Tuesday, April 26, 2016

An Outlandish Post

Started this post a while back and got sidetracked. Revised and here it is now.

Long-time followers of my blog know I'm a big fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. With the advent of the Starz series, even more people have fallen in love with Jamie and Claire and the world they inhabit. And it's pretty obvious Ron Moore, the showrunner for the series, is also a fan, based on tiny touches we've seen that allude to events several books away from where they are now.

There are several fan groups dedicated to the books, the series, or both and one of the recurring ideas that pops up is the wish that Jamie could travel forward to Claire's time. It's an established protocol in the books that he cannot. He does not "hear" the stones the way Claire (and others) do, and I, for one, am glad. He's her anchor in time, her North Star that remains fixed and grounds her. He needs to stay put for reasons outlined below

SOME SPOILERS FROM HERE, so if you're watching the series or haven't read past Dragonfly in Amber, you may want to stop here!!!

Claire leaves her time in 1968 to go back to Jamie. Even if she could bring him back, what time would they return to? The last time she made the jump, she'd lost three years of present time (because she'd spent those three years of her life in the past). This time, she's been there a little over twelve years. Should she step back through the stones now, she'd arrive in 1982 (yes, I know 1968+12=1980, but Diana G. seems to have set up an extra two years in the jumps. This site has a great timeline of events if you want to see).

Besides hairstyles and clothing and the adjustment of some political parties, 1982 isn't all that different from 1968. There haven't been major technological advances, although medicine has made great advances in vaccines. Of course, Claire understands what a vaccine is and the use of them wouldn't surprise her.

So really, her coming back to 1982 wouldn't be such a big deal. The Apple IIe is still a year away from hitting the market, as is the first commercially available cell phone (I have a story about that, but will tell it some other time). There are Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) that are available, but only a few thousand are using them (Diana Gabaldon being one!). The explosion of computer technology will happen within a year of Claire's (and, ostensibly, Jamie's) return.

And then what? Claire might adapt to the changing technologies but she's 50 years old in 1968, which means,if she were alive, right this minute? She'd be 98 years old. How many 98 year-olds do you know who do well with smartphones, computers, ATM's?

And Jamie? We love him because he can handle every situation. Not always with grace, but certainly with panache. He loves hard, lives hard, fights hard. Can you see him anywhere in the 21st century? There is no place for him and he'd end up useless and pitied.

No, leave Jamie in the past where he's the man I've come to love. I mean the man readers have come to love. :) Don't bring him forward - and leave Claire in the past as well. Let her be the heroine, saving lives and having adventures. I do NOT want to think of either of them sitting in a nursing home watching the world go by.

All this is a long way of saying, trust the author. Let her move her characters as she envisions them. Fan fiction has a place, but leave them in their own time period.

Rant over. :)

Play safe,
a different Diana LOL

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Sales slumps

As with any business, sales slumps come with the territory. In publishing, genres seem to come and go in waves of popularity. While Romance as a category always sells well, the divisions within it change. Westerns are popular for a while, then Scottish Highlanders. Erotica will sell, then everyone's writing steamy sex scenes and the backlash goes to sweet romances or shapeshifters. Or paranormal. You get the drift.

My sales numbers have plummeted over the last six months. Partly that's because I only had one new title (Winter Break) but even that book hasn't done as well as past titles. It's no secret Ellora's Cave is behind in their royalty payments - I eagerly check each week to see if maybe this will be the week they catch me up, but it hasn't happened yet. Soon, I'm sure. They took a chance on me and gave me my start. It is my fervent wish they find their footing and keep going. But even the royalty statements I have gotten show sales for some titles in the single digits for the first time ever.

I suspect the erotica market is now glutted and finding new readers isn't as easy as it used to be with all the authors now choosing to self-publish. The first titles I released on my own did wonderfully well. The last ones? Not so much.

To be honest, I'm starting to grow a bit bored writing erotica, myself. I had a lot of fun with it and am happy to have written as many books in the genre as I did. But it isn't only the marketplace's tastes that change - writer's appetites do, too.

To that end, I've been challenging myself lately, writing in several styles, just for fun. I've written a short story in the Action/adventure genre, several non-fiction travel pieces, and an epic fantasy (that's currently taking up much of my time!).

This isn't to say there won't be more Diana Hunter stories. Hot sex is still fun to write on occasion but honestly? Mystic Shade outsells Diana. You're more likely to see more stories from Mystic than Diana, especially after the egg laid by Winter Break (still don't know if people who bought it liked it or not. Please leave reviews!!!! Good or bad, it's the only way we writers get feedback).

Sales are in a slump and the way out for me is to keep writing. Even one book sold is one more reader touched by the story I've written and that doesn't suck. Reading back on this, it sounds pretty depressing and I don't mean it to be. Waves happen in business. The trick it to keep going. If I stop writing all together? Then I'll never find that next wave to ride, and I'd hate to miss the fun. So don't worry - there will be more books, more stories, more genre to choose from.

