from a friend/family member. So if you're a regular reader of this blog, I humbly ask for your assistance. Go grab a copy of Power Play and leave a review. And if middle-grade fantasy isn't your thing, get a copy for a child (or child of a friend) and get them to write a review. Their opinions count too, you know.

And, as added incentive, three (3) lucky reviewers will win a $10 Amazon gift card (winner selected at random by Story Cartel).

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Value of an Editor

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Apologies for the late posting today. I was going to write about JK Rowling, but something has trumped that post.

Some writers don't like editors. They think that, somehow, letting an editor in messes with the "purity" of their story, as if the editor's goal is to rip everything to shreds and rewrite it to fit their (the editor's) own vision of the story. Or if they want an "edit," they only want a copy edit. Go find all the typos and leave the rest alone, lest you mar my beautiful creation.

I have a word for this: baloney.

I've been blessed to work with three wonderful editors for various projects. I'm working with a fourth for Wedding Bells: Hero's Sword Vol. 3. I will admit to feeling a little nervous when the new editor was introduced. Would he like the story?

Being a professional, he went back and read the first two books. I'm happy to report he liked them, and he liked Wedding Bells, saying it might be his favorite of the three. Yay!

However, that doesn't mean the manuscript didn't come back with suggestions and changes: everything from grammar corrections to suggestions on word choices. Plenty of red marks, that's for sure.

And you know what? All of it resulted in a better, tighter story. I did a lot of nodding as I read his comments. he didn't change my story - he made it better.

I had a similar experience with my first Laurel Highlands story. I submitted it and it got rejected a couple times. I worked with an editor. I incorporated her suggestions/changes. And I sold the story.

That's what a good editor does. It's not about changing or remaking the story. It's about elevating it. Because face it, authors; after staring at your manuscript for days/weeks/months/years, you can't see the weak spots any more. You need fresh eyes to come in a say, "You've used 'hurry' three times in three successive paragraphs; pick something else," or "Strengthen the scene with a little more/less description."

A good editor is worth his/her weight in gold. Yeah, you might have to work with a couple different ones (if you are self-publishing), but when you find one, hold on tight. Your editor is not your opposition, she's your partner. Together, you'll work together to make a great book for your reader.

And isn't that really what it's all about?

Image courtesy of Nic McPhee, used under Creative Commons

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

STORM CLOUDS Blog Tour Winner

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Yes, the blog tour is over. Thanks so much to all of the hosts and those of you who followed along. Now it's time for the big winner announcement - the winner of the Kindle Paperwhite or Nook Simple Touch. Drum roll please.....

Congratulations Mary Preston! You've won! Expect an email from me to claim your prize.

Once again, thanks to everybody for following the tour. I hope it sparked your interest in the world of Hero's Sword. Books 1 and 2, Power Play and Storm Clouds are available now from all major e-tailers. Publication details for book 3, Wedding Bells, will be released as I know them.

Of course, if you want to get information about Jaycee, Stu, and the rest of my writing delivered right to your inbox, sign up for my monthly newsletter (no spam, I promise).

See you in Mallory!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Author Interview: Kaye George

by Mary Sutton / mary_sutton73

Today, I'm so pleased to welcome Kaye George, author of Eine Kleine Murder to the blog.

Take it away, Kaye!

1. If I invited your main character for dinner, what would we probably talk about?

I’ve had two releases in three months, so I’ll have to pick one. I’ll choose the one who speaks English, as it would be hard to converse with my Neanderthal characters.

Cressa Carraway, as a graduate student, would be happy to accept dinner. She rarely has money to eat out. She’s probably begin by complimenting all the dishes--and she’d be sincere. Since her grandmother died (her parents passed away years ago), she doesn’t get home cooking. If you let her, she’d love to tell you about what she’s writing. It might be a piano concerto or a chamber music piece, maybe even a symphony.

2. Do you find yourself coming back to certain themes? Why or why not, and what are they?

I’ve been told by more than one person that I’m very hard on men in my short stories. I didn’t see this theme until it was pointed out, but they’re right, I am! I don’t see this happening as much in my novels, but, honestly, I don’t know what my themes are. Maybe family? Mitch Albom tells about a reader complimenting him on his books about fathers. He was puzzled, since he hadn’t, as far as he knew, written one on that theme. The last book he wrote, however, had been written as his father was dying. He pondered this and decided that he had written that book about fathers. He thought it was about baseball.

