My Blog
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Libby's Blog

Whenever I go to the California Writers Club meeting, as I did last Saturday, I come home filled with creative energy. Just being around other writers and hearing them talk about writing is motivating.

I always learn something new. The main speaker, Sam Nichols, talked about the writing process in regard to style and voice. He also gave me the words to describe my kind of writing. He called it “human relationship stories.” 

Granted that my first book, Desert Soliloquy, fits into the mystery genre, because there is a mystery that must be solved, but it’s the human relationships between the characters that interest me. I can say the same about Promises to Keep. It’s a ghost story, but it’s the relationship between the protagonist and the ghost that I find fascinating. On the other hand, my next novel, Lydia, fits perfectly into that description. I’ve often told people I write “women’s fiction,” but then everyone assumes I’m talking about the Harlequin-type novels or even chick lit. And, my novels are neither. So I was happy to hear a term that accurately described what I write—human relationship stories.

It’s important that a writer knows his or her readers. And that the writing is hopefully critiqued by those kinds of readers. That’s not always possible, of course, if a critique group is diverse. At our group, I always tell members to critique within the genre. I don’t expect most vampires in a manuscript to be as thoughtful as the characters in my books. Those stories are also faster-paced with more action (and a considerable amount of blood). I personally know authors, who write great stories in that genre.

Sometimes writers try and write stories that are presently trending, in order to sell books. That usually doesn’t work, as, by the time the novel is out, the trend is often over, and it’s seldom a writer’s best work. (You definitely don’t want me writing about vampires or werewolves.)

I’ll try to remember to note in my blog the day of the California Writers Club meeting in September, in case some of you live in the area and would like to visit. Trust me, you will find it interesting—and motivating.

 

Link to Promises to Keep and Desert Soliloquy on Amazon:  http://ow.ly/sd9vJ

If you would like to read the articles on my website, go to http://www.libbygrandy.com.

 

 


Posted by libbygrandy at 1:28 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 27 August 2014 1:33 PM EDT
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Libby's Blog

I’ve had a number of positive things happen the past few weeks, which I’ve blogged about. Another one this week was reconnecting with someone that I hadn’t talked to since I moved to California from Virginia—almost thirty-five years ago. I received a message on Facebook from her.

This is something I love about social media. I have reconnected with many people through Facebook and LinkedIn. We can now keep up with one another in a way that wasn’t possible before. 

In the message I received, this lovely person, who still lives in Virginia, said that she had read Book One of The Haverford Trilogy, and was looking forward to Book Two. I was surprised and delighted that she even knew about my books. She also asserted that she planned to read Desert Soliloquy as soon her gardening slowed down. The reference brought back so many memories of our garden in Virginia in August. It’s around the time you wonder what in the world you were thinking when you planted all those vegetables you now have to pick, eat and can. Let alone all the weeds that need to be pulled.

I have my protagonist, Lydia, in Book Two of The Haverford Trilogy, plant a small garden (with the help of her farmer friends), even though she’s eighty years old. Probably because I would do the same if I still lived in the country. There’s nothing quite like sitting on a mound of fresh dirt, with the sun on your face, after a long, cold winter.

Two weeks ago I blogged about the gifts of writing. One of those gifts is bringing special people and memories back into your life.

I love that.

 

Link to Promises to Keep and Desert Soliloquy on Amazon:  http://ow.ly/sd9vJ

If you would like to read the articles on my website, go to http://www.libbygrandy.com.

 

 


Posted by libbygrandy at 12:25 PM EDT
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Libby's Blog

I’m editing Lydia, Book Two of The Haverford Trilogy, for publication this fall. It’s always interesting to work on something you’ve written a while ago. I’ve learned a lot in the last few years and am still learning the craft of writing.