In the meantime, play safe - and leave a review!!! :)


Monday, March 14, 2016

Looking forward to looking backward...

My daughter, Kate, works in the theatre, which gives her a somewhat nomadic lifestyle. Mostly she works in theatres within a fifty mile radius of her apartment but she's not adverse to picking up and going elsewhere (even out of state) if that's where the job is. To that end, this week she's attending the USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology) conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, with an eye toward that next job.

Initially, she planned to travel with a friend. Unfortunately, the friend had to bow out (pun intended) and Kate feared she'd have to as well, since now she had no one to share costs with. And then she turned those puppy eyes on her mother...and her mother melted. How could I not?

Besides which, I've never been to Salt Lake City. Flown over the midwest twice (once on my way to Alaska and then again when we went to Disneyland) but St. Louis (RT Convention) is really the only stop I've spent time in the middle of the country. 

It will also be the highest altitude I've ever been and still been on the planet (as opposed to flying over it). Rochester, NY has an altitude of about 500 feet above sea level. Our cabin is about 800 feet above - but Salt Lake City is 4000+ feet above. Whee!

At first I'm thinking, Kate will be at the convention all day and I won't have anything to do. Might be time to start a new story or finish an old one. Or go sight seeing. What is there to see in Salt Lake City besides the Mormon Temple anyway?

Um...gee...only the world's largest Family History Library, filled with hundreds of thousands of genealogical records collected from all corners of the globe. And it's open to the public. For free. Guess where I'm spending MY days!

The last two weeks have been spent organizing all the scraps of paper I've written family stories on, compiling lists of what we know and finding the holes of things we don't know. Some of the family lore I've been able to verify with census records or using the SSDI (Social Security Death Index), but holes still remain. And a few very big, very solid walls that I can't seem to find a way over, around or under.

So now I have a notebook and a flashdrive filled with What We Know about the Frawley, Benjamin, Broschart, Schmitt, Ingandello, and Scaramuzzino families. I've chosen not to look further into the Pierces and the Ritters on my mom's side of the family because I have a second cousin who has done a LOT of work, at least on the Ritters. And the Duprey/Garrow lines are so convoluted and twisted it would take a lot more than the three days I have to unravel them alone.

That's right. Three days. Three days spent in a library. Three days devoted to researching the family trees. Three days of uninterrupted immersion into their stories, their joys, their defeats. 

Yep. I am SO looking forward to looking backward!

Play safe,

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Four books, one low price!

Now available! All four books bundled together in one set. In Secret Submission and Submission Revealed, Phillip and Sarah Townshend have quite the set of experiences, both in and out of the bedroom. Thank goodness for friends like Will and Jill who are there to pick up the pieces!

John and Lauren find themselves needing those friends in Services Rendered. As a Civil War re-enactor, John enjoys the sound of cannon and the thrill of (safely!) charging the field. But Lauren's nursing of real soldiers on real battlefields leaves her baffled by his hobby. Thankfully Phillip, Sarah, Will and Jill are all there to help their friends through.

What happens to couples that enjoy their sex BDSM kinky after ten years? Phillip and Sarah are back again in Diamond Submission - ready to celebrate that milestone anniversary in a very exciting way!

All four books are still available separately or get them bundled today (click on the picture for the bundle)!

Don't forget to leave a review of one or all books. :)

Secret Submission print    Secret Submission ebook

Submission Revealed print    Submission Revealed ebook

Services Rendered print    Services Rendered ebook

Diamond Submission ebook

Play safe,

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A few more changes

The Purchasing Info page is now up-to-date. It had a few books that are currently not available (took those down) and one that  wasn't listed (I'm looking at you, New York Moment!). I've tried to change the font color of two books in the text listing but that change hasn't stuck. Will keep trying on that.

I also changed the donation link on the homepage because of a post made by one of my former students. For years now, I have encouraged my readers to donate to the Red Cross because that group does such good work when emergencies strike, but have known for a while that the monetary distribution was uneven. Not that their CEO doesn't deserve competitive pay - he/she does. It's hard to attract excellent CEO's without it. Why work for the Red Cross when I can work for a corporation for a whole lot more money? It's the same problem when hiring a new Superintendent of Schools. You have to pay competitive rates or you don't get the cream of the crop applicants.

So I get that a huge chunk of their donation money goes to staff. We live in a capitalistic society and why should they be paid less to perform humanitarian aid than those who do the same jobs in hospitals around the country? The answer? They shouldn't. They are still a deserving group who needs donations in order to do their work.

But I changed to St. Jude Research Hospital anyway. Why? Because these are kids. They got stuck with a raw deal and this is an organization that makes an attempt to help. Recently I’ve been involved in the health care system of the United States and let me tell you, it’s a rabbit warren filled with Pass the Buck, self-interest (read: greed), and more gobbledygook and misinformation than I ever thought possible. Any organization that helps families through it when their minds are filled with more important things (like the fact that their child is dying) deserves my support.

