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

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Paradox

cj Sez:  I typed THE END on my manuscript, submitted it to a publisher, and was accepted. Yay. The novel is done! . . except I'm not done. And I want to talk about that paradox again, because it's not The End, really. Now comes the hard part: Marketing the beautiful baby.

Marketing is a job not just for the newly published who either self-published or managed to attract the attention of a publisher. More and more publishers, including the one who publishes James Patterson's novels, are asking how large your electronic footprint is because they expect you to help market your own creation. Are you on Facebook? Do you have a website? Do you Tweet? Linkedin? The answers to all of these questions, I believe, have come to play a significant part in a publisher’s acceptance of the manuscript.

The ultimate goal of marketing is, of course, to garner and increase sales. However, the other side of the coin is: Successful authors need to personally connect with their readers. Actually, they “must” connect with their readers. That means authors doing readings at book clubs and libraries, book signings, and, if we’re lucky, media interviews. All of those tasks require (gasp) public speaking.

For me, the prospect of public speaking is not all that comfortable … for some writers, it’s terrifying. A writer’s normal milieu is quiet and solitude in front of a computer or with pen pressed to paper. We’re watchers . . . we observe the behaviors of other people and take copious notes for future story/character ideas. Being the watch-ee takes me totally out of my comfort zone.

That’s where a pre-planned (or “canned,” if you prefer) stump speech comes into play. It’s a great tool to reinstate some degree of confidence. Authors on the stump for sales and readers need to spend time developing a speech that can be easily modified for their diverse audiences. What follows are a few processes I use to calm my racing heart when I’m about to go on display in front of strangers.

I wrote a flexible stump speech when Deadly Star launched. I’ll modify that for my new romantic suspense (Big Reveal Here), Choosing Carter, when it’s launched in the next few months.

Here's a synopsis of what I learned in a writer’s speech class: Start with an anecdote geared to that audience…try for something that involves finding myself in an awkward situation. Go into a brief bio, including why I use a pen name and how I chose it. Follow up with something about how the story developed, the characters, and read two or three excerpts. 

I print out my speech in large, bold, double-spaced type and practice reading it. That helps me with timing the length of my presentation and makes me familiar enough with the script that I don’t have keep my head down to read it word-by-word and line-by-line. I can wing some of it, ad lib a bit, and hopefully make occasional eye contact with someone. Caveat for public speaking: It’s important to really know your story and your characters, because the Q&A will turn up some surprising questions.

The other thing I can do to get more comfortable is to stop by the bookstore or library where I’m going to speak and get familiar with the space. Another trick is to attend someone else’s reading…that takes a lot of the mystery out of the event.

I’m working on revising my stump speech for Choosing Carter, but of course, public speaking is subject to nerves sending me off script. How are you doing with yours?

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


DEADLY STAR (Publisher: Crimson Romance)   (B&  (

PS: Writers live and writhe on reviews, but this note from a friended author came across my Facebook page today. The moral is: We want them, solicit them, need them, but take your reviews with a grain of salt: 

“You have officially arrived when someone makes a Goodreads account JUST to one-star your book that isn't even out yet. Ha! Do watch for the trolls, ladies. They are everywhere.”

Sunday, June 21, 2015

It's Make Your Father Happy Day

cj Sez: I remember a Christmas morning that my father made me happy when he swept up seven-year-old me in his arms and danced around the kitchen singing a carol in Swedish. As I remember him today, I like to think I made him happy, too.

I know. Now I’m supposed to post an interesting and informative blog for our Lyrical Pens followers, but I've been crashing on a deadline and have fried my brain. So, instead, I’ll pass along a repeat of some of the smiles and truisms that tend to show up on Facebook pages.

Of special interest to people who live with writers:

Today is Sunday.  Share this and within seven days, you’ll get another Sunday.
It really works!

One of my friends ignored this message, and he got a Monday within twenty-four hours.
Believe me, it works.

Noun-verb agreements

I write.

You write.

He writes.

She writes.

They write.

We all revise.

It’s funny how Red, White, and Blue represent freedom . . . until they’re flashing behind you.


I am a professional writer. I can tell lies with a straight face.
But I’m a piker when it comes to atoms.

You can’t trust them.
They make up everything.

Martin Rooney: “Your life will not be measured by the things you started but by the few you finished.”

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.

James Watkins: “To survive as a writer, you must develop a tough hide and a tender heart . . . and never, ever get the two switched.”

I am currently unsupervised. I know. It freaks me out, too . . . but the possibilities are endless!

Diablo Cody: “I don’t have a formal rewrite process. I just compulsively groom and re-groom scenes like a cat with OCD.”      (cj Sez: My method exactly.)

