Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Saturday, December 29, 2012

DEADLY STAR is in galley form

I just received the pdf copy of the galley for DEADLY STAR. I can use that to invite people to read the story in unedited draft form then ask them to rate it on Amazon when the cover is a few weeks. Crimson Romance also sent me a format sheet to use for press releases. 2013 is starting off as an exciting year—in more ways than one.

All of this good news is moderated by a root canal "fix" that failed. I'm now looking at oral surgery sometime in January or early February, bone grafting, then several months of more work and healing after that. That will probably throw a kink in some public appearances to promote the book, but I am absolutely sure it won't keep me from marketing my story in some way or another.

Back to the good news: I think readers will be surprised to find that DEADLY STAR is an action/adventure story turned suspense romance that incorporates international politics, nanosatellites (real things), assassins, frankenfood fears, and more.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same.



Monday, December 24, 2012

Tis the season of hope

I pray your homes be warmed with love and your hearts filled with joy at this wonderful time of year.

Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine.


Friday, December 21, 2012

On to the next round

cj sez:  I did it! Stayed up until the wee hours of the morning and returned the edited manuscript of DEADLY STAR to the publisher. Got an e-mail back about 9 (seven hours later) saying, "I'll let you know if our second reader has any questions."

Great idea, I think, having a second reader, but sigh and double sigh as I learn the ropes of publishing. At least anything else coming down the Pike will be after Christmas. Now I can finish shopping, wrapping, baking, and cleaning before I have company on Christmas Eve.

Thanks to all those nice folks who sent me encouraging notes. That is very much appreciated.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tis the season . . .

cj sez: I'm supposed to be working on the DEADLY STAR manuscript edits, but I've been at it for about ten hours and needed to take a break. So here I am talking with you.

To my mind, this is the season to chow down from December 6 (Lucia Day in Sweden) to January 6 (Three Kings Day). A friend recently forwarded me an e-chain-mail with some advice on how to eat during the holidaze, and I am relieved to learn that I am doing exactly the right thing. I do have to wonder about the mind that thought these up.

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's cannot find it at any other time of the year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip. It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. DO NOT have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food...for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a ten-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, pumpkin, mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read these tips; start over, but hurry. January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand and wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming, "WOO HOO what a ride!"

You’all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Short Story published

One of my short stories, "A Fool's Gold," is now published in the TRIBUTARIES 2012 anthology.  The release and book signing event happened on December 10. A lot of people showed up to support their local authors (the anthology is "a collection of literary artists from the Mobile Bay area") and the editor sold every book he brought and could have sold more. THAT was exciting. Book signings aren't always so successful, but Mobile is one of those cities that loves the literary arts.

"A Fool's Gold" weaves a fictional story around a historical event and the $35,000 in gold that Sam Bass stole in a train robbery. He hid the gold, and at the time a Texas Ranger shot the outlaw off his horse in the streets of Round Rock, Texas, it had not been found. "A Fool's Gold" is about treasure hunters and cowboys seeking their fortune, and the love story of two immigrants looking to build a better life in America.  Look for it on Amazon: and search for TRIBUTARIES 2012 under books.

Now I have to get back to work on manuscript edits for DEADLY STAR. I have a little over a week to get them done and return everything to the publisher. So I'll see you then.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

This is for Tracy

Today, I got my countersigned contract from Crimson Romance for DEADLY STAR. I think Tracy would have been soooo excited. I can just hear her scream whoo hoo! She worked with me on this story for a few years ( ! ), and her editing prowess is part of what made the manuscript what it is. Thank you, Tracy. I miss you.

I also had a new photo taken today…actually a whole bunch of photos. Unfortunately, they all looked like me instead of Sophia Loren, but I think there's one that will work for the book.

Okay, off to work on editing another work in process.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


Friday, November 30, 2012

The Contract Process

cz sez my contract deal with Crimson Roman continues to be a smooth process. Jennifer, the CR editor I work with, has been very responsive to my every eMail. The contract has yet to be countersigned, however, so I continue to hold the idea that everything is still written in pencil (subject to be erased). Sigh.

CR sent me a really neat author packet, chock full of things I can do to help the marketing, things they will be doing (and they will do some marketing), and what I can expect when. One of the things that kind of surprised me was a page that invited me to give them my idea of what the cover might look like. Granted, they have final say-so, but that they asked was kind of special I thought.  I had always heard that authors have no input on cover art. I'm getting anxious to see what they come up with, and you will be some of the first people to see it.

They also asked for my photo jpeg. I guess I could use the one I have here on Lyrical Pens, but I think I'll try for an updated version. That will be a BIG deal because I don't, as my photographer says, have enough "planes/angles" in my face to be interesting. Ha. (Little does he know how interesting I can be when I want to  be.)