Really, though, who you choose to donate to is up to you. As long as you help those in need, there are a lot of places who need your help. Feel free to post links in the comments of groups who could use a lift.

Play safe,

Saturday, February 20, 2016

New design for the website

It has been a long time since this site has seen an upgrade in design. Been bored with it for a while but apparently I needed a kick in the arse and who better to give it to me but Raelene Gorlinsky. She posted a piece on her blog about the nine must-haves for every author website. Yes, I have them all, but some of them were pretty sloppy. And the last one? Time for a re-design, for sure!

You'll notice the text space is wider, as is the sidebar. Didn't know I could change those and found the menu that let me do that this time. I use a two-monitor system with my computer (really helps when comparing drafts!) and one is smaller than the other. I made sure the widths fit on both. If you find things getting cut off on your screen, let me know!

If you've been trying to access the site today, you may have noticed the header picture changing several times. My husband thought it might look nice with my signature rose up there with my name over it. Of course, that meant creating the .jpg first. Couldn't make it look good, so several configurations and .jpgs later, I decided to go back to the original. You know, the original .jpg that apparently no longer exists on my computer. Created it anew, then had to go through several MORE configurations to make it fit right. Still a little pixelated with the text, but best one so far.

Other updates:
The Purchasing Info page was missing New York Moment - added that in. Also re-arranged some but the different sizes of the covers is a pain in the patootie. Will be resizing and fixing all those today as well to clean up the layout.

Added a Google+ badge. Now those with Google accounts can more easily follow me. And widening the sidebar made the link button for Facebook easier to see as well.

I added the About Me page a while back, but widening the text box and going with a different background allowed the tabs at the top to show up better.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Am up for suggestions!

Play safe,

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Out of my comfort zone...

Strokes in the family have a way of upsetting routine. But after the dust settles, you discover the routine returns, if in a different form than before.

Because of the dust-up in the family, writing time and energy has been in short supply recently. Not one to rest on laurels, my usual routine is to finish one book, get it published, and a day or two later, start the next one. Winter Break released just before Christmas - and until last week I hadn't done more than dabble at my writing.

What changed and got me going again? A complete, total change of genre. No, really. As in, not writing novels at all. Not even writing poetry (which I have done before!).

Nope. I'm writing a play.

You heard it here first, folks! 

Many years back I wrote a short story as a challenge to myself: tell the story using only dialogue. No descriptors of any sort, nothing other than the words the characters exchange. I had a lot of fun with it and got some good feedback. Two characters only: John Adams and Hugh White, one of the soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre of 1770.

A few years later, I thought about turning that single scene into a play. I added a few characters, wrote a bit more, then set it aside as my erotic romance novels took off. It's been sitting on my computer ever since.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago. A local community theatre group holds a reading of new plays every year. The submissions come from all over the country. It's done reader's theatre style and, although some directors of the pieces do opt for a little movement, mostly it's actors on stools reading from a script on a music stand. 

But its a great opportunity for playwrights to hear the scene(s) out loud, their lines spoken by actors who may have a very different interpretation. 

Well, this year, for whatever reason, there weren't many submissions and the group debated about cancelling the readings for this year. Instead, they extended the deadline. I pulled out that old script and said, "Why not?"

There was only one problem: it sucked. Big time. Like majorly bit the big one. It was pedantic and boring...and did I say pedantic? I gave the script to my husband and he was kind in his review. "I think this might make a good play for little kids to read in their Weekly Reader."


But he also said he thought I was starting the story in the wrong place. History tells us John Adams took the case of the British soldiers, defending them from the charges of murder, because he felt it important that the mob mentality not have any place in the colonies. 1770 was before any real talk of independence - most were arguing for the same rights as other British citizens, rights Parliament didn't want to extend to the colonists.

We know Adams for a Patriot - a man who would not only argue for independence, but go on to be our third President. But in 1770, he was a man with a choice. Defend the British? Or let mob rule take over.

And that's the play I've started to write. I threw out most of what I had and started again, this time exploring the terrible crisis of conscience he faced. To defend the soldiers would put his own career in jeopardy. More than his career - his very life and the lives of his wife and children. But to not defend them was to descend into an anarchy he couldn't live with.

Yeah. Finished the first scene this morning and gave it to my husband. He came back ten minutes later and said, "Now you're talking!" Got half of the next scene done as well. Because I'm researching as I go (just ordered what I hope will be a great book on manners of the 18th and 19th century), the writing is slow...but it is progressing.

So my word count for the day was 1476 words - on a play. Wish me luck!

Play safe,

PS. I also just read Finding Fraser, a delightful book by kc dyer. A chick-lit book set in the present day about a woman who chucks it all to travel to Scotland and find her own Jamie Fraser. :)