3. What's the one thing you must have when you write?

Quiet. I know many writers like music setting the mood for them, but I can’t listen to music and write at the same time. Maybe that’s because I’m a musician and I participate when I hear music. I do to great lengths to get quiet. Barking dogs are my idea of hell on earth. One place we lived, a nearby rat terrier would bark for an hour at a time. Appeals to the neighbor didn’t help for more than a day. Desperate, I bought a dog-training device called Super Bark Free. I figured that, if people can’t train their dogs, I’ll do it for them. Hey, this thing works!

4. What three people, living or dead, would you most like to talk to and why?

First, I’d like to interview a major, successful female conductor, maybe Marin Alsop or Kate Tamarkin. There aren’t many to choose from, there are so few even today. I’d gather material for future Cressa Carraway books. She intends to be a major conductor and it’s going to be hard for her. I’d like to know exactly what’s involved and how she should best go about it.

Second, I’d like to talk to one of my own great-great-grand parents, the ones who came west in covered wagons. What a time they must have had! I’d like to hear their stories. There’s an ancestor buried in Natoma, Kansas, who wrote a book, my grandmother told me, but there are no traces of it. If I could learn more about her, I’d love that, too.

My mother has been gone for over 10 years, but I still want to talk to her several times a month. That might be true for everyone who had a good Mom. She wanted to write books and I’d like to tell her I’ve gotten it done.

5. If your book was made into a movie, who would write the soundtrack?

Why, I would, of course! I’ve always wanted to write movie soundtracks. It would be awesome.

6. What's up next for you?

I’m currently working on a cozy for Berkley Prime Crime. I’m thrilled to have a three-book contract with them for a series set in Minneapolis called the Fat Cat series. It features Quincy, a pudgy, adorable, clever cat who, always hungry on his diet, is good at getting out and finding things--clues, bodies, things like that. I’ll be writing that series as Janet Cantrell.

Kaye George is a short story writer and novelist who has been nominated for Agatha awards twice. She is the author of four mystery series: the Imogene Duckworthy humorous Texas series, the Cressa Carraway musical mystery series, the FAT CAT cozy series, and The People of the Wind Neanderthal series.

Her short stories can be found in her collection, A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, as well as in several anthologies, various online and print magazines. She reviews for "Suspense Magazine", writes for several newsletters and blogs, and gives workshops on short story writing and promotion. Kaye lives in Knoxville, TN.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Goals for 2013 - at halftime

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

It's hard to believe, but 2013 is half over. The weather is warm, the kids are out of school, and it's time for me to review how far I've come with my goals for this year.

As with any year-long plan, there have been some adjustments, but I think that's a good thing, right? Shows that I'm flexible and willing to change to meet new priorities. So, here's where I stand.

Submit my second Laurel Highlands story.

This is done. I sent it off earlier in June. Now it's just waiting to hear whether Mysterical-e will accept it (they accepted the first, so I'm hopeful).

Complete and submit my Black Orchid Novella Award contest entry.

This is done. There was some nail-biting ("Is it good enough?"), but I finally stuck it in the mail. The confirmation postcard is hanging on my fridge. Now to wait until December when the results are announced.

Read at least one craft book per month.

I don't know if I've done one per month. Well, that's a lie. I do know, and I haven't done one per month. But I've continued to read and I'm in the middle of a class on short fiction. So I'm making good progress. Right now I'm still in Plot and Structure; I think Donald Maass' Writing 21st Century Fiction will be next.

Complete the SFD of Hero's Sword 4 by May 31 and first revisions by July 31.

Because of the other commitments, this one had to be reset. Target for completion of the SFD is now July 31 (I am doing Camp Nanowrimo to help make that reality). And since I let things sit for a while post-completion, I probably won't get to first revisions until late August/early September.

Complete and submit two more Laurel Highlands stories by end of summer.

I've completed the SFD of a third story. But it won't be ready for submission by end of summer, and I won't have another one. So I'm going to have to move this to end of year.

Plan an anthology release of the Laurel Highlands Mysteries by the end of 2013

Another one I'm going to have to reset. This won't get done until Q1 of 2014 at the earliest now, so I'm going to put it on the back-burner for the time being.

And because I forgot yet another commitment...

Finish edits on my Sisters in Crime anthology story by June 24

I hit this one. I'm kind of proud, too. When I submitted the story I was only 6 words under the upper word limit. After receiving revisions from the first round of edits, I needed to shore up the ending, and I went almost 200 words over. But I managed to get it all back under count (by the original 6 words) all by my lonesome. But since I hadn't planned on the work (silly me), that kind of messed with the schedule. But it's all good.

So there I am. 2013 half over and I'm looking pretty good. Stay tuned for another update at the end of September!