I'm waiting for the publisher's edits to come my way. I think that might be sooner than later, since DEADLY STAR is slotted for release in February 2013.  Yay, wow, etc.

On another note, I am covering the last few weeks of Mahala's writing class on Wednesday nights, and that's a kick. These teenagers are fun to be around, and they really want to learn about crafting a story. Hopefully, I can keep ahead of them.

Talk to you again soon.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same.

cj  (note: no capitals, no periods, and no spaces between cj -- that's what I needed to tell the publisher.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blatant Self Promotion

I just wanted to celebrate with you . . . I submitted a manuscript, "Deadly Star," to Crimson Romance, in October and signed a contract with them yesterday. Yay!

The eBook version is presently scheduled for release Feb 18, 2013 (check Amazon, B& and the POD version comes later.

And for me, serious developmental editing and verifying is coming down the road.

"Deadly Star" did not start out as a romance, but then I decided to change the ending to a happily-ever-after. Obviously, there was enough of a relationship between the characters in the rest of the chapters to make the change work.

My eQuery pitch went this way:

A small-town scientist's world is turned upside down when she accidentally spots a top-secret satellite and a psychopath sends an assassin to silence her. When her CIA ex-husband, whom she still loves, gets involved, things get even more complicated for her. 

In Deadly Star, malevolent serendipity spins Dr. Mirabel Campbell's quiet life into a toxic mélange that makes her the target of a madman. Mirabel, a botanist at the top of her field, is burned out and plans to make a career change after one last project. She's also an amateur stargazer in pursuit of a mysterious point of light. What she finds is that the elusive night sky twinkle intersects her scientific speciality in a way that marks her for death. 

The experience with Crimson Romance has been smooth so far. My editor contact has been friendly and helpful. Still, if I've learned one thing from listening to other authors, it's never sign a contract until you've had time to digest it, have someone else look at it, and make changes if you need to. I did, I did, and I did. 

Crimson Romance is a new imprint of Adams Media which is a division of F & W Media, Inc. Sounds complicated, but these are the folks who published the "Cup of Comfort" series (no longer in print) and "Writers Digest."

If you write in the romance genre, here's where you can find their submission guidelines:

They're looking for "lots of talented authors with fresh voices and engaging stories; we seek smart, heartwarming romances for sophisticated readers."

So I say, you're talented. Go for it!    

You all guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same. 


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Things that go bump in the night

   That was the topic for the Halloween-themed short story contest when the Baldwin Writers Group kicked off their 2012-2013 year of writing. The BWG convened October 20 at the Daphne (AL) public library where the staff graciously (fearfully?) turned a blind eye to the costumed members and guests that arrived for the meeting. 
BWG President
Nolan White
   Nolan White, president of the BWG, empaneled five published local authors of stories in different genres to field questions from the members about the challenges to writing and publishing all those marvelous and important words that are swimming around in writers’ heads. Writing, whether it's non-fiction or fiction, ghostly even, is a messy (you should see my office) and solitary (necessarily so) process. Carving out time and a place can be more than a little difficult, and we all have different problems to resolve. The meeting, I think, offered encouragement to the members that the work can get done. It just takes some patience, planning, and persistence. 
   I joined an author panel comprised of . . . 

L-R: Margaret, Elizabeth, Sheila
* Margaret P. Cunningham, the author of three romantic comedies. One of her favorite characters, Aunt Maisy, appears in all three of her books.
* Elizabeth Parker, author of true ghost stories (that’s right, true). She also writes short fiction and maintains a blog about paranormal happenings in the Mobile Bay area.
* Sheila Booth-Alberstadt, author of three children’s books. Sheila also has her own publishing company. Her Maggie McNair series features a wonderful impish child and is aimed at helping children in difficult situations. 
* And my Lyrical Pens partner, Mahala Church, who is the published author of short stories, personal essays, is a professional editor (including editor of four published anthologies), and the Azalea City Center’s in-residence creative writing instructor for students that range in age from the fifth grade to adult.
   It seemed to go well, lots of Q&A after the meeting plus I managed to chow down a good bit of the frightfully good finger food and wicked witch’s brew.
   That’s all for now. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same. 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Contest Winner: October

Pamela Hill sent in the winning entry for the month of October and won Ralph Fletcher's book, What a Writer Needs.  Congratulations to Pamela and her story which many single parents will relate to. If you don't smile at the end, I'd like to know.


Single Mom

By Pamela Hill

Another Halloween conquered. Ghostly Jared and Stevie were sitting at the dinner table, drinking red punch and eating fish sticks while their mother, Sandy, studied for a physics exam. Birds in the cage across the room were squawking. Sandy looked up from her book and watched the birds, forgetting about three-dimensional particle dynamics. The mother parakeet seemed agitated as her chicks fluttered around her in the cage.