We are all precious in the sight of the Lord.
He may shake His head a lot, but we’re still precious.

Hey, all you writers out there, want to do a guest blog? Send me a note, and we'll work something out. . . . and put Guest Blog in the subject line.
You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


DEADLY STAR (Publisher: Crimson Romance)   (B&  (

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Flag Day and regional writers

cj sez: Today is Flag Day . . . SA – LUTE ! Remember to thank a veteran ... you know, those people who bravely defend this flag and the freedoms it stands for.

The first weekend in June, I joined three Mobile, AL, writers and about 200 others from various parts of the South attending the Southern Christian Writers Conference. The (very) reasonably priced conference was a two-day event packed to the gills with workshops, prolifically published authors, editors, publishers, and great information. The attendees were people who write in almost every genre with an emphasis on Christian principals. I gathered in tidbits from Karen Moore of Hallmark Cards and during another workshop, learned that writing for trade magazines requires familiarity with the upside-down pyramid of AP style (which I know from my journalism years). I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The more I learn about the different aspects of the writing world, the better I am able to portray my characters.

However, I will never be a “regional writer.” Not by choice, but by happenstance. Born in Texas, raised in Michigan, and now living on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, I don’t have the years of experience in any particular region to claim the title of regional writer.

The following excerpt is from regional writer Judy Alter who specializes in her familiarity with Texas.

. . . “setting a book in a particular region (doesn’t) make a writer regional. It’s essential that the author absorb the setting so that rather than obviously telling, such things as geography, culture, food, and manners flow naturally. Otherwise, the background looks like those fake sets in so many grade B westerns.” 

From my Facebook
Now that I live in Mobile, I know a slew of proud-to-be-Old-South-regional writers. I’ll never be that good. Writing things Southern is its own genre. There’s a humor and a dialogue cadence that is peculiar (and I mean that in the nicest way) to the South, just as there is to Texas and Texans. While I can't be called "regional," I am a native Texan and almost every story I've written has included a character from Texas.

I think it's easier to write the truth when we write the characters and places we know best. In my latest and soon-to-be-released romantic suspense, the setting is Dinosaur National Monument and the Yampa River that runs through it. The protagonist is from Texas, and yes, I once did a five-day, Outward Bound, white-water rafting trip on the Yampa. (What was I thinking?)

Okay, that’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

DEADLY STAR (Publisher: Crimson Romance)   (B&  (
TODAY'S NOTES:  The SCWC happens every year in June . . . watch for it at

Judy Alter’s “Deception in Strange Places” can be found on Amazon at

Sunday, June 7, 2015

cj Miscellany

cj Sez: Yesterday, the world remembered D-Day, June 6, 1944the day Allied forces hit the beaches of Normandy in defense of freedom. I remember especially an uncle who was injured on those bloody sands and a dear friend, who travelled with Patton and with whom I am privileged to be able to still connect. Sa-Lute to America’s heroes and thank you.

Following up on last week’s post

The toon is from my Facebook page.
I’ve written about this before but it bears repeating: Critiques are a must for serious writers. We’re way too close to our manuscripts to be subjective. Despite our best intentions, we can’t judge, proofread, or edit our own words, at least not thoroughly and objectively. We read past things. Sometimes the words we intended aren’t even on the page. Objective critique partners are able to find those missing words, poorly constructed sentences, punctuation errors, missing story threads, plot holes, and all the etceteras that the subjective writer misses.

It’s true that finding compatible critique partners is often very hard. Shared likability and a mutual respect for expertise are required by/for/from each other. But your manuscript deserves/needs critiques, so connecting with a critique group is definitely worth the effort.

Your (and my own) role in a critique group is to remember the rules for critiquing. The most important one is: Be kind. Second: Find a way to start the critique with something positive. (Writers have fragile, creative egos, but you know that.) Third: Be truthful. It won’t help any writer if you praise something that is poorly written. I truly understand that no one likes to hear their baby manuscript is ugly, but speaking from experience, if we’re going to be successful writers, we have to develop a rhino hide in order to continue writing despite criticismwhether unwarranted or warrantedand despite the feared agent rejections.


Okay, time to quit this tome and get back to transcribing my notes from the Southern Christian Writers Conference that I attended over the weekend. I’ll tell you more about that next week, but in the meantime, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

DEADLY STAR (Publisher: Crimson Romance)   (B&  (

P.S. Congratulations to prolific author Carolyn Haines on the release of the latest must-read book in her Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery series. BONE TO BE WILD is number 15 in this series!
PPS:  Still waiting for publisher Crimson Romance to send me the edits they want for my newest romantic suspense, CONFLUENCE OF TERROR.  The anticipation is making me nervous. ::grin::