Some of the technical things I had to check and sometimes correct were:

  • Editors want tags to simply be: He said, she said, they said, or no tag. No more searching for the perfect word to describe emotion in dialogue.  If someone says, “Look out!” there’s no need to say: he shouted. I still use tags like, “she whispered,” or “muttered.
  • Along the same line: too many adverbs are frowned on by editors these days. I mean they really are. As I checked the adverbs in Lydia, I realized they really weren’t needed. Oops. I realized they weren’t needed.
  • There should be spaces between the dots of an ellipsis . . . like this. And like: “I love you, but . . . .’’
  • The ellipsis at the end of a sentence must be followed by a period (like the previous sentence).
  • Dashes should be elongated like this—not like this - - . In Microsoft Word, you type two dashes (no spaces) and the next word or letter and then one space. Word converts it for you. 
  • The first sentence of every chapter and after a hiatus or spaces denoting time, place or point of view should be flush left.
  • If you self-publish, use only three spaces for indentations. It looks more like what traditional publishers use.
  • Chapter headings should be 1/3 down the page. Size and fonts are personal preferences, although editors prefer Times New Roman and 12 point for manuscripts. I make my headings 14 and italics, but that’s just me.
  • There should only be one space between sentences. I was able to use Find and Replace in Microsoft Word by hitting the space bar twice in Find and once in Replace. What a blessing! Can you imagine how many spaces were deleted? Now I only hit one space as I’m typing. Who said old dogs can’t learn new . . . wait, I don’t think I like that analogy.

If you’ve published and haven’t done any of the above, don’t worry about it. When you have a great story, readers won’t notice. Even other writers won’t care if they are caught up in the storyline. At least I know I don’t. I also don’t worry about such things as the fact that editors don’t like prologues and epilogues.  I have a prologue consisting of a few sentences in Desert Soliloquy and an epilogue in Lydia, as that works for me.  

After all is said and done, it’s the writer’s call.

I’m enjoying editing Lydia. The protagonist is one of my favorite characters, probably because she is a compilation of all the wonderful women in my life who were my role models, mentors and polestars. 

I should be ready for a few people to read the final draft of Lydia by the end of the month. If they finish by the end of September, I hope to publish the book before the holidays. Unless, of course, life takes over, which it often tends to do.

Timing is important. I’ve learned to relax and allow things to work out in their own time, which is usually better than my goal-oriented time.

Does this mean I don’t know everything there is to know about writing and life? Surely not. But maybe . . . . (Notice that I placed a period at the end of the ellipsis.)

Okay, back to editing Lydia.

 

If you would like to read the articles on my website, go to http://www.libbygrandy.com.

Link to Promises to Keep and Desert Soliloquy on Amazon:  http://ow.ly/sd9vJ

 

 

 


Posted by libbygrandy at 2:19 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 13 August 2014 2:27 PM EDT
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Libby's Blog

Two interesting things happened this past week: I began reading a book published by a very special writer and an article regarding my books appeared in the local newspaper of my hometown, Woodstock, Virginia.

It is so satisfying to read good stories by an excellent writer, who also happens to be a childhood friend. I’m reading Mr. Lazarus and Other Stories, by Paul Dellinger http://ow.ly/zSnMd . Paul is a retired journalist and newspaperman, who has written some of the best science fiction I’ve ever read.

Paul and I grew up in an era without TV or the Internet. (No, it wasn’t the stone age.) We lived in the country and were the only two little kids out there. But were we bored? No way! We had our imaginations, especially Paul, and we had a grand time. We both grew up to be writers.

When I finish Paul’s book, I will write a review on Amazon. (He has written reviews for me.) I suspect you won’t be surprised to find it glowing. And the absolute truth. Another one of my eccentricities is that I cannot lie, but we’ll talk about that another day.

The newspaper article’s headline read: Woodstock Native Publishes Two Books. The interesting thing is that I didn’t ask them to run the article. It just appeared, to my complete surprise. I had sent my books to the Woodstock Library and the Shenandoah County Library. The editor of the newspaper is on the board of the county library, and he copied the covers of my books and wrote a wonderful article.

I believe that this is really what writing is all about. Sharing our stories with one another, experiencing camaraderie with other writers (and readers) and fulfilling our creative dreams. Of course, I’ll accept royalties, but nothing has appeared in my bank account that has given me more satisfaction than experiencing the past week’s events.