Jared and Stevie squealed and giggled. Red punch spewed from Jared’s mouth into his salad and macaroni and cheese.

“Bedtime.” Sandy jumped out of her chair. She gave the boys a bath then read Good Night Moon.

“Bathroom,” Jared said.

Sandy sighed, smoothed his sheets and fluffed his pillow while she waited for him. She thought about the physics exam she wasn’t prepared for and yawned. She had to study or she’d never pass that test. She’d have her degree soon.

Jared ran back into the bedroom and jumped on the bed. “I’m thirsty.”

Sandy heard sirens outside and shuddered. "Ask not for whom the bell tolls."

“Mommy, I’m thirsty.”

“I’m going,” she said.

Jared jumped off the bed and followed her to the kitchen. The birds were still squawking. She gave Jared a glass of water and rushed him back to bed.

Stevie started crying and threw up on his blankets. “My stomach hurts.”

Sandy cried too and cleaned up the mess. Stevie felt warm, so Sandy found the thermometer in the medicine cabinet and took his temperature. He had a slight fever. She tucked him under the cover and held a cool cloth on his forehead until he fell asleep.

She then cleaned the grubby kitchen, made a cup of instant coffee and picked up her physics book. The birds were squawking again. Sandy took the mother bird out of the cage. “You need a break.”

She picked up her physics book and reread the same paragraph. The birds were still squawking, and Sandy looked at the mother bird perched on the curtain and wondered.

She opened the front door, and the mother bird flew away.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Charles McIinnis, Author

This week, cj and I welcome Charles Riley McInnis. Charles grew up Clio, Alabama, a small rural town populated with about a thousand Scots-Irish descendants. He earned his B.A. from Huntingdon College and his M.S. in Physics from Auburn University. He lives in Fairhope, Alabama where he devotes his time to writing with the Five Rivers Writers' Group, teaching computer courses, and traveling. Charles is a member of the Baldwin Writers Group, Mobile Writers Guild, Gulf Coast Writers Association, and the Alabama Writer's Forum. His fiction has won numerous awards including first place in the Gulf Coast Writers Association's winter writing contest, and he was their featured writer for February 2012. His short story, "Mim's Ensign" was published in the April 2012 edition of the Magnolia Quarterly. He won second place in two of the Baldwin Writers Group's 2011 writing contests and is published in their anthology, Collected Words: From Writers of the Southern Coast,

And if all that wasn’t enough Charles made it as a finalist in not one, but two categories in the 2012 Faulkner contests—was a short list finalist for the 2012 poetry competition and his short story was a semi-finalist! You have the opportunity to read some of Charles work online in the Southern Delta Literary Magazine. Keep an eye on this guy. He's going places in the literary world.

Five Things to Consider If You Self-Publish
Charles Riley McInnis

The line between traditional brick-and-mortar publishing and self-publishing is fading. Writers are learning how to use online publishers to produce and market quality work effectively. After studying the status of the publishing world for the past year, I have found the following five items to be important if you are considering self-publishing.

1. A book should be regarded as a product designed to provide entertainment or information to an adequate segment of the reading population. Beginning writers see themselves as artists. They fail to think of writing and publishing as a business. Publishers must make a profit to stay in business. If the publishers do not believe that your book will turn an acceptable profit, there is no reason for them to publish it.

2. If your work was rejected for publication, it did not fit the publisher’s current economic model. Your work may be well written and contain entertainment or information, but does it contain entertainment or information for which readers will pay? The traditional publisher must provide a capital outlay to publish your book. Your self-publishing and economic plan will be different and should require less capital outlay. In addition, you have control and can work on your time table.

3. After completing your work, subject it to quality control. Have it reviewed and edited. Publish your book so that it meets the highest standards of comparable books. Do not place a substandard product on the market. Your reputation as writer and publisher is at stake.

4. When preparing to self-publish, don't be a jack-of-all-trades. Find a master to do those things that you don't do well, especially the items critical to success. Book cover design and a professional editing are essential to success. Be sure to format your book properly before publishing it. Engage a competent editor.

5. Start early with a marketing plan. Put your best business suit on early and draw up a plan that includes marketing. Target your readers and keep them in mind as you write. Develop an interesting author profile and include it on your book cover. Learn to use social media effectively to market your product.

Success in self-publishing comes from producing a quality product that is attractive to a sizable portion of the public. Produce a well-designed product that fills a need of the readers. Produce such a product and market it vigorously, and you will be successful. The cream always rises to the top, regardless of the container. Got milk?
I'm with Charles. Get the bolts and bits and pieces of your new creation wrapped tightly before sending it  into the unsuspecting world to be published, no matter who does the dirty work.