 

Link to Promises to Keep and Desert Soliloquy on Amazon:  http://ow.ly/sd9vJ

If you would like to read the articles on my website, go to http://www.libbygrandy.com.

 

 

 


Posted by libbygrandy at 5:57 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 6 August 2014 6:01 PM EDT
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Libby's Blog

In my last two blogs, I wrote about writers’ ambivalence regarding participating in giveaways and book fairs. There is another area of uncertainty and some confusion for writers—Twitter.

For many, tweeting is a way of life. They enjoy it. Others successfully use it as a marketing tool. The rest of us, well, we sort of muddle through. The California Writers Club is hosting a workshop this fall and may offer a session on how to use Twitter. I can’t wait.

You connect with others on Twitter by “following” them. Hopefully, they will also follow you. That means when you tweet in no more than 140 characters, your “followers” will see it. They can reply, retweet or favorite it, if they so desire. Those options show up under your tweet, and all they have to do is click on the word. Followers on Twitter are similar to Friends on Facebook.

If you are marketing a book, you hope they will retweet the information, because they have followers that you don’t. If their followers retweet, well . . . you get the picture.

I’ve never understood what it meant to “favorite” a tweet. I receive that word fairly often on Twitter. Recently, a friend explained that it was like, “atta girl,” that it’s similar to “liking” something on Facebook.

One area that I haven’t mastered is #hash tags. If you want people other than your followers to read your tweet, you can use a hash tag and hopefully reach a group of people who may be interested in what you are tweeting. At the moment, I’m trying to think of words that will attract women fiction readers, as that is basically what The Haverford Trilogy is. The hash tag #womenfiction is too broad. I can use #Romance, but that is rather misleading, as I don’t write Romance as in Harlequin books. I do write about relationships, romantic or otherwise, and how people grow and evolve. Promises to Keep is a ghost story, but my kind of reader is more interested in the protagonist’s marriage and Sarah, the ghost, and her lost love, than the fact that a haunting is occurring.

Even though Desert Soliloquy is a mystery and action oriented, it falls into the women’s fiction category, to a degree. The protagonist is a woman, and there are romantic relationships and people learning and growing throughout the storyline.

If any of you can think of words that I can use as hash tags for women’s fiction, let me know. My handle is @LibbyGrandy. (I always feel so cool when I use the word  “handle.”)

This is what I understand about Twitter, at the moment. I’ll let you all know more as I learn more.

 

 Link to Promises to Keep and Desert Soliloquy on Amazon:  http://ow.ly/sd9vJ

If you would like to read the articles on my website, go to http://www.libbygrandy.com.

 

 

 


Posted by libbygrandy at 1:47 PM EDT
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Libby's Blog

Over the past weekend, I attended a book fair at Perris, California, with my writer friend, S. Kay Murphy. Kay has three books available on Amazon: Tainted Legacy, Lessons I Learned from the Dogs Who Saved Me, and Ghost Grandma. http://ow.ly/zn7Ya  

In my blog last week I talked about the ambivalence of writers to give away their books. This week I want to talk about book fairs and some writers’ reluctance to participate in them. They are unsure of their marketing value. They may have a point, but aside from the business aspect of such events, there is the fun factor. Getting to know other authors and sharing writing stories is fun. It’s like a party without superficial chitchat. Writers are interesting.

In regard to marketing, here’s the reality of the publishing world. Most authors (those who are not yet famous) sell less than ten copies of their books at a book signing. Don’t ask me where I read this, just trust me that it was from a legitimate source (aka I don’t remember). More books are sold when there is a presentation, and/or after an author establishes a fan base.

At book fairs, sales can be even less. There is a logical reason for this statistic. We are talking about print copies that sell in the range of $10-$20. However, it doesn’t mean that sales are not going to be forthcoming from the event. It just means that they may be ebook sales. That is why authors should always give out business cards and paperwork describing their book. I usually have one sheet with a brief synopsis and reviews or blurbs on it. Someone who shows interest in either Desert Soliloquy or Promises to Keep can go home, look them up on Amazon and buy the book for only $5.75. Since my royalty for ebooks is 70%, (35% for print) it doesn’t affect the bottom line that much. I even encourage people to do that but some want a signed print copy. A week or so later, an author should check to see if any books were bought after the event. If selling books is the primary goal, and not many were sold, then the author may not want to participate in future book fairs. If having a good time is the first priority….

There’s one more reason for attending book fairs—branding your name. Those hosting such events are now inviting me to participate. Because of other fairs, they know my name. Trust me, this is a good thing. I’ll address the reason for that in future blogs.

In case I haven’t mentioned my name often enough, it’s—just kidding.

 

Link to Promises to Keep and Desert Soliloquy on Amazon:  http://ow.ly/sd9vJ

If you would like to read the articles on my website, go to http://www.libbygrandy.com.

 

 


Posted by libbygrandy at 12:39 PM EDT
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Libby's Blog

Writers are often ambivalent about giving away their books. One giveaway that only involves one or two books but is a good marketing tool is on Goodreads. I recently set up a contest for one week to give away two copies of Promises to Keep. Hopefully they will write a review but, regardless, it is good marketing as 571 people entered the contest. That means they have checked out Promises to Keep and may want to read it.

There was another wonderful thing that happened. A woman wrote to me the day after the contest and said she knew she hadn’t won but asked if I would be willing to send her a copy. She would write a review on both Goodreads and Amazon. Authors do this all the time, so that was no problem What pleased me is that she said her husband was on veterans disability and that after they read it, they would donate it to the Memphis Veterans Hospital. I loved that idea and offered to also send her Desert Soliloquy.

We corresponded back and forth, and I told her that I, too, was from the South—Virginia. I didn’t name the town, but when she wrote back, she said that she loved Virginia, that her husband’s family still lived outside Winchester. That is about 30 miles north of my hometown of Woodstock, Virginia.

How cool is that? I love how small the world has become.

Writing and publishing is so much more than just selling books. There is the satisfying creative side, and, occasionally, this kind of serendipitous happening.

Writers should give Goodreads giveaways a try. For me, it was a win-win situation.

 

Link to Promises to Keep and Desert Soliloquy on Amazon:  http://ow.ly/sd9vJ

If you would like to read the articles on my website, go to http://www.libbygrandy.com.

 

 

  


Posted by libbygrandy at 1:08 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 16 July 2014 1:10 PM EDT
Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Every Fourth of July we see the same strangers. Although I guess if we see them every year, they can’t be strangers. It’s just that I always forget their names, and, since they remember our names, I can’t bring myself to ask . . . well, you know.

To explain all this, I have to tell you where we live in Claremont, California. It is right across the street from the Pomona College track—the perfect place to set off the town’s annual fireworks. Consequently, people sit in front of our house on the street curb. And on our lawn if there is room. Others pay to go into the track area. So we have quite a crowd in our neighborhood on the Fourth.

The fireworks are spectacular, although most years I’ve watched through the window, huddled with our animals. Our last dog died in the spring of 2013, so I did see them outside last year. However, we now have our new dog, Missy, and she and I hid in the back bedroom this year. I knew the noise would frighten her. It scares me sometimes, and I know what it is.

We need to protect our dogs and little kids on the Fourth. I remember when our Jesse was four years old, we explained that even though the fireworks seemed to be directly over our heads, they wouldn’t fall on us. Still concerned, Jesse said, “Mamie, will you throw water on me if they do?” I promised that I would. Since his career goal is to be a firefighter one day, I guess he was covering all his bases.

The Fourth of July is a celebration of our country but also of family. It always reminds me of happy times years ago when we lived in Virginia.

Except no strangers sat in our front yard.

 

 Link to Promises to Keep and Desert Soliloquy on Amazon:  http://ow.ly/sd9vJ

If you would like to read the articles on my website, go to http://www.libbygrandy.com.

 

 

 

 


Posted by libbygrandy at 11:59 AM EDT
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
Libby's Blog

The speaker at our California Writers Club on Saturday was Tim Chizmar. Tim was in our critique group years ago before he moved to Hollywood and successfully took on that scary world. 

Tim encouraged writers to step out of the box and stop depending on agents and publishing companies to do the job of marketing. He told us to socialize and network. Tell people about our books. That is how he recently got a three-book contract from a publishing company. The publisher heard him talk about his story ideas (he’s a horror writer) at a social gathering and gave him her business card. She wanted to see his work. They connected and the first book will be out in a few months.

You have to understand, of course, that Tim is a stand-up comedian, who produces his own shows in Hollywood. Consequently, he is no shrinking violet. He’s friendly and open, tells great stories and is cute as a button (definition of that last phrase: charming and attractive). That definitely works in his favor as he markets his work and his talents.

I don’t know about other writers, but I find marketing to be very uncomfortable. I just posted on Twitter about the second book in my trilogy becoming available soon and suggested reading the first book, Promises to Keep before reading the second. I started to type and suddenly wondered, “didn’t I just tweet something?” Questioning whether or not I should tweet again. Yet every marketing expert says you’re supposed to be tweeting every day about your books.

I don’t know if it’s my southern upbringing (you must never call attention to yourself and certainly never brag about anything), or if it’s just normal for writers to dislike marketing their work. Whatever it is, we are going to have to “get over it,” if we want to sell books.

So, here’s the first step in my attempt to do so. For my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Goodreads fans, I want you to know that I’ve written four books. My mystery, Desert Soliloquy was published in 2012, my ghost story, Promises to Keep, came out in January 2014, Lydia, the second book of the trilogy hopefully will be available in the fall of 2014, and the third book of the trilogy, True Abundance, in 2015. I’m now working on a new book. The working title is The End is the Beginning. I won’t publish that until after the trilogy, as two of the characters will visit my new character on the east coast a few years after the storyline in the third book.

Got all that? Even I’m having a little trouble keeping it clear in my mind.

Anyway, I talked about my books and lightning didn’t strike me dead. I didn’t scream, “Buy my books!” I just provided information for anyone who might be interested. (Of course, if you want to…just kidding.)

So, thank you, Tim. You got through to me.

 

Link to Promises to Keep and Desert Soliloquy on Amazon:  http://ow.ly/sd9vJ

If you would like to read the articles on my website, go to http://www.libbygrandy.com.

 

  


Posted by libbygrandy at 11:22 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 2 July 2014 5:44 PM EDT
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
Libby's Blog

The Prison Library Project sponsored by the California Writers Club on June 21st was a great success. Many books were donated, and everyone seemed to enjoy hearing members of CWC read from their novels or manuscripts. I enjoyed reading passages from Desert Soliloquy and Promises to Keep, as well as talking to readers about the books afterwards.

Readers (I can’t quite bring myself to call them my fans yet) are so much fun to talk to. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and sometimes it just takes being in a creative environment to take that leap of faith and put words on paper. That happened at the mystery panel the week before. A reader bought a copy of Desert Soliloquy and talked for a while about writing and how she had decided during the evening’s discussion that she was going to finally try writing a children’s book. She’s a teacher at a local elementary school, and her readers would be 6th and 7th graders. I sincerely hope she follows through on those feelings.

Have any of you readers had the same feeling? If so, rise above your doubts about being able to write a good book. No one knows how a book is going to turn out. Just don’t make a judgment after a first draft. Editing and rewriting are essential parts of the process. I have a few first drafts out there with friends from years ago. They are keeping them for sentimental reasons, but I pray they never see the light of day. I’ve learned so much over time about the craft of writing, mainly by just doing it and then taking it to my critique group.  

I do recommend that you don’t write for the market. In other words, if you don’t like to read books about vampires, don’t write one because you think you will become rich. Even if you are able to write a good story, by the time it’s published, the trend will probably be over. And I honestly don’t believe you can write a good story if you aren’t passionate about the subject. I know I can’t.

The world of literature is a wonderful place to visit. I’d live there full time, if I could.

However, (sigh) I’ve got to stop now and go cook dinner. 

 

Link to Promises to Keep and Desert Soliloquy on Amazon:  http://ow.ly/sd9vJ

If you would like to read the articles on my website, go to http://www.libbygrandy.com.

  


Posted by libbygrandy at 11:18 AM EDT

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